vinyl deck railing on deck and stairs

Deck Railing Requirements

Published On: August 16th, 2022

Depending on where you live and the height of your deck, certain standards must be met when constructing a deck railing. It must be safe and meet the appropriate building code.

Here’s what you need to know about deck railing requirements.

Local By-Laws may differ

Each province will have laws about the railing requirements on a deck. Before you build or decide on your deck design, make sure you check with your local municipality to ensure you are following the relevant building code and local by-laws.

Residential deck railings

Typically, in Ontario, any platform that is more than 23 ¾” off the ground requires some type of guardrail. For a residential deck, the requirement for a guardrail is usually going to be a minimum of 36”. Additionally, the space between the platform of the deck and the bottom of the guardrail cannot be more than 4”. For a deck that sits more than 5’ 7/8” above grade, a 42” rail is required.

The guardrail can be any design you want it to be, but elements of the design cannot be spaced more than 4” apart and must not be considered climbable.

Commercial deck railings

The requirements for guardrails for commercial decks are the same as for residential decks: the elements of the guardrail cannot be more than 4” apart.

How are the rules determined for deck railing height requirements?

The main purpose of the requirements for deck railings is to ensure people stay safe when they are using the deck. If the railing is too low, someone could trip and fall over the railing, resulting in serious injury.

Additionally, if elements are more than 4” apart in the deck rail, it could be a safety issue for children playing, where they might get stuck between or slip through the balusters.

Do I need a handrail for the stairs to my deck?

While you do need a railing when decks are more than 24 ¾” off the ground, some homeowners are unsure as to whether they need handrails for the steps leading up to their deck.

As a general rule, handrails should be installed when there are more than two stairs. Additionally, handrails should also be installed on both sides of the stairs.

At Hickory Dickory Decks, when we install a new deck, we ensure that it is up to code and meets both the standards of the provincial Building Code and any local by-laws that may be in place.