Frequently Asked Balustrade and Handrail Questions  

We have helped thousands of home owners, contractors, specifiers, architects and shopfitters measure, design, fit and install their bespoke SHS balustrade and handrail systems. Over the years we have gathered common questions and curated the following list of frequently asked questions to help others navigate the process.

If you do not see our question answered below, please contact us and we will provide you with the answers you need.


Q. Can I install the system myself?

A. The majority of the system slots and glues together, although some drilling may be required.

Q. Are there different types of stainless steel available?

A. All of our products are available in both AISI 304 stainless steel or Marine Grade AISI 316 stainless steel. These grades relate to the chemical composition of the stainless steel. AISI 316 is more commonly known as a “Marine Grade” stainless steel due to its higher level of nickel and the addition of molybdenum and is more durable in harsh environments. Therefore, AISI 316 stainless steel is generally recommended for external applications and AISI 304 for internal use.

Q. How can I have the Steel Balustrade finished?

A. Our products are generally finished in a 320 grit finish. This is often referred to as “satin polished”, or “brushed finish” stainless steel. They can also be provided in a bright mirror finish, recommended for coastal locations. These finishes are achieved within the polishing process. The 320 grit finish that we generally supply is one of the highest grades of finish available. It ensures the steel is as smooth as possible and therefore as durable as possible.

Q. How do I maintain the Steel Balustrade?

A. Stainless steel is one of the most durable options for an internal or external handrail or balustrade system. However it will still require some maintenance in order to sustain its initial appearance. How often will depend upon the location and application. For example, systems installed in areas with high levels of contamination (such as city centres or near the sea) or near water (swimming pools or boats) may require more frequent cleaning than those in a rural area. However a good chemical cleaner will remove any contamination that may potentially affect the durability of the stainless steel.

Q. Do the various systems meet Building Regulations?

A. Due to the flexibility of our balustrade systems they can be used in a wide range of domestic and commercial applications. Current Building Regulations require varying strengths of these systems depending on the application, and therefore we regularly test with the British Standards Institute to ensure our systems achieve the loadings in these requirements.

Key Factors:

The Uniformly Distributed Load
The Uniformly Distributed Load (U.D.L) that the systems can withstand will depend on the diameter and wall thickness of the tube as well as the spacing of the upright posts within a system. We will help recommend the safest and most suitable set up for your specific needs and can provide test certificates for your piece of mind.

Building Regulations
As with any new development or renovation of an existing property, building regulations are a key factor to consider to ensure compliance, and more importantly the safety of any balustrade or handrail system that is installed. Although the final decision will be the responsibility of the customer along with the building inspector we are more than happy to help you discuss your needs in relation to these regulations.

Different applications will require different load requirements. Test certificates are available.

Handrail Height
Handrail height can vary depending on the use. Due to the flexibility of our systems this can be easily altered to whatever height is required.

Infill Options
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on the appropriate infill option. Again, we always advise that you speak to your local authority before installing the system. However the following is worth considering; the thickness of glass, the size of gap around the edge of the glass, whether to use horizontal or vertical running wire or bar the spacing between the wire or rod.


Q. Do the various systems meet Building Regulations?

A. Most of our systems comply with current Building Regulations, we suggest that if you are unsure of your requirements that you check these with your building inspector.

Q. What diameter is the handrail?

A. The tubes have outside diameters 42.4mm and 48.3mm.

Q. Are they straight?

A. Yes, all our handrails are straight. Forming to your required radius or spiral is done by specialist tube benders.

Q. How high should my balustrade be?

A. In accordance with current UK Building Regulations they should be 1100mm high, but 900mm high on stairs.

Q. How thick are the handrails?

A. Handrails generally provided are 42.2mm in diameter as this will comply with DDA regulations as well. However we can supply in 48.3mm.

Q. I want the banister to go on my left hand wall is this possible?

A. Yes, it can go on either wall depending which way round you put it. Just turn it around, lengthways.

Q. I want to fit a new handrail. Where do I measure from?

A. If it’s a banister rail replacement, just measure your existing one. If it’s a new banister/handrail that you’re after, measure from the top nosing of the stairs to the bottom nosing.


Q. Do you sell Chrome rails?

A. No, however mirror polished is available, which is a common chrome substitute.

Q. Do you have any other types of finish?

A. No, all of our banister rails and stainless steel fittings are satin or mirror polished. We find it perfect for most environments where a contemporary, stylish handrail is required.


Q. How do I know how many brackets I require?

A. Our recommendation will depend on the length of handrail required. As a rough guide, we attach 2 brackets to 3-metre banisters and 3 brackets to banister hand rails up to 4.25 metres – but this can be changed to your individual requirements.

Q. How are the banister ends finished?

A. They are finished with a flat capping plug, but we can offer a domed, tapered and multi-groove plugs as well. All of our ends are brush finished in the style of the attached tube.

Q. How do I attach glass clamps, and brackets to the tube?

A. Visit our product guide page for more information on assembling your balustrade, railing or handrail system. For Balustrade orders we pre-drill and tap the uprights for mounting glass clamps and attachments. Drilling, thermal friction (flowdrill) drilling and thread forming processes are done by our in-house CNC automatic drilling machine.

Q. How long are your handrails?

A. Our handrails are 6 metres in length.

Q. Are the brackets moveable?

A. Yes, but further mounting holes must be drilled and tapped.


Q. How difficult are your handrails to install? Will they require welding?

A. All our systems use a push-fit modular installation system which requires the use of a special adhesive, Loctite 638. Our handrail banisters are pre-prepared on at SHS and will only need fixing to the wall. Our balustrade systems will have upright posts with base plates already welded to the post for your convenience. Glass brackets, tension-write fixing and rail brackets require the tube to be drilled or tapped.

Q. Is the Loctite® 638 / glue strong enough?

A. Yes, the Loctite® 638 is high strength and fast curing. Joints should be fully cured after 24 hours but if you want to speed up the process Loctite® 7649 can be supplied as an activator. Please visit for more information.

Q. Will you fit it for me?

A. Most installations can be fitted with ease using our simple modular system. However, if needed our team of installers can help with the process if located within England.

Q. Do I need to earth my handrail?

A. Earthing is unnecessary with our stainless steel handrail systems.

Q. Does stainless steel rust?

A. Like all metals, stainless steel will eventually rust. As a corrosion resistant material the speed of this is dependent on the environment and whether or not the stainless steel is protected. For further information on how to maintain your stainless steel handrails or balustrade systems visit our Product Guide Downloads page.


Q. What is the lead time?

A. Lead times will vary, for current lead times drop us a line and one of our specialists will be happy to help.


Q. Do you supply infills?

A. Yes, we have glass, wire rope and rod infills available, please contact our team for further information.

Q. How many wires do I need on my balustrade?

A. Our standard number of rows between upright posts is 5 but this can be increased or decreased depending on your preference.

Q. What size is the wire?

A. The standard size is 4mm, speak to our team for more information regarding our Wire Rope Balustrade system.

Q. Do you supply glass infills?

A. Yes, we supply glass that can be customized in a number of ways depending on the system chosen. Options can include frosted, coloured and toughened glass.

Q. What type of glass would SHS recommend?

A. This depends on use, environment and location, please speak to our team so we can recommend the right glass for you. Generally we recommend 10mm toughened glass.

Q. What is the maximum length of glass I can order?

A. We supply as standard from post to post a glass sheet of 1.2 metre length from centre to centre on most of our balustrade systems and 1.5 metre length on our Eternity balustrade system. For a bespoke design get in touch and we will work with you to produce a system to your desired specification.

Q. How many glass clamps do I need per sheet?

A. 4 glass clamps are required per square metre.

Q. How thick should my glass sheet be?

A. There are a variety of thicknesses available from 10mm toughened glass to 21.5 laminated glass, the availability of certain sizes depends on the Balustrade System required. For more information contact one of our balustrade specialists.

Q. What alternatives are there to glass infills?

A. We supply a number of alternatives including wire cables, stainless steel tube and bars.

Q. When should I instruct my installers to fit the system?

A. Do not instruct installers/builders to install the balustrade until you have received and checked your all goods are there and undamaged.


Q. Are the handrails suitable for outdoor use?

A. Yes, all our systems can be used for indoor or outdoor use, when ordering let our team know what you’ll be using the system for and we can then choose the correct grade of stainless steel. Standard grades are: Indoor – AISI 304 & Outdoor – AISI 316.

Q. What are the most popular exterior uses?

A. The options are endless for our stylish systems; balconies, false balconiesdecking railings, garden sectioning are just the beginning. Check out our gallery for more inspiration, it’s full to the brim with images of what customers have achieved.


Q. Do you provide handrail systems for shops and commercial premises?

A. Yes, our versatile balustrade systems are perfect for commercial and retail settings, speak to one of our balustrade specialists to discuss the specifications needed.

Q. Do you supply industrial stainless steel fittings?

A. We do not supply these regularly but may in special circumstances. Speak to one of our friendly team to see if we can arrange for industry stainless steel fittings for you.


Q. Can you send me a brochure?

A. Yes, provide us with your email address and we will send that over in no time.

Q. Can I buy handrails and fittings online?

A. Of course you can, visit our Stainless Steel Handrail online shop here.

Q. What forms of payment do SHS accept?

A. We accept cheque, PayPal, debit and credit card. Items will be dispatched once payment is cleared.

Q. How is it delivered?

A. Depending on your postcode we can arrange delivery via our own transport or a trusted carrier service.

Q. What are your opening hours?

A. We are open Monday to Friday, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Q. My order has been delivered but the items are damaged. What should I do?

A. Notify us as soon as possible on the day of delivery.

Q. My order has not arrived. What should I do?

A. Contact our operations department immediately via telephone on 01922 743842 or email at and we will investigate the problem.

Q. I purchased from one of your balustrade specialists, who do I contact for further products?

A. We build long lasting working relationships with our customers, so please contact your original specialist for further items.

Q. Will SHS visit the site to measure up what I would need?

A. In order to keep our prices lower, we require you to send us a simple dimensioned sketch or layout. You may also send us digital photos of your application to help us understand your requirements. Commercial installations may require a site visit, this can be arranged by appointment.


As the products detailed on our website may be used for a wide variety of purposes and as the Company has no control over their use, the Company specifically excludes all conditions or warranties expressed or implied by statute or otherwise as to dimensions, properties and/or their fitness for any particular purpose.

Any advice given by the Company to any third party is given for that party’s assistance only and without any liability on the part of the Company.

We are not responsible for the content of any external website to which we may provide links.


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