06-25-2011 12:32 PM - edited 06-25-2011 01:03 PM
I need to install a stair rail with balusters on my stairs, for some reason the inspector/appraiser for the mortgage company felt I needed a railing, don't understand his issue.
I'm am getting mixed opinions on heights from resources on-line, some are saying 30" to 34" some are saying 34" to 38". 34" seems to be high compared to the Wrought Iron one I took down. I know a lot of local codes are different, but they all should have a range.
So what heights have you guys seen, or have installed?
Added: I checked my neighbors who had the stair rail done locally and it looks to be about 30". I'm thinking 32" right now. Any help?
06-25-2011 02:02 PM - edited 06-25-2011 02:08 PM
06-25-2011 09:25 PM
While it does depend on the building code in your specific location, in general building codes do REQUIRE stair railings--it's not optional or a matter of opinion of an inspector. Also the height, at a minimum of 34" and a maximum of 38" measured over the nose of the stairs, is pretty standard these days. Yes, these heights have increased in recent years and if you hadn't removed the older railings you wouldn't have had to raise them. But installing new,they must meet current codes. By the way, in increase was almost certainly based on science which showed the higher height was safer.
While their are local variations, the IRC codes have become very widely adopted. You can find out which model code forms the basis for your local codes. In some states, localities can't alter the codes, only the state, in others individual communities can make changes. This is not an area where localities are likely to make alterations however. The place to find out what is acceptable is your local building department. What others have in their homes or in their areas isn't relevent, only the applicable code, as interpreted by your local building officials counts in any way. Even if 50 people tell you their stair rails are at only 32", if your local code calls for 34" that's what you must do.
By the way, for what very little it matters, the railings on my 3+ year old house are at 36" above the stair nose, and they feel quite comfortable to me as I use them.
06-25-2011 10:51 PM
As always the local inspector has the say, but I found this LINK to the IRC requirements. Roly
the local inspector trumps everyone.
06-26-2011 06:35 PM
IRC says that a handrail is required on at least one side of a each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers
Height "measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing, or finish surface of ramp slope, shall not be less than 34" and not more than 38" "
06-28-2011 08:02 AM
So I was planning to go with 34" after reading some of the links. I did e-mail the code offical and this is what I got this morning.
In regards to the handrail height, the International Residential Code 2009, New Jersey Edition, section R3188.8.131.52 states " Handrail height, measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing, or finish surface of ramp slope, shall not be less than 30 inches and not more than 38 inches". So, your proposed rail height of 34 inches from the front of the nosing is code compliant.
I do need to get a permit which is always fun.
Thanks for your input guys!
06-28-2011 09:21 AM
George, keep in mind that the height is measured 1" back from the leading edge of the stair tread. To throw my 2 cents in on the height question, I always set my hand rails 36" to the top.