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
BRE publish a new Good Building Guide - Installing fire protection to structural steelwork.
What do the party manifestos have to offer construction and the built environment? We've taken a look through to find out.
Advancing the outcome of challenging infrastructure projects through project alliancing.
Have a look at this new apartment complex in Sao Paulo, designed by Triptyque Architecture.
China's new approach to masterplan designs.
To mark the IHBC Annual School - how infrastructure relates to heritage-led regeneration and protection of the historic environment.
Almost 600 years on and comprising 980 buildings, the Forbidden City is one of the most famous palace complexes in the world.
We attended Peter Barber's keynote lecture discussing the role of the street in shaping the public life of the city.
What are the main changes and new provisions in the soon-to-be-published NEC4 supply contracts?
"It can feel like we’re never going to keep everybody happy". We spoke with CEO Sarah Beale about the tough challenges ahead for CITB.
Do you know your mono pitch from your purlin roof? Have a look at the different types of domestic roofs.
Apple's new HQ opened to employees this week, and has been touted as 'the best office building in the world'.