Last Updated: June 13, 2019
Handrails and stairs are like peanut butter and jelly or french fries and ketchup: a perfect pair. In slick and slippery winter weather, handrails prevent us from taking painful and embarrassing falls. Even if you don’t use a particular handrail for balance, you likely appreciate its presence (in case the worse should happen). Plus, for the disabled and elderly, handrails are crucial; they can be the difference between a comfortable walk up the stairs and a terrible injury. To ensure that handrails are built with safety and consistency in mind, and to guarantee that railings are accessible to people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) created a set of compliance standards. To learn more about ADA compliant handrails, please scroll down.
What Is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990 and was amended in 2008. According to the ADA National Network, “The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.”
The law prohibits public accommodations and commercial facilities from discriminating against people with disabilities and sets standards for accessibility. Don’t think of the ADA standards as building code requirements; they are a part of a civil rights legislation that establishes accessibility standards.
Requirements of ADA Compliant Handrails
ADA compliant handrails are required in all new commercial buildings and remodeled buildings in the United States. In order to make the grade and receive ADA compliance certification, handrail products must follow a number of strict rules:
- The railing must be continuous and smooth. Someone who is disabled may require the constant support of the handrail. By providing a handrail with a continuous gripping surface, you’re ensuring that anyone using it has constant and reliable support. In addition, a smooth railing ensures that users can maintain a consistent grip on it and easily run their hand along it if needed.
- A railing must be located on both sides of the stairway, ramp, etc. No matter which side of a stairway or ramp a person chooses to use, they should have the support of an ADA compliant handrail. There must also be at least 36 inches of space between the two railings to allow wheelchairs and people to pass through.
- The railing must be 34-38 inches high. This height ensures that most people can comfortably use the handrail. If the principal users of the handrail are children, however, the handrail should be no more than 28 inches from the ground.
- The clearance between the handrail and the wall (or any other obstruction) must be 1.5 inches or more. This allows users’ hands to fully grip the handrail without being impeded by the wall or other obstructions.
- The handrail must not rotate in its fitting. A handrail that rotates in its fitting is not secure and therefore not safe for users who rely on it for stability.
- The end of the handrail must either be rounded or return smoothly into the floor, wall, or a post. This prevents any sort of protruding edge at the end of the railing, which someone might unintentionally bump into.
While these aren’t all of the requirements of ADA compliant handrails, they give you a good idea of what’s obligatory when it comes to meeting ADA standards. To ensure that your own building is ADA compliant, we encourage you to consult an expert who is familiar with ADA standards.
Where to Install ADA Compliant Handrails
So where should you install ADA compliant handrails? They can be used for both interior and exterior applications, including all of the following and more:
Commercial Uses for ADA Compliant Handrails
- Hiking Trails
When building a commercial space, local building codes and ADA requirements must both be considered. To find the perfect ADA compliant continuous handrail, look for a handrail that is strong, long-lasting, versatile, easy to install, and fits within your budget. It should also come from a reliable company that offers great customer service. In choosing such a handrail, you will be investing your money in a worthwhile product, ensuring that your building is lawful, and (most importantly) assisting those who need the help.
Purchasing ADA Compliant Handrails
If you’re interested in purchasing ADA compliant handrails, be sure to check out MMC Fencing & Railing. In our online store, you’ll find the aluminum continuous handrail, an ADA compliant system that comes with a lifetime limited warranty. It’s durable and reliable, and it complements a number of different railing systems. You can purchase this continuous railing in a custom color or AAMA 2605 color if you like, but the standard color/texture options are as follows:
- Black Fine Texture
- Satin Black
- Bronze Fine Texture
- Ninety Bronze
- Speckled Walnut
- Sandy Shore
- Gloss Beige
- Gloss White
- White Fine Texture
The handrail uses an extremely durable powder coating that requires no maintenance whatsoever. The powder is applied using an electrostatic charge and then heated until cured. It will not blister, peel, rust, or crack, and it’s designed to stand up to all types of weather. Plus, it’s more environmentally friendly than liquid paint coatings, which emit dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and waste water.
To learn more about this ADA compliant, continuous handrail system, please check out the product brochure, the installation instructions, and the PDF line drawings of the parts. And if you have any questions about this or any other railing system we offer, please give us a call at 1-866-931-5002 or click here to request a quote. We look forward to hearing from you!