Railings can be made from a very wide range of materials:
Railings differ from balusters which are made of stone, wood or metal, which are usually rounded or vase-shaped and support a rail or coping in a balustrade. They are common in classical forms of architecture. The balusters of a stairway together with handrail is known by the term banister.
 Guard rails
Guard rails tend to be a restrictive form of railing, and aim to create the protective limitation of a boundary as opposed to handrails which aim to provide support. Many public spaces are fitted with guardrails as a means of preventing access and maintaining safety.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require that, for construction work, railings must have a minimum height of 950 mm and any gap between top and any intermediate rail should not exceed 470 mm.
- The spaces between railings should be close enough together to prevent a 100 mm sphere from passing through.
- Horizontal rails should be avoided to prevent climbing.
See also Guarding.
Approved Document K requires that:
- The top of the handrail should be positioned 900-1000 mm from the pitch line or floor.
- The handrail may form the top of a guarding as long as the heights are matched.
- A handrail should be provided on both sides of stairs that are 1 m wide or wider.
- If stairs are more than 2m wide, then they should be divided into flights of no less than 1,000mm.
- Handrails should be 50-75 mm away from the wall to which they are attached.
- Circular handrails should be 32-50 mm in diameter.
- Non-circular handrails should be 50 mm wide and 39 mm deep, usually with rounded edges.
In addition to this, for buildings other than dwellings:
- Where there is a full guarding, and a second (lower) handrail, it should be 600 mm above the pitch line of the steps of ramp surface.
- Handrails should not project into an access route.
- Handrails should contrast visually without being highly reflective.
- Handrails should be slip-resistant and not liable to become too hot or cold to the touch.
- Handrails should continue, at least 300mm beyond the top and bottom of the stairs and should be finished in a way that reduces the risk of clothing being caught.
In dwellings and common access areas in buildings that contain flats:
- Handrails on one or both sides should be provided for ramps less than 1 m wide.
- Ramps wider than 1 m should have handrails on both sides.
- Handrails are not needed for ramps 600 mm or less in height.
- Handrails should be positioned 900-1000 mm above the surface of the ramp.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Access control in buildings.
- Approved Document K.
- Health and safety.
- Hoarding for construction sites.
- Newel post.
- Work at height regulations.
- Wrought iron spindles for external stairs
 External references
Featured articles and news
Do you know all the various types of defects in brickwork?
US museum reveals plans for an installation made entirely of paper tubes.
Review of a book looking at how contemporary architecture found its expression within neoliberal capitalism.
The Great Mosque of Djenne, the largest mud-brick building in the world.
Amanda Clack, RICS President offers recommendations to government on Brexit and the construction skills shortage.
Tired of the commute? This architecture firm believes the best solution is to take cars underground.
Why do so many women leave engineering? Probably not for the reason you’re thinking.
For over 30 years David Trench was one of the UK's leading project managers. Read about his career through some of his most famous projects.
Leading institutes join forces calling for property flood resilience measures to help householders avoid repeat flooding.
CITB publish new report calling for the development of new skills standards for offsite construction.
Residents of neighbouring building go to High Court claiming viewing platform infringes their human rights.
If only Easter eggs came as large as this one in a Japanese bird sanctuary.