The staircase is an integral part of your home and you want it to look as good as possible. It is a major consideration when you are building a home or remodeling an existing one. While there are a wide variety of materials and designs to choose from, did you know that the state of California has laid down detailed specifications for residential staircases and handrails? The aim is to prevent unsafe construction and design that could lead to loss of life or injury. If your staircase is being built or remodeled by a professional, he will know what needs to be done so you do not have to worry. Still, it’s a good idea for the home owner to know the specifications. Here, in brief, are a few of the key provisions of residential Stairway and Handrail requirements as defined by the 2007 California Building Code.
- The rise and run of steps shall be uniform in size, shape, and the variation cannot exceed 3/8 inch in the total run.
- The maximum rise of steps shall be 7 3/4 inches; the minimum tread depth shall be 10 inches. The minimum winder tread depth at the walk line shall be 10 inches; and the minimum winder tread depth shall be 6 inches.
- The minimum width of stairways shall not be less than 36 inches. The minimum dimension of all landings shall be 36 inches.
- Stairways should have headroom clearance of a minimum of 80 inches measured vertically from the line which connects the nosing edge.
- The mounting of handrails shall be such that the completed handrail and supporting structure are capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds applied in any direction at any point along the top of the rail.
- Handrails shall be continuous for the full length of the stairs, from the top riser to the bottom. Handrails are only permitted to be interrupted by a newel post at a landing.
- Handrail height, measured above the stair tread nosing, shall be uniform, not less than 34 inches and not more than 38 inches.
- Handrails with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of at least 1 ¼ and not greater than 2 inches or shall provide equivalent grasp ability.
- Handrail ends shall be returned to a wall, a guard or walking surface or shall be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent stair flight.
- Handrails shall have a clear space between the handrail and a wall or other surface of at least 1 ½ inches. A handrail and a wall or other surface adjacent to the handrail shall be free of any sharp objects or abrasive elements.
- Projections into the required width of the stairways at each handrail shall not exceed 4 ½ inches at or below the handrail height.
- On the open side of the stairs, intermediate railings shall be provided and installed so that a 4.375 inch sphere shall not pass through.
These are just a few of the specifications to be followed. A lot of the technical jargon contained in the code has been left out. Understanding them, let alone ensuring that they are complied with, is a job for professionals. That is why it is important that your staircase is constructed or remodeled by a contractor with a background in construction and specialization in staircase design and fabrication. This will ensure that you get the staircase you want without compromising on safety or violating the provisions of the Code.