Code for guardrail height on decks over 30" high in NC

by Wayne
(King Mountain, NC, US)

I am finishing a deck started by the previous owner. I am finished with everything except guardrails and stair handrails.

From all I've found online and from friends is that 36" is the height that the guardrails need to be in NC. I have purchased vinyl rails with aluminum channel inside, but they only allow for a 36" guardrail. I live outside the city and the county told me I should ask the city building inspector about a permit.

Upon checking, I do not need a permit, because I am finishing something a previous owner started. Trying to do things right and asking the inspector, he told me that they "must" be 42", but all porches in my neighborhood aren't 42" although they too are 30"+ off the ground.

I live in Kings Mountain, NC. Does the state code over ride local codes, and do I have to follow that since I didn't have to have a permit?

Editor's Comments

The latest information available to me is that the guardrail height for one and two family residential dwellings is 36". The only jurisdiction I am aware of that varies from this is California which stipulates any residential deck must have 42" guardrails.

However, I don't want to guide you astray and perhaps it is possible that your state or local building authorities have imposed a variance to the IRC. I am just postulating. So in direct answer to your question, it is possible.

Here is a diagram pertaining to residential decks for railing heights.

And here is a summary of other residential railing requirements.

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