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Need help with a freestanding handrail

Posted by sooz (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 12, 08 at 2:47

We have family members who have had hip replacement surgery, or who need hip replacement surgery, or who've had a "bad" hip replacement surgery, and we have one friend who has had numerous back surgeries related to a work injury.

They are wobbly, and we want to install a metal, freestanding handrail--if it's possible--so people can enter and exit our home, and also go out and enjoy the patio, and we want to provide extra stability for going up/down steps. There are 3 steps into/out of our home, and there are no walls to anchor anything. Everything is concrete in these areas.

I've googled and googled and found nothing about how to install a freestanding handrail. We are pretty good at the DIY stuff, and always use the right tools too. I know we'll have to anchor this "porch" rail into the steps for stability and installation, but I cannot find how to do it. Years ago, my sister had some "wrought-iron"-type handrails installed on the front and back of her home, much like what we want to do, but she lives 2 hours away so I cannot contract with the person who installed these.

I'm thinking if we can find the "pre-fab" steel/iron railing (where do you find this stuff?), and learn how to install it, we can do it.

Any help you can give would be appreciated.
Thanks!
Sooz


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need help with a freestanding handrail

We have gone through several good (and bad) hip replacements so I understand the problem.

The design challenge is anchoring the railing to the concrete in such a way that it can safely handle the load of someone really trusting it. It would be a very bad thing for the railing to fail and cause additional injury to someone recovering from hip replacement surgery.

I think that you are describing a railing that will be sort of like an inverted U with unequal legs. The bottom of each leg will need to be attached to the concrete. Because the only point of attachment is the base of the legs there will be significant forces acting on the anchors. Could you find any other point of attachment near the top of the railing, maybe where the railing meets the house?

You can attach the railing to the concrete in several ways. The anchor detail will depend on what you have to work with, a picture would help. One possibility is to drill the concrete and insert lead anchors that will allow you to bolt the flanges at the base of railing to the concrete. However, you do not want to drill holes too close the edge of the concrete.

Unless you can weld (and trust your welding) I suggest having the railing fabricated at local shop (look up metal fabrication in the yellow pages). This is a very simple job and any fab or welding shop will be able to do it.

--markM


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RE: Need help with a freestanding handrail

Thank you so much for your help and input!!!
Smiles,
Sooz


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