In residential construction, wooden
posts are often used to support railings.
The challenge for the builder is how
to attach these posts to withstand the
design loads required by code.
The building codes make a distinction
between handrails and guardrails.
Handrails are provided for the users of
stairways to grasp for stability while
climbing or descending. Guardrails are
required along stairways and at the
edges of raised platforms — balconies,
platforms, or decks — to keep people
from falling off. In many cases, the
handrail also functions as the
guardrail. Regardless, the support
posts, whether newels or intermediate
posts, must meet the load requirements
for both guardrails and
Most building codes specify how
strong railings must be to ensure