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Question DetailsAsked on 6/20/2013

how do I determine the best width for porch steps?

open porch is 26" off ground. We currently have three steps that are 11" wide. We would like wider steps that are less steep than the existing steps.

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2 Answers


Here is a link to a website with that information, and calculators to help you figure run and rise for any given dimensions.

Two things to note - the 3 x 3 foot landing is per residential standard code - does NOT meet ADA or commercial building standards. Also, the minimum landing in front of an outward-opening door is 2 feet in front of 90 degree open door - 5 feet in most cases, with standard 36" front door.

Also - the 4-3/8 maximum spacing shown on vertical railing slats is "not more than 4" in some jurisdictions, so is safer to use a 3-7/8" spacer block (to allow for slat shrinkage) for spacing, to be on the safe side unless you know what the code requirement is in your area. Some areas also mandate certain size support posts and runners and railings - go to the building department website for your locale - most have a specific data sheet or design guidelines for decks and porches and stairs.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Here is the text quoted from my copy of the 2000 IRC code book:

"The rise of steps in a stairway shall not be more than 7 3/4" and the run shall not be less than 10". The largest tread run within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8". The greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8". (Sec. R314.2)"

This is an older version of the code book but still applicable code and is the one I had the most handy. Many municipalities have a minimum tread height of 6.5 or 7" I've found though code still allows for as little as 4" I believe. As mentioned by LCD, call your local building department and they'll fax or email you the standards they require.

At 26" I'd put 4 steps (including the step onto the porch) at 6.5". 3 steps is over 8.5" which is too much. Since you are under 30" from the ground you are not required to have a hand/guardrail unless your building department has made a separate ammendment for your area. It's still a good idea, especially if there are children or elderly people who will use the stairs and porch.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 6 years ago by Todd's Home Services

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