Balconies are typically found in apartment homes, hotels and other buildings to allow users access to the outdoors even when they're several stories above the ground. While a balcony is a relaxing addition to any home, hotel or office space, their railings must meet the safety requirements for the city it resides in. Depending on where you live, the balcony railing safety regulations may vary; however, most states feature similar requirements. Contact your local building/zoning department to determine what the specific requirements are for your city prior to building a balcony railing.
Vertical Bar Spacing
Balcony railings should have vertical bars spanning from the floor of the balcony to the top of the railing. These bars work to prevent children, pets or items from accidentally falling to the ground below. It is important to ensure the vertical bars are close enough to prevent children or pets from sticking their heads through them. The spacing between vertical balusters, or bars, ranges between 4 to 6 inches, according to the article "Building Code Guide to Stairways, Railings, Landing Construction and Stair Safety Inspections" from InspectAPedia.
It is vital to remove all furniture or other items from a balcony to prevent children from climbing on. Chairs, boxes and tables must be removed from the balcony when children or pets are present as these items pose a significant safety risk. Of course, if items cannot be removed from the balcony, never let a child or pet on the balcony unless supervised by a competent adult.
The height of a balcony railing is important to prevent children, adults or pets from accidentally falling over. Dariusz Rudnicki says in "Balcony Railing Safety Code" from Check This House, Inc. that balcony railings should be at least 42 inches from the floor of the balcony to the top of the railing. Of course, local building codes may feature different balcony railing height requirements, thus check with your local building code enforcer.
Balcony railings must be able to withstand pressure from a person leaning on it. Railings should be able to withstand up to 90.7kg. of pressure coming from any direction. This ensures the railing does not buckle if an adult or furniture item is leaning against it.