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Deck Railing & Building Regulations in Maryland

Posted on: September 10, 2015

Adding a deck to your home is a great way to give you and your family more space to entertain guests, eat outdoors, or just relax. Before building a deck, your deck contractor must obtain a permit from the local building authorities. For the permit to be granted, your construction plans must conform to the local code. Jurisdictions in Maryland typically use the International Residential Code, or IRC, for all residential construction, including decks. Keep reading as we take a closer look at some of the key provisions of this code as it pertains to building a deck in Maryland.

Building Codes to Prevent Decay

One of the most crucial parts of the code concerns the danger of wood rot. Because the decks boards are vulnerable to the elements, the code requires that wood used for decks be treated to resist rot and decay. In practical terms, this typically means that any wooden boards that are exposed to the elements be pressure-treated. Another point to keep in mind is that any wood that touches the ground must be approved for this purpose.  Wood that begins to rot becomes a safety hazard and we don’t want that.

Codes for Deck Fasteners

The code also dictates what types of fasteners many be used. For instance, using nails to fasten the deck to the ledger board is prohibited. Nails increase the risk that the deck might come loose from the ledger board, which is an obvious safety hazard. The code also requires that fasteners are resistant to corrosion. In addition to nails, screws and bolts, joists hangers and anchor straps are subject to this regulation as well.

Deck Stair Regulations

Stairs are required to be at least 36 inches wide. The risers must be at least 7-¾ inches and the depth of each tread must be at least 10 inches. The height of each riser and the width of each tread cannot vary by more than 3/8 inch. An open riser is permissible, as long as a 4-inch sphere cannot pass through the opening. If the stair has four or more risers, a handrail is mandatory. Whew! If that doesn’t give you a headache. I guess that is why most people turn to the professionals to build their deck for them!

Codes for Deck Hand Rails & Guardrails

Most codes will require that a deck has a guardrail if the deck is above the ground by 30 inches or more. The minimum height of the guardrail is 36 inches. The guardrail’s baluster spacing must not allow the passage of a 4-inch sphere. Every spot along the guardrail must be able to withstand the application of 200 lbs of force as well.

Trustworthy Deck Builder in Maryland

Most deck building codes in Maryland generally follow these guidelines, but there may be some variations, depending on the jurisdiction. The experts at Diamond Decks will gather all building permits before we begin your deck project and ensure that when we are finished, all items are up to, or exceed coding for your area. Call us today to learn more about our deck building services and to receive a free quote—(443) 688-6072!


Diamond Decks200 Verified Reviews


  • "My wife and I are very pleased with our recent experience with Diamond Decks. Our interaction with everyone from the company was great from the schedulers on the phone to the men who did the work. William remained in close communication with us until the job was completed and we were satisfied. The deck itself is beautiful and of excellent quality. We will be recommending Diamond Decks to everyone we know. -Kev Mitchell, Piney Orchard, MD"
    Customer: Kevin and Winnie
    Address: Odenton, Maryland
    Date: 07/18/2017
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