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Free Deck Plans
Choose from hundreds of permit ready designs. Our deck plans include a detailed framing plan, footing layout, material list and typical details. These plans are free to download as pdf files that can be printed to 1/4" - 1' scale on 11x17 paper.

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Deck Railing Height

All decks greater than 30" above grade must have a guardrail.  If you choose to install a guardrail on a deck lower than 30" you must still meet code requirements.  Decks attached to single family detached homes are regulated under the rules of the International Residential Code (IRC).  The IRC requires guardrails to be at lest 36" in height measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail.  Commercial decks attached to multifamily buildings such as apartment buildings or businesses are regulated under the Internation Building Code (IBC).  The IBC requires 42" high guardrails.  In either case you are allowed to build taller guardrails as long as they conform to all other requirements stated in the code.


Comments, Questions and Reviews


I have a 40" rail around my deck and my cat jumps up on it and then down into the yard. We have coyotes in the neighborhood and I don''t him wandering loose. Any ideas on how I might make the railing less enticing to him? I can''t put up a new railing.

posted by Bobbi at 4/12/2015 2:58:59 PM

Electrify it.

posted by bryguy at 4/24/2015 4:04:59 PM

Use a 45 degree plywood lip at the top of the rail facing in. Your cat won'' t be able to jump on top.

posted by crruisercharlie at 8/7/2015 12:19:49 PM

We have a a two tier deck and the lower is being built 40" above grade but will have rapping stair case on it would this pass code without a railing?

posted by richard allen at 11/30/2014 10:03:35 AM

You will need a hand rail for the stairs.

posted by mike at 12/1/2014 8:58:27 AM

i want to build a rooftop deck over my existing dining room. i am not sure how to plan & execute my wishful thinking!

posted by jaywalk at 8/13/2014 5:51:47 PM

I have 15 stairs coming down from my deck. I understand a landing is required for more than 8 stairs but I can''t find it in the code. Do you know what section of the irc it would be in and is this correct. My contractor wasn''t sure but another contractor told me I needed a landing after 8 stairs.

posted by cobbgirl at 8/10/2014 12:35:55 PM

According to the prescriptive residential wood deck construction guide on page 17, figure 28 the max span for a southern pine 2x12 stair stringer is 7 feet. Check with your local building department for more information. You don''t need a landing you could install a brace under the stringers at mid span.

posted by mike at 8/11/2014 9:14:13 AM

Hi on a static van/ lodge with a deck of below 30" does the guardrail have a minimum requirement on height ?

posted by Binks at 6/28/2014 4:26:48 AM

In most parts of North America you wouldn''t need a 36" high guard rail if the deck was under 30" above grade. I am not sure what would be required in the United Kingdom. You should check with your local building department.

posted by mike at 6/30/2014 8:58:27 AM