back steps- stair rail height questions

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Old 12-14-04, 08:34 AM
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back steps- stair rail height questions

I bought a house recently that was built in 1920. Maybe 7 years ago the then-owner built stairs, that is, steps leading up to a landing which leads to the back door. Two of the tenants have to go up this back door to enter their apartment.

The stair rail, is 36" on the landing, but the stairrail is 26.5" - 28" tall, from step edge to rail, not even 30" tall!! DO I NEED TO CHANGE THIS TO 36" FRP, STEP EDGE TO TOP OF STAIR RAIL, OR IS THIS GRANDFATHERED IN?

I am trying to cover myself in case someone falls, I DONT WANT THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO NOT COVER IN CASE OF A FALL BECAUSE THEY SAY THE RAILING IS NOT UP TO CODE.... As you can see I also installed risers to the steps. I even tried to increase the density of ballisters on the stair rail so that the spaces between are less than 4". Unfortunately only after I started putting in extra ballisters did I notice that the height of the rail is very low. So I stopped and I am asking advice if I should briing it up to 36".

Here is the link to see http://home.comcast.net/~devidasvarga/backstairs.htm
 
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Old 12-14-04, 02:24 PM
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dvarga,

The answer is yes. 36" high with the 4" MAXIMUM spacing between spindles.

Check this out for a visual.

http://www.ideas-for-deck-designs.co..._building.html

Hope this helps!
 

Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 12-15-04 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 12-15-04, 10:47 PM
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Doug,

Reread what you just said. You'll see the error!!

Dvarga,

What Doug meant to say was that the spacing between the ballusters or spindles has to be less than 4" -- done however you want to do it, as long as a 4" ball cannot be passed between them.
 
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Old 12-15-04, 10:51 PM
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Lefty,

Thanks!

Sorry dvarga
 
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Old 12-16-04, 05:45 AM
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Several code violations

You have several code violations with this deck and stairs with the rail heights and baluster spacing only part of them.

In addition, your handrails do not meet code because they are too large to grip in a fall and do not contain a rail returned to a newel post or wall.

There appears to be some problems with riser heights and tread depths.

Bringing this set of stairs and deck up to code is beyond your abilities and any repairs or alterations should be done by a professional.
 
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Old 12-16-04, 05:48 AM
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Good Morning Homebild!

I provided a link that should clearly place these stairs/railing back into compliance.

Did you take a look at it?

Just wondering
 
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Old 12-16-04, 07:14 PM
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Hi Doug

Hi Doug:
Yes I saw the link and found it generally helpful(in fact I'm saving it to my favorites), but I did find some of the info to be non-compliant to code (at least 2003 IRC code) in some instances.

That does not mean that the link is not a great general guide for step, stair and deck construction. It certainly is and is well appreciated. But as with all our "code" comments, they should be taken with a grain of salt since code is what the reader's local code says and they need to verify it with their local governing body. I know you know that. Just offereing some clarification for our DIY readers.

When I posted about the railing size, I just wanted to mention another immediate problem that I observed from dvarga photo that neither you or lefty specifically addressed in your responses, and that was that the handrailing sizes were also an area of concern...

BTW the "you" in my initial response was meant for dvargas...not You, Doug Aleshire!......just to clarify.

Thanks for the feedback and hope you are well...

You done good!

Best Regards to you and Lefty,

homebild
 

Last edited by homebild; 12-16-04 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 12-16-04, 07:32 PM
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Here's a good point - it has to be to your LOCAL code. Some stair / stair rail / guard rail issues apply to residential and some do not. For example, I don't think you have to have the 42" high "guard rail" with the 36" "hand rail".

I commend you for being concerned about this. Many landlords wouldn't be!

Checking with your local building inspector will accomplish several things:

1) they will tell you if it is grandfathered (probably built w/o a permit, and so will not be grandfathered)

2) they will tell you what is required in your jurisdiction

3) they will require you to get a building permit to rebuild the rail to code.

NOTE: I belive that your stair is ok, it's the rail(s) that are the problem. FYI. Keep in mind that there is a height/depth requirement too (7" rise, 11" deep min. req'd in my area.)
 
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Old 12-16-04, 07:46 PM
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Homebild, Doug, Dvarga --

First, I haven't looked at the photos. I WON'T because that requires using IE, and my computer has a real problem with IE and all of the pop ups that occur when I try that.

Dvarga, what Homebild is saying about "local codes" is ABSOLUTELY correct. And "local" means THE jurisdiction that you are building in. If you are in a city, go ask the guys in that city -- NOT the county that the city happens to be in. I run into this all the time. There are 'basics' when it comes to steps and railings -- the rise and run of the steps, the pickets have to be less than 4" apart, the railing height and shape, etc. etc. But there are 50 states, probably something like 1.000 counties, and who knows how many cities in this country, and they EACH have their own "codes" that they follow, and they each have their own INTERPRETATION of that "code". Just be thankful that your stairs are in ONE jurisdiction and don't move. You probably don't want to try building in a dozen different jurisdictions, each with their own "code".
 
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Old 12-16-04, 09:03 PM
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back steps- stair rail height questions

Doug, Homebuild, Lefty, Trance,

Thanks for your input, I've read everything that you posted.

The stairs are 11" deep, with 7 " rise which is compliant with local code.

The stair rails need to go up to 36", and the stair rail itself needs to be of proper dimension. Ballusters need to be 4" or less to not let a 4" ball pass between.

I will read my city code, and probably install as much of or all of the upgrades myself. Maybe this is foolish but I feel confident that I can upgrade the railing to proper height and size as well as take care of the ballusters.

Thank you again!

Dave Varga
 
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Old 12-17-04, 07:42 PM
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Dave,

You seem to have a pretty good handle on what has to be done to make the railing right. As long as all of the treads are 11" and all of the risers are 7", plus or minus 1/8", you should be fine there.

One other suggestion -- check with your local bldg. dept. They may have a printed handout that will explain the details THEY expect in a handrail. I would be really suprised if it contained much different than what we have told you, but it will probably have drawings of the shapes of the top rail that are acceptable and the ones that aren't. (Will probably have a statement to the affect that other shapes may be acceptable too, but check with the bldg. dept. before you use them.)
 
 

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