When it comes to all things outdoor handrails for steps and railings for your outdoor spaces, you have some important choices to make.
Many types of materials exist that you can use as railings for stairs or walkways on exterior homes but each has its own advantages and disadvantages including maintenance requirements and aesthetics. It is important to consider what features you require before making a decision about what to put the time and money investment into.
Then of course there is the perennial DIY question. You have a choice to get a contractor in to install your choice of railing or you can do a DIY project if you feel you can manage it. Of course, there are pros and cons with both approaches and also influenced by what materials you choose to use – some are easier to DIY than others. For example, if you’re a woodworking genius but you decide to go with metal railings that need some welding, you may be a bit out of your depth, especially if you don’t even own a welder. This blog post is going to go over some of the key issues to help you make the best decisions. If you’d like to make your railing higher, check out this article on making a railing higher.
- Material Options
- Building Code Considerations For Railings
- External Handrails For Steps
- Outdoor Handrail Kit Options
- Contractor Installation
- DIY Approach
- Frequently Asked Questions For Handrails
For me the answer is simple. I prefer metal hand railing for outside steps. and the reality is, the most common choice is metal railing – either piping or tubing. This is for good reason because there are many great advantages of using steel for outdoor metal railing. If you are USA-based, you even have the choice to use a metal conduit for the railing material. In Australia and New Zealand, unfortunately, all electrical conduit is PVC so that option is just not available. There are some great examples on the web of very nice-looking conduit deck railing projects. See the YouTube Video below for an example of what is possible. But of course, these days, you can also get PVC, WPC, and glass options or the more traditional wood approach as well.
One of the important issues when it comes to railings is what the building codes are in your area. It is important to keep things to code, both for safety reasons and to maintain the compliance status of your property in terms of maintaining the value of your investment.
Building Code Considerations For Railings
Handrails For Outdoor Steps Australia: Important Considerations.
In Australia, all things outdoor stairs, be they metal stair handrail or wooden stair handrail must conform to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) in a set of minimum standards.
You should check out the specification in detail to make sure you comply, but here is a quick summary of the main issues that the standard addresses:
- A handrail is required on all stairs if the steps rise more than one meter.
- Handrails are required based on the rise of the stairs, not the number of stairs.
- There is no requirement for a handrail when a fixed structure is less than 100mm from the stairway stile.
- Stairways must have a handrail on both sides if their width exceeds one metre.
- When it comes to handrail height, it must be at least 900 mm above the level of the step below, and at most 1100 mm above it.
- There must be a handrail with a minimum height of one metre in areas where there is a risk of falling or strong winds.
- The handrails should have smooth surfaces along their entire length without any obstructions that would cause a handhold to be broken.
External Handrails For Steps
Outdoor Handrail And Railing Design Ideas
There are so many styles, materials, and designs to choose from that narrowing down your decision can feel impossible.
There are many different options for your handrail and railing needs. Whether you’re looking to make a more traditional style or want something that is modern, there’s an option out there for you!
Here is a brief overview to get you thinking.
External Timber Handrails
External timber handrails are the most common type of railing that people install. They’re not as expensive to purchase and they don’t take much time to put up either.
When it comes to choosing what kind of timber you want to use for your railings, there are many different types. The most popular is treated pine because it’s cheaper than other options and more durable as well!
Many people choose not to paint their exterior wooden handrails because they’re looking for a natural look that will blend in with the environment around them. You do need to be careful about how long they last if not painted or stained because the weather will eventually deteriorate them and make them look less attractive over time.
Handrails For Stairs: Metal vs Wood vs Other
The material used to make outdoor steps is a big consideration when choosing the railing. While wood is a beautiful choice, exterior wooden handrails will eventually rot and deteriorate. Steel handrails are more durable and can blend into any stairway. The downside of using metal is its cost, but the advantages of using it make it a good choice for most outdoor steps. If you’re considering this material for your outdoor steps, make sure you do some research and make an informed decision.
Metal Hand Railing For Outside Steps
Metal railings are a more durable option and they also look quite nice, regardless if your stairs are metal, wooden, or composite.
Metal handrails offer protection against corrosion from rain, saltwater, etc., but it may need more strict care than wood rails do because metal does not rot over time as natural materials do; they also typically come with additional accessories such as mounting brackets and end caps.
Metal rails have more stability because the posts will not shift over time like wooden railings do when exposed to moisture; plus, metal is very durable and lasts for years in outdoor environments.
If your stairs are made of metal, a metal handrail that matches it works the best.
However, metal is much heavier than wood or composite so it’s not as easy to install them yourself unless you have some experience with that sort of thing already.
Wrought Iron Handrail
If you’re looking for a more rustic feeling, wrought iron might be the best choice.
This option is popular among homeowners who are seeking that more period look. They are pretty affordable too.
Wrought iron external handrails for steps are an excellent choice for exterior stair applications. They can be customized to meet your specific requirements. They are made of sturdy wrought iron with powder-coated surface. These steps handrails are rust-proof and easy to maintain. They are great for residential and commercial use. Here are some of the reasons why you should use them. If you’re planning to install one in your home, here are some advantages.
Pre-galvanized railing costs $60 to $90 per linear foot. Galvanization adds a protective coating to the railing, reducing maintenance and maximizing durability. Ornamental iron railing costs $60 to $120 per linear foot. This type of railing can last for 100 years with proper maintenance. And if you don’t mind spending a bit more money, you can opt for a pre-built wrought iron step.
Even more affordable is the wrought iron lookalike reproduced in PVC form.
Exterior Steel Handrails For Outdoor Steps
If you have a steel exterior on your home and want to match the handrail of the steps with that material as well, an excellent option is a stainless steel choice for your handrails.
They are also a great option because they will resist rust, mold, and corrosion.
Stainless steel handrails offer several benefits. They’re corrosion-resistant, easy to clean, recyclable, and come in many designs. Additionally, you can find stainless steel handrails for outdoor steps at the website of the company Metal Handrail Stair Direct. This website has honest reviews from 223 consumers. You can also use FindThisBest to search for Metty Metal products and compare their prices. Finally, you can always read the buyer’s guide to learn about the products offered by the company.
Black Star Railing
This is a great option for those who have historic homes. The black star railing design looks fantastic with an old-world style of houses.
The posts are capped off with beautiful decorative finials and the handrail features an ornate, embossed-looking finish as well to match that period look.
It’s also historically accurate because it was popular in Victorian times too!
Outdoor Handrail Kit Options
An Outdoor Handrail Kit for steps is a great choice for places without walls or fences. These kits are easy to assemble and come with most of the parts you need. You will need a mason bit to pre-drill holes in concrete and screws. Each handrail has two pieces – a horizontal top piece and a curved bottom piece. These kits are very lightweight and easy to install. They come in a variety of styles.
There are several types of handrail kits, each of which has its own benefits and disadvantages. You can buy simple, straight handrails, or more decorative, curved ones. Wrought iron handrails are an excellent choice for a rustic, vintage look, but are usually more expensive. For light traffic, they’re a good choice for outdoor spaces. Whether you want to create an outdoor staircase or install a railing around a pool, the choice is up to you.
Wooden handrails are available at home supply stores. You can buy them prefabricated or install them yourself. Pre-drilled holes make it easy to install them. You can even rent a hammer drill for the installation. For larger jobs, it’s a good idea to hire a reputable contractor. Outdoor handrail kits can withstand harsh weather conditions, including ice, and they’re highly durable.
If you want to avoid the task of installing your own railing from scratch (a big task!), there are many different outdoor stair kits that can be ordered for a variety of styles.
Deck Railing Kits
A Wrought Iron Railing Kit is great because it includes everything needed in order to install a beautiful wrought iron handrail with no additional materials required and has an easy installation process.
Another kit option is the Vinyl Option which features long-lasting material and installs quickly without much hassle on your part! This type of rail would work well on any exterior porch or deck where other wooden materials might not do as well due to weathering from rain and sun exposure.
Stair Handrail Kits
Stair railing kits provides a handrail to any set of stairs in order to ensure safety when someone is using your outdoor stairs. These kits are easy to install with all necessary hardware included, so it’s possible that installing this rail yourself will be easier than hiring someone else.
You will also find ready-made stair railing kits from local home improvement stores (such as Lowes or Menards in the USA or Bunnings in Australia/NZ) if you’re looking for a DIY approach with much of the hard work already done.
Let’s use a 10-foot piece of deck railing to base our averages on. The average cost is around $930.
Just the cost of materials alone can range between $150 to $6,000 for the same length. This large range reflects the large cost difference of your material options. The most costly are glass systems, while vinyl and composites are quite affordable. Your railing can be as simple or elaborate as you like, but the overall cost will reflect this decision.
Of course, labor varies but averages at about $300 for a 3 meter (10 foot) piece as well.
When installing external handrails for steps, make sure you set the railing so that its edge is one-half-inch away from the step. After that, adjust the railing to line up with the steps. Then, drill starter holes through the end brackets. Use anchor bolts to secure the railing and prevent it from shifting. In the last step, attach the railing to the steps. Follow the directions in the handbook or online to finish the installation.
Here are a few YouTube videos so you can right down to some research on the options you have.
Frequently Asked Questions For Handrails
How much is metal stair railing?
Several different designs and lines are available for metal stair railings so that you can achieve the desired look. Based on the systems available, metal railing typically costs between $120 and $320 per meter ($40 to $100 per foot).
How do you install outdoor metal stair railing?
This YouTube video from Harmony Railing does a good job of explaining the overall process.
What is the Australian standard for exterior stair rails?
Handrails are required to be 865mm in height above the floor or the nosing of a staircase. On landings that pose a high fall risk, guardrails need to be at least 1000mm tall. To clarify, the nosing is the edge of a tread.
How many exterior steps require a handrail?
Two steps. Any stair with greater than two risers must have railings between 34 and 38 inches above the stair treads. A riser constitutes the vertical part of a staircase, while a tread contains the top of a step. A minimum of two risers translates to two steps.
Are handrails required for exterior stairs?
Your local government’s building regulations will ultimately determine the fine details, but according to the International Building Code, International Residential Code and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, exterior stairs that exit or enter a building must have handrails. Any stair with greater than two risers must have railings between 34 and 38 inches above the stair treads.
What is a continuous handrail?
This term means that a handrail runs from the top to bottom riser in a continuous single handrail. This allows someone to grasp the rail without having to let go at any time where it is supported by vertical peices.
Do I need a handrail for 2 steps?
Most building codes specify that you need a rail whenever there are more than one step – technically refered to as ‘risers’.
What side should a handrail be on with exterior metal handrails for steps?
A handrail should always be on the open side of steps or porch. If steps have open sides on either side, you need to have a rail on both sides.
What is the correct handrail height?
The height of a handrail should be a minumum of 34 inches and a maximum of 38 inches vertically from the front edge of a stair to the top of the rail.
Is there situations where exterior stair rails should not be metal?
Yes, metal rails outdoors can get dangerously slick and hot in some climates. Wood or composite rails may be preferable depending on the location.
Wrought iron handrails for outdoor steps Australia vs USA rules?
Handrail requirements differ – Australia has a minimum height of 865mm vs 900-950mm in the USA. Load capacity specs also vary.
With outdoor walkway railings, at what walkway height are they needed?
Railings are required alongside elevated exterior walkways over 600mm (24 inches) high per international building codes.
Is DIY handrails for outdoor stairs realistic?
Only for experienced DIYers. Professionals are recommended for code-compliant, safe exterior railing installation.
Is hand railing for stairs outdoors required by law?
Railing requirements for outdoor stairs vary by location. Many mandate handrails for stairways with 3 or more risers for safety.
If I want a handrail for concrete steps, can I DIY?
Yes, handrails can be DIYed for concrete steps with proper tools, materials, and skill. Be sure to anchor railing securely into concrete.
Is a handrail for front steps required?
Handrails may be required on front steps over a certain number of risers and height per local codes. Adding one improves safety regardless.
What are some front stair railing issues compared to other railing?
Front steps railing encounters heavy use and weather exposure. Durability and slip-resistance are key front handrail considerations.
Are handrails for garden steps necessary?
Not always required, but adding handrails to garden steps improves safety, especially for seniors, kids, or those with mobility issues.
When it comes to garden rails for steps, what is the best material to use?
Low-maintenance, weather-resistant materials like powder coated aluminum, composite, or pressure-treated wood work well for garden step rails.
What are the main types of handrails for outdoor steps?
Main types are wood, composite, wrought iron, aluminum, stainless steel, and PVC. Each has pros and cons.
Is it hard to learn how to install outdoor stair railing?
Basic railing is doable, but angled stairs, fitting joinery, finishing, and meeting code intricacies pose challenges best left to trained pros.
Are prefab handrails for steps easy to install?
Prefabricated modular outdoor handrails assemble more quickly than building onsite from scratch. But anchoring properly still requires skill.
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