What are the safety regulations for deck railings?

Written by emily patterson | 13/05/2017
What are the safety regulations for deck railings?
Deck railing with guardrail, handrail and spindles. (cabin image by Colin Buckland from Fotolia.com)

Deck railings consist of the handrails for stairs, guardrails to prevent falls and spindles between the deck and guardrail to prevent children from falling off a deck below the guardrail. There are different regulations for deck railings, depending on the area. However, many areas have similarities. Check with your local municipal office for specific regulations in your area, since a permit will likely be required prior to installing the deck.

Handrail Regulations

Handrails provide support and stability when people go up and down stairs. Handrails are required on all stairs with more than three risers, and in some locations more than four risers. The required distance from the height of the handrail to the top of the stair tread of the steps ranges from 30 to 38 inches. Handrails are required to support at least 90.7 Kilogram of pressure. Spindles are required below handrails and must meet spindle regulations. If a guardrail continues down the stairs at the guardrail height of 36 inches or more, a separate handrail must be attached to the guardrail at the regulation height of 30 to 38 inches.

Guardrail Regulations

A guardrail is the railing that goes all the way around the deck and prevents occupants from falling off the deck. Guardrails are required for decks that are more than 24 inches from the ground in most locations. In some locations, guardrails are required for decks that are more than 30 inches from the ground. The minimum height is 36 inches from surface of deck boards to the top of the guardrail. Guardrails are also required to support at least 90.7 Kilogram of pressure.

Spindle Regulations

Spindles are the vertical pieces between handrails or guardrails and the surface of the decks. Spindles may be made of wood, metal, plastic or other decking material. Regulations for spindle spacing are designed to prevent a child's head from being stuck between spindles and prevent a child from falling off the deck. The consistent regulation requires that a 4-inch sphere cannot pass between the spindles.

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