Hand railing requirements for platform deck

by Mike Ford
(Oldham County, KY)

I would like to build a platform deck about 17" off the ground, 2 steps all around treads will be 16 1/2" and a 7 1/2 rise. I am in Oldham county, KY.

I understand code requires a hand rail on one side extending out 4' from the house. The deck would be 12' X 14' Seems to me a handrail would be totally useless?

Editor's Comments:

Section R311.7.7 of the IRC does say that at least one handrail is required when the stairs are four treads or more.

Presumably this would be attached to the side of the house as a secondary hand rail. There is no mention in the code that I could find that calls for a hand rail in the middle of a large expansive cascading style stair case.

With a tread run of 16-1/2" you have a very nice gentle slope for your stairs. Having a lone two post and rail assembly in the middle of a large cascading stair case in a residential environment does tend to make things look a bit institutional and I can see why you would not want to have that.

But I would just verify with your local building officials that a secondary hand rail along the wall of the house is sufficient because the code is pretty clear that a hand rail is required with four treads or more.

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