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Old 02-23-2007, 12:04 PM   #1
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Safety rail for loft


In putting in a new closet in a guest room, we have a loft for children to sleep and play. The opening is 42 inches high and 7 feet 8 inches wide.
I want to know how strong to make a safety rail. We will have a ladder and opening, but I wasn't planning for a gate. The top of the rail will go all the way across, providing a barrier against accidental falls, leaving an opening ???? inches wide for entry, crawing under the rail. I planned to have the rail 24" ???? high.

I was going to use wooden dowels for the verticals in the railing. I know that I need to space the dowels 4 inches on center for safety, but is that close enough? What diameter dowels are strong enough? What size wood should I use for the top rail. I will fasten the rail to a post at each side of the opening. What size should those posts be for strength? How should I fasten the post to the studs in the walls? Do I need a third post to form one side of the opening or just stop with the final dowel? If I need a third post, does it have to go clear to the top of the opening or just fasten it to the bottom? How wide should the opening be for children/adults to enter under the railing? How tall does the railing actually need to be? What kind of wood is best?
I think I can design and build the thing, but I want it to be strong enough to protect against children falling against it. However, I don't want to use 4x6 pieces unless that large size is necessary!
Thank you so much!!!
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Old 02-24-2007, 04:50 PM   #2
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Safety rail for loft


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I want to know how strong to make a safety rail.

If you use the standard size top and bottom rail then that should be strong enough.

I planned to have the rail 24" ???? high.

It should be higher then 24. check local code.

I was going to use wooden dowels for the verticals in the railing. I know that I need to space the dowels 4 inches on center for safety, but is that close enough?


You can space them closer if you like. Check local code to see if it is 4" or 3" apart.




Pam
How high is this loft?

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Old 02-25-2007, 10:34 AM   #3
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Safety rail for loft


Have you considered going from floor to ceiling with your doweling. Legal height railings are 42-1/2" up here. Also spacing is 4 " between spindles. You must check building codes for this. Let us know what the requirements are and we will have some ideas for you on this.
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Old 02-25-2007, 11:39 AM   #4
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Safety rail for loft


Thanks for the reply Daryl

You have a good idea, and I only know outside deck code is 36", so you are right to check for code.

My only objection to floor to top is appearance and feeling. We would essentially put the kids in a cage. We often think that is where they belong, but....

Your suggestion would make the whole thing much stronger, and I would not have to put a vertical post anywhere as I could screw the top and bottom horizontal pieces directly to the beams.

We wanted to be able to be able to remove the rail to install carpeting, haul up larger stuff like a TV when the kids are all older, etc., but screws come out and go back in! Yea!

So, I'll check with the daughters and see what they think about a cage. They'll most likely be 100% in favor.

Thank you again.

Hey, if I use square pieces of wood rather than dowels, it might look better. What kind of wood? What size would be strong enough? Can I get by with 1" ?

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Old 02-26-2007, 08:10 AM   #5
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Safety rail for loft


Hey, if I use square pieces of wood rather than dowels, it might look better
Actually I liked your idea about dowels but that is purely a persons preference.
What kind of wood?
I personally would use fir or Hemlock.
What size would be strong enough? Can I get by with 1" ?
I would use 2x2 ( 1-1/2" x 1-1/2") or close to it.
Your suggestion would make the whole thing much stronger, and I would not have to put a vertical post anywhere as I could screw the top and bottom horizontal pieces directly to the beams.
You could install 2x4 top and bottom and then make a frame that the spindles are attached to, one for each side of your opening and then just slide it into the opening and screw it in that way when you need to remove it you just remove the whole frame at once on each side of the opening. If you still want a rail where you get in up there for safety then just screw a 2x4 in from each side.
Hope i have explained this well enough.
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:55 PM   #6
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Safety rail for loft


For permanent: You could use 4x4 fir posts for the newell posts. 'Notch' these (take off 1/2 the width of the post - 1 3/4" and the hight of the joist to be attached to .... and lag screw them directly into the floor joists or use carraige bolts. Minimum diameter should be 1/2". If the floors are covered by sheathing, you will have to remove these in order to do attach this way to the joists...

This is pretty much what Darylh said, but I'll elaborate since we have done this type of railing set up:

For Removable:...To be able to remove the railing; fabricate what is essentially a top and bottom plate, like in a wall. However, you could router the edges to give it a nice finished look. Use 3/4" Stock for those. Attach your square 'dowell' at a minimum of 3 1/2" apart edge to edge (Use a scrap piece of 2x4 since it is 3 1/2" in size)
The key is to measure it out and fabricate/construct it BEFORE you install it. Use wood glue and wood screws to attach the 'ballusters' to the top and bottom parts. Once it is assembled, Fit it into place and pre-drill screw holes for about a #12 diameter wood screw. Use long ones, at least 3 1/2" in length. Drill trough the bottom and top peices, making sure that your screws go into joists and not just plywood.
Now, when you want to remove it, just remove the screws and pull it out.
We did this on a stair case leading to a basement so that it met code, but could be removed for furniture.
Home owner painted it to match existing trim work. Wish I had a pick of it. We used 1 1/2" closet poles, but to cut down to sizes, so we could use them as the ballusters...

Tip: When I did this on the staircase, I milled down my top and bottom pieces, then temporarlly installed those using screws. Then, I used a temp. bracket (strapping laid on the flat across the opening and pin nailed it to the top and bottom to make a rigid frame )- the exact measurement of the opening. Remove it and set on a flat surface - so you can install the ballusters and attach them from each side (top and bottom)...This way I could also measure my dowells (Ballusters) and fit them exact in length. The unit went in with a perfect snug fit....


Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 02-26-2007 at 08:35 PM.
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