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RE: Steel Stairs and Railing Design

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The NAAMM is an excellent reference and provides plenty of useful tables,
typical details, specifications, etc.  The design loads are provided in IBC
and ASCE 7 for stairs and handrails.  For stairs the live loads are 100 psf
and I think a 300 lbs. concentrated load.  I do not have the codes at home.
For handrails, a concentrated load of 200 lbs in any direction or 50 plf, not
to be considered concurrently.  At one time the IBC allowed an 1/3 increase
in allowable stresses for handrail.  Not sure if it still does. 


You should check the specifications from the architect/engineer.  Sometimes
they will define the loads and also a maximum deflection which on long spans
may govern.  Typically the specify a maximum deflection of a stringer of


OSHA also has requirements which vary from the building code.  The loads are
larger but it is not clear if they are talking about using allowable stresses
or yield.  We design per the building code.


There are also minimum widths, height of rails, infill, etc.  This is all
covered by the IBC or BOCA or UBC.  Not sure which code is used in your area.


Gary Loomis, PE

Master Engineers and Designers Inc.


I have a client who is a steel fabricator employed by the contractor on a
project. Per the specs, he is required to provide design calculations for the
stair design as well as the railing design. Are there any good reference
materials that address the design of metal stairs and handrails? I did a
quick search and discovered that the NAAMM metal stairs manual is not
available online, although I am not sure that would even be useful.