Summary: Handrails are for safety. On stairs and ramps, they provide something to grasp for support. If someone trips or needs help with balance, handrails are there to be grasped. They are particularly important at the top and bottom of a stair or ramp, where pedestrians may need extra help in orienting themselves. The size, placement and number of handrails are governed by the either the Seattle Residential Code (SRC for single family, duplex or townhouses – all with 3 or fewer stories) or the Seattle Building Code (SBC – all other residences and other buildings). The type of building determines which code to use. Each of these codes gives the minimum requirements for handrails, but designers should always keep in mind the purpose of handrails, and consider adding additional ones if safety warrants them.
Date Revised: 09/07/2021