Rail Post or no post

by Concerned deck owner

We had a deck constructed by a carpenter.

He built the deck hand rails and stair handrails with 1x1 spindles supporting a 2x6 top rail. He did not use a corner post or mid run posts.

The deck is 9 feet off the ground. I have not seen a deck rail system constructed like this. Is this constructed to code? I am in CT.

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Mar 14, 2010
Post or no post
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your feedback on the post or no post.

The carpenter used 2 nails top and bottom to attached the spindles to the deck and top rail, which is another concern rather than using screws as you mentioned.

Mar 12, 2010
Railing Construction Techniques
by: Editor - Rich Bergan

Thanks for a great question about wood railing building techniques.

I am assuming your carpenter took the spindles and screwed the bottom ends to the rim joist around the perimeter of the deck and then screwed a 2x6 vertically oriented on edge to the top ends of the spindles.

If so this should perform fine - provided he followed a few rules. The spindles should have spaces between face to face no more than 4" and the bottom spindles should go down about 5-6" on the rim joist and have at least two 3" wood screws.

I have not seen any specifications in the International Residential Code 2006 that talks about this method but the usual strength and design limits of 200 lbs concentrated load at 36" or 42" still applies.

But I can tell you that the Canadian Building Code, specifically the Ontario Code which follows the same standards does envision this method exactly in the SB-7 Guidelines which is a supplement to the main part of their code on guard rails.

It is a reliable technique if done properly but it is a low end look and the wood on wood contact can cause earlier rotting in some climates.

But it is a cheap way for builders to quickly slap up wood rail that is considered acceptable.

Keep in mind the codes may state certain types of construction techniques as examples which are known to meet standards but there is always a clause which allows for other new techniqes if they meet the stated design loads and testing.

This allows for the market to improve and advance building products and techniques and ultimately offers new solutions and ideas for homeowners that still meet the standards.

So his railing may be ok.

If he built it some other way I would have to see pictures to offer any meaningful commentary.

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