Can I install a deck railing (guard)?

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Posted by: from Casselman
4/6/2016 at 12:42:27 PM

I have just purchased a resale home. The owner installed a new cedar deck in late fall, but did not complete the construction - so it is currently not to code. The deck is over 24" in height and has no railing or guards around the deck or the stairs - we will be finishing the construction ourselves when we take possession.

As it is country home, I would like to preserve the openness on the back deck as much as possible. I would like to avoid installing spindles as I just find it cluttered looking and distracting. I was hoping to install a guard that resembles more of "fence board" style with two or three horizontal planks as opposed to the vertical spindles. However, I cannot see if this is permissible, and if it is, what are the spacing/height requirements between the boards. (Casselman, ON).

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Derrick from Halcyon Homes Ltd. in Regina
Date/Time4/6/2016 at 1:20:14 PM

Hi Chantelle,

First off, congrats on your new home purchase!

This is something that you will want to check with your local municipality to confirm if horizontal planks would meet the local building code. As far as I recall (in Saskatchewan at least), this isn't something that would meet code. The reason is that the horizontal planks would provide a young child means to climb up (and potentially fall over). Vertical planks or spindles on the other hand are not easily climbable, and so they are what is generally recommended.

If you are looking to preserve the openness of the back deck and preserve the view to the yard as much as you can, I would suggest taking a look at glass railing options. Many railing styles allow for glass inserts which can be in many different shades & styles. The actual handrail (and rail posts) can be made out of several types of materials (most common would be pre-painted aluminium), and then the glass panels are installed in between the top and bottom rails.


Derrick Froh

Halcyon Homes Ltd.

Regina Saskatchewan

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Date/Time4/6/2016 at 8:31:27 PM

Hi Chantelle,

Derrick's post above is bang on.

You cannot use horizontal rails in place of spindles here in Ontario and there are very specific requirements for railings on decks with an elevation difference of more than 23 5/8".

Contact your local municipal building department and ask them if they can provide details for deck railings. In the Toronto area we have what are called TACBOC details (Toronto Area Chief Building Officials Committee) that are illustrated and approved diagrams of the specific requirements.

The details in sections 9.7 and 9.8 of the Ontario Building Code are wordy and difficult to decipher if you are not very familiar with the Code. Either way, the Building Department will be able to get you on the right track to construct a safe and legal railing that will best suit your purposes.

Best of luck and congratulations.

Jason Irving

Cedarfalls Building Consultants Limited

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James from Deckster Decks in Scarborough
Date/Time4/10/2016 at 5:24:01 PM

Glass is the way to go. There are companies that can custom design a railing for you that has minimal visual impact. These railings are expensive though. Your entry level stuff is available at the big box stores, but you are better off getting a reputable aluminum railing company come in.

Can I install a deck railing (guard)?
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Amelie in Toronto
Date/Time5/20/2016 at 12:04:22 AM

Decking should be done in a very well-planned manner and railings should be added not only to enhance its beauty but for safety reasons as well. Glass privacy panels can also be added if you require 'beauty with privacy.

Check out this beautiful deck image with aluminum and glass railings for your reference.

Can I install a deck railing (guard)?
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CPL AluminumRailings and Glass in Toronto
Date/Time10/21/2016 at 3:18:14 AM

Congratulations on your purchase. Well, I agree with spindles on your property. They would give you a classic look, but if you need a luxury look, I would suggest you to look to glass railings where the scenery doesn't gets compromised.

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