Asked on May 04, 2021

How can we add inches to our balcony railing?

Jordan Klebig
by Jordan Klebig

Our balcony railing is not to code, and I'm looking for a (somewhat) easy way to add inches to the top for a good amount of extra height. (Got a baby at home and before she gets TOO much bigger we want to make sure things are as safe as we can.) Long railing is about 8 feet. Side railing is 4'. It's a tricky one; anyone have ideas?

  19 answers
  • 17335038 17335038 on May 05, 2021

    In the last picture, are those some holes in the base rail? Were some spindles removed at one point in time? It looks to me as if the spindles are too widely spaced to prevent little bodies from crawling through.

    Are you wanting ideas on how you can just raise the height of the hand rail, or to make the whole structure more child-safe?

    • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on May 05, 2021

      I agree. It looks like it needs to be replaced. Too wide spacing and too short. I would be more concerned about the spacing.

  • Replacing it with one that is 'to code' is the best idea especially with a baby in the house.

  • Judy in Canton. Judy in Canton. on May 05, 2021

    You didn't say how many inches you wanted to raise the railing. My first thought was to screw sheets of plexiglass to the inside of the railings. This would also address the issue of spacing between the spindles. When the child is bigger you can remove the plexiglass.

    • Patricia Patricia on May 05, 2021

      This sounds like the best idea. Put plexiglass to cover the entire railing and at least two feet higher. Put it on the outside of railing, so that you will still have the hand rail to hold on to when using the stairs. This will block the spaces between the railing and add height to the overall structure. Toddler gates at bottom and top...very important!!!

  • Jan Clark Jan Clark on May 05, 2021

    I agree. The height and spacing are not appropriate for a toddler. You can find DIY kits at places like Home Depot, Lowe's, Wayfair, Stair Warehouse, Amazon and others. Do an internet search. Oh, and don't forget the gate for the stairs!

  • Em Em on May 05, 2021

    You did not say WHY it is not to code. Height is not usually the factor of a railing. The width between the bars is usually the issue. It that is the case you can add metal railing in between the current bars that you purchase at a home improvement store. Hand railings should be at the height for an adult to hold onto and that height should be sufficient for a one year old.

  • Jordan Klebig Jordan Klebig on May 05, 2021

    I do start wondering if perhaps it truly would be easier to replace the whole thing now. Definitely am planning to block the spacing with those clear plastic coverings you can get, but wanted to address the height issue as well. If anyone knows a good website where I can reach out for estimates to replace the whole railing system, let me know!

    • 17335038 17335038 on May 06, 2021

      Adding plexiglass pieces, as suggested above, will not be inexpensive. Plexiglass is much stronger than mere plastic coverings which is why is is costly. If securely attached, a child will not be able to 'push through' it, as others have suggested below.

      However, it is an option to creating a safer balcony/stairway that will not require any demolishing of existing parts, or construction of new parts. The plexiglass pieces can easily be removed at some later point in time, quickly returning the area to how it is now.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on May 05, 2021

    1. How much should be the Stair Handrail Height?

    Handrail height is the distance between handrails and the stairs. The height of the handrail should always be between 34 to 38 inches.

    To measure the handrail height, always begin with the leading edge of the stair nosing and then measure vertically upwards until it reaches the top of the railing. Never measure it from the various parts of the tread or not from the top of the rail because it might give you inaccurate measurements and it might result in the violation of the code.


    I like the idea of the plexiglass, it would make a barrier between the bars of the spindles and stop the baby from falling through, when placed on the inside of the spindles below the handrail. If you extended the height of the plexiglass to over the top of the handrails on the inside, it might violate code. The height question comes in because handrails are required for a staircase to be up to code, so covering up the handrails with plexiglass might put you in violation. An alternative would be to put plexiglass outside of the handrails, I would not feel very secure about that because there is a possibility of a push through.

    An alternative would be something woven in horizontally between the spindles and anchored securely, but that would not solve the height issue you raised.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 05, 2021

    Hello there,

    I would use an exterior Plexiglass or Perspex to go from top to bottom. Make timber frames for them or have them with drilled holes in them so you can lace them together and to the rails. Be safe!

  • Mogie Mogie on May 05, 2021

    Kids and plexiglass don't mix well. Those clear panels are not easy to keep clean.

    Contact your local building department and get the exact measurements you need to get within code. Then take that to your local big box store and see if they can help with this.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 05, 2021

    You could add some type of clear panels to it. I would also add them to the bottom, the rails seem to be too far apart so I would go from the bottom rail to the height you want to cover. You might consider replacing, depending on the cost of all the changes you will have to do.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on May 05, 2021

    I would get a couple of quotes from a handyman to find out what they suggest and what bringing it up to code and safety for you baby would be. Better to be safe than sorry. Not sure how you could add a top to the existing railing and kids climb. So I would be more concerned of them getting hung up in the rungs that are there.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on May 05, 2021

    The height is not the issue the wide space between the rails is very dangerous for a child

  • 17335038 17335038 on May 06, 2021

    Another option to fully replacing the railing system, is to add beadboard panels on the inside, covering the spindles entirely. If the pieces were higher than the present height, they could add needed vertical inches. An inside conventional handrail could then be added to the stair portion of the structure.

    Yes, doing this would give a less airy look and would block some of the light, but it would create a safer home for a child.

  • Catherine Deirdre Rodden Catherine Deirdre Rodden on May 06, 2021

    I'm thinking that it might not be too bad to remove the top railing first. Replace the spindles with wider and taller slats. Reinstall the top railing so it reaches the desired height. You'd solve both safety issues. You'd be able to determine measurements with existing holes in place for the top and bottom supports. You could have wooden slats wide enough to have decorative cut outs if you chose that look.

  • Dee Dee on May 08, 2021

    PLexiglass panels behind the spindles might work. If you have a builders surplus where you live go check them out. Last time I was there about 3 weeks ago, they had beautiful railings and were not expensive at all. Your child's safety is the most import thing.

  • Deb K Deb K on May 08, 2021

    Hello, this is a great way to fix your problem!

  • Sharon Sharon on May 10, 2021

    As a former apartment manager, I've seen some real creative balcony solutions. Lattice panels of white resin 4' x 8' can be hung from above in front of the existing railings and then zip tied to the railing spindles and the panels to each to each other.

    I've seen folks use bamboo panels hung using eyehooks and that hardware store golden chain, and then the panels ziptied together and to the balcony railings right to the floor.

    Check our local garden centers and even has some....