Do I Need Handrails On Both Sides Of Exterior Stairs?


Under all editions of the International Residential Code (IRC), only one handrail on one side is ever required, regardless of the width of the stairs. In comparison, the International Building Code (IBC) — which regulates public buildings — requires handrails on both sides of any stairway.


That means you’ll need the handrails on both sides in most cases. An exception might be when there is a wall on the other side. For example, if you place stairs on the porch next to the house’s exterior wall, it might be the only option to place the handrail on the opposite side. Which side should the handrail be on the stairs?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need handrails in outdoor spaces?

When mounted to a wall or forming part of a balustrade, they prevent people from falling and injuring themselves from a height or on stairs. According to statistics, without a handrail the likelihood of falling on a flight of stairs is doubled! Handrails are vital to the safe navigation of outdoor spaces.

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