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JackOfAllTrades 02-01-2013 06:34 PM

Balcony Threshold Stepdown
Is it a good idea to have a balcony threshold step down (3" - 4') for a pair of French Doors that exit onto an exterior balcony?

The GC said that it is not necessary and said that only a 1/2" slope is sufficient and as long as the deck is pitched, all will be fine.

I am not comfortable without a step down because wind driven rain can easily pond and start to go through and over the threshold into the home. I always thought step downs kept out the water and snow.

woodworkbykirk 02-01-2013 06:48 PM

having the porch down from the threshold is a much better idea. every deck i do is down from the door specifiically for the reason you stated.. water gets behind and rots the sil

joecaption 02-01-2013 08:57 PM

God bless him for being so wrong, makes more money for the person coming behind him replacing all the rotten wood and having to redo the floors.
We have covered this one subject at least 100 times on this site.
Rotten subfloor, rim joist, floor joist, sheetrock, bottom plates, all because someone did not build it lower then the threshold.
Another very big deal is how it's flashed, done wrong and it's going to leak and rot out the sheathing at least.

GBrackins 02-01-2013 10:41 PM

4" is the absolute minimum. Anything less becomes a tripping hazard. I typically design them at 7" lower which is a comfortable step.

JackOfAllTrades 02-02-2013 08:56 PM

I talked with my architect and he stated that he will incorporate a 2" step down from the French Doors onto the concrete balcony.

I am not worried about rotting wood because the deck is concrete and the wall is concrete. It was more about preventing water from back tracking into the home and damaging the floor.

GBrackins 02-02-2013 09:57 PM

the minimum riser height per the International Building Code is 4". as I stated less than 4" is a tripping hazard. but it is your home, good luck

joecaption 02-02-2013 10:30 PM

He needs to go back to school if he thinks 2" is exceptable.

JackOfAllTrades 02-04-2013 10:02 PM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1108308)
He needs to go back to school if he thinks 2" is exceptable.

The way it was explained to me is that on balconies with a French Door, it is not required. It is actually forbidden on ADA properties to have a threshold step-down. I was also told that commercial properties don't have threshold step-downs.

GBrackins 02-04-2013 10:36 PM

it is not a requirement to have a step down, however it makes sense to keep water from entering the home.

You are correct in regards to ADA requirements, however I am not aware of ADA coming into play on single family dwellings as a requirement, common areas in townhouses and apartments it does come into play, or more to the point Fair Housing Standards do.

The OP stated their architect said he would incorporate a 2" step down, which some of us believe is more of a tripping hazard than a benefit. The only ICC code requirement I know of for minimum riser height is the IBC (commercial code) which states the minimum riser height shall be 4".

It is after all the OP's home and they are able to do that which they prefer.

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