Deck Railing

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Old 02-08-17, 11:40 AM
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Deck Railing

Hi everyone, first post here and its an odd situation..

I asked a company here in Georgia to replace the deck railing on my deck because the current railing wasn't even close to code. The deck is maybe 10-12 feet high, and the original railing was just baulisters and a guard rail, no support posts.

That being said, the contractor installed a new railing 33 inches high which isnt up to code here, and also installed 4x4 notched posts for the supports which isnt up to code either. According to GA code enforcement, 4x4 posts would have to be bolted to the outside of the deck but cannot be notched. 6x6's on the other hand can be.

So, first question is does my last paragraph sound correct? This is how I read the laws so I guess I'm looking for someone to say "yes that sounds right" or, "are you out of your mind?".

Second question is, does anyone know what course of action I can take here? They've been a little combative with me so far about replacing what they installed, so far they have just offered to add more wood to the railing to make it 36 inches high. My worry there is, the railing will be top heavy, and still wont be up to code because of the notched 4x4 posts..

On top of all of this, I think they bolted the 4x4 notched posts to the actual decking.. So to be clear, the bolt goes through the 4x4 right into where you step, in the floor of the deck. I dont see anything specific about this in our codes but, to a person with no experience in decking it seems like a horrible idea..

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I should add I have not paid for any work done and have advised them I wont do so until the deck meets code. I'm not sure how this approach will work out long term but, it seemed like the only way I could keep this company engaged. My only ideas are seeing if I can get code enforcement to strong arm them some way into correcting this, or possibly going through small claims court if they wont move forward with my demands. They're an LLC for whatever that counts for..

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 11:46 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Good on you for not having paid. I would get the local inspector out to take a look and render an opinion.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 01:10 PM
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I agree! Was a permit required for this work? Is the company licensed?
 
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Old 02-08-17, 02:22 PM
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Deck Railing

Thanks for the replies!

Well, I've contacted Code Enforcement and I'm seeing if I can get an inspector out and see what kind of advice they have for getting this resolved. If there is a cost for the inspection, I'm going to have to bill the deck contractor for that as well.

No permit was required since this was just replacement. The quotes I got were so high I did the decking myself but, thought it would be better to hire a company to do the railings. I'm now wishing I would have just done it myself.
The company is licensed. They actually have decent reviews online as well but, I have a feeling a lot of their work has been changing light bulbs for old ladies and things like that. I'm normally very picky about who works on my home but, i really thought with no $$$ needed up front and for a job as simple as railing things would go smoothly. Ah well, live and learn.

So no one has said anything about the 4x4 post being bolted into the floor/decking material. Is this in any way a normal way of doing this type of work?
 
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Old 02-08-17, 02:24 PM
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What's the contract say, no contract it can become a battle.
If there was no permit and no inspection the building dept. may not want to get involved, but worth asking anyway.
Post picture so we can see what your seeing.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 02:28 PM
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Old 02-08-17, 02:29 PM
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I'll post some good pics tomorrow. I do have emails saved from the company assuring me the deck railing would be done up to current code, hoping I don't need these in the future.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 04:14 PM
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Fastening guard posts to the decking itself would not meet code. The requirements for attaching guard posts and rails have gotten a lot tougher over last 10 years or so.

Post must be through bolted (not lag screwed) to framing members, generally joists. If they are bolted to the rim joist, then the rim joist to framing attachments must be reinforced with suitable metal hardware.

See the section on guards in this guide: http://www.awc.org/pdf/codes-standar...Guide-1405.pdf
 
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Old 03-06-17, 10:35 PM
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they f'd you, sorry. Bolts through rail posts going into the 1" side of decking is like equitable to using non treated lumber. You (they) have to replace those boards too. They'll rot out etc with the grain being destroyed like that (even though they're PT/composite, they will ruin much sooner).

Adding a couple inches of wood to the railing height to make it meet code shouldn't make it top heavy and weak, although might be tacky and not even what you asked for to begin with...

notched 4x4 posts I believe does meet code in most places but you clearly showed not for that area, so they need to be replaced.

Replace the 4x4s with non notched 4x4s. Carriage bolt them through the rim joist. I believe 3/8" bolts are sufficient, if not 1/2". Use hot dipped galvanized nuts bolts and washer on both sides.


side note, If you're slipping vinyl sleeves over the 4x4s, then the bolt heads should be countersunk to allow the sleeve to slide over. I dunno how strict they are there about the countersink being considered a notch or not (a carriage bolt's head is only about 1/4" countersunk hole though, a lag screw would be a bit more -actually I don't think you can even use lag bolts anymore, must be through bolted with carriage).
But if you're not slipping a vinyl sleeve over the posts and thus doesn't matter if the bolt heads protrude or not, then just live with the bolt heads not being countersunk (carriage bolt heads should look nice even if sticking out a bit, but lag bolt heads not countersunk might look a bit off to some but not too bad).

Then use deck post tension ties for all the posts as shown in the picture. google image search Deck Post Tension and you'll see how to do corners and the two side joists.
If the posts don't line up exactly on the side of a joists like the picture shows, then you can probably stick a few washers between the side of the joist so that it meets the tension tie without it being bent. If it's at least 1.5" space between the side of the joist and the tension tie, then put a piece of "1 by" PT wood between them and then nail it really well with hot dipped galvanized 10D nails or use a few bolts instead of nails (unless that guide the post before me linked said you must use bolts instead of nails). If you nail it, angle the nails a bit towards the posts so that if you imagine pushing the railing outward, it will only make the nails stick in better instead of pulling out (until the heads snap but that's way passed load requirements and most real life situations [except maybe a large family photo where everyone's leaning on the railing], but you can always just use a few bolts there also to be stronger than nails).

You should use Post Tension Ties because think of it this way, you can bolt the posts the rim joist to high heaven as strong as you want (rim joist in the photo shown is technically a doubled up "ledger beam", and most rim joist are just a single board same size as the joists that cap the ends of the joists off - I just couldn't find a better photo for illustration purposes). In other words, the posts (and therefore the whole handrail) can be bolted strongly through the rim joist but the rim joist is usually only secured to the deck with ~5 nails going through the ends of each joist = easy to push out the whole rim joist and the posts.
A way around this is to install the posts on the sides of the joists instead of on the outside of the rim joist, but it's too late to change all that (unless actually you prefer that since the outermost deck boards need to be removed anyway from being bolted though the 1" side by the carpenters). If you attach 4x4s to the insides of the joists, then it will still need some blocking since not all posts will likely land exactly on the sides of a joist, but I think you get the idea on how those would need to be blocked and secured if you decide to put the posts on the inside of the rim joist rather than on the outside. Putting the posts inside the rim joist will also take away the affect it would have of possibly looking tacky to you having chunky 4x4 un-notched posts on the outside. But if you put them on the outside, you can just put a "band/"skirt"/Fascia" between them as shown in the other photo to take away that affect.





 
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Old 03-07-17, 12:37 AM
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If the 4x4 rail supports are through bolted then you should be fine. It is code for the top of the railing to be 36" off the deck. If they did not do that then they need to make that right. Adding material will not suffice, the railings need to be solid and not a piece meal bunch of crap.
 
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Old 03-12-17, 05:16 PM
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czizzi, I beg to differ that it is ok to add a few inches to the rail height by just putting a pt 2x4 and then 1x5 pt decking. All nailed up well. Sure it might look tacky to some but others might actually prefer the beefier look. The goal of a rail system overall is to meet the lb ratings shown in the photo. That's how people get away with doing designs with the balusters and horizontal wire or glass panels etc.

but yeah, in this case, sounds like he got screwed and the 'builder(s)' should take it all down and restart/refund/compensate because he didn't ask for railings to be built up. He's going to have to work that out.



google image search: deck rail code load if no photo shown
 
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Old 03-12-17, 05:23 PM
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well, actually, instead of 200 lbs force, in some cases, it might require 500 lbs, but I still think it would surpass that by far.

Why Railings Have Withstand 500 Pounds When the IRC Says 200 Pounds | Professional Deck Builder | Fencing and Railing, Engineering, Codes and Standards

To be honest, one of the worst thing you can do for deck rails is to nail wood balusters, especially not ring shank. they should be screwed, and often predrilled to not split. When I demo a deck or platform that the home builder originally built and nailed the wood balusters, I can literally go around and kick them out like popsicle sticks, one light kick at the bottom and they fly right off.
 
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