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Regulations for Outdoor Stair Rails for Homes

Updated February 21, 2017

Outdoor stairways require specific materials and considerations when building them. The stairs must be made out of a material that is intended for exterior use such as treated wood, aluminium, or even painted galvanised steel. The railing systems on exterior stairs have some different rules than staircases inside the house, and some that are the same.

Railing Height

The railing height of an exterior staircase must be no less the 34 inches tall from the bottom of the step and no taller than 38 inches tall from the bottom of the step for the duration of the length of the rail. A rail is required on both sides of a staircase that is over 24 inches tall and has no structure on the sides to act as fall protection.

Railing Material

The railing and all mounting components must use galvanised screws or nails and be constructed of treated lumber, galvanised steel, copper, PVC, aluminium, cedar, teak, treated redwood, or painted iron. In some jurisdictions, standard lumber grades of pine are acceptable if treated with a protective water sealer.

Railing Spindles

Spindle spacing is required to be no more than 4 inches apart to prevent small children and infants from climbing through and falling from the stairway. The spindles must be constructed of treated lumber, galvanised steel, copper, PVC, aluminium, cedar, teak, treated redwood, or painted iron. In some jurisdictions, standard lumber grades of pine are acceptable if treated with a protective water sealer. All spindles must be secured using galvanised screws or nails.

Bottom Rail

If a bottom rail exists for spindle mounting, it may not be more than 4 inches from the bottom of the rail, to the top of the step, or top of the floor of a landing.

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About the Author

Adam Yeomans has been writing professionally since 2010, with his work appearing on websites such as eHow. He works in the construction industry as a builder and as an energy efficiency consultant.