The article “Guardrail Post Kits” [Sep/Oct 2014] may lead readers to mistakenly conclude that the Titan 4x4 post anchor doesn’t comply with residential guardrail standards. While the ICC-ES AC273 test criteria mentioned in the article permits “worst-case” scenario testing of a single freestanding post (similar to the procedure followed by author Mike Guertin), it primarily calls for testing of the guardrail assembly, where the guardrail consists of two newel posts at maximum center-to-center spacing, with a rail section connected between them. The middle of the top rail and the end of the top rail above the end post are sequentially subjected to a 200-lb. load, measured for allowable deflection, then subjected to a 500-lb. (safety factor) load for at least one minute.

When tested by third-party engineering firm Intertek in lab conditions using standard treated lumber in guardrail configurations as defined above, our Titan post anchors comply with the load standards for 36-inch-high posts with 6-foot post intervals, as well as for 42-inch-high posts with 4-foot post intervals.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with building a guardrail assembly using single posts that can each sustain a 500-lb. load—the scenario presented in the article—since it will more than meet required guardrail loads. But a railing isn’t a single post. It is a plurality of posts forming a unitary structure that behaves as a system, and it is the final performance of the guardrail system that the code is concerned with. A post by itself may not resist a 500-lb. load, but might when built into a finished guard rail because of the distribution of the concentrated load along the rails to the adjacent post.

The 4x4 Titan Post Anchor is not marketed or sold as a 500-lb.-rated stand-alone post, but as a component in a railing system that when used as instructed in accordance with our guidelines has indeed been shown to meet code requirements.

There are situations where a 500-lb.-rated post may be required, perhaps because the posts will be taller or will be installed at 7-foot or 8-foot intervals. They may also be required in a commercial setting. But products that have been specifically designed to resist 500-lb. loads as a freestanding post range in cost up to $100, while Titan post anchors—which have been optimally designed and tested to meet the minimum required loads for a residential deck railing—cost around $20 each. Many homeowners simply want a code-compliant wooden railing and have no need to exceed the code by more than the safety factor (which is 2.5 times more than the actual design load).

Richard Bergman

Titan Building Products