No, technically, not all porches need railings, at least not according to most building codes. Whether or not your porch will require a railing depends on your local building codes and the specifics of your porch. Let us walk you through the typical rules and some other things you should consider when you’re deciding whether your porch should have a railing.

When is a Railing Required?

Most building codes specify that a porch only needs a railing if it is 30-inches or higher above the ground level at any point. For example, the building codes for San Ramon and Berkeley both make this specification but also add in a detail.

In these cities, a railing is required if the deck at any point is 30-inches higher than the ground level, at any point within 36 horizontal inches of the open side. Meaning that if the porch acts kind of like a castle drawbridge, spanning across a spot that is quite deep but ending up within 30 vertical inches of the ground at the edge, it still needs a railing. That is because someone, especially a child, can fall off the edge and then roll into the deeper area.

Should You Add a Railing?

So, you have determined that you don’t need to add a railing to your porch. But should you? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Safety: While officials may not want to mandate you add a railing to prevent a 29-inch fall off the porch, you might ask if that is a risk you’re comfortable with. It’s not a deadly height but a fall can still hurt. Those with mobility issues may find that having a railing is more important for them.
  • Selling the home: Does your porch look safe? Potential buyers may be turned off by porches that do not have railings.
  • Liability: What happens if a guest, a delivery person, or someone else does trip off the edge of your porch? A railing can help reduce your legal liability.
  • Children and pets: Adults can better handle falls, but young children and pets may be vulnerable on porches without railings. You could keep them off a porch, but having a railing is better.
  • Other hazards: If your porch is near a pool, firepit, or other potentially dangerous features of your home, then it is wise to install a railing anyway.

Which Railing Should You Add to Your Porch?

We think that cable railings provide the best mixture of features to act as your guardrail on your porch. These features include:

  • Beauty: Whether it’s your front or back porch, you want a railing that will look great and blend with the style of your home. We can make a cable railing system to fit any aesthetic, from coastal to rustic to modern.
  • Strength: With cables each rated for 15,000 pounds, cable railing systems are more than up to the demands you’ll place on them on a front porch.
  • Durability: Our systems will never sag, warp, or buckle. They don’t need maintenance to stay that way either. Just wipe them down with a cloth to remove dirt or dust.

Reach out to us to discuss what your porch needs for a railing.