Do I Need a Guard Rail?

If the stairs or the platform that the stairs are leading up to is taller than 30 inches from the lower level, then the answer is yes.

In the picture above, the platform might be less than 30 inches from the concrete sidewalk, but what you're looking at is a small set of stairs that attaches to a wood bridge. This bridge leads to the second level of a condominium complex. There is at least 10 feet from the top of the bridge to the bottom of the lower-level condominiums.

I found another building code that states," No guard rails are necessary for any stairs that have four or less risers." This could be a problem though, if you have 4 - 8 inch risers, this would put the total height of the platform, landing or floor at 32 inches. These are typical problems that architects and contractors run into on a daily basis.

If I was to interpret this building code after reading some of the building code books, myself, I would stick with the 30 inch minimum. Any landing, platform or floor that is 30 inches or higher than the floor or level below, no matter how many stairway risers it has, plan on installing guard rails on your stairway, floor, platform or landing.

Attention: Don't forget to check with your local building department to verify any building codes on this website. This information could be incorrect or outdated. Building codes are updated regularly and to some building departments have different interpretations for certain building codes.