Center installed handrail

I did an inspection today where the front porch steps had a handrail installed in the center on the steps. There is about 32" of tread on each side of the railing. Does this meet the standard or does this need a railing on each edge of the steps? Thanks.

That is a handrail. You need guards on the sides. It is a safety defect.


Yes, it needs guards on both sides, as Brian said…a safety hazard.

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And you may want to throw in the damaged nosing. Also a safety concern.

Here is another set of steps with a center handrail but no handrail on either side. There is about 30 feet of tread on either side of the handrail. On January 6 there were some people who thought it was far to easy to get up and down these steps and perhaps it should be made more difficult. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

the capitol steps


Too soon? :rofl:


IBC 1015.2: Guards shall be located along open sided walking surfaces that are located more than 30” measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point within 36" (914mm).

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‘Stair-rails’ required on both sides. Landing above 24".

The last riser tolerance is suspect. No variation exceeding 3/16 inch in the depth of adjacent risers.
Suspect: Last tread tolerance. No variation exceeding 3/16 inch.

Just my 2 cents.

Guardrails on steps? Guardrails are placed on landings, decks, balconies…
‘Stair-rail/Stair Rail/Railing’ are part of the railing system. Handrail, Railing’s Upper & Lower Rail, Spindles/Balusters.

How old is the house? You can recommend anything you like, But many older homes had no handrails on the entry steps and still do not. They were not required then, so you can only suggest a safety upgrade. I would think the handrail present is in fact an upgrade.


The term guard is fine for stairs. You then add or incorporate handrails to guards.



430 rule.
Guardrails required if there are 4 or more risers OR 30” elevation. :+1:
Stairways wider than 48” require graspable handrails on both sides.
A center handrail creates two stairways - and those in your photo appear to be less than 48” wide. So - handrail good…but guardrails are missing.