A handrail is an important safety feature for any set of stairs. It can be installed at the top or bottom of a staircase or along both sides. If you are installing one yourself, there are many things that you should keep in mind to make sure it is done correctly and safely. Here are eight mistakes homeowners often make when installing a handrail.
Installing the railing at the wrong height
Your handrail should be set at a height that is easy for older or shorter people to use but still high enough so that children cannot grab onto it. Most handrails are installed between 34 and 38 inches above the stair treads. This allows most adults to easily grip it with one or both hands while descending stairs but is out of children’s reach.
Not having a discussion with your builder or contractor
Before you get started, it is important to talk with the builder or contractor doing the electrical work in your home. If they have recently installed a new electrical panel, it may not have enough room for an additional circuit that a handrail would require. Or perhaps there is no junction box below the stair where you want to install the railing. These are things that can be discussed before you purchase or start the installation of your handrail.
Not installing the railing before the walls are up
If you are building a new home, make sure to install your handrail before putting up any drywall or paneling. If you are renovating, it is important to have the contractor place all of your wall studs where they need to be for both electric and plumbing reasons. Once this is done, you can put your handrail where it should be.
Not using enough fasteners
It’s important that you use drywall anchors and screws when installing your handrail. These can be bought at any home improvement store and come in various types depending on the weight of your handrail. Please make sure you use fasteners that can hold up to 200 pounds or more, as it is common for people to lean against a handrail when going downstairs. A good rule of thumb is to drive two screws into every stud, one above the handrail and one below. This will give added security and ensure that your railing doesn’t come loose.
Installing a handrail with narrow spindles
When you are trying to decide the style of handrail you want to put up, make sure you choose one with large enough spindles. A proper grip can be obtained by using a 1 3/8 inches wide rail, so it is important that your spindles are large enough to accommodate this. If you want to install a handrail with narrow spindles, choose one with small balusters so adults can use the rail without having to climb over them.
Not using T-shaped brackets for extra support
When you are installing a handrail, it is a good idea to use T-shaped brackets at the top and bottom of each stair. These together with the Wire balustrade can hold onto the rail from underneath and provide extra support for your railing. Most people don’t think about using these when installing their rails, but they can prevent accidents by giving added stability to your railing. If you do not choose these, installing blocking between each stud is vital before putting up your handrail.
Failing to match your railing to the style of your staircase
Most new homes are built with modern staircases, which often have metal or glass handrails. If you choose to install a more traditional wooden one, make sure it matches the rest of the decor in your house. You can get any wood for your handrail that you want; just have it lacquered to protect it from wear and tear.
Improperly measuring rail length before cutting it
It is essential to measure your railing before cutting it. This is done by measuring the entire perimeter of each riser on all of your stairs, adding an extra 6-12 inches to the measurement, and then multiplying this number by two. This will ensure that you have enough railing for your staircase once you add it up.
Installing a handrail for your staircase is not very difficult if you know what to do. There are no excuses for why you shouldn’t have one installed right away with these tips in mind. And remember, it’s always better safe than sorry!
About the Author:
Jim Pulman has extensive knowledge and experience in Home Building, Construction, and Design. He writes articles in his free time and partners with content creators to share his expertise with the online community.