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Stair & entrance landing & platforms: building stairway codes specify the size and placement requirements for safe, accessible stairway landings & platforms. This document provides building code specifications, sketches, photographs, and examples of defects used in inspecting the platforms or landings used with indoor or outdoor stairs for building entrances, decks, porches, or interior building stairs.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Photo & Code Guide to Stair & Entry Platform & Landing Codes, Design Requirements & Slip, Trip & Fall Hazards
Model & Example Building Code Specifications for Stairway Landings
Model Building Code Stairways & Landings Specifications - E.G. California Building Code
Exceptions to Minimum Stairway Landing or Platform Dimensions: non-public-access
Unsafe Doors that Swing Out Over a Landing or Step
Window in the Stairwell May Be Unsafe or Require Guardrails
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about stairway landings & platforms
If you have a very large steele reservoir (100ft vertical) and you want to put stairs to the stop with a landing that includes guardrails; at what height would you put the top stair rail. Can you combined a stair rail system with a potential guardrail system. - Anon 10/9/2012
Anon your top guardrail needs to meet the height requirements for balconies and landings - typically 43-inches along horizontal walking surfaces such as a landing platform. And yes, as you can see in our photograph (above left) it is possible to combine a stair-guardrail with a handrailing along a stairway.
Most codes want the stair guard to also be 42-inches in heigh but will allow that to drop to 34-inches if the top of the stair guard is also to serve as a handrail. However as you see in our CIA photo, it's not difficult to add a lower handrailing along a 42-inch stair guard.
Question: how to convert degrees of slope to rise and run for a stairway
Stairway at 38 degrees: what is the rise and foot? - George Tubb
There is no single answer, since we could choose different tread depths or "runs" that would give different tread rises or heights. But we can pick a desired step run or depth or step height or rise, and calculate the second number with the help of a calculator that will convert an angle in degrees using the Tan (tangent) function.
For a stair with a 38 degree slope (which is a bit too steep by the way), a ten-inch tread depth (or run) will give you a riser height of 7.8" (a little high).
I have published the details of this procedure along with some drawings at
Question: door swings away from steps - do I need a platform or landing?
If I am installing a door at the top of a stairway in a commercial application and the door swings away from the stairs how big of a landing (space from the door to first step) is needed? - Mickey 2/13/2013
Question: last stair tread is high (15-inches) and there is no landing platform. Does this comply with code?
i have wood stairs exiting the house they go down to the ground the last tread is 15 inches up the stairs are resting on some flat rocks no concrete or platform are these code - Ray 3/15/2013
Question: how to balance headroom vs. landing length vs. building obstruction
I am finishing my basement and planning to install a landing at the bottom of the stairway that will be 2 steps (one actual step) down to the floor. The landing step will be to the left of the landing as you walk down.
My question is - since there is no door at the bottom of the steps, is there still a requirement that the landing be 36" deep? I will have a railing at the back of the landing (and there will be a wall to the right).
Due to the proximity of a support post, the landing will only be 2'9" deep, unless I come back up another step and have three steps down from the landing. But if I do that, there will be less head clearance in stepping from the landing onto the first step. Thanks - Rick 3/20/2013
Typically building stair codes specify that in the direction of travel the stairway landing or platform shall have a dimension at least as great as the width of the stairway. So if your stairs are 36-inches wide the codes want the platform to run 36-inches in the direction of travel. This can be tricky because in some jurisdictions codes specify varying minimum stairway widths. An IBC Stair code, for example, can call for a minimum width of 44 inches for public stairways and a minimum width of 36 inches for "stairways serving an occupant load of 50 or less) - IBC 1009.1 And
In one approach the builder would back up far enough from the end of the stairs to have room for a full width landing, insert the landing there and then continue the stairs down to the left. This might mean that the landing is two or even three steps higher, to get enough room away from an obstructing wall found in the direction of run of the stairs.
Competing Stair Measurement Requirements: headroom, landing length & width, & building obstructions
But our email discussion you point out a competing difficulty: moving the landing up one stair tread runs into a headroom clearance with the floor above.
As I understand your illustration (above left), the problem is that making the landing length (in direction of travel) equal to the width of what I am guessing is a 36-inch wide stairway means that you'd have to build the platform out intruding into the otherwise free space of the room below. And even if you did so, you have a supporting post that intrudes back into the walking space.
2'9" = 33-inches in the direction of travel. If your stairway is 36-inches in width, then typical codes want the run direction of the landing to also be 36-inches. In my OPINION, if your stair landing run is close to 36" - say 35 or maybe even 34" excepting for the intrusion of the post itself (which narrows the width of the landing right at its exit onto that final step), in recognizing the difficulty of fitting everything into the existing space, your local building code inspector may elect to accept your stairs as drawn.
If the inspector will not accept your stair as drawn, you may have to open the ceiling, install blocking or headers to allow you to move the post over to get enough room, then intrude the landing those few inches into the room beyond. In my experience, going to the building department and asking for help gets the inspector on your side rather than casting her or him as someone to "get by". Try it and let me know what you're told.
Questions & answers or comments about stair codes & landing or platform requirements.
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