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Old 04-18-2013, 03:14 PM   #1
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Hi I recently built a small (10x12) platform deck in front of my house. The top of the deck surface is only the height of the 2x6 joist and the 2x6 deck board from grade, so only about 7". My local code requires a railing (42") if the deck is 30" or more from grade. So I dont need a rail. But I want to build a rail mainly for decorative purposes. Does my decorative rail need to be built to the same standards as a rail required for decks above 30", specifically 42" height and less than 4" in between horizontal members?

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:27 PM   #2
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to answer your question YES

if the code has a standard for a type of construction, even though not required by the code and you decide to built it then it must be done to code. A small child does not know the code does not require guards and balusters on your deck, but may still try to stick their head in between the balusters (thus the reason for a maximum 4" space between balusters).

Now with that said I'd recommend calling your building department and ask them, after all their opinion is the one that matters. the 42" height must be a California thing, as it is typically 36" in height in most other parts of the country for residential construction.

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:56 PM   #3
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Yeah pretty much what i thought. Would have loved to save a few stainless steel cables though, man that stuff is pricey. For height, pretty sure I misspoke, I think it did say 36" for Level 1, 42" for level two.

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-ryan
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:57 PM   #4
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stainless steel cables should be allowed ..... check with your building department

not much of a chance of a child getting their head stuck in those
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:32 PM   #5
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Deck Railing Question


Hey Ryan,
Did you buy the materials yet? I have some good news for you. I'm a building inspector in California and (sorry GBrackins), you absolutely do not have to conform to the standards of a legal rail height or spacing if the rail is not required at all. It needs to be safely installed as to not create a false sense of security, but that falls under a different code than rail height and spacing. Otherwise, 4" spacing or 12" spacing is all up to you. Think about it, if the code says you don't need a rail at all and you choose to install one 36" high, are you making the structure safer or more dangerous. Yes, sometimes the code actually makes sense, who knew..


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Originally Posted by RodBarney View Post
Hi I recently built a small (10x12) platform deck in front of my house. The top of the deck surface is only the height of the 2x6 joist and the 2x6 deck board from grade, so only about 7". My local code requires a railing (42") if the deck is 30" or more from grade. So I dont need a rail. But I want to build a rail mainly for decorative purposes. Does my decorative rail need to be built to the same standards as a rail required for decks above 30", specifically 42" height and less than 4" in between horizontal members?

Last edited by Gary in WA; 04-19-2013 at 11:31 PM. Reason: removed web link belongs below signature line.
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Old 04-19-2013, 07:23 PM   #6
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It needs to be safely installed as to not create a false sense of security, but that falls under a different code than rail height and spacing.
which code would that be?
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:41 PM   #7
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Deck Railing Question


Hi Gary,
I did not want to confuse my answer earlier but I appreciate you making me honest and providing the mentioned back up.
Specific code for deck construction is found in the International Residential Code (IRC). This code is a comprehensive collection of rules that apply specifically to residential construction. It is administered by the International Code Council (ICC). Other local codes tend to supersede the IRC but for the sake of clarity, the IRC is a good place to start. Depending on where you plan on building a deck, checking with your local building department as to their adaptation and exceeding requirements to the IRC would be a wise first step.
The IRC is not available for free online but there is a publication by the American Forest & Paper Association specifically written for home owners who want to build a 1st story deck, based on the IRC which you can download via this link.
If you need additional information, please don't hesitate to ask.
Have a good weekend.




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which code would that be?

Last edited by beenthere; 04-20-2013 at 02:24 AM. Reason: Removed link to his company
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by InspectorZo View Post
Hi Gary,
I did not want to confuse my answer earlier but I appreciate you making me honest and providing the mentioned back up.
Specific code for deck construction is found in the International Residential Code (IRC). This code is a comprehensive collection of rules that apply specifically to residential construction. It is administered by the International Code Council (ICC). Other local codes tend to supersede the IRC but for the sake of clarity, the IRC is a good place to start. Depending on where you plan on building a deck, checking with your local building department as to their adaptation and exceeding requirements to the IRC would be a wise first step.
The IRC is not available for free online but there is a publication by the American Forest & Paper Association specifically written for home owners who want to build a 1st story deck, based on the IRC which you can download via this link.
If you need additional information, please don't hesitate to ask.
Have a good weekend.

Most regular posters to this forum are very familiar with the AWC publication you linked to. That being said, would you mind referencing the specific section that says I can build a dangerous or below standard railing on a deck less than 30" from the ground?
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:28 AM   #9
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The IRC is not available for free online

here are the International Code Council publications "free" online

http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/index.htm
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:51 AM   #10
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Gary,

First, thank you for the link to the ICC publications. I did not know that was available online. Good news.
Second, you asked me to post the information of the code applicable to proper fastening of the rail to a deck system. I have done just that. It is obvious to me now that you asked for that information not to benefit those individuals that did not know, but simply to be confrontational. To challenge my answer.
You ask me to find you a code section that allows for dangerous construction? Now you're being confrontational again… It seems to me you know the code and you understand that the code tells you what is required. The code addresses minimum requirement compliance. Individuals can exceed code anytime they wish. Studs in the wall are designed to be a standard 16 inches on center. If homeowner chooses to space them 8 inches on center, I won't be able to find the code that says you're allowed to excessively load a wall with twice as many studs. But there's not a building official in this country that will give you a correction to reduce the amount of studs in the wall. The rail on the deck in question is not required. You deem the rail to be dangerous. That is your interpretation. A properly fastened rail to a deck that doesn't require a rail at all exceeds minimum code requirement. My interpretation is that there is nothing dangerous about it.
Gary, I did not join this group to have a ... match with you. As an enforcer of code for 17 years and having industry experience for 33 years, I've come here to provide assistance for those that might not be as proficient in the code as you are. It is obvious I'm not here to give you information.
Just as I have benefited this morning from the link you gave me to the ICC documents, I propose we learn to benefit from each other's knowledge rather than be confrontational.
Thank you,

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Old 04-20-2013, 09:17 AM   #11
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Zo,

I think you need to go back and re-read the posts. I have not been confrontational, I was simply asking what code you were referencing in your comment. When you said the IRC was not available online I provided you a link to all the ICC codes. I never once said your referenced code was not applicable or incorrect.

I have not said I thought the rail height was dangerous, in fact I believe I referred Ryan to the local building department, and my opinion was that stainless steel cables should be allowed. See post #4.

I do not involve myself in ".... matches", and a review of my postings on this and other forums would back that up. I try to help posters with my knowledge and experience. People are entitled to their opinions, and when it comes to code the opinion that matters is the local AHJ. My mama taught me a long time ago, "the more you stir dog stuff the worst it smells."

with that said, Welcome to the Forum and I look forward to having a contributing member.
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InspectorZo View Post
Hey Ryan,
Did you buy the materials yet? I have some good news for you. I'm a building inspector in California and (sorry GBrackins), you absolutely do not have to conform to the standards of a legal rail height or spacing if the rail is not required at all. It needs to be safely installed as to not create a false sense of security, but that falls under a different code than rail height and spacing. Otherwise, 4" spacing or 12" spacing is all up to you. Think about it, if the code says you don't need a rail at all and you choose to install one 36" high, are you making the structure safer or more dangerous. Yes, sometimes the code actually makes sense, who knew..
So its OK if a kid gets strangled below 30 inches from grade in California?
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:49 AM   #13
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Zo...I believe you are referring to my post. I wasnt being confrontational . The OP asked if by adding a rail to a deck that wasnt required to have it, does it still need to meet code. I contend that it does. Proper height and proper baluster spacing.

Meant no offense.

To the OP...36" is the minimum, space cables at 3" because of flex.

Last edited by 12penny; 04-21-2013 at 05:18 AM. Reason: Corrected spacing
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:25 PM   #14
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Deck Railing Question


LOL! No, even in California we still love our children. We just don't have a requirement for a rail on the deck that is that low to the ground.
I like your style.

InspectorZo

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So its OK if a kid gets strangled below 30 inches from grade in California?
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:26 PM   #15
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Hey 12Penny,
Nope, was not meant at you. Issue was resolved earlier today. I appreciate your message.
Take care,

InspectorZo

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12penny View Post
Zo...I believe you are referring to my post. I wasnt being confrontational . The OP asked if by adding a rail to a deck that wasnt required to have it, does it still need to meet code. I contend that it does. Proper height and proper baluster spacing.

Meant no offense.

To the OP...36" is the minimum, space cables at 3.5" because of flex.

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