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How do stair widths influence balustrade design?

Posted on 20th January 2022

Stair cores are often designed to the smallest scale possible to maximise floor space across the building.  However, narrow stair widths impact the way in which balustrades and handrails are fixed to the stair and the compliance of the overall balustrade system.

There are several regulations that refer to the stair width, including:

Building Regulations

British Standards

To ensure cohesion and maximum collaboration, it’s always beneficial for Architects and balustrade suppliers to discuss which regulations are used for reference in the design.

During the stair design process there are a few key points to consider, such as:

  • Stairs wider than 2m require central handrails
  • Where the stair is more than 1m wide, handrails are required on either side
  • Wall handrails and offset handrails should only encroach by 100mm into the stair width to meet regulations and remain compliant
  • Side fixed balustrades allow for a greater clear open stair width however this fixing method requires suitable width between the stairs
  • Where double handrails are required a side fix balustrade system is the best option (if possible)

For more information on how handrail transitions impact design click here.