Choosing Balustrades & Handrails For Stairs

How to select a stylish handrail & balustrade for your stairway

The choice of a handrail or balustrade for the stairs can enhance the style you desire in your home.

Safety is the number one consideration when choosing a stair handrail or balustrade. They need to be stable and strong enough to prevent falls, or to support people who lean or grab on them for stability.

What is the NZ Building Code Regulations on stairs?

The NZ Building Code regulations for stairs are based on the height, depth, and pitch of the stairs as well as the mandatory handrails and safety barriers (safety barriers).

  • The minimum height for balustrades on stairs is 900mm, which differs from the 1000mm minimum for all other areas of the home, including the landings of the stairs*.
  • In residential housing, handrails are required to run along the side of every stairway and be 900mm or more above the stair pitch.

This is only a summary, but any experienced installer of balustrades should be familiar with these regulations. They will also know how to suggest and fit handrails and balustrades that are both fully compliant, and in the style you like.

How can you choose a balustrade that is both safe and attractive?

While choosing a handrail or balustrade style can be overwhelming, there’s a simple trick you can use to narrow down your options. Step back and choose the features or themes that you gravitate toward when making design decisions. The style you prefer will become very clear. If you look at lampshades, paint colors, or furniture, it will be clear whether or not you prefer a minimalist, industrial, classic, or traditional style. You can easily determine which handrail or balustrade style will not work for your home based on the lampshades, furniture, or paint colours. For example, a minimalist look would be inappropriate if your home is classic or traditional. If the style of the home is modern or restrained, then a traditional baluster handrail or a traditional baluster would not look right. However, they would work well in a classic design. Choose a feature of the style and then choose a balustrade to replicate it. Focus on the type and colour of the balustrade fixing.

What type of material should I use?

Modern, durable materials have increased the range of options available. The budget is a major factor in choosing materials. However, for durability and value, powder-coated aluminum handrails and safety glass infills come highly recommended. The initial cost may be higher, but in the end, it is worth every penny. Not only do they last longer, but also wear better. They don’t require regular touch-ups or painting.

Modern glass balustrades for stairs are popular because of their clean and clear finish, which allows for an abundance of natural light to flood the stairwell. The glass panels are attached to the balustrades you choose that reflect your style. You can choose between a minimalist round disc, rectangular fixings or strut posts for a frameless finish. Choose from a variety of options to create a traditional look with aluminium posts and balusters, including a semi-frameless, framed or unframed glass finish. You can also choose a specific handrail style and shape that you could replicate in other parts of your home for consistency.

Recent changes to regulations require that all frameless glass handrails and balustrades include a top rail for safety. A low-profile, slim top rail has been developed to minimize the visual impact of the finished product. The top rail is available in square or round profiles and can be used to match the handrail. The top rails also blend better with the dark finish. The polished finish is further enhanced by the specialized connectors and accessories that have been designed as part of the top rail range.

Handrails that are standard are also a reliable choice. They are available in many shapes, sizes and styles, and complement the balustrades on which they are installed. You can see here some of the stunning handrail and balustrade combinations that have been installed in NZ homes. For more info  about – handrail fittings NZ.

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