stair railing code: where should railing end?

I'm installing a stair railing along a wall. I tried to consult the local building code and it says that the railing needs to be "continuous the full length of the stairs" with the ends returned or terminated in newel posts.
I'm wondering what this means about where the railing should start and end. How far beyond the bottom stair should it go? Can it end anywhere beyond the bottom nose? And what about the top stair? If I'm going to do a mitered return it can't run all the way to the door frame at the top. (The railing will project out beyond the door frame if I install it at the required distance away from the wall.) Is it acceptable to stop it in the center of the top tread?
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Commercial code requires 12" minimum beyond the stair noses top and bottom.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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Hmmm. Does residential code require something different? I did notice that the stair railings at my workplace have a flat section (parallel to the floor) at each end of the stairs. I've never seen a railing like that in a residence. They are always just straight, sometimes with returns to the wall. For my stairs, going 12" beyond the very top nosing (which extends from the floor at the top level) would mean passing through the door frame into a newel post sitting out in the next room. And if I extended a straight railing that far at the other end the railing would terminate at a height of 26" above the floor, which seems kind of silly.
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OK, but that does not answer the question.
It is a residence. If in my house they used your code, the railing would extend 12" into the lower level hallway.
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I would not worry about it. Extend the rail past the last step whatever distance is practical to your situation. Greg
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Sounds like the stair doesn't meet code. Code is usually considered MINIMUM requirement. That said, it is often violated in owner occupied houses.
Rails should go to top and bottom stair nosing. ADA, which applies to the elderly as well as the physically limited, asks for more.
I would continue the top end of the rail as far as possible.
TB
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snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net (Tom Baker) writes:

No, the stair does not meet code. The house was built in 1954. The stair is slightly steeper than allowed by modern code, and it lacks the code specified head room. These things are rather hard to change. I do understand that code gives minimum requirements, but I seriously I doubt I'll have the opportunity to exceed code requirements in this situation.
The bottom is no problem. I have lots of room. At the top I have these options:
1) Railing terminates in doorway casing at top of stairs. (This door is 2" behind the nosing on the top level floor.) Railing may be located closer to the wall than specified by code, and I'll have to carve off 1/2" or so of the railing near the end so the door at the top of the stairs can close.
2) Railing terminates approximately 4" from the top floor nosing, near the middle of the top tread (one step down from the upper level floor) and I don't have to do anything weird to the railing.
Option 1 is ugly. (Getting rid of the door was vetoed because it helps confine loud noises to the basement. The door cannot be turned to open the other way.)
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for more.

I agree with the gist of what Greg said. Do the best you can, try to make it look good and safe and forget about it in a homeowner occupied home. No one really cares. And most reasonable home inspectors on the sale of the property will point out there is no better option if they even manage to notice that there is a problem.
Colbyt
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