Porch Hand Rails - Options and More

Handrail Materials, DIY Porch
And Deck Handrail Assemblies, and Code Requirements

Why porch handrails - a lesson learned the hard way:

I was going out to fill our bird feeders one morning and had to walk down two steps on our deck. I placed my foot on the last step and well....it hurts when you fall! Fortunately, I survived with only a few bruises but was sore for several days.


Front Porch Hand Rails - what you should know



It's the Small Things That Get Us

Too many times we neglect to pay attention to the small things that can have real consequences, like changing the batteries in your smoke alarms. Same goes for ensuring your family's or visitors' safety on steps. Seems like one, two, or three steps shouldn't be an issue. But they surely can be.


DIY metal porch handrail from Amazon
Simple yet unobtrusive metal porch step railing


Advertisements





Advertisements



But How Many Steps Does It Take?

I've often asked people, "How many steps does it take on which to fall"?

Answer: "Only one."


What If Building Codes Say You Don't Need Handrails?

Building codes regulate the necessity for porch or deck handrails. Normally handrails are only required if you have four steps or more or if your steps are of a certain height.

But, you can just as easily fall navigating only 1, 2, or 3 steps.

So even if building codes don't require you to have handrails, they can still be a good measure to take.

No matter the number or height of your steps, knowing the basic requirements and options for building both porch hand rails and deck hand rails can save you both time, money, and more importantly injuries.


Porch Hand Rail Options - Let's Talk Maintenance

Outdoor hand rails can be made from materials such as wood, composites, wrought iron, metal, and aluminum.

If you make a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a commission, but the cost is the same to you. Here is our full disclosure about affiliate marketing.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.





Watch Our Short Slideshow




Metal or Aluminum Porch Hand Rails are Popular

Aluminum handrails are extremely popular as they not only provide safety but also are very versatile and aesthetically pleasing.


DIY metal porch handrail from Amazon
Metal porch hand rails
Typically, metal porch hand rails and safety handrail systems are made from extruded aluminum and specifically coated to ensure longevity with minimal maintenance. Unlike wood stair hand rails, aluminum porch hand rails can be easily installed making them a perfect DIY project.

Now you can ensure the safety of family members and visitors by installing them anywhere someone might fall, whether you have only two steps or twenty.


Advertisements






Advertisements




Did You Know You Can Get These Online?

Yes, DIY porch hand rail kits can be purchased on Amazon. This is our affiliate link but the same cost to you.

Metal handrail kits make it easy to safe-proof you porch, deck, or stoop stairs. And they look fantastic too! We feature InstantRail and Iron X, highly recommended products available through Amazon.com.


Instant Rail installed on front porch
InstantRail Adjustable Handrail available at Amazon.com (affiliate link)
Aluminum Stair Hand Rail available at Amazon.com

Think About This

You wouldn't hesitate to replace a broken seat belt assembly in your car to protect loved ones. That would cost over $400 for parts and labor (based on a 2018 cost estimate for a Dodge Caravan).

Hopefully, you'll never actually need it but you would thank your lucky stars if you did.

Porch handrails are much the same in that an investment of less than the cost of a seat belt, you can not only prevent injury but expensive medical bills as well. Remember, it only takes a slip on one step to fall.


Aluminum Stair Hand Rail available at Amazon.com
InstantRail 3-Step Adjustable Handrail on Stoop available at Amazon (affiliate link)
Some of our readers have purchased these DIY kits to install on their porches, stoops, or decks. Perfect for those who want to save on installation fees, these aluminum railings are suitable for one to five steps.


mature woman negotiating steps using handrail
InstantRail 3-Step Adjustable Handrail available at Amazon (affiliate link)
No need to cut, weld, or bend, as these metal porch hand rails move to fit almost any slope making them a breeze to install. You can install them on concrete or wood too making them ideal for decks.


See How Easy They Are to Assemble

Watch this short video to see how the handrails are assembled



5 step DIY Porch Handrail from Amazon
InstantRail 5-Step Adjustable Handrail - on Amazon (affiliate)

Easy Installation Too - You Can Do It!

The slope is adjustable from 0 to 38 degrees and InstantRails are designed to fit the rise of most steps. Kits normally include all necessary assembly and installation hardware.


Watch this video to see how the rails go onto the stairs
Installation is simple using fasteners provided or purchase anchor screws separately. A hammer drill is recommended to drill holes in concrete which can be purchased or rented at your local home supply store.


instantrail installation fasteners
Install using GRK fasteners usually provided with kit
Or, if you prefer, you can acquire the services of a reputable contractor or handy-person to install the railings. You an locate a contractor in your area here.

Creative way to add safety in long step runs like the one shown below and are perfect for especially those who live where ice and snow are prevalent.


5 step DIY Porch Handrail from Amazon
Iron X Handrail Arch #1 Fits 1 or 2 Steps available at Amazon.com (affiliate link)
Discover more DIY handrail options on Amazon (affilate link).


What About PVC or Vinyl Hand Rails?

custom stair railings by The Porch Company
Custom stair railings by The Porch Company
If you want low maintenance and durability consider PVC or vinyl hand rail systems.

They are also very popular and fairly easy to install. Most PVC railing systems have wood or metal inserts. Vinyl railings usually do not.

Most kits come with everything you need, top and bottom rails, pickets, and mounting brackets.

Often times they are pre cut to save time and for easier installation.

They advertise their kits are designed for standard sized steps (7" to 11" rise to run) and include adjustable step adapters which are used to adjust for various angles.


pvc porch and step railings from The Porch Company
Custom vinyl step and porch railings by The Porch Company



How a Middle Porch Hand Rail Can Help

classic front porch with American flag
Beautiful Cape May porch before the middle handrail was added
This beautiful porch in Cape May, New Jersey has wide porch steps and the homeowners like to decorate with seasonal potted flowers. But they told us that it was difficult for their neighbors to navigate the steps. So they decided to add a middle handrail.


the homeowner added a middle handrail
After the middle handrail was installed
The homeowners hired a carpenter and asked that he make the middle handrail look as it if belonged there. What a wonderful job he did.

Do you agree that it looks like it's always been a part of these porch steps? And what a help for visitors.

Now the plants can be kept on the steps and guests can safely navigate too.


the homeowner added a middle handrail and here you see it straight on
Another view of the middle handrail
To give you a view of the steps straight on - looks absolutely perfect. We thank John and his wife for sharing their photos and story with us.




Composite Hand Rails

composite porch railings by Vintage Woodworks.com Composites are another option you might want to consider. Composite materials last longer than wood and are maintenance free. They have the look and feel of wood, never need painting, and are resistant to fading.

Learn more about composite step and porch railings at Vintage Woodworks.


Wood

unique wood step railings on front porch
Wood square balusters make up this front porch step railings
Note: Local building codes dictate minimum spacing between pickets
Still the most popular front porch and deck hand rail system, wood can be as simple or as ornate as you would like. I've constructed several wood hand rails and can attest the trickiest part is finding the correct angle for cuts.

Once that's done, assembly is fairly easy given you can use prefabricated wooden top and bottom rails (available at home supply stores). Pickets fit into pre-cut holes making it a simple job.


Wrought Iron Hand Rails

Wrought Iron Stair Hand Rails on southern home

Wrought iron railings add sophistication and unique element of design. Although there aren't too many true wrought iron railings (most are made from other metals), wrought iron does add an element of elegance to a home.

This unique material can be made into almost any design, from the very simple to the most ornate.


Outdoor Hand Rails: Do Yours Meet General Code Requirements?

Many hand rail systems, some pre-assembled, are designed to ensure these requirements are met. Choosing the right system can make building your porch hand rails easy and save you money as well.

It is imperative you check with your local building codes department to obtain the specific requirements for hand rails in your community before you build. Please do that.

Here's a list of general building codes you can use to check with your local codes department.
  • Round hand rails must have a minimum width of 1 1/4 and a maximum of 2 inches in diameter. Rectangular shaped handrails must measure between 4 inches and 6.25 inches. Oblong handrails must measure no more than 2 1/4 inches across the widest part of the rail.
  • Must be able to bear at least 200 pounds of weight. This applies to your entire railing system to include the stair hand rails.
  • Must be at least 30 inches but not more than 37 inches to the top of the hand rail as measured from vertically from the nose(front)of the stair tread. NOTE: In Nashville, TN., the building code is a "grip able" handrail that is not less than 34 inches and not more than 38 inches.
  • Stairways with four or more risers or stairs that rise more than 30 inches in height must have at least one handrail. We recommend you install hand rails no matter how many steps you have.
  • A minimum of 1.5 inches is usually required between the handrail and another object like a post or wall.
  • Handrails should be continuous for the full length of the stairs.
  • Stair stringers must be secured at the landing.


Please check with your local building codes department to obtain specific requirements for your area.

Watch This Video Describing How to Install Porch Handrails








Advertisements



Advertisements





The Amazon ads are our affiliate links. Thank you.

Comments

Our site is a labor of love. We appreciate your comments very much.


~~~ Signup for free porch tips in your in box. ~~~






Helpful Links

Shop Amazon for Porch /Garden
Aff link

Popular Pages




Please Join Us Here Also

Join us on Facebook for porch talk Join us on Pinterest Subscribe to get our updates. Thank you!



Our Sponsors
Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
Vintage Woodworks for Your Porch Parts


The Porch Store
Porch Store - Custom Porch Products


Screened porch windows from DIY Eze Breeze
DIY Eze Breeze - Screen Porch Windows


Aluminum screen doors from PCA Products
PCA Products Complement any Home




Copyright© 2008-2018
Front-Porch-Ideas-and-More.com.
All rights reserved.

Content and photos may not be reproduced
in any way without our written permission.

small rocking chair



Get up to 4 free local contractor estimates for work you need done
FIND A LOCAL CONTRACTOR
Advertisements



Our Sponsors
Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
Vintage Woodworks for Your Porch Parts


The Porch Store
Porch Store - Custom Porch Products


Screened porch windows from DIY Eze Breeze
DIY Eze Breeze - Screen Porch Windows


Aluminum screen doors from PCA Products
PCA Products Complement any Home







Get Our Online Newsletter,
Front Porch Appeal

Learn more.

1-Enter Your Name


2-Enter Your Email


3-Click Button Below


You'll also receive
our free eBook.
Enjoy our back issues.





What's New
What is new or updated on our site
See Our Latest Updates




Porch Market
Enjoy browsing our Porch Market
Browse Our Porch Market




Get Our Porch Ideas Generator eBook
Front Porch Ideas Generator eBook
Ten Before & After Case Studies
Showing the Difference a Porch Makes!
Only $9.97




See Our Porch Illustrator eBook
Porch Illustrator Vol 1 & Vol 2 eBook
Over 300 Pages of Porch Illustrations
to Absolutely Inspire!
Just $9.97




Search Our Site


Porch Ideas Network
Porch Ideas Network
Listen to Our Podcasts
Plus Featured Builders and Landscapers





small rocking chair
We may earn a commission by referring you to some products on merchant sites. See our disclosure policy. Thank you.

Front Porch Designs Home | Return to Top
Contact Us | About Us | Advertise with Us | Search | Site Map
Media | Privacy Policy | Disclosure | Legal Notice | What's New

XML RSS   Add to My Yahoo!   Add to My MSN  
By Mary and Dave Morris, Copyright © 2008-2018 Front-Porch-Ideas-and-More.com. All rights reserved.
Content and photos may not be reproduced or copied in any way without our express written permission.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape