If you are installing outdoor steps or a ramp, one of the things you need to do is choose the right handrail for the system as well. While you need to consider the structure and support of the handrail that you install, you also need to select the proper material for the rail's construction. There are a few common materials and it's important to think about which one might be the best fit for your situation. Here's a look at the choices available to you.
Many of the handrails installed on outdoor stairs and ramps are made from various types of metal. Whether you need aluminum, steel, or even brass, metal handrails are strong and durable. With the right metal handrail construction, you don't even have to worry about weak points where the welds come together. Instead, just secure the support brackets and you will have a stable, secure railing.
Wood handrails are popular for many outdoor steps and ramps. When properly sanded and sealed, wood handrails work well. They do require more care and maintenance than metal handrails, though. You'll have to sand and reseal or repaint the railing on a regular basis, at least every couple of years. This is important because proper sanding and painting will protect the wood from weather damage, moisture issues, and pest infestations. If you like the look of natural wood, you should be prepared for the care and maintenance required.
Wrought Iron Railings
Although they are not nearly as common, wrought iron handrails are a classic style. With wrought iron handrails, you'll get the look of old-style structural elements with the stability of iron. When properly installed and finished, wrought iron handrails will last for many years. They are among the strongest of the options and can support more weight than many other railings can simply because of the hardened, solid style. Wrought iron is moldable to meet the ADA's published compliance standards as well, which is beneficial if you are installing ramps specifically for accessibility purposes.
When you need step handrails for your exterior stairs or ramp, it's important that the railing style you choose is strong enough to stand up to the demand you put on it and that it’s easy enough to care for so that it does not interfere with your demanding schedule. Consider the different materials available and choose the one that fits your style as well as your structural needs.