What is the lighting requirement for stairs?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Stair safety is a serious concern because the statistics on stair-related injuries are so grim. About 1,400 people die in the U.S. each year as a result of a fall from a stair, and just under a million people are hospitalized yearly due to stair falls--over half of them in their own home. Falls are also the leading cause of hospitalizations among children and the elderly.

   Adequate illumination of both the stair steps and landings is big part of stair safety and here is what’s required by the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC):

1) All stairs must have illumination.

2) Interior stairs with six or more risers require a switch for lighting at the top and bottom of stairs. The riser is the vertical part of the steps and the horizontal part is called a tread. The type of switch necessary is called a three-way switch, which controls the light from two locations. Each switch throw turns the light from off to on, or vice versa, from either stair landing. As an alternate, central or automatic (motion/llight-sensor) lighting is acceptable.

3) Minimum light level is one footcandle at center of treads and landings of interior stairs.

4) Lighting for exterior stairs must be switched from inside the residence. As an alternate, central or automatic (motion/llight-sensor) lighting is acceptable. 

5) Interior stair lighting must be at both landings of a stair run or above the middle of the stairs. Exterior lighting should be a top landing, and basement stairs at bottom landing. 

    Incidentally, the 2017 edition of the Florida Building Code has separate definitions for “stair” and “stairway.” A stair is defined as “A change in elevation, consisting of one or more risers.” A stairway is “One or more flights of stairs, either interior or exterior, with the necessary landings and connecting platforms to form a continuous and uninterrupted passage from one level to another within or attached to a building, porch or deck."

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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? 

• 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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