Choosing the right handrail

    As it’s Seniors Week it’s a great time to be future planning your home either for yourself or an elderly relative  – perhaps one of your parents or inlaws is moving in and you need to make it a safer place for them.

    Handrails are an essential component of this upgrade. When picking the right handrail for the stairs in your home, it’s important to consider both the safety and practically uses, but also the design to ensure it complements your home’s overall style. Here are some important things to consider when planning your handrail.

    Two system types: The first thing you should know is there are two types of handrail systems – post to post handrails, and over the post handrails. Over the post handrails are those which run in complete form from top to bottom of the staircase and therefore suit straight-line staircases. Posts to post handrails are those which use taller posts, and the rail runs to each post. These systems are best used for staircases that will twist and turn.

    Height: For elderly use, I would consider having them at a lower height than standard so they’re able to lean on them if need be. They then also don’t have to lift their arm up to high to grip them. There are standards that are easily accessible for the handrail install as they have to be installed to a certain code when building retirement villages and nursing homes.

    Materials: Metal handrails are generally made from pipe, in either round or square shape. I would suggest metal handrails if you’re looking for something durable and low maintenance.

    Wrought iron handrails are fantastic if you’re after a more ornate look. However, if cost is an issue then these handrails may be out of reach as they’re considered a specialty material and cost a little more.

    If looks are not an issue and it’s purely functional, I’d recommend any steel pipe setup for external use. Galvanised steel or aluminium is cheaper than stainless steel and easier to install. The best way to get started is to get a stair company to come and measure and at the same time you can choose what look you’re after and see what’s the most practical option for the situation it’s required for.

    Timber is best for internal use – for both being able to install and for being able to paint it any colour to suit. You also have more scope for installation if the rail is timber as it’s easier to fix to walls.

    Wooden handrails are very popular as they’re an easily adapted material to suit both traditional and contemporary styled homes. The cost of these handrails will depend on the type of wood you choose, so this product can suit just about any budget.

    Glass handrails are very new to the industry, and if you’re after a contemporary look, then this would be your go-to material – though keep in mind this product will be high maintenance.

    Cost: When it comes to cost, timber is the cheapest. You don’t need specialised metal handrail manufacturers to do the job and can just get a carpenter to make one on site. Metal rails tend to have to be measured on site, then custom made off-site and then installed on site, hence the higher costs.

    With so many options of handrails out there, choosing can be tricky! Start by setting yourself a budget, factor in what materials suit your overall home design, how you or your family member will use the rail, which system you’ll need, and go from there.

    _____________________________________________________________________Turrell Building Services has been designing and building on the North Shore and in the Hills District for over 20 years

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