Deck railing code

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2014 03:06 PM GMT

Question

Is a railing constructed with lateral cable allowed in Michigan on decks. If so, what is the required spacing between cables for safety? The deck is one story off the ground below. Thank you.

Answer

I cannot address specifics about code in one area. That is up the the local jurisdiction. The codes vary widely across the country and not all follow the same one or even the same year of issue. Check with the local people.

Typically, railings are required anywhere there is a "walk off" hazard of 30 inches or more. They are required to be a minimum of 34 inches high, Max-38 inches and be able to resist a 200 pound lateral load. If on a stairway of two treads or more, they are required to have a "grippable" profile on the top rail at least 1-1/4 inch and max 2-5/8 inch circular. For child safety, no element may have a bigger space than 4 inches between. This could all be done with a cable system but the problem is with the horizontal elements. This effectively turns the railing system into a ladder that a child could climb. (and can be counted on to do so, I see it all the time) The point of having the railing system is for safety. If it is inherently unsafe by design, it sort of misses the point.

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