Many homes have a variety of railings throughout them. Railings are common outside and inside the home. Outside, your home might have railings in locations such as the front porch, back porch and a second-floor balcony. Inside, railings are common on staircases and along the edge of any part of a second story that opens to the floor below.
The proper height for railings ranges between 30 and 38 inches, depending on the country. According to the home inspection website Inspectapedia, American regulations require railings along stairs to be between 30 and 38 inches high if the staircase is against a wall and 34 to 38 inches if the stairs are open.
While regulations range by geographical location, building codes typically require that railings be mounted on decks and porches that are more than 2 feet off the ground. Shorter structures are deemed safe enough to not require a railing. As is the case with indoor railings, outdoor structures off the ground should have railings roughly 36 inches in height.
When building or remodeling a home, consult your state's building code to determine whether your jurisdiction has legal standards for the height of railings. Although regulations are stricter for public locations such as businesses, building codes also apply to private residences. Although it's unlikely that you would ever be punished for violating the code, remember that the codes are in place to make your home as safe as possible.
Having the railings inside and outside your home positioned between 30 and 38 inches off the ground keeps the people in your home safe. At this height, the railing is high enough that small children are unlikely to climb over it, while adults will not be able to topple over it. Additionally, a railing 30 to 38 inches off the ground is positioned within easy reach for adults and children alike, giving them stability in the event of a slip.
- InspectAPedia: Handrails: Guide to Stair Railing Codes, Construction & Inspection
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Preventing Falls on Stairs
- Ideas for Deck Designs: Deck Building Code Tips
- Ideas for Deck Designs: Deck Railing Height Requirements
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Construction Safety Orders
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