Continuity of Handrails

Voting section relating to Minnesota Building Codes.

See question below

Poll ended at Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:19 pm

Is a winding stair a “turn"? Yes
Is a winding stair a “turn"? NO
Or is only a landing a “turn”? Yes
Or is only a landing a “turn”? NO
Total votes : 37

Continuity of Handrails

Postby forumadmin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:28 pm

2006 IRC R311.5.6.2 Continuity (of handrails) requires “handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight…”. Exception #1 indicates: “Handrails shall be permitted to be interrupted by a newel post at the turn.”

Is a winding stair a “turn"?
Or is only a landing a “turn”?
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Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby JG MCP » Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:15 am

a winder is just another form of tread per R311.5.3.2 and doesn't affect the handrail per R311.5.6. This is not a special stair per R311.5.8 (spiral).
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Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby mikeselon » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:19 am

A winder is another form of a tread and so the handrail would have to be continuous. A landing of proper dimensions would allow the handrail to be discontinuous.
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Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby RDavidson » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:04 am

The code section applicable to continuity of handrails doesn’t make any references to landings or winder stairs. It states that a handrail can be interrupted by a newel post at a turn. A turn is defined as a change in direction. So the relevant issue is “is there a change in direction?” If there is and a newel post is installed at this turn (change in direction), then the handrail may be interrupted at that location. There is no limit on the number of “turns” in a stair so the number of interruptions by newel posts is unlimited. So I wouldn’t get into a debate over whether a winder or landing constitutes a “turn”. I would say that a change in the direction of travel constitutes a turn no matter what the layout or configuration of the treads might be. From a practical standpoint, if I am permitted to remove my hand from a handrail for a turn of 90 degrees, would it be any less hazardous if I had to remove it for a turn of 30 degrees?
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Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby Roger Axel » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:05 am

The "turn" occurs at the floor or landing located at either the top or bottom of the stairway (R311.5.4). Once you reach the floor or landing you are no longer on the stair and therefore the handrail may terminate at the newel at that location(R311.5.6.2). A winder is a type of stairway tread with specific dimensions required (R311.5.3.2), like spiral (R311.5.8.1) or circular (1300.0110 Subp. 13).
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Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby FW » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:47 pm

I have to agree with RDavidson, the turn does not occur at the landing, it occurs at a turn. The first part of R311.5.6.2 says that the handrail shall be continous for the full length of the flight of the stairs. What is a flight of stairs? R311.5.4 insinuates that a flight of stairs is between floor levels or between landings (a flight can't be more than 12' tall). Why then would there be an exception to allow a post at a turn if the intent was not to allow it at a turn and instead only allow it at the landing?
Having built my share of winding stairs, and having one in my one home, the newel post at the turn is not a hazard in my opinion. And I often think about it when I am using the stairs. The Code commentary states "The two exceptions to this section create situations where the graspable portion of the handrail may not end up being completley continous from the top riser to the bottom riser. These traditional situations have routinely been accepted in the past and therefore are permitted in the code."

Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby Dave Ding » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:47 am

I also agree with FW and RD . just think how difficult it is for a person to keep there hand on a winder stairway handrail at the turn
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Re: Continuity of Handrails

Postby Armand » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:31 am

Spiral stairways could be considered a continuous turn, but are actually a continuous run of treads. In the context of this question, it isn't applicable, as the handrail must spiral with the spiral stairway.

More questions.

Is a landing the only method that can be used to provide a change in the direction of two or more standard straight stairways?
Or can a series of spiral stairs be incorporated into a flight of stairs to provide a turn? If so, would that require a continuous handrail?

Have you had this asked of you?

How did you deal with it?
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