Whether you’re walking up the stairs, viewing great scenery on a higher level indoors or outdoors or passing through a hall upstairs, you would most likely want to hold on to a handrail, right? This is a standard safety feature that we usually see not only for staircases but even on railings on both ground and upper levels of a home or building including balconies.
Handrails make going up and down the stairs safer and more comfortable. Perhaps you have observed that whenever you’re ascending or descending a new staircase, your hands most often look for something to hold on to. And that’s where a rail serves its main purpose.
But while the handrail is there to keep people safe, not all who use the stairs use it. Rail usage is somewhat associated with age and on stair layouts as found by a study covering five stairs. It showed that only 16 to 18 percent of people descending used the rail extensively while only 10 percent used it in going up. In addition, people are less likely to use it if it will make them take a longer route.
Many of us are aware that a hand rail is put in place to prevent accidents. Specifically, it aims to prevent loss of balance, to help a person regain balance in case of a slip or fall, to help one go up a stair, to guide a person and provide stability notably for those with visual and balance problems.
But today, of course, this safety tool also adds beauty to a flight of stairs or other types of railings. Regardless of where it is placed — either on a wall or on a concrete stairs, a hand rail should be properly installed.
Ideally, the height of a hand rail is determined vertically starting from the stair nosing up to the top of the rail. The height depends on the fixture’s purpose. But normally, it is installed in a position where it can be easily reached and where the hand can grip it comfortably. Studies have shown that in choosing between the appropriate height for hand rails for both going up and down a stair, the height ideal for descent is the most preferred choice. Research has cited that most falls on a stair are those in going down which are considered a major cause of injury.
Ensuring safety does not end in deciding to install a hand rail. Choosing the shape of the fixture is also very important. Experts suggest that a circular shape should be used because of its ability to accommodate all hand shapes and sizes.
A 1988 study by Brian Maki found that the circular shaped rails measuring 3.8 centimeters in diameter are the one that provides the biggest stabilizing force. The same research also found that the circular and oval handrails had the best ratings in terms of grip and sliding comfort. Those narrow rectangular and decorative railings showed low ratings.
Now that you know the benefits of having this fixture in your stairs, make sure that pick the right choice for your home.