Stair railings and guards

I’ve been in the business for two years. This is my first post of what I’m sure will be many. I need feedback on items that I have called out in past which have caused me to second guess myself. I called the stairs here for not having a handrail and guards on the open side since the landing was over 30" in height based upon R312.1 of the IRC.



David, I believe everything is covered in this presentation, here;

That should help.

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

You can also make recommendations for “enhanced safety” regardless of code if you see something potentially harmful.

4 risers requires a handrail. The landing has nothing to do with it.

In the video, we go from reading standards and requirements (code) to measurements and explanations in a studio setting to actual home inspections.

Learn how to inspect and measure stairways, ramps, hallways, doors, landings, handrails, and emergency escape and rescue openings. Watch as a Certified Master Inspector® performs egress inspections at several residential dwellings. A mock-up stairway, ramp, and door are evaluated in a studio setting. Over 50 defects and safety hazards are identified on location at actual home inspections performed during the course.

Download “Means of Egress” course material , yours to keep 34 page pdf (free).

Take the “Means of Egress” video course, online final exam, and print your certificate of completion ($19.95). Video class length: 1 hour, 47 minutes (you can pause, rewind, and fast-forward).

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The space between the landing and the top of the door threshold appears to be about 3 inches. Potential trip hazard. “Recommend further evaluation by a contractor to adjust the stairs so that the landing is 1 and 1/2 inches below the top of the threshold, or a full 7 and 3/4 inches below the top of the threshold. Because somewhere in between is just a potential trip hazard.”

That standard (with exceptions) is covered in the Egress Course.

Ben are you talking about this?

:slight_smile: Thanks guys for the response! Four or more risers leads to the requirement of one handrail which is attached to the wall. The fact that the landing is over 30" in height requires the additional handrail on the open side. If a landing measures less than 30" I will not call it even for safety.

I didn’t see the handrail on the wall. The steps are covered. I don’t see an open side on the landing. Perhaps it’s on the rear, but from the photo, as far a the landing, I don’t see anything wrong.

Barry; I don’t believe the rise of a stair should incorporate the 1&1/2" thickness of the stool.
The step down from the finished floor should be the height of the typical riser or should be withing 1/2" down from the threshold if the door is an outswing.
On residential, the top landing should be riser height or same as the finish floor if not exposed to the elements.

A threshold is a threshold, you step over it and not on it.

Loggically, people step over the stool from the finished floor.

Commercially, I have never seen that done, but of course most threshholds are only 1/2" thick.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

Where I run into this the most is in residential at the front, rear, side or garage entry door(s).

I didn’t write the code nor did I draw the diagram, it’s from one of the code illustrated-interpretation books…this is what I use in reports along with notification of potential for tripping. Best construction practices and code are two different animals, as you well know, as are should, would, could, when we talk buildings.

The threshold/compression element inclusion does make sense to me in a way, as what is required is basically equal rise from one tread to the next with very little room for variance.
I was told by a body motion doctor that our brains remember this distance after just a few steps are traversed, this was when I was recovering from a reconstructed shattered leg and re-learning how to walk. Stairs and going down ramps were the toughest obstacles for me to overcome.

Play along for a sec and lets say all treads are at 7 3/4" rise as is the landing to keep everything uniform, now throw in the threshold thickness at the top/doorway and we have to step up 9 1/4" what code category does this fall into.

I don’t like it but very few every consider changing items like these. I found the pic of a garage entry that has the threshold overlapping bricks for the “landings”…the AHJ in 4 munis that I know of approves these all day every day even with my copy of the IRC in their face…all 3 entries to this home and many others I see are this exact configuration…oh well :roll:

Anyone catch the open risers and stringer attachment on David’s stairs? Distracted are we? :wink:

You don’t have to “…recommend…” but you can always suggest that a client “…consider…” adding a handrail, especially if they’re elderly or have young children. The nice thing about not doing code inspections is that we’re not limited by building code requirements, only limited by our own judgement and it’s good to err on the safe side.

Also, I don’t think the handrail has to be attached to a wall, it just has to have a handrail on one side, although since it has to terminate at a wall or newel post, wall side is the most common scenario.

The nice thing about it not being a code inspection is that we’re not limited in our comments to code. Not necessary to tell anyone to do anything, but you can point out a potential fall hazard.

“This stairway had a total rise of less than 30 inches, but had an open side which represents a potential fall hazard, especially for the elderly or young children. Although it is not required by modern safety standards, consider installation of a handrail to protect this stairway.”

**Check the floors or landing at the doors.
**On each side of each exterior door, there should be a floor or landing. The floor or landing should
not be more than 1 and 1/2 inches below the top of the threshold. There are three exceptions:

  1. If the door does not swing over the landing, then the exterior landing can be at most 7
    and 3/4 inches below the top of the threshold. This is applicable to all exterior doors
    including the required egress door. The screen and storm doors are allowed to swing
    over the landing. This is the most commonly used exception.
  2. If a stairway with at most 2 risers is at the exterior-side of a door, other than the required
    egress door, a landing on the outside is not required provided the door does not swing
    over the stairway. Again, the screen or storm door is allowed to swing over the stairway.
  3. A floor at all exterior doors, other than the required egress door, should not be more than
    7 and 3/4 inches lower than the top of the threshold. It is also acceptable to raise the
    threshold of an exterior door, other than the egress door, up to 7 and 3/4 inches above the
    floor on the interior-side.