The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-11-2009, 09:09 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Building Code question: Rail height for a deck

What is the new building code requirement for rail height on a deck? Is it 42" regardless of the distance to the ground, or is it 36" as long as that distance is less than "x". This site says:
* Deck surface is less than 24” above ground – no railings required
* Deck surface is 24” to 5’10” above ground – minimum 36”railing is required
* Deck surface is 5’10” or more above ground – minimum 42” railing is required

But I'm not sure if this info complies with the latest changes to the code (effective Jan 1 last year).

Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2009, 09:50 AM
Carson O'Genic Carson O'Genic is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
To my knowledge, there is no overarching authority for this, your local municipality would have final say.
42" used to be the standard industrial height, regardless of elevation, and a comfortable (comforting?) height for average males.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2009, 02:43 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
My understanding is that there was a new UBC adopted last year. I was interested in what that says. It's an expensive book and I was hoping not to buy it. I may check at the library later.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2009, 07:32 PM
fisha fisha is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
MN residential Code, based on ICC 2008.

R312.1 Guards. Porches, balconies, ramps or raised floor surfaces located more than 30" above the floor or grade below shall have guards not less than 36" in height.[snip]
Porches and decks which are enclosed with insect screening shall be equipped with guards where the walking surface is located more than 30" above the floor or grade below.

Remember also that railings have to be less than 4" apart.

Here is a link to a MB that might be helpful.

Also, you local codes might be slightly different, be sure to check with the local building inspector.

Last edited by fisha; 02-11-2009 at 07:32 PM..
Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 08:01 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Thanks. I know about the 4" rule and I know that local codes vary. My question is what is actually written in the International Building Code (my mistake in calling it "universal", above).
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:10 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright © 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.