Deck and Railing best practices

Post date: Apr 20, 2014 12:7:22 PM

With the weather getting warmer many homeowners will be looking to add some outdoor living space, this usually comes in the form of decks porches and balconies.

No matter if your a do it yourself guy, or will be hiring a contractor, home inspectors look for these best practices to ensure the safety of our clients.

All decks higher than 30" above grade must have a guardrail. If you choose to install a guardrail on a deck lower than 30" you must still meet these requirements. These standards apply to decks and balconies attached to single family detached homes. Best practice requires guardrails to be at lest 36" in height measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail.

Choice of styles are allowed as long as the interior sections of the rail don’t possess any openings large enough to pass a 4” diameter sphere through (this prevents toddlers from slipping through and falling).Guardrails for stairs allows up to a 6”diameter sphere through the triangle opening formed by the stair riser, stairtread, and bottom rail.The guardrails must be strong enough to withstand aconcentrated 200 lb force anywhere along the top of the rail.To achieve this you should space rail posts no greater than 6' apart.

Handrails are required for stairs and must meet standards as specified by ASHI.The top edge of the handrail must be placed between 34” and 38” above the nosing of the stair treads. Handrail ends must be returned and terminated at rail posts.The handgrips must allow a minimum of 1-1/2” spacebetween the handrail and the guardrail or wall. A variety of gripping surfacesmay be acceptable but must meet requirements for gripping surface.Flat 2x4 and 2x6 handrails are not acceptable.A circular cross section of a handrail musthave an outside diameter of between 1-1/4” and 2”.

We wish you and your family a safe and happy spring ands summer season.