Differences in levels in and around the home often reduce mobility and may cause accidents. Renovations must therefore be planned very carefully if stairs and access ramps are to be safe and functional.

Respecting proportions, complying with standard dimensions, installing handrails and guard railings, and providing adequate lighting in stairways are easy-to-follow recommendations that will allow you to live safely in your home.

Depending on your needs, you could make provision for the following:

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Stairways

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Access Ramp

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Handrails

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Stair Railings

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Lighting

Stairways

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straight flights of stairs (no radiating or angled steps)
 

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minimum width of 860 mm (34 in.)
 

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minimum headroom of 1950 mm ( 77 in.) from nosing or landing 

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landing at the bottom of every flight of stairs
 

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landing at the top of every flight of stairs if a door opens onto the stairway
 

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landings measuring 900 mm (35 in.) x the width of the step 
 

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identically dimensioned steps, preferably 250 mm (10 in.) deep, with a non-slip surface
 

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25 mm (1 in.) rounded or wedge-shaped nosings
 

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identical risers, preferably 180 mm (7 in.) high

 

 


 

Access Ramp

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minimum width of 870 mm (34 in.) between handrails
 

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maximum slope of 1:12 for indoor ramps        
 

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given Canada's climate, outdoor ramps should not exceed a 1:20  

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1500 mm x 1500 mm (60 in. x 60 in.) landing at top and bottom of ramps, as well as in front of every door and at each change of direction
 

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landing measuring 1200 mm (48 in.) x the width of the ramp every 30 feet (9 meters)
 

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100 mm (4 in.) high border on both sides of ramp and around landing

 
 

Handrails

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30 mm to 40 mm (1 1/4 in. to 1 5/8 in.) diameter handrail for easy grasping
 

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40 mm (1 5/8 in.) clearance between wall and handrail
 

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handrails along every flight of stairs
 

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handrails for ramps if differences in level exceed 6 in. (150 mm)
 

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handrails should be 800 mm to 920 mm (32 in. to 36 in.) above nosings, and 760 mm to 920 mm (30 in. to 36 in.) from ramps
 

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two handrails are recommended for stairs and ramps over 1100 mm (43 in.) wide
 

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two handrails located 900 mm (35 in.) apart should also be installed on wheelchair access ramps
 

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at least one handrail must be continuous and extend 300 mm (12 in.) beyond the top and bottom of the stairs or access ramp
 

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the ends of the handrails should be secured to a pole or a wall, or should curve downwards

 
 

Stair Railings (or guard railings)

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consider installing stair railings (guard railing) if differences in level exceed 600 mm (24 in.)
 

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railings should be 920 mm (36 in.) high for patios, stoops, flights of stairs and ramps, and 1070 mm (42 in.) high for stair and ramp landings and balconies
 

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railing uprights should be spaced less than 100 mm (4 in.) apart
 

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design railings to prevent climbing

 
 

Lighting

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stronger lighting in stairways and near access ramps is recommended, and contrasting colors for steps and risers should be used if necessary

 

"Patience: A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue." Ambrose Bierce

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ALS Independence 2003-12