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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:
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