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  1. #1
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    Default Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Does anone have a code referance restricting "Horizontal Balusters" on a raised deck / surface?
    I had a home today with a balcony / deck area, 3 stories up. The balusters were spaced ok but ran horizonal. Seems like that would not be allowed as a child could climb them.

    Any help is appreciated.


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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Sumen View Post
    Does anone have a code referance restricting "Horizontal Balusters" on a raised deck / surface?
    I had a home today with a balcony / deck area, 3 stories up. The balusters were spaced ok but ran horizonal. Seems like that would not be allowed as a child could climb them.

    Any help is appreciated.
    Yes, they are a bad idea. I would note that they are not safe. As for what the codes say? It really depends on your area and when and what code the home was built under. Contact your local AHJ and get it from the horses mouth if you are trying to cite codes for it.

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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    The 2000 IRC 316.2 stated that guardrails shall not be constructed with horizontal members or other ornamental pattern that results in a ladder effect: “Required guards shall not be constructed with horizontal rails or other ornamental pattern that results in a ladder effect.” The ladder effect has never been included in the IBC.

    For some reason the ladder effect was removed from the IRC during the 2001 code cycle. The change was noted in the 2001 IRC supplement and it is not in the 2003, 2006, 2009, or 2012 versions of the IRC. The likelihood is that the wording was removed due to pressure from organizations such as the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association (www.nomma.org). Their handrail manufacturer members can’t make as much money if they only produce rails and guards with vertical infills.

    Some AHJs are still using older codes based on BOCA – the creator of the ladder effect wording – as well as the 2000 IRC. Many local code inspectors are not aware of the 2001 change and may disallow guards they interpret as creating a ladder effect.

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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Aaron,
    Thanks, Just what I needed!


  6. #6
    Jeffrey Maul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Many homeowners have asked me to install the cable system on their railings so the railing does not interfere with the view. The local building inspector will not accept them because the horizontal cables can be climbed by children.

    Jeff's RnR


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Maul View Post
    Many homeowners have asked me to install the cable system on their railings so the railing does not interfere with the view. The local building inspector will not accept them because the horizontal cables can be climbed by children.

    Jeff's RnR
    Jeff, Rhode Island uses the 2009 IRC without modification to section R312 other than adding a section on seat or bench elements. There is no modfication of section R312.1 Guards, R312.2 Guard heights or R312.3 Guard opening limitations. Therefore horizantal cable rail systems are ok as long a they meet the 4" sphere requirement. The AHJ will have to show you the code stating that cable rails are prohibited.

    Last edited by Harold Doughty; 08-10-2012 at 09:30 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Maul View Post
    Many homeowners have asked me to install the cable system on their railings so the railing does not interfere with the view. The local building inspector will not accept them because the horizontal cables can be climbed by children.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Doughty View Post
    The AHJ will have to show you the code stating that cable rails are prohibited.
    Correct. Request a code section, that should settle it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Doughty View Post
    Therefore horizantal cable rail systems are ok as long a they meet the 4" sphere requirement.
    There is more to that "does not allow a 4 inch sphere to pass" than just being less than 4 inches between the horizontal wires. The guard in-fill, that is what those wires are, must be able to resist a 50 lb/sf load ... so apply a 50 lb/sf load to that 4 inch sphere, and the code includes the "air space" in the sf area, so one could take a 4 inch spheres attached to a 1 sf wood plate and apply 50 lbs to that 1 sf plate - do the wires resist the passage of that 4 inch sphere or do the wires spread out and the 4 inch sphere passes through?

    No, that is not the proper ASTM test for in-fill of the guard, but the ASTM test is not applicable to wire in-fill anyway due to the way it is written and the outcome it is checking for.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The guard in-fill, that is what those wires are, must be able to resist a 50 lb/sf load ...
    Jerry is absolutely correct. That is why most cable rail manufacturers specify max 3" cable spacing with max 36" post spacing and specify the tension. In this way, the cables should be able to resist the 50 lb/sf load test.


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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Doughty View Post
    Jerry is absolutely correct. That is why most cable rail manufacturers specify max 3" cable spacing with max 36" post spacing and specify the tension. In this way, the cables should be able to resist the 50 lb/sf load test.
    I know this is an old topic but none of the discussions really address the issue squarely. Especially the "50 lb. test." We can't just condemn the horizontal cables because of the ladder effect. Most high end homes built in the last few years use this technique. In the discussions, it appears to me that we are mixing apples and oranges relative to the "50lb test." The confusion arises because the test is presented as "psi" (pounds per square inch) when we should be talking about "lbs force." Lbs. force is basically the same as weight (don't go dragging weight, gravity, mass into this, it is not that complicated). The test is to apply 50lbs "force" to the 4 inch ball, not "pressure." A simple way to accomplish the test is to put a hook or string around or through the ball and just put a small hand scale (like we use to weigh our huge fish we catch in our spare time) to the ball and try to pull it between the cables. It should take over 50 lbs. force to pull it through, much less than 50lbs, failure. No need to calculate areas, surface, etc. Just pull on it. I suppose you could use a bathroom scale to push on the ball and do the test but the hand scale works quite well. If the pressure-force thing bothers you, think of an hydraulic cylinder, inside the cylinder is "pressure' and on the action arm is "force."

    Last edited by Allen Ingling; 01-16-2014 at 05:47 PM. Reason: add clarification

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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Ingling View Post
    I know this is an old topic but none of the discussions really address the issue squarely. Especially the "50 lb. test." We can't just condemn the horizontal cables because of the ladder effect.
    Those cable/rope guard infills cannot ('should not' is a better way to say it) condemn them for being horizontal because ... being horizontal is not against the code - they may be a dumb idea, but the code does not protect people from 'dumb ideas'.

    Most high end homes built in the last few years use this technique.
    It would not matter how many, or how expensive, homes were to use something prohibited by the code - IF - if it was prohibited it should be written up. It's just that installing a horizontal ladder for the little kiddies to climb over the guard is not against the code - dumb, yes, - but not against the code.

    In the discussions, it appears to me that we are mixing apples and oranges relative to the "50lb test." The confusion arises because the test is presented as "psi" (pounds per square inch) when we should be talking about "lbs force." Lbs. force is basically the same as weight (don't go dragging weight, gravity, mass into this, it is not that complicated). The test is to apply 50lbs "force" to the 4 inch ball, not "pressure." A simple way to accomplish the test is to put a hook or string around or through the ball and just put a small hand scale (like we use to weigh our huge fish we catch in our spare time) to the ball and try to pull it between the cables. It should take over 50 lbs. force to pull it through, much less than 50lbs, failure. No need to calculate areas, surface, etc. Just pull on it. I suppose you could use a bathroom scale to push on the ball and do the test but the hand scale works quite well.
    You just said it is not pressure but force, then you described putting pressure against the 4" sphere by applying force to it, the hand scale is not measuring force or pressure.

    You are mixing terms and apples and oranges while trying to separate the apples from the apples. If you put 50 pounds of pressure (force) pushing an object which is 1 foot square against another object which is 1 foot square or larger, the pressure in psf is 50 pounds per square foot, or approximately 0.35 psi in square inches. The force remained the same 50 pounds of force, but in the normal context of everyday life you are also putting 50 pounds of pressure against that 1 foot area.

    I know, I simplified it down to everyday terms: when is the last time (even the first time) you told someone to 'put some force on the glue joint until the glue dries'? I suspect the vast majority of people say, hear, and read it as 'put some pressure on the glue joint until the glue dries'.

    When you 'press the pedal to the metal' do you think of 'force the pedal to the metal'?

    I suspect that the ones who like oranges will be able to separate the oranges from the apples and the ones who like apples will be able to separate the apples from the oranges and they will no longer be mixed.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Those cable/rope guard infills cannot ('should not' is a better way to say it) condemn them for being horizontal because ... being horizontal is not against the code - they may be a dumb idea, but the code does not protect people from 'dumb ideas'.



    It would not matter how many, or how expensive, homes were to use something prohibited by the code - IF - if it was prohibited it should be written up. It's just that installing a horizontal ladder for the little kiddies to climb over the guard is not against the code - dumb, yes, - but not against the code.



    You just said it is not pressure but force, then you described putting pressure against the 4" sphere by applying force to it, the hand scale is not measuring force or pressure.

    You are mixing terms and apples and oranges while trying to separate the apples from the apples. If you put 50 pounds of pressure (force) pushing an object which is 1 foot square against another object which is 1 foot square or larger, the pressure in psf is 50 pounds per square foot, or approximately 0.35 psi in square inches. The force remained the same 50 pounds of force, but in the normal context of everyday life you are also putting 50 pounds of pressure against that 1 foot area.

    I know, I simplified it down to everyday terms: when is the last time (even the first time) you told someone to 'put some force on the glue joint until the glue dries'? I suspect the vast majority of people say, hear, and read it as 'put some pressure on the glue joint until the glue dries'.

    When you 'press the pedal to the metal' do you think of 'force the pedal to the metal'?

    I suspect that the ones who like oranges will be able to separate the oranges from the apples and the ones who like apples will be able to separate the apples from the oranges and they will no longer be mixed.
    Jerry: You still don't have it right. There is no "pressure" involved. It is simply 50 lbs. of force. By your argument if you stood on a bathroom scale the size of your shoes would make a difference on the weight registered. If you weigh 150 lbs, that is what the scale shows whether you are barefoot or wearing snowshoes. The "ball" test is exactly the same, as I said you could use a bathroom scale to do the test, you put the ball against the wires, you put the scale against the ball and you push until the scale read 50 lbs. If the ball goes through before you get to 50lbs, it fails. No pressure involved, it does not matter whether the scale is one foot square or two feet square, whether you push with one hand or with your whole butt, the ball still sees 50lbs. As per my example of the hydraulic cylinder. The "pressure" inside the cylinder is related to the force of the action arm but they are not the same - 50lbs pressure inside the cylinder will not necessarily be 50lbs force on the action arm, it might be ounces, it might be tons. And I do like the horizontal cables, they look cool and do not obstruct the view.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Allen,

    And you still do not get what I am saying, describing, and referring to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Ingling View Post
    Jerry: You still don't have it right. There is no "pressure" involved.
    Are you, or are you not, applying 'pressure' to the 4" ball?

    I am using 'pressure' as in the normal and typical way 'press on that for me', whereas you are trying to use it in the way of "pressure per ... ", i.e., psi, psf, however, your use does not work until you *also* state the rest of the "pressure statement" ... the psi, psf, etc.

    Pressure - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    1pres·sure noun \ˈpre-shər\
    : the weight or force that is produced when something presses or pushes against something else
    : the action of pressing or pushing against something
    : the weight of the air in the Earth's atmosphere

    Full Definition of PRESSURE
    1 a : the burden of physical or mental distress
    1 b : the constraint of circumstance : the weight of social or economic imposition

    2 : the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it : compression

    3 archaic : impression, stamp

    4 a : the action of a force against an opposing force
    4 b : the force or thrust exerted over a surface divided by its area
    4 c : electromotive force

    5 : the stress or urgency of matters demanding attention : exigency <people who work well under pressure>

    6 : the force of selection that results from one or more agents and tends to reduce a population of organisms <population pressure> <predation pressure>

    7 : the pressure exerted in every direction by the weight of the atmosphere

    8 : a sensation aroused by moderate compression of a body part or surface
    — pres·sure·less adjective

    See pressure defined for English-language learners »
    See pressure defined for kids »

    Examples of PRESSURE
    * Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.
    * the pressure of the compressed air inside the chamber
    * The animal's jaws can exert a pressure of more than 750 pounds per square inch.
    * The horse will respond to the slightest pressure of a rider's knee.
    * The fruit yields to gentle pressure when it's ripe.
    * the normal air pressure at sea level
    * He gave in to the social pressures to act and dress like everybody else.
    * She felt a constant pressure to earn more money.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Allen,

    And you still do not get what I am saying, describing, and referring to.



    Are you, or are you not, applying 'pressure' to the 4" ball?

    I am using 'pressure' as in the normal and typical way 'press on that for me', whereas you are trying to use it in the way of "pressure per ... ", i.e., psi, psf, however, your use does not work until you *also* state the rest of the "pressure statement" ... the psi, psf, etc.

    Pressure - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    1pres·sure noun \ˈpre-shər\
    : the weight or force that is produced when something presses or pushes against something else
    : the action of pressing or pushing against something
    : the weight of the air in the Earth's atmosphere

    Full Definition of PRESSURE
    1 a : the burden of physical or mental distress
    1 b : the constraint of circumstance : the weight of social or economic imposition

    2 : the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it : compression

    3 archaic : impression, stamp

    4 a : the action of a force against an opposing force
    4 b : the force or thrust exerted over a surface divided by its area
    4 c : electromotive force

    5 : the stress or urgency of matters demanding attention : exigency <people who work well under pressure>

    6 : the force of selection that results from one or more agents and tends to reduce a population of organisms <population pressure> <predation pressure>

    7 : the pressure exerted in every direction by the weight of the atmosphere

    8 : a sensation aroused by moderate compression of a body part or surface
    — pres·sure·less adjective

    See pressure defined for English-language learners »
    See pressure defined for kids »

    Examples of PRESSURE
    * Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.
    * the pressure of the compressed air inside the chamber
    * The animal's jaws can exert a pressure of more than 750 pounds per square inch.
    * The horse will respond to the slightest pressure of a rider's knee.
    * The fruit yields to gentle pressure when it's ripe.
    * the normal air pressure at sea level
    * He gave in to the social pressures to act and dress like everybody else.
    * She felt a constant pressure to earn more money.

    You still don't have it right. I know what the dictionary says, but that is not technical-speak. About 95% of the time when someone says they are putting "pressure" on something, they mean "force." When you push a door open you are not applying "pressure." Pressure is always measured in pounds/sq. in. A good example to compare the two is to imagine you are in a room with good seals and someone puts a hose in the room and pumps it up to 10 lbs/sq.in. "pressure." It is obvious this is not a "force." Imagine the room has two doors, one is 4ft by 8ft. and the other is 3ft. by 7ft. Both doors see and feel exactly the same pressure, 10lbs./sq.in. But each door sees a different "force." The big door feels 23 tons and the little door feels 15 tons. Obviously both would be blown off the hinges. When you push your little 4" ball against the horizontal cables you are not applying "pressure," you are applying a "force." This is the same as "weight." No one talks about the "pressure" of gravity, (at least nobody I know), it is always the "force" of gravity. Which is exactly the same with the ball and cables, just horizontally, not vertically. You have "pressure" in your tires (lbs/sq.in.), but your tires exert a "force" on the ground (lbs.) If you want to nitpick you could measure the little tire footprint and calculate the cars "pressure" I suppose. If someone asks you how much your truck weighs you would not give the answer in lbs./sq.in, I hope. Likewise with the ball, the force to push the ball through the cables is measured in lbs., not lbs./sq.in.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Horizontal balusters on a raised deck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Ingling View Post
    You still don't have it right. I know what the dictionary says, but that is not technical-speak.
    BINGO!

    Now you do get it!

    I kept the faith in you that you would eventually 'get it' and you just did, despite you thinking that you had not 'gotten it'.

    Cool!

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

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