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  1. #1
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    Default deck guard construction

    Looking for code regarding a deck guard constructed such that it can be easily climbed by a tot. Or is this "just" common sense? I'm not seeing anything in the IRC requiring vertical pickets.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    "Looking for code regarding a deck guard constructed such that it can be easily climbed by a tot. Or is this "just" common sense? I'm not seeing anything in the IRC requiring vertical pickets."

    I do not believe there is a code that addresses that

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    To the contrary, the IRC actually includes a reference allowing constructing the guards as ladders
    (bold and underlining are mine)
    - R312.2 Guard opening limitations. Required guards on open sides of stairways, raised floor areas, balconies and porches shall have intermediate rails or ornamental closures which do not allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102 mm) or more in diameter.
    - - Exceptions:
    - - - 1. The triangular openings formed by the riser, tread and bottom rail of a guard at the open side of a stairway are permitted to be of such a size that a sphere 6 inches (152 mm) cannot pass through.
    - - - 2. Openings for required guards on the sides of stair treads shall not allow a sphere 4
    3/8 inches (107 mm) to pass through.

    "Rails" are horizontal, like rungs of a ladder.

    In fact, as worded, the code says "shall have intermediate rails" as the first stated option, then continues with "or ornamental closures", under which the vertical balusters fall.

    So, having horizontal rails less than 4" apart meets EXACTLY what the code says the guard "shall have".



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  4. #4
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Jerry, Thanks.
    How strange.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  5. #5
    Elliot Franson's Avatar
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Mr. Arnold:

    To begin with deck guards do not contain "pickets". Pickets are elements of fences ( "a wooden strip forming part of a fence") and not deck guards ("a device designed to prevent injury or accident"). Now that we can agree on terminology, there is more.

    Mr. Peck's seeming allegation that the IRC "requires" horizontal elements known as rails instead of vertical elements known as balusters is patently absurd. Horizontal rails in a deck guard would amount to constructing a stile, which is structure which provides passage over a boundary such as a guard.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot Franson View Post
    Horizontal rails in a deck guard would amount to constructing a stile, which is structure which provides passage over a boundary such as a guard.

    That it would, but that IS what the code SPECIFICALLY states - not making that up either, go back and READ the CODE words.

    Like it or not, "the code" is specifically addressing "opening sizes" and NOT PROHIBITING horizontal ladder rungs, and, in fact, states that as the "shall have" option, with everything else being a follow-up option.

    Again, like it or not, read the code wording - that is why I posted it, so you (and all others) could see that *I* *am not* the one saying that, *the code* says that.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
    Elliot Franson's Avatar
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That it would, but that IS what the code SPECIFICALLY states - not making that up either, go back and READ the CODE words.

    Like it or not, "the code" is specifically addressing "opening sizes" and NOT PROHIBITING horizontal ladder rungs, and, in fact, states that as the "shall have" option, with everything else being a follow-up option.

    Again, like it or not, read the code wording - that is why I posted it, so you (and all others) could see that *I* *am not* the one saying that, *the code* says that.
    Mr. Peck: Perhaps I misunderstood your post. At best the ICC has so poorly worded this section as to leave it open to extreme misunderstanding of its meaning and intent. I do not believe that the intent is to require rails or horizontal members. And, while I find no proscription in the code regarding rails per se, it is my belief that horizontal members in a guard, other than the necessary top rail, are unsafe and should not be allowed. Any reports I ever wrote reflected that common sense observation. Any client of mine with children had no problem understanding the reasoning involved.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot Franson View Post
    I do not believe that the intent is to require rails or horizontal members. And, while I find no proscription in the code regarding rails per se,
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - R312.2 Guard opening limitations. Required guards on open sides of stairways, raised floor areas, balconies and porches shall have intermediate rails


    That *IS* what the code says ... "shall have intermediate rails" ... and "rails" are horizontal.

    The code then adds:
    or ornamental closures


    Listing the typical vertical balusters as falling under "or ornamental closures".

    Note that the "intermediate rails" is the first "shall have".

    Now note that the opening size is addressed last:
    which do not allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102 mm) or more in diameter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot Franson View Post
    it is my belief that horizontal members in a guard, other than the necessary top rail, are unsafe and should not be allowed.
    I agree, but we were discussing code and what the code allows, what the code requires, and what the code does not disallow.

    The code does not disallow "rails", and not only does the code allow "rails" it is the first "shall have" item listed in the code and the only one listed separately, all others, including vertical balusters are grouped under "ornamental".


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
    Elliot Franson's Avatar
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    [/color][/size][/font][/color][/size][/font][/color][/size][/font]

    That *IS* what the code says ... "shall have intermediate rails" ... and "rails" are horizontal.

    The code then adds:


    Listing the typical vertical balusters as falling under "or ornamental closures".

    Note that the "intermediate rails" is the first "shall have".

    Now note that the opening size is addressed last:
    [font=Times-Roman][size=2][color=#231f20][font=Times-Roman][size=2][color=#231f20][font=Times-Roman][size=2][color=#231f20]



    I agree, but we were discussing code and what the code allows, what the code requires, and what the code does not disallow.

    The code does not disallow "rails", and not only does the code allow "rails" it is the first "shall have" item listed in the code and the only one listed separately, all others, including vertical balusters are grouped under "ornamental".
    Mr. Peck: Well then, if you are correct, as I assume you believe you are (and I do not), almost every single balustrade I have seen in my life - and that is thousands - is not code-compliant.

    Take another puff. Is it coming into focus now?


  10. #10
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    The 2000 IRC Section 316.2 on Guards had an additional last sentence: Required guards shall not be constructed with horizontal rails or other ornamental pattern that results in a ladder effect. The provision was gone the next code cycle because so many adopting bodies were amending it out.

    The language regarding the rails comes from the legacy codes, which covered not only residential, but commercial as well. In areas not open to the public in the occupancies of I-3 (jails), F (factory), H (hazordous), and S (storage) openings must not allow a 21" sphere to pass through. You will also see horizontal rails in stair enclosures in commercial buildings as well.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: deck guard construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot Franson View Post
    Well then, if you are correct, as I assume you believe you are (and I do not), almost every single balustrade I have seen in my life - and that is thousands - is not code-compliant.
    Aaron,

    What part of this do you NOT understand?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The code does not disallow "rails", and not only does the code allow "rails" it is the first "shall have" item listed in the code and the only one listed separately, all others, including vertical balusters are grouped under "ornamental".


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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