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Guide to Railing Building Code for Exteriors in Ontario


When it comes to the safety and aesthetics of outdoor spaces, railings play a crucial role. In Ontario, adhering to the building code regulations for railing installations is not only mandatory but also essential for ensuring the well-being of residents and visitors. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the Ontario Building Code requirements for exterior railings. We will explore the circumstances where railings are necessary, the options available to homeowners, and how to comply with the building code for a secure and beautiful outdoor space.


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Understanding Railing Building Code Requirements

The Ontario Building Code (OBC) outlines specific guidelines for railing installations in exterior spaces. The primary goal of these regulations is to prevent accidents and falls while ensuring adequate safety measures for balconies, terraces, decks, and stairways. According to the OBC, any exterior structure that exceeds a certain height above the surrounding ground level necessitates the installation of railings. To set up a free onsite consultation, contact us now.



When Do You Need Railing?

In Ontario, you must consider adding railings to your exterior spaces when:


a. Balconies: For any balcony that is at least 24 inches (610 mm) above the ground or floor level, railing installation is mandatory. This ensures that individuals using the balcony are protected from accidental falls.


b. Terraces: If your terrace stands at least 24 inches (610 mm) above the adjacent grade or floor level, the Ontario Building Code requires you to install railings.


c. Decks: Whether attached or detached, a deck that exceeds a height of 24 inches (610 mm) from the ground must have railings installed.


d. Stairways: Any stairway with more than three risers, regardless of the total height, needs to have handrails installed on both sides for added safety.



Railing Options for Homeowners

Once you've determined the need for railing installation based on the Ontario Building Code requirements, homeowners have various options to choose from. These options not only cater to safety concerns but also allow for personalization and enhance the overall aesthetics of the property.


Material Selection


Wood: Wooden railings are a popular choice due to their natural charm and versatility. Homeowners can opt for various wood types, such as cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber, depending on their preferences and budget.

Metal: Aluminum and steel railings are durable, low-maintenance options that add a modern touch to any property. They are resistant to weathering and offer excellent structural stability.

Vinyl: Vinyl railings are easy to clean and highly resistant to the elements. They require minimal maintenance, making them a convenient choice for busy homeowners.


Style and Design


Traditional: Classic and timeless, traditional railings often feature straight balusters and simple handrails. These designs complement various architectural styles and can be easily customized with decorative elements.


Contemporary: Contemporary railings offer sleek and minimalist designs, perfect for modern homes and urban settings. They often incorporate glass panels or thin metal balusters for a clean and open look.


Ornate: For homeowners seeking a more ornamental touch, decorative railings with intricate patterns and artistic flourishes are an ideal option. These visually striking railings add a touch of sophistication to any exterior space.


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Height and Spacing


The Ontario Building Code specifies minimum height requirements for railings to ensure adequate safety. For example, deck railings must be at least 36 inches (914 mm) tall if the deck is less than 5' 11" from the ground. If the deck is greater than 5' 11" from the ground, the deck railing height must be 42" high.


Railing Posts generally cannot be spaced more than 60" on center from one another. Please consult engineered specifications for whatever product you are using to install to ensufe code compliance. 


Balusters cannot have more than 4" spaces between them.


Building Code Compliance


To ensure compliance with the Ontario Building Code, it is essential to work with a professional contractor or builder. They will have the expertise to design and install railings that meet all safety regulations and local building codes. All engineered railing products have drawings stamped by a Professional engineer that most municipalities will accept. Though, in some instances, even if a Professional engineer stamped drawing meets code, some municipalities may not accept them. It is always a best practise to call your local building department to ensure the railing you choose will pass the permit inspection.




In conclusion, understanding the Ontario Building Code requirements for exterior railings is crucial for homeowners looking to create safe and visually appealing outdoor spaces. By knowing when and where railings are necessary and exploring the various options available, homeowners can make informed decisions that not only comply with the building code but also enhance the overall functionality and beauty of their properties. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when considering railing installations, and professional guidance is vital to ensure a successful project. Resolut Fence and Deck is a leading provider of railings in Southern Ontario. Please reach out to Resolut by emailing [email protected], filling out our online form by clicking here or calling us at 519-404-1525.

Nunzio Romeo at 2:22 PM
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Name: Nunzio Romeo
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Last Post: May 8, 2024

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