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  1. #1
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    Default Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    I've been all through my code book, can't find any reference...

    Stairs are going to be 45' wide. Common sense tells me I'm going to need more than just a handrail at each end... but I can't seem to find the requirement.

    NYS code is based on 2003 IRC. The only thing I can find is 311.5.1, which says they have to be at least 27" apart... but nothing about a maximum spacing.

    Anybody know? Thanks...
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Are you talking about baluster spacing or post/support spacing?
    Or something else?

    Bill R

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    No, I mean:

    You're climbing these stairs - let's say you're in the middle - the stairs are 45 feet wide, so the nearest handrail is 22 1/2 feet away?

    That just doesn't seem right.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Well, if I had read more carefully.......
    Don't know that one. Is this a public building?
    Bill R

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    No, it's a house.

    What can I say? The owners are both lawyers, I think they want that "courthouse" aesthetic... I have to admit that in its setting, it will probably look really good.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Frenchie,

    I would think the ones on the ends would be sufficient to prevent anyone from falling over the sides with nothing actually required in the center areas. You might check ADA for additional information. I don't recall additional railings being used except as specified by the architect.

    Tread width, riser height will be more critical on a set like those. Don't know the specifics though.
    Brad

    You will never stand taller than when kneeling to help a child.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Quote Originally Posted by 2001 California Building Code
    1003.3.3.6 Handrails. Stairways shall have handrails on each side, and every stairway required to be more than 88 inches wide shall be provided with one intermediate handrail for each 88 inches of required width. Intermediate handrails shall be spaced approximately equally across the entire width of the stairway.
    This is what they say on the West Coast, UBC, of course, not IRC.
    Last edited by RMcSlash; 06-05-2007 at 04:02 PM.
    RMc____

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    IRC won't have language for a wide stair, since it does not anticipate such a thing in residential construction.
    IBC will have such language, and its going to be similar to that quoted above at #7.

    BUT, this is neither a REQUIRED stair nor a stair within the building - its a site stairway - so there is NO code provision whatsoever. You don't even need the rails at the far distant sides.

    So, ask your lawyer clients what their "premises liability" comfort level is. That will give you the spacing for the handrails.

    If that were MY design, I'd pick the most logical pedestrian path, and put in the steps there with handrails on each side. All those other steps I'd make two or three risers high, by two or three treads deep, thus discouraging folks from walking anywhere I didn't want them to. OH, and I'd treat the lowermost non-pedestrian step with a rough stone finish, or some other countermeasure, to inhibit skateboard usage.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Hey! Skateboarding's Not a Crime! ;)
    RMc____

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    i agree with skateboarding is not a crime. i'd find out who your local inspector is going to be and ask them in person. i wasn't able to find this out when i've looked before but i did have an official warn me that if "these stairs were any wider you've have to have an intermediate rail...". this was a couple of years ago but came up recently when we did a 14' wide step coming off a big porch (not a mention from the official). i think we're all familiar with those guys making up stuff and then holding our feet to the fire. good luck.


    jud

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Quote Originally Posted by NW Architect View Post
    BUT, this is neither a REQUIRED stair nor a stair within the building - its a site stairway - so there is NO code provision whatsoever.
    I'm not sure what this means - ? - the rules for stairs don't apply to porch steps?

    You don't even need the rails at the far distant sides.
    ?? - IRC calls for a railing >30" above grade... even the bottom "landing" is going to need a railing. I'll post a pic of the current setup where these are going (it doesn't match up with the model above, because we're building an addition. picture 18' wider on the left)

    If that were MY design, I'd pick the most logical pedestrian path, and put in the steps there with handrails on each side. All those other steps I'd make two or three risers high, by two or three treads deep, thus discouraging folks from walking anywhere I didn't want them to.
    Thanks, NW - I really like that idea. I think I'll need three paths, but... I'm going to try to sell them on it, see if it flies.

    OH, and I'd treat the lowermost non-pedestrian step with a rough stone finish, or some other countermeasure, to inhibit skateboard usage.
    Quote Originally Posted by RMcSlash View Post
    Hey! Skateboarding's Not a Crime! ;)
    You couldn't skateboard around here, anyways. It's all boardwalks, and they're very very rough. Although I have thought about getting one of those downhill all-terrain boards with the fat rubber tires; some of the boardwalks do have some great hills...




    Edit: hey, it worked! First time I've been able to post pics from out here. The second shot is a different side of the house, just to give you an idea of their "premise liability" comfort level. They host a big* gala benefit out here, I've watched people squeeze past each other on those stairs, they're 30" wide.

    * How big? Whoopie Goldberg's hosting it this year.
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    Last edited by frenchie; 06-05-2007 at 10:06 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Jud - good point. It's about time I went over there & introduced myself anyways...

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    RMc:

    Check CBC §1003.3.3.6 (Exceptions 1 & 2). I was going by the UBC on CD and got into an argument with Robert (Walnut Creek's CBO), complaining about the IRC eliminating the second handrail at 44", he claimed it wasn't required under the CBC, when I got home I looked into my CBC book and damned if he wasn't right, California eliminated the second handrail by amendment some time ago without my noticing it.
    When fascism comes to America it will not be in brown and black shirts, it will not be with jack-boots, it will be in Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts. Germany lost the Second World War, Fascism won it. George Carlin 1937 - 2008

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    Frenchie - I'm going to overburden you with building code stuff to try to explain why the thing doesn't need a handrail.

    The building codes are all about structural and life safety.
    Certain occupancy types have certain occupancy densities (more people per square foot in a ballroom than in a mechanical room)
    Those people have to be able to exit the building.
    The REQUIRED exits are the ones designed to meet the code requirements. (You can have more ways out than the number of "required exits")
    They don't want people getting trapped or stomped in the exits, so there are design parameters for the required exits.
    IF you have a stair, as part of a REQUIRED exit, it has certain parameters.
    The required exit folows a designated path through a building and across the site and ends at a public way (street, etc) or designated safe assembly on a large site.

    Residences have ONE required exit, the front door. So the path from a second floor bedroom, down the interior stairs, out the swinging front door, onto the front walk, and down any steps that may lead to the street, are all part of the required exit.
    A deck in the back yard, and any steps from the deck are not part of the required exit and are not part of the building, so not regulated by the code.
    (Not entirely true, but close. There's other stuff in the code that applies to building parts that aren't part of an exit. Edges you can fall off of, to wit the edge of a deck, are among them)

    This is all to explain how it is that you can legally have a set of irregular stone steps in your palacial formal gardens. Its not a stair that is part of a required exit.

    Now, IF those steps lead to and from the front door of the house (and are not in the back yard, as I assumed), then the whole 45' width is part of the exit path, and you need a pile of handrails - unless you design specific exit paths - then the rule only apply there.

    Clear as mud?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Intermediate handrails on wide stairs (IRC)

    That what I was afraid you meant - it is the front door.

    There's another 2 doors leading to the lower deck level, though. If the boys don't want to use your idea, I can probably work something out...

    Thanks for the help.

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