Building code requirements for exterior deck guardrails and balusters do not only ensure decks are property built; they also prevent serious injuries. Here are the minimum requirements for rails and balusters to adhere to when building decks.
Deck Guardrail Height
On decks, guardrails run horizontally along a landing or another flat area and should rise to at least 36 inches above the deck level. This is the minimum requirement for a residential structure, although higher guardrails are acceptable. Commercial decks, on the other hand, are required to be at least 42 inches high.
Deck Baluster Spacing
Balusters are vertical in-fill posts running between the guardrail or railing. Designed to prevent people from falling off the deck, balusters are required to be four inches apart or less. The reasoning behind this is that the four-inch space – which is the average diameter of an infant’s head – will prevent a child from getting stuck.
Deck Guardrail and Baluster Strength
Deck guardrails must be able to sustain a 200-pound force at the mid-span between posts as mandated in The International Building Code (IBC). Meanwhile, the strength requirements for balusters and in-fill rails include being able to sustain a testing force of at least 50 pounds of concentrated load.
Usually, a building inspector will estimate the strength of guardrails and balusters by leaning or pushing against the components. In commercial applications, this testing may be done by an independent third-party agency with specialized equipment that, as a safety margin, applies force of up to 500 pounds.
Build Your Exterior Deck With AllPoint Construction
When it comes to building decks and railings, you can rely on AllPoint Construction. Our team also handles insurance repairs and other home improvement services. Give us a call at (734) 407-7110, or fill out our online form to get started.