Ideas for Stair Hand Rails

From Custom Designs to DIY Stair Rail Kits
for Porches and Decks

Integrating stair hand rails into your overall porch or deck railing system provides both an element of safety and adds to the overall appeal of your porch or deck. Your options are limited only by compliance with local building codes and your own imagination giving you lots of latitude for both designs and materials.

Placement and Design Ideas for Stair Hand Rails

Stair hand rail designs - what you should know



Ever Stop to Think Where the Handrails Should Go?

Beautiful front porchb stair hand rails
Look at the placement of the hand rail - adjacent to the pickets
Placing the actual hand rail along the balusters (pickets) on the railing instead of the top rail is an option.

It must; however, still meet your local building code height requirement (normally 34-38 inches above the stair treads). Note also that the hand rail is the same dimension and shape as the balusters which is pleasing to the eye.


Attractive hand rails on front porch steps
Now look at this placement - adjacent to the top rail
This is the same type of railing system as in the photo previously; however, the porch hand rail is located adjacent to the top rail. This is the most typical location where we would normally reach for stair hand rails.

Either location works if built to your local code requirements. Just make sure it is visible to your users.


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Stair handrail adjacent to top rail

We like the above design where the hand rail is located adjacent to the top rail and wraps around the front of the supporting column.

This gives the user a clear visual picture of the hand rail location and also adds a nice overall touch, much like adding interior trim to a room.


Beautiful Outdoor Hand Rails

In the picture above, the top rail also serves as the handrail. Usually there is no requirement that the balusters be vertical pickets.

This arrangement is acceptable in certain locales and must meet specific width requirements. While it may be aesthetically pleasing, it does not necessarily provide the best grip capability.






Beautiful metail stair hand rails

Wrought iron hand rails are a classic option and when maintained correctly, they can last a very long time. Wrought iron can range from the a very simple design to a more elaborate pattern.

Hand rails don't have to be perpendicular to your porch either! Curving wrought iron hand rails widen the entrance giving it a more spacious look.


Beautiful iron outdoor hand rails on patriotic front porch

Note how the actual stair hand rail is located lower than the top rail. You don't see that specific design often and it looks great.


Wrought iron hand rail next to solid brick stair system

Solid railing systems still require a stair hand rail. This one, a wrought iron hand rail, is attached to the brick.




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Simple wooden hand rail next to top rail
We like this innovative handrail design. Do you?

Continuous Hand Rails or Not?

Beautiful turned stair hand rails on brick home
Notice how the handrail stops and starts again
Consistency is the key for stair hand rails. Make sure you place the hand rail in the same location along the entire run even if it stops and starts again as in the photo above.


Beautiful continuous stair railing on front porch

Something else to consider in your hand rail design. Even though there are supporting columns in the middle of the run, the hand rail must be continuous - meaning they do not stop and start at each column. Look closely at the picture and you will see.


Beautiful stair hand rail in non-continuous run

This handrail in the photo above is acceptable although it is not a continuous run because the stairs are broken by a landing in the middle. As long as the landing complies with building codes, you don't have to have a continuous run.





Did You Know You Can Get These Online?

Keep Loved Ones Safe with a DIY Porch Handrail Kit

If you have unprotected steps, you may be interested in DIY railing kits that are ideal if you have from 1 to 5 steps. Some of our readers have purchased them and we're delighted to see that the kits get excellent ratings on Amazon.


Instant Rail installed on front porch
InstantRail Adjustable Handrail for 3 Steps available at Amazon (affiliate link)
Perfect for your porch, deck, or stoop, they can be installed on concrete or wood. Because they are adjustable, they will adapt to almost any slope making them easy to install like a pro.


Instant Rail installed on front porch
Perfect for patios too - available at Amazon (affiliate link)



Only Have One or Two Porch Steps?

Even though you may not be required by code, we still encourage you to consider adding hand rails to your porch even if it only has a step or two.


instant rails for deck steps from Amazon
Easy installation on deck steps too - available at Amazon (affiliate)
Discover more options on Amazon.


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.

However, I often ask people how many steps does it take on which to fall? Answer: only one.

man falling down stairs clipart An older adult is treated in the emergency room due to falls every 11 seconds; every 19 seconds an older adult dies from a fall. Falls in general account for over 2.8 million visits to the emergency room with over 27,000 deaths annually.


We can't prevent them all, but you can protect your family and friends by installing a handrail on your porch, deck, or stoop,

Don't wait till you or someone you know falls and then decide to install a railing; an ounce of prevention is worth not going to the emergency room.


stair railing on round steps on front porch We added a stair hand railing on our porch even though it isn't required by building codes. Guests who visit our home often reach for it.



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.


Outdoor stairs normally have to meet specific construction requirements to pass most building inspections. Once you select a design be sure to review our porch hand rail codes and options section.






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