Excerpt from my regular column in the Santa Barbara News-Press.
Question: My front porch has three cement steps without any sort of handrail and they are becoming more difficult for my husband and I to safely negotiate, especially if we are carrying something heavy like a bag of groceries. How can we get a safe handrail for these steps before one of us takes a bad fall?
Your Handyman: Any fall can be a bad fall and many seniors have experienced a major decline in their quality of life after suffering a fall that a younger person would consider to be minor. The solution for making your front steps safer is a sturdy and attractive steel handrail fabricated from either wrought iron or ornamental iron, that will safely support a falling adult and hold up indefinitely to sun and rain.
Wrought iron is made from solid metal bars that are heated up in a forge, and then twisted and hammered into all types of decorative designs. Ornamental iron is made from hollow posts that can’t be heated and twisted but is typically much less expensive than wrought iron, but still very attractive.
The handrail posts can be fastened to your concrete steps with expanding concrete anchor bolts that are hammered into holes drilled into the cement with a masonry drill, or larger holes can be cored with a coring drill and the posts set into these cored holes with cement. The expanding anchor bolts are the least expensive method and the bolt heads are then concealed with a decorative metal skirt that slides down the post.
Most handrails are usually painted in a high gloss black but there is no reason that they can’t be painted any color that you prefer to match your home’s décor.
Owner, YourHandyman & Construction
CA License #935259