Stair rail spacing and code question

by Sharon
(New York, NY)

I have a 14ft span of stairs between rails for an unobstructed view to the beach. Should I place rails between and how far apart for code?

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Sep 15, 2010
Minimum standards for stair rail
by: Editor - Rich Bergman

You have to have some kind of barrier as a stair rail. If you use balusters the space between each one must not be more than 4". How far apart you space any posts along that 14 ft span of stairs depends on the load bearing capacity of the posts.

All the residential code wants to see is that any rail over 30" above grade is at least 36" high (on a flat deck surface) and at least 34" high measured at the end of the nosing of each stair tread AND that the section of stair rail is designed to hold at least 200 lbs for a point load and 50 lbs per foot distributive load.

When products are tested safety factors above those design loads enter the picture but I don't want to confuse the issue for you. Also check with your local building department for any variations from this.

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