FAQs: Deck Guard and Handrail


Can I use notched 4x4 guard posts from a local home center store for my guardrail?

No. The notch in the 4x4 reduces the structural capacity of the post by more than 50 percent.  With such a large reduction in strength, the post can no longer withstand the required load.


Are handrails required on both sides of stairs?

No. For residential decks, stairs with four or more risers require handrail to be located on one side only.


What is an evaluation report, and why do I need one for the plastic material on my deck?

An evaluation report is proof that a proprietary product has been tested and evaluated to ensure it meets the requirements of the building code. For a deck, the prime example of a proprietary product is the structural plastics in decking and guards. The county needs to see the limitations and restrictions for each product; therefore, an evaluation report must be provided for county review. See Decking and Rail and Evaluation Reports for more information.


More Questions?

Please contact Building Plan Review via e-mail or telephone at 703-222-0114, TTY 711. You may also consult the Decks publication or the Fairfax County Typical Deck Details.


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Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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