When is a railing required at stairs?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Although most people think of stairs as a long run of steps for getting from one floor of a home to another, the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) define a stair as “a change in elevation consisting of one or more risers.” A riser is the vertical surface of a stair and a tread is the horizontal surface, so one step up or down is considered a stair. But the requirement for a railing at stairs does not kick in until the stair has four or more risers.

    The installation of a railing, and the secondary standards for the details of its construction, are usually done correctly inside a house. But they are often ignored at short exterior stairs that have four or more risers. The example shown below at a front porch has a basic railing, but not the required handgrip and pickets. See our blog post What do home inspectors check when inspecting stairs? to learn more. 

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

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

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

   Visit our STAIRS page 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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