Do My Deck Stairs Need Railings?

A deck is a great way to improve your outdoor space and provides an area for dining, relaxing and much more. Some people opt to have a raised deck and this of course means installing stairs for access. 

Indoors in the UK, there are certain regulations in place regarding handrails but many people aren’t sure how these rules apply when building outdoor structures like deck stairs. So, do deck stairs need railings?

If you are installing deck stairs that are more than 600 mm in height then a handrail is a legal requirement.

However, there are some other things to think about when installing your deck stairs and I’ve put together all the information you need in this guide.

What Is The Minimum Height For Deck Stairs?

When building a raised deck, you will need to have stairs to make access easier; even if the deck is only going to be raised a short way off of the ground. However, in some cases, deck stairs aren’t required because the height does not exceed 600 mm. 

For decks where the stairs are higher than 600 mm, you will be required to install a handrail on both sides of the stairs. However, if the width of the steps is less than one metre, you will only need to install a handrail on one side. 

Building Regulations And Decking

When we think of Building Regulations, many of us immediately think of rules that apply to the construction of houses and other similar structures. But we have to keep in mind that these regulations apply to any sort of construction and that includes your garden deck. 

Where your decking is concerned, the regulations are largely in relation to the height of the structure and, as we have already seen, height impacts the need for railings. 

There are two categories for residential decks which include low level residential decks and high level residential decks.

The former is any deck whose height is up to 600 mm and in this case, the step balustrades must be no shorter than 900 mm. With high level decks, which are more than 600 mm, the step balustrades must be at least 1100 mm in height. 

Installing Deck Stair Handrails

My first piece of advice when it comes to installing steps and handrails to your deck is to seek professional advice if you are at all unsure. This isn’t your average DIY job and those without a good amount of experience may find it difficult. Moreover, consulting with a professional will ensure that you adhere to all of the relevant Building Regulations. 

However, if you’re confident in your ability to install the steps yourself, I’ve listed some points below that you’ll need to take on board. Preparation is key and taking very precise measurements is one of the most important parts of this project. This will ensure that everything fits perfectly and will help you save money by only purchasing the amount of materials you need. 

Balustrade Notches

Not all balustrades require notches but there are some designs that do. In many cases, you can buy them with notches already made but if not then this is something else you’ll need to do in order to fit them to the deck. 

To do this, you will need to cut an L-shaped notch in the bottom of each post which will allow them to sit on the edge of the timber deck. 

Post Placement

When it comes to placing your posts, I’d recommend roping in the assistance of a friend or family member. They will be able to hold the post in place while you make the necessary markings. After this, you’ll then be able to drill your guide holes. For this, an 8 mm drill bit is best and for a secure fit, I’d suggest using 130 mm coach screws. 

Baluster Post Spacing

Generally speaking, it’s recommended to place your baluster posts no further than 100 mm from the next one. Normally, you’ll find that there are around eight posts per metre which leaves about a 120 mm gap between the spindle centres. 

Making Your Mark

Grab a pencil and make marks along the bottom and top rails at the points where you want the sides of each post to sit. Then make another mark directly in the centre of these points for your guide holes. On the baserail, you’ll need to make 3 mm guide holes. 

Joining The Posts To The Baserail And Toprail

When it comes to joining the posts to the baserail, you will need to use deck screws at 76 mm. For the toprail, make sure that you’re using galvanised nails as these are ideal for outdoor use and will remain strong and resistant. 


The brackets will be placed on the top of the rail and will act as a support for the corner posts of the decking. To attach these, you’ll need to use 25 mm screws. 

Attaching The Railing

Finally, you’ll be fitting the railing and depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to add further screws for additional support and to ensure that the structure is as secure as possible. 


Fitting railings to deck stairs is, in many cases, a legal requirement according to the UK Building Regulations. This applies to any deck stairs that are higher than 600 m and if their width is more than one metre, you’ll need to install railings on both sides. 

There are quite a few intricacies to installing deck stairs and many homeowners find it easier to employ the help of a professional However, the steps in this guide will help you to get the job done yourself but do make sure you take precise measurements.

Driveway Expert