Attention is now being given to the ability of the vertical post’s strength when hit by various degrees of lateral thrust pressure. These new directives, requiring the vertical rail post to support a minimum of 200 lbs. of lateral thrust, is making engineered stair systems extremely popular, with their ability to withstand over 500 lbs of lateral thrust for the ’rail post support’ structural sections of the overall decking plans.
Why are stairs considered to be so difficult? Stairs must be built according to specific building codes and they require a high degree of accuracy to work correctly. With traditional stair construction, every cut is final and you better know what you’re doing or you get to start over again. Multiple stringers are required with literally dozens of precise, free hand cuts required to form the stair. Each stringer must then be attached in perfect alignment for the rise and treads to be secured accurately. This is a very cumbersome process, requiring a great degree of skill and patience.
Other codes address "rail post support" safety. A rail post per code regulations is required to support a lateral load of 200 lbs. This is a poorly enforced area of the code and with many inspectors content with the bump test. If it doesn’t move too much when they bump it with their hip, the rail will pass inspection. Many rail posts are simply lagged or nailed to the rim joists and post which are mounted directly to the deck surface will simply not meet code. The tragedy is, there are systems available on the market that correctly address this problem. Simpson, USP and Deck-Loc have brackets which will meet code for rim joist attachment but there’s only one adjustable bracket system (discussed below) which will meet code for wood or composite stairs.
Is there is a better way? Advances over the past several years has seen the introduction of many new stair technologies. One system that stands out is engineered, self-adjusting, stair brackets. This system makes stair construction easier, stronger and faster. Basic skill level requirements are all that is needed to build a perfect stair the first time. However, should you make a mistake, the brackets can be readjusted to reform the stair, eliminating the normal loss of stringers that is all too common in traditional stair construction.
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