Stairway same as step?

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Old 02-22-19, 09:53 AM
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Stairway same as step?

I'm designing a deck and need help interpreting the code with respect to stairways and landings. According to R311.7.6 of the Virginia Statewide Building Code, there shall be a floor or landing at the top and bottom of each stairway. However, it doesn't define what a stairway is. For instance, if I had a step down out of my house onto a step, then below that was the deck surface, is this considered a stairway? The door is a slider, if that makes a difference. There's an exception for interior stairways not needing a landing, but it doesn't say the same about exterior stairways. Regardless, the question is what exactly is considered a stairway? Seems to me that if a deck under 30" doesn't require a guardrail and a stairway with 4 risers or less doesn't require a handrail, then a single step from deck into the home shouldn't require a landing.
 
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Old 02-22-19, 11:23 AM
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If there is an exterior door, you need a landing. R311.3
 
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Old 02-22-19, 11:55 AM
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Thanks for the reference. I couldn't find that for some reason. Looks like there's an exception since I have a slider?

R311.3.2 Floor Elevations for Other Exterior Doors
Doors other than the required egress door shall be provided with landings or floors not more than 73/4 inches (196 mm) below the top of the threshold.

Exception: A top landing is not required where a stairway of not more than two risers is located on the exterior side of the door, provided that the door does not swing over the stairway.
 
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Old 02-22-19, 11:59 AM
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If that is in your code then yes, it looks like an exception is made for sliders, albeit an awkward one.
 
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Old 02-22-19, 12:58 PM
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I'll have to check my state/counties code to see if the same applies. Thanks.

I'm guessing it's because when you're approaching a swinging door from outside, you are pulling backward, and if there's no landing you could lose your footing on the stairs and fall back. Whereas with a slider, you are pulling to the side so you'd have to be drunk to fall backwards
 
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Old 02-22-19, 01:13 PM
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Virginia residential code is worded the same way, so it looks like I can get away with the step if I wanted to. Not sure if I'm actually going to do that, but it's good to have that option.

The reason I asked is because I am considering dropping the deck down 14" from the door threshold so the ledger can be bolted to the foundation wall. There is no rim board on my home to anchor to (floor joists are TJI with 1/2" ply band), so if I keep the deck at the same elevation as the slider, I have to do a freestanding deck, which is considerably more work (more posts, concrete, beams, etc). And according to one deck builder I spoke with, if digging a footer closer than 5 feet to the foundation, you have to dig down to the principal structure's footing. That's about 6 feet down for my yard. Not sure if this is correct. I can understand another structure more significant than a deck would need to go down to the principal structure's footing, but something light such as a deck? I'm looking for that section of code now. Only thing I've found thus far is an exception saying free-standing decks aren't required to have footings below the frost line. Interesting. Maybe it's an undisturbed soil thing?
 
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Old 02-24-19, 04:24 PM
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Have you considered doing a freestanding deck? That's actually is a preferred method I many people. It's really no additional work and being freestanding it doesn't never put any stress on your home nor create a possible path for moisture to enter.
 
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Old 02-25-19, 07:47 AM
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Have you considered doing a freestanding deck? That's actually is a preferred method I many people. It's really no additional work and being freestanding it doesn't never put any stress on your home nor create a possible path for moisture to enter.
Freestanding was the original plan. I was trying to see if there was another way, but I really don't want a step down to the deck. I prefer it to be just below the threshold. Wonder if there's a viable way to do a dropped ledger of sorts.
 
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