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A house contains nothing potentially more dramatic, playful, and beautiful than a stairway. But a stairway is also a structure, as is a stair railing, and both must support surprisingly heavy loads. In previous columns I have hammered away at the disparity between the ordinary construction of railings and code requirements. Here I want to extend the discussion to the railings at stairways. Code Load a Heavy One The BOCA code, in its Massachusetts version, dictates that "railings and barriers around stairways, stairwells, balconies…and other floor openings, both exterior and interior, shall be designed to resist a concentrated load of at least…300 pounds… and…a uniformly distributed load of…100 pounds per lineal foot applied in any direction at the top of the railing. The…loads