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Looking at some building codes and it seems that if I do 3 steps and then a 3 foot landing, then another 3 steps and another 3 foot landing, repeating this pattern I don't need any railing. Is this correct or am I missing something?

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This is to replace a dirt path with something that's easier to walk on. 12 feet of run with a 3 foot rise if using 6" high stairs with a 12" run tread is what I calculated.

  • I don't know the code, so just a comment: While this may be "OK", a dirt path is likely to pose even more of a problem for people than concrete/wood/etc. So if your plan is to create a paved path with stairs, OK (provided code says it is OK). If it is to be packed/leveled dirt with a frame to keep it in place, I think handrails are a must as the steps can easily get slippery or have other problems affecting balance of someone walking up or down. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Nov 27 '19 at 2:48
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Yes, 4 or fewer risers do not require a handrail. (See ICC R311.7.7) and must be 36” wide minimum.

Risers cannot exceed 8” and treads cannot be less than 9”. (See ICC R311.7.4)

Also, the largest riser cannot be more than 3/8” different than the smallest in the same run. (See ICC R311.7.41)

There has been some discussion in the past (between Building Officials) as to whether or not a landscape stair must comply with the Building Code. The Code defines a “stairway” as “either interior or exterior” but goes on to say “within or attached to a building, porch or deck”. (See ICC R202.1)

Likewise, steep sidewalks do not need to meet the requirements of ramps with handrails, landings, etc.

I think you can do what you want (or feel comfortable doing), but you might ask your local Building Department.

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