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What is code for the step-down at the landing for an exterior door?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The step-down requirements to a landing at an exterior door of a home depends on whether the door is an egress door or just a regular exterior door. The egress door standards are more stringent, per the International Residential Code (IRC R311.1) and Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC). Here’s how it works for both categories:

EGRESS DOOR - One exterior door in the home must meet the standards for emergency exit from a home and is called an egress door. It must be side-hinged, openable to 90º (perpendicular to closed position), have a clear opening of 32-inches wide and 78-inches high, and be openable from the inside without a key, special knowledge, or effort. Also, the door must open directly to the exterior, without requiring travel through a garage.

    The landing on both sides of an egress door must be at least as wide as the door it serves, extend at least 3-feet perpendicular to the door, and not be more than 1-1/2-inches below the top of the threshold. But the code does allow one exception: the landing or floor at the exterior side of an egress door can be as much as 7-3/4” below the top of the threshold. 

    There was a previous requirement that the egress door not swing outward when the exception was used, but it has been removed in the most recent version of the code. Storm and screen doors are also allowed to swing out over the landing.

OTHER EXTERIOR DOORS: Any other doors to the outside must have a landing or floor on both sides at least as wide as the door it serves, extend at least 3-feet perpendicular to the door, and not be more than 7-3/4-inches below the top of the threshold on both sides. Plus, there’s a more generous code exception for regular exterior doors: a top landing is not required where a stair-way of not more than two risers (one tread) is located on the exterior side of the door. Since the maximum stair riser allowed is 7-3/4”, this means the exterior level can be as much as 15-1/2” below top of door threshold. The steps shown above are non-compliant because there are two treads.

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  To learn more about doors and windows, see these other blog posts:

What causes sweating (condensation) on the inside of windows in the winter? 

Is every exterior door of a house required to have a landing outside? 

 What are the small slots at the bottom of the outside of my window? 

Why does condensation form on the outside of some windows and not others in the morning? 

What is the raised metal plate on the floor under the garage door?

 Why do I have to hold down the button to close the garage door? 

How can I tell if a window or glass door is safety glass? 

What are the code requirements for safety tempered glass for doors?

Should a front door swing in or out? 

How many exit doors are required for a house?

 How many exit doors are required for a mobile/manufactured home? 

Are openable windows required to have window screens? Will windows with no screens pass a home inspection? 

Can a bedroom door open into the garage?

What are the building code requirements for a door from the garage to the house?

What is "low-E" window glass? 

What does ANSI 297.1 on glass mean?

Why is a double cylinder deadbolt lock on an exterior door a safety hazard? 

How can I check my garage door to make sure it is safe?  

What is an egress window?

Does a home inspector test all the windows and doors in a home? 

How difficult is it to change a window to french doors or a sliding glass door?

How do you determine if a door is left-handed or right-handed?

Why are window security bars dangerous? 

What are the common problems you find inspecting windows?

What do those numbers on the manufacturer's stickers in new windows mean?

What does a home inspector check on an electric garage door? 

• What is the tempered label on glass at windows and sliding glass doors called?

Why is pressure washing double pane windows an expensive mistake? 

How can I tell if a window or sliding glass door is double or triple pane (insulated) glass?

• Do I need to have two exterior exit doors in my house? 

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

   Visit our DOORS AND WINDOWS 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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