How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

When is safety glass required for windows at stairs and stair landings?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

When window glazing (glass) at stairs is located in what the building code defines as a “hazardous location,” safety glass is required. It becomes hazardous according to the code when the bottom of the glass is less than 36-inches above the walking surface of the stair or landing.

    Two exceptions are allowed:

  1. A railing is installed in front of the window area that is 34-inches to 38-inches high, or
  2. The window glazing is more than 36-inches away horizontally from the walking area. So the window at a stair shown above is not compliant. 

    Here is how it is stated in the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code  (FBC), and the International Residential Code (IRC) is similar.

    Because of the possibility of falling headlong into a window at the bottom of a stair, the definition of a hazardous location is expanded for bottom (and intermediate) stair landings to any glazing below 36-inches above the floor and within a 60-inch sweeping arc horizontally from the bottom tread of the stairs. A railing, by the way, must not allow the passage of a 4” sphere in any of the openings below the top rail. There is a similar exception for a railing in front of the window, but it be at least 18-inches from the glazing.

    Also, while there is an exception allowed for “decorative glazing” in other locations in a home, it does not apply at stair landings. So the example shown below is not acceptable.

    Also, see our article Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Safety Tempered Glass

 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about STAIRS:

What do home inspectors check when inspecting stairs?

• Is a landing always required at the top and bottom of stairs? 

• When is a railing required at stairs?

• What is the building code for the minimum height of stair steps (risers)? 

• When is a nosing required on a stair tread?

• What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?  

• Are open stair risers acceptable?

• What is the steepest residential stair allowed?

• Why is a single step dangerous in a house?

 Do I need stairs at all exit doors from a mobile home? 

• The stairs feel too steep. What's the building code? 

• What is the longest stair run allowed? 

• What is the lighting requirement for stairs?

• A light is required over a stair after how many steps/risers? 

    Visit our STAIRS and DOORS AND WINDOWS pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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