Railing FAQs - Railing Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I have to install rails on my deck? Or is that just required if I have children?
- How much does railing cost?
- Do I need to meet code if I am not having my deck inspected?
- What is code for deck railing height?
- How do I meet height and gapping code requirements on stairs?
- What’s a structural post vs. post sleeve?
- Do you have any light fixtures that match the finish of my railing?
- Why should I use a taller post at the bottom of my stairs?
- Does CableRail meet building codes?
- Do I need to have lighting on my steps?
- Do I need to have a handrail on my steps?
- What angle should my stairs be?
- How far can I span between posts?
- Can I install railing into a concrete patio?
- Can I cut a rail or rail panel?
- Will my metal railing rust?
- What is composite?
- How is railing shipped?
- How much does shipping cost?
Your Railing Questions: Answered
Got a question about deck railings or deck railing installation? We’ve assembled our customers’ most common questions below. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, call our deck project planners at 1-888-824-5316, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
Do I have to install rails on my deck? Or is that just required if I have children?
If you have a raised deck, odds are that you’re going to need railing. In general, building codes require you to have a railing on your deck if your deck surface is more than 30 inches off the ground. Local codes can be even stricter, though, so you should always check with your local building department before you start a project to make sure everything meets your local standardsBack to Top
How much does railing cost?
The cost of railing can vary quite a bit depending on the size of your project and the railing material you choose. We carry metal, composite, vinyl, wood, cable, and glass railings in a wide range of price ranges to make sure we have the widest selection possible. Our team at DecksDirect is happy to walk you through your options to find the perfect railing to fit both your space and budget - call us at 1-888-824-5316.Back to Top
Do I need to meet code if I am not having my deck inspected?
By law, all railing must be inspected. Railing inspection codes are in place to ensure your safety and security. Regardless of whether you are having your work inspected, we strongly recommend building to code to ensure your deck is a safe place for family and friends.Back to Top
What Is Code For Deck Railing Height?
The International Residential Council (IRC) requires guardrails to be at least 36 inches high, measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail. Commercial decks attached to multifamily buildings need 42 inch high guardrails.Back to Top
How Do I Meet Height & Gapping Code Requirements On Stairs?
IRC requirements are slightly different for angled stair rails - they’ll need to be at least 34 inches high, measured from the nosing of your stair tread to the top of your rail.
Stair railing forms a triangle between your stair riser, stair tread, and the bottom edge of your bottom rail. Per IRC requirements, that triangular space must be small enough that a 6-inch sphere can’t pass through it.Back to Top
What Is A Structural Post vs. A Post Sleeve?
A structural post is a post that, on its own, provides the strength required to satisfy code requirements or provide sufficient resistance for the rail system. A post sleeve is a decorative cover that slides over a structural interior post (typically a wood post). The image at left shows a structural wood 4x4 post surrounded by a decorative composite post sleeve.Back to Top
Do You Have Any Light Fixtures That Match The Finish Of My Railing?
The best way to get a perfect color match is to buy the same brand of railing and lighting accents. (Our team is great at building you a project where all the components will match!) If the manufacturer of your railing doesn’t make lighting, don’t worry: give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 and our team will help guide you through the best matching and complementary lighting options!Back to Top
Why should I use a taller post at the bottom of my stairs?
Because of the angle at which the rails meet the posts, you’ll need to have taller posts at the bottom of stair rails. This includes landings that connect two stair railing sections. If you don’t have a taller post, your rail will meet the post at too high to connect to a rail bracket.Back to Top
Does CableRail meet building codes?
Cable railing is a reliable and widely-used railing option, and when installed correctly, it’ll meet most building codes. That said, building codes vary by location, so make sure to check in with your local building authorities before starting any deck project.Back to Top
Do I Need To have Lighting On My Steps?
Yes. In 2000, the IRC started requiring all stairways in residential buildings to be lit. That includes outdoor stairs, which need to have an artificial light source in the immediate vicinity of their top landings. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, from stair lights to post cap lights to lighting attached to your railing. If you need ideas, snap a photo of your deck stairs and give our team a call at 1-888-824-5316 - we’ll help you create a lighting plan perfectly tailored to your space!
As always, check your local building codes and consult your building inspector prior to installing any lighting.Back to Top
Do I need to have a handrail on my steps?
You’ll need a guardrail on any open sides of stairs that are more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below.Back to Top
What angle should my stairs be?
Building codes allow angles between 31°-38°. That’s because the angle of your stairs varies based on the deck height and elevation. Most fixed-angle stair rails are built for a 34°-35° slope, and you can adjust the rise and run of your stairs to fit. Many manufacturers offer adjustable stair rails, which are great for the ease of install and allow you to fit more extreme stair angles.
Here’s a helpful article we wrote on calculating stair stringers. If you ever need help, give our team a call at 1-888-824-5316 - we’ve built plenty of stairs in all sorts of settings, and we’re always happy to help plan for your space.Back to Top
How far can I span between posts?
All of the railings we carry come in sections between 4 feet and 10 feet long. Railing manufacturers are required to thoroughly test their products, so each railing line is designed to be sturdy and safe at their recommended lengths.Back to Top
Can I install railing into a concrete patio?
Yes! In some cases it's as easy as purchasing a concrete drill bit and concrete structural screws. In many cases you will want to use washers and even gaskets. Our team is always available at 1-888-824-5316 to walk you through the process.Back to Top
Can I cut a rail or rail panel?
Decks come in all shapes and sizes, so you will often need to cut a rail section or panel down to the length your project requires. For vinyl, cap-stock composite, and aluminum rails, use a fine-tooth carbide-tipped blade that's suitable for cutting wood. For steel railing, we recommend a blade suited for metal cutting, ideally an abrasive metal cut-off wheel. You can use a standard chop saw. Avoid cutting with a dull blade. Take care to cut the material much more slowly than you would cut wood, and be sure to coat the cut metal rail ends with touch-up paint before you install them.Back to Top
Will my metal railing rust?
DecksDirect offers metal railings in both aluminum and steel. Aluminum doesn’t rust, making it a great option for wet climates or decks near lakes, pools, or oceans. Steel can rust if it is not properly powder-coated. All of the steel railings we offer are properly powder-coated, so they’ll be as corrosion-resistant as possible for steel. If you do cut your railing system, you will want to use touch-up paint to seal the cut line, or the exposed steel of the cut edges will rust over time.Back to Top
What is composite?
Composite is a combination of recycled plastic and real wood: more accurately, polymer resins and premium recycled wood fibers. The result is a composite that combines the best qualities of both materials. The plastic resins protect the wood from damage-causing insects and moisture, making composite more durable and lower-maintenance than wood. Meanwhile the fibrous wood gives composite material a rich, natural look and feel.Back to Top
How Is Railing Shipped?
Many railing kits are too big or too heavy to ship to you by traditional methods. When that’s the case, we use what’s called an LTL - or Less Than Truckload - delivery. We carefully assemble your order onto a custom-built pallet, then ship it to you in a big truck. We’ll work with you to set up one of several unloading methods: sometimes, we can deliver to you in a box truck with a liftgate that lowers your order right down to your worksite or driveway. We can set up a flatbed truck with an attached forklift called a moffett - the truck driver will unload your items using the forklift. Or, if you’re looking to save money on delivery, some orders can use the “hand unload” option, where you (and any friends you can enlist) unload your items from the back of the truck by hand, inspecting your items as you unload. Call us at 1-888-824-5316 to set up the delivery method you need - if you’ve already ordered, call us as soon as possible to find out what option is attached to your order, and to change delivery options if you need.Back to Top
How Much Does Shipping Cost?
DecksDirect offers free ground shipping on select railing products within the contiguous United States. Minimum orders may apply; see your product’s page for details. For orders that do not qualify for free shipping, our shipping fees are based on package weight, dimensions, and distance being shipped. Shipping quotes are normally calculated in the shopping cart portion of our website, but for larger items you might need to request shipping quotes over the phone by calling 1-888-824-5316.Back to Top