Stair railing height for decks, ramps, and interiors

Stair Railing Height

The required railing height on stairs for decks, ramps, and interiors are the same. It depends on whether its handrails or guardrails that is in question concerning how tall they must be. Both are measured vertically from the end of the tread on the steps according to the 2012 International Residential Code section 311 “Means of Egress”.¬†Any set of steps with four or more risers has to have both a guardrail and a handrail for fall protection.

Handrail

  • It must be at height between 34″ and 38″.

    This interior stair railing that serves as guardrail and handrail.

    This interior stair railing that serves as guardrail and handrail.

  • It must be continuous.
  • It must be graspable.
  • It must have a circumference less than 6 1/4″ or have a finger recess milled into it.
  • It must protrude into the staircase more than 4 1/2″.
  • It has to have a minimum of 1 1/2″ space between it and the guardrail.

Guardrail

  • Guardrails must be a minimum of 36″ high.
  • A 4″ sphere must not pass through at any point.
These stairs have separate guardrails and handrails.

These stairs have separate guardrails and handrails.

Any type of fall protection must be strong. Railings on decks need to be based on large posts set in the ground. Inside railings should be based on newel post fastened with lag bolts. While inside railings typically incorporate the handrail and guardrail together, outside railings on decks are generally assembled separately. In this case, there must be a guardrail in place before a handrail can be attached to it.