Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: Guard Rails

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Section 1607.7 of the IBC outlines the load capacity requirements for guards and handrails.  All components (including balusters) must sustain the minimum applied loads.  From my recollection, this section does not specifically require a continuous top rail.  From a structural capacity standpoint, this section simply requires that the handrails and guards be able to transfer the applied loads through the supports and into the building structure.  As with most codes, check the local jurisdiction that you are interested in; there may be supplemental requirements.


There are additional glass guard and handrail requirements in Section 2407 of the IBC.  This section does stipulate that “Each handrail or guard section shall be supported by a minimum of three glass balusters or shall be otherwise supported to remain in place should one baluster panel fail.


For overall continuity, this is typically a handrail requirement, which in most applications is separate entity (although usually incorporated into a single assembly comprised of both the guard and handrail when both are needed).  The handrail must be continuous (at least in all codes that I can recall) and must be designed to sustain the loads per the local building code.  For dimensional constraints, don’t forget to check for requirements required by ADA or for any local requirements.  Here in Massachusetts, there is a State Architectural Access Board that has issued regulations that include dimensional requirements of handrails.




Matthew Banville, P.E.

From: Thor Tandy [mailto:vicpeng(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 1:34 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Guard Rails


The top rail in guard rail systems are prescribed to exist and be a structural element in both Canadian and US codes.  The handrail, however, is different from the top rail and is required only for guiding the hand etc and therefore there are dimension restraints.


Thor A. Tandy P.Eng, C.Eng, Struct.Eng, MIStructE
Victoria, BC



From: ken ng [mailto:zy7up(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:55 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Guard Rails


I thought the top rail diameter shall be less than 2" and continue just in case for the handicap person to put their hand on the rail.  This rail could be located on the top or the side of the guardrail or ramp and continue to assist handicap person.



From: "Rhkratzse(--nospam--at)" <Rhkratzse(--nospam--at)>
To: vicpeng(--nospam--at); seaint(--nospam--at)
Sent: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 1:53:40 PM
Subject: Re: Guard Rails

I have no idea, but I would like to point out that I often seen, mainly in architectural magazines, stairs with all-glass railings, without a continuous top trim, with trapezoidal-shaped glass panels with a point at the upper corner.  Meaning that if you slide your hand down the rail, it'll be impaled on that point.  Can't understand how that can be acceptable.


In a message dated 9/9/09 1:29:08 PM, vicpeng(--nospam--at) writes:

Can anyone confirm for me, under any/all US codes, if a continuous top rail
is mandated on all glass "guard rail" systems?  . if it's a judgement call
or if it's not even mentioned .


Thor A. Tandy P.Eng, C.Eng, Struct.Eng, MIStructE
Victoria, BC