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  1. #1
    daniel nantell's Avatar
    daniel nantell Guest

    Default exterior steps requirements

    Is it 2 or 3 steps that needs a handrail, coming off a porch, It was 3, I thought then it was changed to 2 I believe. any info would be appreciated.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Ormond Beach, Florida

    Default Re: exterior steps requirements

    First, you need to define "steps" as that is not a code term and it means different things to different people - there was a long heated discussion about "steps" here a few months ago.

    Try using "stair" or "stairs" instead, and, in fact, try using "riser"/"risers" and "tread"/"treads" as that is how the code addresses them.

    A "stair" is "one or more risers".

    Okay, so to ask your question properly it would ask "How many risers are allowed before a handrail is required?"

    From the 2006 IRC.
    - R311.5.6 Handrails. Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers.

    From the 2006 IBC.
    - STAIR. A change in elevation, consisting of one or more risers.

    Some people think of a "step" as the place you put your foot, i.e., "the step", however, that is really a "tread" and a "tread" is not required in a "stair".

    Here is example: You are in the garage, you have one riser to the interior floor level (you have to "step up" to get into the house). This is a "stair" and it has one "riser" and no "treads". Next, each stair must have a landing at each end, the garage floor is the lower "landing" and the inside floor is the upper "landing" - thus you have a "stair" with no "treads".

    So, back to your question and R311.5.6 shown above, a handrail is required with "4 or more" "risers".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( )


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