A lot of people injure themselves by falling, tripping, and slipping on wet surfaces or during ascending or descending on the stairs. In fact, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System suggests that over 25 million people (in only the US) were hospitalized due to stair-related injuries.

Stairs, though necessary for moving between levels, are dangerous; most people injure themselves due to insecure foot landing; the presence of handrails provides better stability while walking up and down the stairs. Moreover, most of these injuries happen in homes due to the lack of handrails. For countering this problem, handrails have become a must on any stairs that are less than 1 meter wide.

Read on to find why handrails are mattering and which type of handrails are the safest.

What is a handrail?

A handrail is an extended rail fixed to posts or a wall that people can hold for support and stability while ascending and descending on the stairways. But their use is not limited to only stairs; they also come in handy when walking on slippery surfaces or other dangerous places where people might need support.

But do not confuse a handrail with a guardrail, as opposed to popular belief; they might serve a similar purpose but are two different things. A handrail, as mentioned, serves as support and provides stability that people can hold on to; whereas, a guardrail, popularly known as railing, acts as a protective layer on stairway or balconies to prevent people from falling down from sideways. Still, many a time, guardrails also incorporate features of the handrail on the stairways, and their upper section consists of a pinch grip instead of being decorative. However, a guardrail with a grasp doesn't meet ADA regulations as its grip is unstable, and they are pretty useless.

Types of grips on a handrail:

Power Grips on a handrail

Power grips are cylindrical handrail having a diameter of one to two inches allows one to their hands perfectly onto it. These are usually much stronger than pinch grip and should be your preferred choice.

Pinch Grips on a handrail

Unlike the power grips, these allow one to hold onto it by pressing their thumb and fingers, like when you hold a carry bag. These do not provide much grip and usually incorporate onto a guardrail. Moreover, these grips do not meet building codes.

Which type of handrail should you install?

Most missteps and falls occur in homes. There is a higher chance of insecure foot landing in homes because of steeper steps and poor handrails design. So, of course, you should go for secure handrails rather than decorative ones.

Practical handrails comply with the building codes and should be your go-to choice. Functional handrails, having a power grip with a diameter of two to three inches, provide better stability while walking down or up the stairs; the maximum width allowed is four to six inches as handrails bigger than that do not provide much grip. However, the decorative handrails might look attractive but serve none to no purpose. Some have a width greater than six inches leading to a weaker grasp, while some have a pinch grip which, as mentioned, does not only meet ADA guidelines but also does not have any purpose at all.

Moreover, you should also focus on your needs; for instance, if someone in the family has a mobility impairment, decorative ones will be a bad idea as they might trip and fall due to a loose grip.

Types of materials used in handrails

You will also have to choose materials used for the handrail. Irrespective of the material you choose, a handrail will serve its purpose unless you prefer a fancy one that does not meet International Residental Codes. There are several types of materials to choose from; the ideal one for you depends on the need. For instance, to use it in a public place, choose a tougher material. But when it comes to employing it in the home, a less durable one will do the job. Here are some common materials used for making handrails; depending on the use, location, and decor, you can choose the perfect handrails for you.

Wooden Handrails

If you need a handrail that serves as an artistic component to the home, then you should go for a wooden handrail. Available in various shapes and styles, they will integrate well into any home. However, remember that wooden handrails demand more preservation and require regular maintenance. These intervals become shorter if you incorporate them outside and leave them to the vulnerabilities of the environment. Moreover, most wooden handrails do not comply with safety and focus more on being a decorative addition to the place. So, you should specifically focus on the safety features while choosing a wooden handrail. You can check timber handrails in Brisbane homes, where many homeowners have installed wooden handrails without compromising safety.


Stainless steel and aluminium are other popular choices for handrails. Not only are they durable, but also they are easy to clean. Plus, they do not require regular maintenance. Moreover, you will be wrong if you believe metal handrails cannot add aesthetics to a place.

Be it for any place— handrails do not only provide safety but also adds architectural beauty. If you are concerned for the well-being of your loved ones, it's best to install a handrail.