Deck with 'false' Top Rail

by John McIver
(Stratford, PEI)

I am building a deck for a hot tub and surrounding it with appropriate railing. It is 6' off the ground level so railing will need to be 42" high (PEI ,Canada).

My hot tub is 39" high and I have a reasonably good view. To avoid losing my view, can I construct the railing with a 'false' top rail at 39" and another 'real' top rail at 44 or 46" with the space in between (5-7") clear of any material?

The local building inspector doesn't seem to say yes or no, but wants me to send him a sketch of my plans.

Do you know of any regulation on this?

I already have an approved permit for the deck, stamped by a structural engineer. I know that the space between the deck and bottom of the lower rail must be 4".

Fantastic web site; keep up the great work.

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Sep 27, 2011
Don't think you can do that
by: Mike R

I am pretty sure you can not have a gap of more than 4" (100mm in Canada) between any rail member. So that would be for balusters or horizontal members. Maybe you can get away with it if your local inspector doesn't find it an issue but technically I don't think it meets the letter of the code.

And in Canada you can't have horizontal members that facilitate climbing by kids.

There have been a number of disputes with local building authorities on how close horizontal members have to be so as not to facilitate climbing.

And some people have built 45 degree members that look like sunbursts and this has been an issue of contention.

So you should go down to your city hall and get them to pull out the code for your area and get the verifiable standards from them. They will have it.

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