stairs code

Improved Guide to ADA Compliant Stairs – California Code – Download

Use this information at your own risk.
Structural and code related information should always be double checked with alternative sources. All applicable national and local regulations and practices concerning this aspects must be strictly followed and adhered to. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets standards for accessibility in the built environment, including requirements for stairs.

Here is a general guide to designing ADA compliant stairs in California:

  1. Stair rise and run:
    The rise of a stair is the vertical distance from one tread to the next, while the run is the horizontal distance from the front of one tread to the front of the next. The ADA requires a maximum rise of 7 inches and a minimum run of 11 inches for stairs.

  2. Stair width:
    The width of stairs must be at least 36 inches, measured from the inside edges of the handrails. This allows enough space for a person using a wheelchair or other mobility device to pass through the stairs.

  3. Handrails:
    Stairs must have handrails on both sides, with a minimum height of 34 inches and a maximum height of 38 inches measured from the leading edge of the tread. Handrails must also be continuous and free of sharp or abrasive elements.

  4. Treads and risers:
    The treads (the top surface of each step) must be level and uniform, with a minimum width of 11 inches and a minimum depth of 10 inches. The risers (the vertical portion of each step) must be uniform in height and must not exceed 7 inches in height. 7/11 is a good rule, though, there are exceptions to that, which we won’t get into here.

  5. Landings:
    Stairs must have landings at the top and bottom of the stairway, with a minimum width of 36 inches and a minimum length of 60 inches. Landings must be level and have a slip-resistant surface.

By following these guidelines, you can design stairs that are compliant with the ADA and that provide safe and accessible passage for people of all abilities. It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines and that there may be additional requirements depending on the specific location and use of the stairs. You should consult with a design professional or refer to the ADA standards for complete and up-to-date information.

It is important to follow the ADA guidelines for stairs for several reasons:

  1. Accessibility:
    The main reason for the ADA guidelines for stairs is to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to buildings and other facilities. Stairs that are not compliant with the ADA can be difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to use, which can limit their access and independence.

  2. Safety:
    Stairs that are not designed or constructed to the required standards can be dangerous, especially for people with mobility impairments or other disabilities. By following the ADA guidelines, you can help ensure that the stairs are safe for everyone to use.

  3. Legal compliance:
    The ADA is a federal law that applies to all public and commercial buildings in the United States. By following the guidelines for stairs, you can help ensure that your building complies with the law and avoids potential legal issues.

In summary, following the ADA guidelines for stairs is important to ensure that buildings and facilities are accessible and safe for everyone, and to comply with legal requirements. Ignoring or disregarding these guidelines can result in serious problems, including accidents, injuries, and legal liabilities.

Conclusion: ADA Compliant Stairs in California

In California, the California Building Code (CBC) contains the requirements for stairs and other aspects of building construction. The relevant sections of the CBC for stairs are as follows:

  • Chapter 10: Stairways, Handrails, and Guardrails
  • Chapter 11: Accessibility

You can find these sections of the CBC in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. You can access the CBC online at the website of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

It’s important to note that the requirements for stairs in the CBC are based on the ADA standards for accessibility, which are also applicable in California. You should refer to both the CBC and the ADA standards when designing stairs in California to ensure that your project meets all relevant requirements.

Alternatively, you can visit ADA website for even more information here:

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