Having trouble with deck stair rail height

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Old 05-06-15, 12:45 PM
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Having trouble with deck stair rail height

I'm on the last stages of my deck build, just need to do the stair railing and cap off the rest of the railing, but I'm having trouble.

Not sure if I miscalculated something or am just missing something, but the railing ends up short of the 30" code height. When measured from the back of the stairs, it's fine, but on the nosing it's about 27.5" (before the top cap).

I've measured the angle at 35 degrees and put the top rail as high as it will go on the top stair post. I'm not sure what I can do to get the right height aside from installing a taller top post, but that would make the rails uneven.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Raleigh Code:


The posts are 35", will be 36" when capped.

 

Last edited by jakkyl; 05-06-15 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 05-06-15, 03:17 PM
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You are trying to match the top of the staircase handrail to the one on the deck. In most cases that won't happen. You need to start with your bottom stringer for the handrail, ensuring it is close to sitting on the leading edge of the treads. You measure your vertical distance from the front of the nosing, not the back. Once you have the bottom rail tacked in, you can measure up at the nose of the lowest step and determine the height you need. The top rail will be parallel to the bottom rail. This may not have answered your questions, but it looks like you are stumped there.
 
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Old 05-06-15, 03:28 PM
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If I keep the rails at the angle of the stairs and measure up to meet 30" at the top rail that puts the top rail attachment above the top post. Are you saying I need a taller top post? All the instructions I've found say the bottom post needs to be longer.
 
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Old 05-06-15, 03:33 PM
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If you exceed the top of the post and you don't have 30", your posts are too short. Your balustrade should be about 36" from the deck, 38" preferred. Remember you should measure from the nose of your steps.
 
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Old 05-06-15, 03:52 PM
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these are my measurements, the 27.5 is not exact, but it's definitely under 30 (or 29 - cap)
Hopefully it's readable
 
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Old 05-06-15, 05:52 PM
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You need an additional post at the front of your top tread, not just one at the back of your top tread. If you aren't willing to do that then you should redo the staircase- eliminate that entire top tread that is at deck level and slide the entire staircase and those bottom posts about 11" toward the deck- then it would probably all work just fine without having to add the 2nd post at the top.
 
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Old 05-06-15, 06:36 PM
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It is because your first step juts out from the deck. Your first step should be one rise down from the deck itself, without the run. In other words, you have an extra tread.

Edit.... yeah, what xsleeper said.
 
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Old 05-06-15, 07:10 PM
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Have the IRC railing height requirements changed recently? It used to be handrails had to be between 34" (not 30") and 38" above any walking surfaces.
 
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Old 05-07-15, 06:48 AM
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Thanks, Sleeper. That makes sense.
Bridge, I don't think so, this is just my local code.

If I add a second set of posts after the first step, is through-bolting it to the stringers enough to support it?
 
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Old 05-07-15, 03:54 PM
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Yes. See figure 26 and 30... 1/2" through bolts with washers.

http://www.awc.org/publications/dca/dca6/dca6-12.pdf
 
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Old 05-07-15, 04:14 PM
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If the code for the stair railing is 30" in NC, what is the code for the deck railing? In other words, how tall is your deck railing?

Here in NY, it's 2' 10" from the nose, of the tread. That's 34". The code for the deck railing is a minimum of 36". Balusters can't be more than 4" apart.
 
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Old 05-07-15, 04:55 PM
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Its got to be a misprint. Handrail height is between 34" and 38". Wonder how many people have gone by "Raleigh code". Someone should probably point that out to them!
 
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Old 05-07-15, 05:19 PM
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It's not a misprint. It's misinformation. 30" is too low for a railing.
 
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Old 05-07-15, 05:43 PM
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They reference the correct code... and that code states 34-38. So it's a misprint on a piece of paper that they produced. That illustration is not taken from the IRC. Nothing misprinted in the code that they are referring to.
 
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Old 05-07-15, 06:30 PM
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Ok, I looked at the code & you are correct. They made a mistake with the balloon or whatever you call it. The Raleigh code is the same as the NY code, a minimum of 34".
 
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Old 05-07-15, 07:02 PM
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The image I posted was from a raleigh "brochure", but it is the first thing that pops up when searching for "raleigh deck code" and it is on the official raleigh site.

A few links down is the official NC code (AM from ecodes.biz), which states 34-38. Thanks for pointing that out!

So, if I do as Sleeper suggested and add another set of posts, I should be able to maintain that 34" minimum, right? I'll be buying another 4x to hopefully wrap it up this weekend.
 
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Old 05-08-15, 07:25 AM
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Xsleeper is exactly correct. But couldn't you also bring the post at the bottom of the stairs one tread closer to the deck and have the same effect? is it ok to have the railing stop one tread before the end of the stairs?

Like this:

Name:  MOVED STAIRS_deck_1.jpg
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Old 05-08-15, 05:43 PM
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No that would not help in Jakkyl's situation. If his post at the top of the stairs isn't currently tall enough to get the handrail up to 34", moving the bottom post closer won't change that. All it would do is make the handrail too low at the bottom of the stairs, just like it already is at the top of the stairs.

Regarding your question, supraman215, the answer would be no.

R311.7.8.2 Continuity.

Handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly above the lowest riser of the flight.

Exception 2: The use of a volute, turnout, starting easing or starting newel shall be allowed over the lowest tread.

Additionally, what we have been loosely calling "handrail" is really a "stair guard" according to code. Stair guards do not necessarily qualify (double as) a handrail.

See figure 32A. http://www.awc.org/publications/dca/dca6/dca6-12.pdf
 
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Old 05-13-15, 10:17 AM
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"Handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly above the lowest riser of the flight."

so as long as the handrail or stair guard stops anywhere ON the last step your OK so the last step nose could extend PAST the stair guard/handrail, but the stair guard/handrail must at least REACH the last step. That's how I read that.
 
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Old 05-13-15, 06:16 PM
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Read it however you please. Its your homeowners insurance.

Since handrail height is measured from the nosing of the very first tread, the handrail would need to start at that point. Otherwise the handrail would not run the "full length of the flight". A person (such as an old grandma) on their way down the stairs should be able to hold onto the handrail until the tip of the last tread, when their foot is on the ground. That's how I read it. Going up it's easy to lean forward and grab hold. Going down, an older person could lose their balance if the handrail ends behind them before they are even off the stairs.

ADA is even more stringent. It states that handrails must extend 12" PAST the end of the stairs.
 
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Old 05-13-15, 08:11 PM
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Handrail is not required by code for the smaller stairs. ok so for the larger one the handrail needs to extend, so if I ever add a handrail then it would have to extend past the end of the last stair guard to the end of the stairs.
 
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Old 05-13-15, 08:41 PM
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Supra,

What reason did you have for making the larger set of stairs so long? The treads look to be close to 18" wide, each, making the total horizontal run more than 7'. IRC only allows a maximum stringer span of 6' for most species of wood, 7' for southern pine.

Each of the treads also appear to be slightly different widths, although that could be a distortion in the photo. For some reason, your very recent post showing the 2 stairways (notched stringer photos) is now gone.
 
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Old 05-13-15, 09:07 PM
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@bridgeman

lol The stair treads are all the same length. That would be epic if they weren't! Like some kind of funhouse stairs. You have a good eye though, they are 16.5" each. The unsupported span is 6'. It is SYP. I really wanted a different look for the stairs I wanted something unique. The post with the pics is in a different thread. I feel really bad about taking over OP's thread.

Jeff
 
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Old 05-13-15, 09:31 PM
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it would have to extend past the end of the last stair guard to the end of the stairs.
Yes and it also needs a return on the end. The handrail can't come jutting straight out anymore (that code changed years ago) out or else it can hook someone and cause them to fall. You would probably have to have it make a u-turn then come back to the opposite side of the post.
 
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Old 05-13-15, 10:10 PM
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They may be unique, all right, but certainly a bit awkward to navigate. Most people are used to taking one step per tread/riser, but yours will require taking two steps on each tread.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 10:26 AM
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So this is what I ended up doing and seems to work.



Another question, I wasn't there when the inspector did the post hole inspection, but he wrote a note saying "grade level outlet may be required". I have an electrical outlet right next to the door, would I need another outlet outside the perimeter of the deck? I can't find anything in the code about needing that.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 12:07 PM
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Generally an outlet is only required by a door. Not sure why you woud be required to have another one at "grade level". If the inspector has not made you do it, it should be fine.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 01:52 PM
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I certainly agree with Keith about the outlet. Your solution to the railing issue looks good.
 
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Old 05-26-15, 03:08 PM
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I've never heard about outlet requirements on a deck, but what do I know? Maybe it's a local or regional thing. Call the inspector and find out exactly what is required (telling him you would like specifics as to what he meant).
 
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Old 05-26-15, 06:29 PM
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The don't require lighting on the steps or landing, do they? That's a new one to me.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 12:19 PM
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So, I called the inspector and left a message, but he hasn't returned my call so I posted on Wake County inspectors forums, this is the response I got:
The requirement is an Electrical Code Requirement.

NEC 210.53(E)(1) One-Family and Two-Family Dwellings. For a one
family dwelling and each unit of a two-family dwelling that
is at grade level, at least one receptacle outlet accessible
while standing at grade level and located not more than 2.0 m
(61⁄2 ft) above grade shall be installed at the front and back of
the dwelling.

I would guess that the existing outlet was in a position to serve both the outlet required for the deck and to serve as the outlet at grade level before the deck was built/expanded. From the photo, I can see that the outlet is no longer accessible at grade level.
Seems ridiculous to me.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 04:49 PM
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No inspector I have ever meet would enforce that code. The outlet on the deck is the important one, so you don't have people running extension cords through the doors or windows.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 07:03 PM
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That's the most ridiculous interpretation of that requirement that I've ever seen!
 
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