You’ve ordered your brand new stair railing, and you can’t wait to install it to upgrade your home or business. But when it arrives, you realize that it’s not a great fit. Whether it’s too short, too tall, or not tall enough, an ill-fitting stair railing is an eyesore and a safety hazard. Since every set of stairs is unique, learning how to measure for a stair railing will save you a huge headache. Fortunately, measuring for a railing is fast and easy.
How to Measure for a Stair Railing
Double-Check Stair Railing Code Requirements
Before you begin measuring for your stair railing, be sure to take a look at building codes to ensure your stairs meet basic requirements. For example, most building codes require that the top of the handrail height rises between 34 and 38 inches above the front edge of the stair nosing. Additionally, if you’re installing a new handrail in a publicly accessible building, keep in mind that it will need to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidelines. Most residential handrails only need to conform to certain elements of the ADA Guidelines. For example, residential railings must be continuous per the ADA.
Measure the Stair Railing’s Overall Height and Length
Before you can order your railing, there are several specific measurement criteria you’ll need to note:
- Overall height: The term “overall height” refers to the distance from the floor or top stair landing to the floor or bottom stair landing.
- Overall length: When determining the overall length of your railing, start at the edge of the nosing on the first tread at the bottom of the staircase. Measure the horizontal distance between that edge and the nosing edge at the top of the staircase.
- Nosing line length: You’ll need to know the length of your “nosing line” if you’re measuring for an ADA-compliant stair handrail. This line is measured by starting at the nosing of the top landing and running all the way to the floor at the lower end. ADA-compliant handrails must run the full length of the nosing line.
Measuring for Slope
If you’re planning to install an ADA-compliant handrail, you will also need to measure for handrail slope. This measurement ensures the correct transition angle between the horizontal and sloped sections of your handrail. Generally speaking, if your handrail slope is between 30 and 34 degrees, you should be able to use a standard 32-degree bend. However, it’s always best to measure for slope before ordering your handrail. To calculate the slope yourself, you can measure the rise of the steps and the stairway tread run. From there, consult an easy online guide like this one to calculate your stairway slope.
Measuring for a stair railing is an easy, do-it-yourself task – but it still requires precision. To ensure reliable measurements before ordering your railing, confirm the handrail’s overall height, overall length, and any other measurements you may need to ensure ADA compliance. Overall, precise handrail measurements are the best way to ensure a seamless installation process.
Do you have more questions about how to measure for a stair railing? When you need an expert who can help you check your measurements, select a new railing, or browse railing accessories, MMC Fencing & Railing is here for you. In our online shop, we sell aluminum and vinyl railing in a variety of styles and colors. So no matter what you’re looking for and no matter how large or small your budget, you’re sure to find something beautiful. Give us a call at 866-931-5002 to get started or to ask about installation options. We look forward to hearing from you!