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Outdoor Handrails and Bannisters – What Are Your Options?

Outdoor handrails and bannisters are more important than you might think. When mounted to a wall or forming part of a balustrade, they prevent people from falling and injuring themselves from a height or on stairs. According to statistics, without a handrail the likelihood of falling on a flight of stairs is doubled!

Handrails are vital to the safe navigation of outdoor spaces. Luckily, there are several guidelines written into UK building regulations regarding their use.

Different regulations apply depending on the location of your handrail and its intended use. With this in mind, it’s important to go over the basic requirements before choosing which outdoor handrail is right for you.

UK building regulations: what you need to know

Perhaps you want to install a handrail on a flight of exterior steps, or maybe you need additional grip for your balustrade, balcony or decking. You might even need a handrail around your swimming pool to prevent trips, slips and falls.

In each of these cases, different rules apply. Similarly, various guidelines need to be taken into consideration if the handrail will be installed in a public area, rather than around the home or garden.

UK building regulations state that wherever a building features different levels over a certain height, a handrail or balustrade is required to offer reasonable protection from falling. Let’s take a closer look at the specific regulations that apply to different projects.

Outdoor handrails for steps and staircases

Some regulations cover all buildings when it comes to choosing handrails for steps and stairs. Others apply only to private homes or only to public buildings. Here’s what you need to know:

  • All buildings
    • Handrails should be positioned 900mm to 1000mm from the surface of the step
    • Stairs wider than 1000mm require handrails on both sides
    • Handrails can form the top of a balustrade as long as the structure height is at least 900mm
    • In buildings used by children under five, you must ensure a 100mm sphere cannot pass through any gaps
  • Homes
    • Handrails are required on stairs with three or more steps that lead to an entrance
    • A balustrade is required on the sides of stairs with a drop of more than 600mm
  • Public properties
    • Handrails are required on stairs with two or more steps
    • A balustrade is required on the sides of stairs with two or more steps
    • Steps intended for use by people with disabilities require handrails beside the bottom two steps
    • Handrails should be slip-resistant and finished in a way that prevents clothes from catching
    • If installing a second handrail on a balustrade, it must be positioned 600mm from the surface of the step

Handrails for balconies and decking

When a handrail forms part of a balustrade on an external balcony or decking, different regulations apply. The main points can be summed up as follows:

  • Private homes – drops of over 600mm must be protected by a balustrade
  • Public properties – drops of over 300mm must be protected by a balustrade
  • For all types of property, the minimum height of the balustrade and handrail must be 1100mm

Requirements are slightly higher for properties used by the public than for private homes. Many homeowners choose to comply with public building regulations as an extra safety precaution.

Handrails for swimming pools

Handrails and balustrades aren’t required by law for outdoor public pools. That’s because, under health and safety at work regulations, it’s assumed a lifeguard or other staff member will be present to safeguard users.

Similarly, outdoor pools on private domestic properties don’t require a balustrade. However, people often consider installing a balustrade around their pool. This is an extra safety measure that stops people falling in and makes an attractive, decorative feature.

Choosing the right outdoor handrail for you

So what are your options when it comes to choosing an outdoor handrail?

Considering the safety issues involved, you’ll want to use a supplier with experience and knowledge. If you want your handrail or balustrade to add aesthetics to your property, you’ll want a company skilled in design, too.

SHS Products is a leading designer, manufacturer, supplier and installer of balustrade systems and handrails with over 25 years’ experience in the industry. We offer a range of stainless steel outdoor handrails that are both functional and stylish. Whether you want to make exterior steps safer or customise a balcony, decking or pool area, our handrails present the ideal finish to any outdoor project.

All of our outdoor handrails are crafted from quality marine grade stainless steel. Thanks to stainless steel’s durable nature, it is the best material for handrails and bannisters. It’s also less likely to corrode in areas exposed to water, making it perfect for swimming pool projects or waterfront properties.

You can customise your handrail in numerous ways. For example, SHS Products offer three end cap options to add a stylish and practical element:

  • Flat: A simple and classic design perfect for any project
  • Domed: An elegant, rounded end ideal for a softer finish
  • Tapered: The perfect in-between if you’re torn between flat and domed end caps.

You can choose from different handrail finishes as well. Two stylish, contemporary options are available:

  • Satin finish: A cost-effective, matte-like finish that subtly complements a range of projects
  • Mirror finish: A modern, reflective finish that’s more expensive but more resistant to the elements. Recommended for properties located by water.

Taking the next step

SHS Products have the experience and expertise to guide you through any interior or exterior project. Our range of outdoor handrails are available in standard and bespoke lengths, and the majority are compliant with building regulations. They’re easy to install yourself, too, though our expert installation team is on hand if help is needed.

We also offer a lengthy guarantee on all handrails, in addition to a competitive price match guarantee.

Why not get an instant online quote with SHS Products today?


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