Balustrades and Railings

Balustrades and Railings are a safety critical element, and poor design, shoddy work, and lack of maintenance often result in a serious safety hazard. The last thing we want is injury or death for anyone visiting your property, especially our little ones!

Over time safety standards have been developed to the current requirements, often due to unfortunate events. If possible I highly recommend any balustrades and railings on your property be upgraded to current standards, and well maintained. The following is from the QBCC post titled: Make sure your balustrades and railings measure up. I hope it clarifies the safe standards for you, but if you have concerns, and would like to arrange a Building and Pest inspection in the Brisbane / Gold Coast / Ipswich area, please contact me.

In Queensland, we have strict requirements when it comes to balustrades.

Where a deck or balcony is one metre or higher above the ground, balustrades need to be at least one metre high.

For decks more than one metre above the ground, openings in balustrades, including decorative balustrades, cannot be greater than 125 millimetres.

If your deck is more than four metres above the ground, balustrades cannot have any climbable elements located between 150 millimetres and 760 millimetres from the floor.

Balustrades must be constructed so they can resist forces or pressure that can reasonably expected to be placed upon them, including people leaning against them and strong winds.

While retaining walls do not require a balustrade unless they are associated with a path of travel to, from or between buildings, it is still a good idea to provide a balustrade or other barrier in situations where there is a risk of a person falling from the retaining wall.

Make sure you don’t forget about stairs, because railings for stairs are just as important.

When people go up and down stairs, they generally use the railing for support. The railing can also act as a barrier. This means railings for stairs need to be sturdy and able to withstand appropriate pressures, such as the force of a person.

For stairs, a barrier of at least 865 millimetres high above the ‘nosing’ of the stair treads is required.

You can measure the ‘nosing’ of the stair treads by placing a string line, or straight object, where each stair tread begins, forming a slope. The measurement of 865 millimetres can be taken vertically anywhere along this line to the bottom of the railing.

As with balustrades for decks and balconies, gaps in railings on stairs cannot have openings greater than 125 millimetres.

For stairs of more than four metres in height, a railing must also not have any climbable elements, such as horizontal rails, located between 150 millimetres and 760 millimetres from the floor.

Please note: Should repair or replacement of a balustrade be required, you are only required to comply with the standard that the dwelling/building was constructed to in relation to repair or replacement of the balustrade (or any other building element with the exception of pool fencing) however; if the replacement is part of a substantial renovation exceeding 20% of the system, the certifier may request replacement construction to a current standard.

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