Tempered glass rules for a stairwell?

I see windows in the stairwell, parallel to the walking surface, all the time untempered. I will see windows such as the one shown untempered, and a window at the landing tempered.

My understanding is that the one pictured should be tempered. Am I wrong?

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You understand it the way I do, Joe.


  1. Glazing adjacent to stairways, landings and ramps within 36 inches (914 mm) horizontally of a walking surface when the exposed surface of the glass is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) above the plane of the adjacent walking surface.
  2. Glazing adjacent to stairways within 60 inches (1524 mm) horizontally of the bottom tread of a stairway in any direction when the exposed surface of the glass is less than 60 inches (1524 mm) above the nose of the tread.




**R308.4 #10 and #11

Another angle…
Glazing at Stairs and Landings
Glazing in walls enclosing stairway landings or within
5 feet of the bottom and top of stairways where the
bottom edge of the glass is less than 60 inches above a
walking surface.

I think you are correct based on your measurement.

That 60 inches should measured from the plane of the stairs (i.e., a line drawn across the noses of all the stairs), so you should always take your measurement from the nose.

Also, I recommend that you be careful of your report wording: In your inspection, you were unable to find an indication to confirm that it was tempered glass, you haven’t really determined that it is untempered glass. Tempered glass should have a bug, but it may not always be there or be visible.

This how I worded it:

“A window within sixty inches of the stair surface could not be verified as being tempered or safety-glazed, which is required by today’s commonly accepted construction standards. Replacement with tempered glass or safety glass is recommended for safety reasons.”

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Thanks to everyone. I just see that so often in new construction, like today, that I was beginning to question my own ability to read and understand English. I guess it’s not me after all.

That window is only 55 inches from the landing? it looks a lot higher than that.