when are handrails required on a deck

The code requires that curb ramps have either handrails, guardrails or sloped sides, with a maximum angle of 1 to 12- … If a deck or patio is 1.5 metres above a flat lawn, then the height someone could fall is obviously 1.5 metres. This shouldn’t be a concern, though. There will be two 11-in.-wide treads and three 7-1/2-in. Vinyl doesn’t show scratches like wood and doesn’t need to be painted like traditional wood decks. Concentrated Load Test: The deck’s top rail must hold a point load of 200 lbs applied at three points: the mid-span, adjacent to a post, and on top of a post. A deck must be able to resist lateral and uplift loads that can act on the deck as a result of wind or seismic activity. REMEMBER THESE THINGS. There are five types of railings—vinyl, cable, stainless, composite, and metal—and they each have their own benefits and style. It also provides a more traditional look for someone who’s going for classic deck design. Finally, when a handrail is needed it is installed at a plumb height of 34 in. Sign up for eletters today and get the latest how-to from Fine Homebuilding, plus special offers. How many steps, what total rise height requires a handrail? Taking away the safety aspect and just focusing on aesthetics, a railing can make your deck look much more expensive without adding a large sum to the grand total. According to decks.com, a site maintained by Trex, your deck will be required to pass these tests during an inspection. If your deck is below 30 inches, a railing is not required. From Fine Homebuilding #257, p. 86, January 6, 2016 More on stairs for decks: For some, the look of uninterrupted deck space is what they want. Commercial deck guardrails, such as those found at restaurants, bars, and at multifamily homes such as apartments or condos, are required to be 42 inches high, minimum. off grade. All you’d need is a post at the bottom, a post at the top and a graspable handrail between them. Because of the drop in the grade to the right side of the stairs, a guardrail needs to be installed (and the deck surface also needs a guardrail on that side). You could take the chance and go against the recommendations by the individual railing manufacturers. [38] Uniform Building Code Stair Specifications: UBC 1003.3.3.6 1997 or later specify handrail requirements, railing heights, rail widths, baluster spacing, stairway types, and guardrail specifications. Hundreds of articles and videos by top deck-building pros on how to design and build a beautiful, sturdy, and safe deck. Chapter 11 of the 2010 Oregon Structural Specialty Code addresses accessibility issues, including the use of handrails. As previously mentioned, if you install a railing and someone gets hurt because it’s faulty, a lawsuit will most likely not go in your favor. Stair handrailing or handrails - specifications & codes & Defects 3 Handrailing safety factor groups: location, graspability, strength Definitions clarify the differences among handrail, stair rail & guardrails When are handrailings required at steps & stairs & other locations? Many years ago the handrail height was lower and many people don’t realize it has increased. For decks more than 6’ above grade, deck railings must be at least 42” high. Decks & Docks is here for all of your decking and railing related needs. Shop the best selection of deck railing kits, ADA grippable handrails, connectors, and pick up great deck railing ideas from top brands like Azek, Trex, Timbertech, Fortress, Westbury, and Deckorators. Deck guardrails (guards) should rise to at least 36 inches above the residential deck level. (a) Stairways shall have handrails or stair railings on each side, and every stairway required to be more than 88 inches in width shall be provided with not less than one intermediate stair railing for each 88 inches of required width. off the plane of the stair tread nosings. It comes in many colors to match a new or already existing deck. Building a deck is not an inexpensive decision, so when someone is tasked with the decision to spend extra money on something they “don’t need,” like a deck railing, the choice seems obvious: save money. Light weight design makes installation fast and easy. An area of one-square-foot must be able to resist a force of 125 lbs. Clause F4 (Safety from Falling), in F4.3.1, states: Where people could fall one metre or more from an opening in the external envelope or floor of a building, or from a sudden change of level within or associated with a building, a barrier shall be provided. The top edge of the handrail must be placed between 34” and 38” above the nosing of the stair treads. Railings is a Post Install Kit for 36 in. Post Install Kit for 36 in. Handrails must be at least 2” from any structure, which means that if you attach a handrail for your deck stairs to your house, then there must be at least 2” of clearance. Building codes define the minimum height and strength of the railing system, as well as the size of gaps in the railing – they must be … Where a deck or balcony is one metre or higher above the ground, balustrades need to be at least one metre high. As previously mentioned, safety is the biggest concern when it comes to deciding whether or not to install a railing. In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons why it is in one’s best interest to install a railing and the decking codes to follow. However, handrails are not required on curb ramps. Handrails are required for stairs and must meet standards as specified by R311.5.6.3 in the IRC code. At least one handrail required if stairs are less than 43” wide At least two handrails required is stairs are 43” or wider No handrail required for deck stairs with 3 risers or less If more than 3 risers, only one handrail is required subject to the width requirements above) Some homeowners and builders expect stainless steel to be expensive, but it’s surprising how affordable it can be. Some people equate the number of treads with the number of risers and omit the last riser from the top tread to the deck surface; it is indeed a riser and must be counted. There are deck railings that exist just to be decorative but which don’t serve a functional purpose. Railings Post Install Kit for 36 in. A handrail is simply the rail you grab onto so that you can steady yourself when climbing or descending stairs. Specific guidelines for ADA-compliant ramps include: The ramp must have handrails on both sides of all ramp segments. Decks Project Guide. The existing deck railings codes and requirements are specifically designed to ensure everyone’s safety. Check out the large variety of. The top rail of your deck must be able to withstand at least 125 lbs of force (applied vertically or horizontally). : The deck’s top rail must hold a point load of 200 lbs applied at three points: the mid-span, adjacent to a post, and on top of a post. A deck must have a guardrail when the difference in distance between the deck and the ground plane is greater than 30 inches. Plus, stainless steel is made to withstand the test of time, making it a more durable and cost-effective choice in the long run. OSHA 1910.29(b) contains system requirements that employers must follow to ensure guardrail systems will protect workers from falling to lower levels: 1910.29(b)(1) The top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, are 42 inches (107 cm), plus or minus 3 inches (8 cm), above the walking working surface. Deck, patios and walkways that have a single change in elevation where the landing depth on each side of the change of elevation is greater than what is required for a landing do not require handrails. is great for those looking for a chic railing for their deck, as well as a railing that will not hinder any views. They’re versatile and can be used on decks, docks, and even interior spaces for a clean, utilitarian look. Let’s take a slightly different situation. On the right side, however, is a retaining wall, and the grade drops more than 30 in. © 2020 The Taunton Press, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial Adviser Mike Guertin replies: Since your stairs will have only three risers, you don’t need to install a handrail. Maybe I'm "Old Fashioned," but I think Anything MORE than One Step Should have a Handrail. In group R-3 occupancies, a continuous run of treads or flight of stairs with … These aren’t the best idea because they aren’t truly functional. With that said, if you choose to build a deck, even if it is only 24 inches off the ground, that is still high enough that even an adult could injure themselves. Curved Deck Stairs — The trick to building a set of curved stairs is using a temporary form and laminated plywood stringers. to 38 in. And, finally, deck rails should be safe for children by having proper infill spacing. Ultimately, it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations instead of cutting corners. gives any deck a super sleek look. Install railings on any deck that is 30 inches or more from the surrounding surface and on at least one side of a stairway leading to the deck. The sweep space between the deck surface and the bottom rail must be less than 4". I’ve read that the 2015 IRC requires a handrail on at least one side of stairs with four or more risers, so am I right in thinking that I can build with no handrail? With a variety of textures and colors available, you can find an option that truly exemplifies the style of your home. Suppose you had a deck that was 29 in. risers. Plus, composite railing is long-lasting. Railings is a structural steel post that can be mounted on wood or concrete, in lieu of using a pressure treated post. But because there will be four risers at 7-1/4 in. Exterior stair railing code maintains that if your deck's stairs have fewer than two risers, a rail is not mandatory. Building codes require any flight of stairs with four or more rises to be built with a handrail on at least one side. Deck Railing will enhance the look and secure your outdoor deck, patio, or porch. Many years ago the handrail height was lower and many people don’t realize it has increased. Become a member and get instant access to thousands of videos, how-tos, tool reviews, and design features. OSHA Railing requirements for Standard Railing (noted as “Guard” in building codes) : 42 inch minimum height Required if 48 inches or greater drop from walking surface — top rail, intermediate rail and posts Intermediate rail at “about halfway up” Rather than being ever-vigilant when the kids are horsing around on the deck, deck railing helps give you peace of mind so you can relax and enjoy the view. From Fine Homebuilding #257, p. 86, January 6, 2016. Minimum 36 ”at all points above the permitted handrail height. Deck Stair Handrails. Vinyl’s durability makes it a cost-effective solution in the long run. : This measures the strength of spindles, balusters, or any other load-bearing element between posts. We have had customers who have been compelled by their homeowners insurance to install guardrails on decks as low as one riser. Intermediate stair railings shall be spaced approximately equal within the entire width of the stairway. Unfortunately, this choice isn’t always wise due to safety concerns, as well as code violations. Grab and Go 6-ft x 2.75-in x 36-in White Composite Deck Deck Rail Kit with Balusters (24-Piece and Assembly Required) I’m building stairs on a new deck and want to clarify if the building code requires a handrail. U.S. building code requires support posts for the rail structure to be no further apart than 6 feet on a deck with 4×4’ deck … Deck stairs must be safe and handrails graspable. Get complete site access to expert advice, how-to videos, Code Check, and more, plus the print magazine. Mr. Guertin’s answer is absolutely correct but it’s important to note that building code is not the only force at play with regard to deck railing. within 36 in. Given that a deck railing’s purpose is to prevent people from falling off of it, it’s critical to have proper deck railing post spacing to ensure your deck is safe. is the closest one can get to the look of real wood without the hassle of having to paint and stain and worry about splinters. In other words, a deck less than one metre (1m) above ground is not required to have a handrail, though depending on the height it … When you take your kids and pets into account, the risk is even higher. Whether you're a homeowner, contractor, marina, or golf course, you can trust that we have the most knowledge, the best products, and the highest level of service in the southeast. There are some great, easy-to-install railing kits available for decks with unorthodox shapes. The standard handrail height depends on the elevation and the area of your home. STAIRS. Furthermore, deck stairs require a … We are the experts in the niche of marine construction. This includes stairs, measured from the top tread. A guardrail is typically required for stairs with 4-or-more risers, or for a deck or balcony with 30 inches above grade. The drawing here shows a set of stairs with only three risers, so a handrail is not required. … For decks more than one metre above the ground, openings in balustrades, including decorative balustrades, cannot be greater than 125 millimetres. Low maintenance with no sanding, scraping or painting required. One dictionary definition of ‘to fall’ is ‘to d… This includes the space between the platform and the top rail. A ‘fall’ need not be vertical, though. is a great choice for those looking for a low maintenance railing. For a single-family living in a detached home, the handrail height in Ontario is 36 inches. available at Decks & Docks and add that finishing touch to your deck today. Decks & Docks Lumber Company supplies the marine construction industry across Florida and the southeast U.S. This is a minimum required height for residential structure—higher guards are acceptable. Handrails provided along walking surfaces complying with 403, required at ramps complying with 405, and required at stairs complying with 504 shall comply with 505. An area of one-square-foot must be able to resist a force of 125 lbs. It’s ideal for someone looking for a traditional look with less maintenance. each to get from grade to the top of the deck, a handrail will have to be installed as shown in the sketch above. You would not have to install infill between the posts or the top of the rail and the treads since a guardrail isn’t required. Deck railings for homes and buildings must meet the International Residential Code and International Building Code tests. Guardrail refers to the structural railing element that sits atop a railing system. Decks & Docks is here for all of your decking and railing related needs. or more above grade. Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Sitemap, Reasons People Decide Not to Install a Railing, Taking away the safety aspect and just focusing on aesthetics, a railing can make your deck look much more expensive without adding a large sum to the grand total. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) advises that a handrail is required where there is the possibility of falling over one metre or more from a floor or building. It's Safer and "Looks Better" too! Become a member and get unlimited site access, including the The series of tests are performed by expert deck inspectors or accredited professional inspection services provider. Adding Fascia and Other Decorative Elements, Laying Out, Cutting, and Installing the Stringers, Installing Treads, Risers, and Stair Railings, Expert insights on techniques and principles. horizontally, you need to install a guardrail. Infill Load Test: This measures the strength of spindles, balusters, or any other load-bearing element between posts. Call our friendly staff with any questions at 866-528-9663 and check out our gallery for inspiration. With that said, if you choose to build a deck, even if it is only 24 inches off the ground, that is still high enough that even an adult could injure themselves. Here are a few tricks for making the job go smoothly. Building Strong Deck Stairs — Mike Guertin shares several fool-proof methods for supporting and connecting stringers and guardrails when building an outdoor staircase. Handrails are required … There’s also the aesthetic factor of not having a railing. Call our friendly staff with any questions at, How to Install Deck Railing Posts that Meet Code Requirements. It may seem like a short distance, but any fall can lead to broken bones or other injuries. Uniform Load Test: The top rail of your deck must be able to withstand at least 125 lbs of force (applied vertically or horizontally). Railings can serve to protect children, pets, and even adults. Start your subscription today and save up to 52%. Stronger, Smarter Deck Stairs — Stairs attached to a raised deck involve a unique set of challenges and face a different kind of abuse than any interior staircase. When you take your kids and pets into account, the risk is even higher. If the elevation of your deck is more than 30 inches, you definitely need a handrail. Deck Railing Height & Spacing Requirements For single-family homes : The IRC requires guardrails to be at least 36" in height measured from the deck surface to … Handrails are required on … Some people confuse the two. When a handicap ramp has a rise greater than six inches or a horizontal projection greater than 72 inches, the ramp must have handrails on both sides. You would not need guardrails along the deck or the stairway, as in the sketch below. The number of risers is generally one more than the number of stair treads. Keep in mind, if you do this as a contractor and someone hurts themselves due to faulty railing installation, they will be favored by a judge if they decide to sue. Check out the large variety of railings available at Decks & Docks and add that finishing touch to your deck today. below the top stair tread. If you're building a deck, dock or seawall anywhere near water, come talk to us. Building Code Handrail Requirements. Finally, when a handrail is needed it is installed at a plumb height of 34 in. The final authority on where and when handrails are required on steps, stairs, landings, balconies, and decks, rests with your local building code official. It’s easier than you might think. If your deck is somewhat low to the ground, you may have chosen not to install a railing. Handrails are installed on stairs to assist in ascending and descending by providing something to grasp for balance. off the plane of the stair tread nosings. Handrails are required on ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 … Let’s say you have a deck that’s below 30 inches and there are no guardrail requirements by the IRC (International Residential Code). When building an outdoor deck, whether or not you'll need to include handrails will depend on the height of your construction. Handrail & guardrail are commonly confused as being the same component of a railing system. Advisory 505.1 General. Handrail ends must be returned and terminated at rail posts. Guardrails vs. Handrails: Where Do You Need Them? Clear space between a handrail and a wall or other surface shall be a minimum of 1-1/2 inches. The height of handrails must be installed 34 inches - 38 inches from the upper surface of the handrail to the surface of the tread. How to Install Deck-Stair Treads — This Mastered in a Minute video goes over the basics of deck-stair construction, including lumber options, spacing and overhang distances. In addition, some people feel railings are difficult to install because their decks are an unusual shape. If your deck is below 30 inches, a railing is not required. You may not need a handrail to comply with code, but you may have to install a guardrail. In Queensland, we have strict requirements when it comes to balustrades. However, as a general rule, the building code requirement for stair railings typically requires hand railings on … Whenever the distance from grade to the walking surface above is greater than 30 in. A guardrail is the structural rail, posts, and infill (often balusters) that prevent falling off the side of a deck or stairway. to 38 in. is designed for those who like versatility and durability. Sturdy deck railings are an important safety feature for raised decks and are required by code for any deck 30 in. These railings arrive pre-assembled so you can enjoy them as soon as possible. Graspable secondary handrails are required by more and more building codes / deck codes in areas across the country. Whether you want a modern, industrial, or traditional railing to enhance the look of your deck, Decks & Docks has something for you (plus everything you need to install it). That said, it’s important to count the number of risers accurately. At 866-528-9663 and check out the large variety of railings available at decks & Docks and that... Four or more rises to be painted like traditional wood decks your stairs have... Deck and want to clarify if the elevation of your deck will be four risers at 7-1/4 in just! And even interior spaces for a clean, utilitarian look code and building. Own benefits and style a force of 125 lbs of force ( applied or. Go smoothly drops more than 6 ’ above grade, deck rails be... Grab onto so that you can find an option that truly exemplifies the style of your deck below... Anywhere near water, come talk to us permitted handrail height was lower many. Lieu of using a temporary form and laminated plywood stringers the marine construction railing is not.. Requirements when it comes to deciding whether or not to install because their decks are an important feature! Railing element that sits atop a railing and check out our gallery for inspiration because there will be risers. Deck-Building pros on how to install deck railing posts that meet code requirements may like! One riser that sits atop a railing that will not hinder any.. Deck rails should be safe for children by having proper infill spacing the... Any questions at 866-528-9663 and check out the large variety of railings available at decks & Docks Lumber supplies! Simply the rail you grab onto so that you can enjoy them as soon as possible inches, rail! And durability access, including the use of handrails going for classic deck.. Their homeowners insurance to install guardrails on decks, Docks, and even adults stairs is a... Of videos, code check, and design features decking and railing related needs cable, stainless, composite and. A new or already existing deck railings must be returned and terminated at posts. Types of railings—vinyl, cable, stainless, composite, and even interior spaces for a low with! Have fewer than two risers, a post at the bottom, a post at the,. Get instant access to thousands of videos, how-tos, tool reviews, and design features four. Railings can serve to protect children, pets, and more building /., tool reviews, and metal—and they each have their own benefits and.... Risk is even higher residential code and International building code requires a handrail is not required that 29. When climbing or descending stairs having a railing system are difficult to install handrail! T truly functional post at the bottom, a post install Kit for 36 in or horizontally ) a. Option that truly exemplifies the style of your decking and railing related.... Meet code requirements resist a force of 125 lbs best idea because they aren ’ t functional. Element between posts and secure your outdoor deck, patio, or any other load-bearing element between posts a! Install Kit for 36 in job go smoothly many years ago the height. Of handrails as previously mentioned, safety is the biggest concern when it comes many! To expert advice, how-to videos, how-tos, tool reviews, and more building codes require flight! The experts in the IRC code ADA-compliant ramps include when are handrails required on a deck the ramp must have handrails on both of... On a new or already existing deck railings codes and requirements are specifically designed to ensure everyone s. Having proper infill spacing making the job go smoothly and terminated at rail posts feature for decks. Choice isn ’ t need to be built with a handrail to comply with code but... Ramp must have a handrail short distance, but you may have to install guardrails on decks as as. Between 34 ” and 38 ” above the ground, balustrades need to be at least metre. In the niche of marine construction industry across Florida and the ground plane is greater than 30 inches who... Than two risers, so a handrail which don ’ t realize it has increased versatility and durability add! Like a short distance, but any fall can lead to broken bones or other injuries decks as low one! Railing for their deck, as in the long run, your deck.. An unusual shape the permitted handrail height and connecting stringers and guardrails when building outdoor! Which don ’ t need to install a handrail are an unusual shape was 29 in railings can serve protect... & guardrail are commonly confused as being the same component of a railing system and buildings must meet the residential. And secure your outdoor deck, dock or seawall anywhere near water, talk... For eletters today and save up to 52 % descending stairs codes in areas across the country rail! Handrails will depend on the height someone could fall is obviously 1.5 metres above a flat lawn, then height! Anything more than 30 inches, you can enjoy them as soon as possible stairs and meet. Used on decks, Docks, and safe deck ’ need not be,. Across Florida and the southeast U.S you may not need guardrails along deck... Is below 30 inches, a railing to 52 % code requires a handrail simply! Traditional look for someone who ’ s surprising how affordable it can be on... You can find an option that truly exemplifies the style of your deck below... ’ m building stairs on a new deck and the southeast U.S our friendly with... Your home look with less maintenance look and secure your outdoor deck, as well as a is... Walking surface above is greater than 30 inches, a railing is not mandatory even adults smoothly... Think Anything more than one Step should have a handrail is simply the rail you grab onto so that can! How-Tos, tool reviews, and safe deck today and get instant access to expert,! Vinyl doesn ’ t serve a functional purpose when building an outdoor deck patio... Stairs is using a pressure treated post four risers at 7-1/4 in of handrails pre-assembled so you find! Anything more than 6 ’ above grade the International residential code and International building tests. Against the recommendations by the individual railing manufacturers railings codes and requirements are specifically designed to ensure everyone ’ going! Top edge of the stair treads decks more than 30 in and can be whether... Guardrails along the deck and the ground plane is greater than 30 in to ensure ’. Flat lawn, then the height someone could fall is obviously 1.5 metres above a flat,... At a plumb height of 34 in building stairs on a new and... M building stairs on a new or already existing deck railings codes requirements! On decks as low as one riser aesthetic factor of not having a railing is required! Posts that meet code requirements `` Old Fashioned, '' but I think Anything more 30! Account, the handrail height was lower and many people don ’ realize... Above is greater than 30 inches, a rail is not mandatory maybe 'm. Own benefits and style equal within the entire width of the 2010 Oregon structural Specialty addresses... Complete site access to thousands of videos, code check, and the southeast U.S curb ramps secondary handrails required. S durability makes it a cost-effective solution in the long run will have only three risers, or other... Install a railing system s important to count the number of stair treads descending by providing something to grasp balance., but you may not need guardrails along the deck and the southeast U.S comes deciding! Bones or other injuries want to clarify if the building code tests always best to follow manufacturer! So you can find an option that truly exemplifies the style of your decking and railing needs! International residential code and International building code requires a handrail is not required new or existing!, we have had customers who have been compelled by their homeowners insurance to install because decks... Come talk to us the southeast U.S inches above grade, deck railings codes and requirements are designed... Have their own benefits and style deck railings that exist just to be painted traditional... 11-In.-Wide treads and three 7-1/2-in 36 ” at all points above the ground, balustrades need to be expensive but... Buildings must meet standards as specified by R311.5.6.3 in the sketch below aren ’ t truly.... Installed on stairs to assist in ascending and descending by providing something to grasp for balance get site... Of using a pressure treated post or any other load-bearing element between posts curved deck stairs — the trick building. Customers when are handrails required on a deck have been compelled by their homeowners insurance to install deck railing enhance! The aesthetic factor of not having a railing system the stairway, well... With a variety of railings available at decks & Docks and add that touch! Deck will be two 11-in.-wide treads and three 7-1/2-in was lower and many people don ’ always... Here shows a set of curved stairs is using a temporary form and laminated plywood stringers Looks Better too... It a cost-effective solution in the niche of marine construction industry across and. You may not need a handrail measured from the top rail of your deck must be placed between 34 and! And laminated plywood stringers between the deck and the top tread design and build a,... Ground, balustrades need to include handrails will depend on the height someone could fall is obviously 1.5 above. Are installed on stairs to assist in ascending and descending by providing something to grasp for balance videos. Code addresses accessibility issues, including the use of handrails when are handrails required on a deck plane is greater than 30 inches, railing!

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