Parts of a Wood or Composite Deck Railing

Save Guardrails are composed of an assembly of parts. There are different methods for building guardrails with a variety of materials for decks, but most rails built from wood share a common set of components. Usually, 4×4 wood posts are attached to the deck frame to provide the support for the rail. Some composite systems require […]

Deck Rail Post Attachment

Save Deck railing post attachment is one of the most important things you need to do correctly when building a deck. Sturdy deck railings are critical for safety and also required by code for any deck 30 inches or more above grade. Proper installation is absolutely necessary to ensure that posts are spaced close enough to […]

How to Install Glass Deck Railing Systems

All glass used for deck rails must be safety-tempered and shatter-resistant. Also, always make sure that all the edges of the glass are polished to prevent anyone from getting cut. Before building a glass deck rail, you should check with your local building department to enquire about any local restrictions. Most deck builders use tinted glass to match the house windows and as a deterrent to birds accidentally hitting them. You may need to do some research to find a local glass company that can manufacture a custom glass order for you. Glass is priced as a commodity that does fluctuate in price. You should be able to buy glass for a deck rail for about $40 per lineal foot. When ordering, you will need to provide the exact measurements of each piece and the thickness. Using glass railing is an interesting choice that wonderfully preserves views. However, glass is very expensive and is only used in selected positions around the deck. Installing glass rails will usually require you to build the rail frame first and take precise measurements to custom order the tempered safety glass. Because glass is very heavy, we recommend spacing the rail posts no more than 5 feet apart. Using a wood top and bottom rail, you will need to create a channel to place the glass in by using a router. The channel will usually be 3/8” thick and 1/2” deep to support the glass. You will need to subtract about 3” from both sides of the opening when ordering the glass to leave space for your hands during installation. Sometimes, it makes sense to install a piece of blocking or a brace under long rail spans for extra support. Installing tempered glass into stair rails is possible but very difficult. If you are going to try this, you should trace the opening on a large piece of cardboard to make sure you get the angles right. 

How to Install Composite Deck & Porch Railings

Composite guard railings offer a low-maintenance option for railing. Most low-maintenance decking manufacturers offer one or more railing systems to compliment their flooring products. You will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of colors, styles and options. These systems are available in kits that are relatively easy to install.  These systems use 4×4 pressure-treated wood posts covered by a sleeve and mounted to either the inside or outside of the frame. Each railing section can be easily installed between posts using brackets provided in each kit. Stair railing kits are also available for ease of installation. 

How to Install Deck Stair Railings

Guardrails must be provided on the open side of a stair where it is more than 30″ above the floor or grade. Stair rails must be at least 34″ high, measured from the nosing of the stair treads. No opening shall allow a 4 3/8″ sphere to pass through with the exception that you are allowed a larger opening provided for the triangle formed between the stair riser, stair tread and bottom edge of the bottom rail. This open space may not allow a 6” sphere to pass through it. Be sure to lay out the position of your rail posts before installation. This is usually the trickiest part. If the top rail post is set at the rear of the tread, you will want to align the bottom post similarly. Landings and stairs that change directions will often require the thoughtful situating of rail posts to allow for a system that looks and performs well. Grippable handrails are required and must meet specific requirements. 

Deck Stair Handrails

Save Handrails are installed on stairs to assist in ascending and descending by providing something to grasp for balance. Building and handrail codes require any flight of stairs with four or more rises to be built with a handrail on at least one side. Handrails are required on stairways and must meet specific guidelines. The top […]

How to Install Deck Rail Balusters

Balusters or pickets are the rail components used to provide infill for deck guardrails. IRC code prohibits guardrails from having any openings that would allow a 4″ sphere to pass through. This rule produces the need for an attractive and economical repeated system for filling in the openings between rail posts and rail top and bottom members. Because of the spacing requirement, you will need a lot of pickets or balusters even for a short length of rail. Use our baluster spacing calculator to calculate proper spacing based on your railing dimensions. Balusters will certainly be the most expensive rail component for your project. Years ago, most deck builders used wooden 2x2s nailed to the deck rim and top rail to meet the requirement.  

Deck Railing Height Requirements

All decks greater than 30″ above grade must have a guardrail. If you choose to install a guardrail on a deck lower than 30″, you must still meet code requirements. Decks attached to single-family detached homes are regulated under the rules of the International Residential Code (IRC). The IRC requires guardrails to be at least 36″ in height measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail. Commercial decks attached to multifamily buildings, such as apartment buildings or businesses, are regulated under the Internation Building Code (IBC). The IBC requires 42″ high guardrails. In either case, you are allowed to build taller guardrails as long as they conform to all other requirements stated in the code. Most building departments in Canada require 42″ high guardrails.

Deck Railing Codes

All decks higher than 30″ above grade must have a guardrail. If you choose to install a guardrail on a deck lower than 30″, the railing must still meet code requirements. Decks attached to single family detached homes are generally regulated under the rules of the International Residential Code (IRC). The IRC requires guardrails to be at least 36″ in height, measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail. Note that some local jurisdiction or state require higher, such as 42″ in California. Commercial decks attached to multi-family buildings, such as apartment buildings or businesses, are regulated under the International Building Code (IBC). The IBC requires 42″ high guardrails. In either case, you are allowed to build taller guardrails as long as they conform to all other requirements stated in the code.

Deck Handrail

SaveHandrails are required on at least one side of all deck stairs. Many deck inspections fail because of a missing handrail or an improperly installed handrail. Follow these instructions and contact your local building department for more information. The top of the handrail must be placed between 34″ to 38″ above the nosing of the stair treads. The handgrip must have a smooth surface with no sharp corners and must be continuous the full length of the stairs and returned to the newel post or wall at the ends. The handgrip portion of the handrail shall not be less than 1-1/4″ or more than 2-1/4″ and shall provide a graspable surface. There are many styles that meet the minimum requirement. Some deck builders router out a 2×4 to create handrail. The wood must be pressure treated or naturally resistant to decay such as Cedar or Redwood. Metal handrails with adjustable joints and mounting hardware are available for most manufactured rail systems.