Do I need a Railing on my deck?

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If your deck is somewhat low to the ground, you may have chosen not to install a railing. Unfortunately, this choice isn’t always wise due to safety concerns, as well as code violations. Let’s explore the reasons why it is in one’s best interest to install a railing and the decking codes to follow.

 

DECKING CODES

If your deck is below 30 inches, a railing is not required. With that said, if you choose to build a deck, even if it is only 24 inches off the ground, that is still high enough that even an adult could injure themselves. When you take your kids and pets into account, the risk is even higher.

REASONS PEOPLE DECIDE NOT TO INSTALL A RAILING

Building a deck is not an inexpensive decision, so when someone is tasked with the decision to spend extra money on something they “don’t need,” like a deck railing, the choice seems obvious: save money. There’s also the aesthetic factor of not having a railing. For some, the look of uninterrupted deck space is what they want. In addition, some people feel railings are difficult to install because their decks are an unusual shape. This shouldn’t be a concern, though. There are some great, easy-to-install railing kits available for decks with unorthodox shapes.

WHY YOU SHOULD INSTALL A RAILING

As previously mentioned, safety is the biggest concern when it comes to deciding whether or not to install a railing. Railings can serve to protect children, pets, and even adults. It may seem like a short distance, but any fall can lead to broken bones or other injuries. Rather than being ever-vigilant when the kids are horsing around on the deck, deck railing helps give you peace of mind so you can relax and enjoy the view. Taking away the safety aspect and just focusing on aesthetics, a railing can make your deck look much more expensive without adding a large sum to the grand total. Check out the large variety of railings available at Great Railing and add that finishing touch to your deck today.

WHAT TO DO IF THERE ARE NO REQUIREMENTS

Let’s say you have a deck that’s below 30 inches and there are no guardrail requirements by the IRC (International Residential Code). You could take the chance and go against the recommendations by the individual railing manufacturers. Keep in mind, if you do this as a contractor and someone hurts themselves due to faulty railing installation, they will be favored by a judge if they decide to sue. Ultimately, it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations instead of cutting corners. There are deck railings that exist just to be decorative but which don’t serve a functional purpose. These aren’t the best idea because they aren’t truly functional. As previously mentioned, if you install a railing and someone gets hurt because it’s faulty, a lawsuit will most likely not go in your favor.

CODES TO KEEP IN MIND

  • Uniform Load Test: The top rail of your deck must be able to withstand at least 125 lbs of force (applied vertically or horizontally).
  • Infill Load Test: This measures the strength of spindles, balusters, or any other load-bearing element between posts. An area of one-square-foot must be able to resist a force of 125 lbs.
  • Concentrated Load Test: The deck’s top rail must hold a point load of 200 lbs applied at three points: the mid-span, adjacent to a post, and on top of a post.

TYPES OF RAILINGS

Whether you want a modern, industrial, or traditional railing to enhance the look of your deck, Great Railing has something for you (plus everything you need to install it).

  • Cable railing is great for those looking for a chic railing for their deck, as well as a railing that will not hinder any views. They’re versatile and can be used on decks, docks, and even interior spaces for a clean, utilitarian look.
  • Aluminum railing is designed for those who like versatility and durability. With a variety of textures and colors available, you can find an option that truly exemplifies the style of your home. These railings arrive pre-assembled so you can enjoy them as soon as possible.
  • Vinyl is a great choice for those looking for a low maintenance railing. It comes in many colors to match a new or already existing deck. Vinyl doesn’t show scratches like wood and doesn’t need to be painted like traditional wood decks. Vinyl’s durability makes it a cost-effective solution in the long run. It also provides a more traditional look for someone who’s going for classic deck design.

Free Deck Plans
and DIY Designs

Hundreds of DIY deck plans to choose from and download

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