How High Should a Stair Handrail Be?

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Stair handrails should be a certain height for safety and comfort.
Stair handrails should be a certain height for safety and comfort. (Image: stairs image by Dmitry Nikolaev from Fotolia.com)

Suggested Height

Stair handrails are in place so you have something to grasp while using the stairs. It is important to have the rail at a comfortable height to prevent falls. According to Human Cornell, a handrail height of 36 to 40 inches is most effective in preventing falls when descending stairs.

Building Codes

National and state building codes suggest a handrail height of 30 to 34 inches, which is 2 to 6 inches shorter than the suggested height for safety. If you are installing stairs, however, you must obey building codes and set the handrail height accordingly.

Bottom Line

Install stair handrails at the height suggested by national and state building codes, which is 30 to 34 inches. If no codes regulate stair handrail height in your area, you have the freedom to install the rails at a different height, but as suggested, 36 to 40 inches is the best for preventing falls.

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