Can you use horizontal balusters instead of vertical balusters

by Stephen King
(Tennesse )

Can you use horizontal 2x6 balusters in place of vertical balusters as long you keep the 4 inch gap minimum?



Editor's Comments
There is nothing that prohibits 2x6s from being used as balusters in a horizontal rather than a vertical orientation. You will end up with a railing that resembles a classic farm yard perimeter fence. You may be familiar with that look.

Attach 2x6s Securely to Railing Posts


You will have to find a way to secure the 2x6s to the posts so that they are strong enough to meet the basic guard rail code load standards. Balusters must be able to resist a load of 125 lbs over a 1 sqft area usually comprising at least three balusters. This is actually a safety factor of 2.5X. The

So 2x6s would be subject to the same performance standards and would certainly be able to meet them provided they are connected properly to the posts.

Horizontal Railing Not Permitted In All Jurisdictions


It's important for readers to know that horizontal railing is not permitted in every jurisdiction. USA residential guard rail standards permit horizontal railings and this is why we see horizontal cable railings in the US.

However in other places like Canada there is a stipulation in their residential building code the prohibits any railing section construction or configuration that permits climbing by children.

This explains why some major manufacturers offer railing panels with vertical cable rails. They would not be climbable. That is just a bit of an aside but gives some context to this discussion.

Brush Up On Residential Railing Code Standards


Since we are discussing an important issue about deck railings one of the best things you should do is read up on all the key points in the building code.

There is a great summary of all the railing code issue you can read here.

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