Code Question Exterior Stair railing

NCTurner

Gary
Corporate Member
I about to redo some railing on my exterior stairs leading up to my 2nd level front door, I’ll just be replacing the verticals inside the frame. I seem to recall that there is a spacing minimum to meet code, am I correct? 4” is the number in my head for some reason......
Wake County
 

NCTurner

Gary
Corporate Member
BE2DE517-4AB1-402B-89E6-DA0851DB8CC5.jpeg
 

Phil S

Board of Directors, Events Director
Phil Soper
Staff member
Corporate Member
Actually the space between balusters can not exceed 4" Go with 4" on center and you will be good
 

NCTurner

Gary
Corporate Member
I knew I could count on y’all!! Thanks Phil! I thought that was the number I remembered, apparently I haven’t completely lost my mind yet! Remembering the word baluster on the other hand....
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Yep Not to exceed 4" The change was from one child slipping between the 6" spacing, falling and dying.

One other thing code on tread rise has changed in some cities/counties. Some require less than 7" rise. So if it is to be inspected make sure you have that info before making the stirs.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
The requirements are that you can't pass a 4" ball between the ballisters or below them, and on the steps, a 6" ball between the bottom rail and the deepest part of the step. 5 " centers are common, because with a 1 1/2" ballister, they are easy to space using a 2 x 4 (i.e 3 1/2" space), so you are safe (even if the actual ballister is 1 5/16, 1 3/8, etc) but using a minimum number. Just remember when laying out that the spacing is horizontal, not parallel to the step rise.

Easiest way I have found is to cut a 2x4 for the angle of the rise. From the angled face, use a try square to measure back 5" and cut again. This gives you a layout block to mark off the spacing, so you can balance the gaps on the ends. 5" spacing also makes it very easy to calculate how many you need. (One for every full 5" of run).

An example: You have 77" between the insides of your top and bottom posts. Dividing 77 x 5 gives 15 ballisters + 2". Remembering that the first 5" of measurement included 3 1/2" gap before the edge of your first ballister, add the 3 1/2" and 2" for 5 1/2". Dividing by 2 gives a measurement of 2 3/4" between the post and the edge of the nearest ballister to start your layout. (This is assuming you have a 1 1/2" ballister. If not, just use the difference between the actual ballister width and 5" instead of 3 1/2" in your calculation.) The only time this doesn't work is when you are about 3/4" or less shy of reaching a full 5" increment on the horizontal measurement, for which you may have to add one more ballister.

If you buy the pre-cut risers at Lowe's, they are about an 11" run with a 6 1/2" rise, IIRC. which is about a 30 degree rise.
 
Last edited:

jlwest

Jeff
Corporate Member
If you duplicate what you have there should be no problem unless you are required to get a permit. Repairs don't normally require a permit.
 

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