BCAB #1765 - Colour contrast to demarcate the leading edge of stair treads, Article 3.4.6.1. (2006 BC Building Code applicable)

May 21, 2015

BCAB #1765

Re: Colour contrast to demarcate the leading edge of stair treads, Article 3.4.6.1. (2006 BC Building Code applicable)

 Project Description

The project is a renovation and addition to an existing Group A, Division 2 school building.  The building includes an internal stairway used by the public which is not a required exit stair. A colour contrasting strip has been installed on the leading edge of each stair tread of the stairway. The contrasting strips have been provided for on the horizontal of the leading edge only, and not on the vertical face of the leading edge.

Reason for Appeal

There is a disagreement on the application of Clause 3.4.6.1.(1)(b), which requires a colour contrast or a distinctive pattern, readily apparent from both directions of travel, to demarcate the leading edge of each stair tread or the edge of a landing.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that colour contrast provided on the tread surface is “readily apparent from both directions of travel” as required by Clause 3.4.6.1.(1)(b) of the BC Building Code.  Further, both the “User’s Guide to the National Building Code 2010” and “CSA B65-12 Accessible Design for the Built Environment” describe the use of nosing markers, such as a colour contrast, on the tread surface.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that a colour contrast on the horizontal tread surface only, while apparent when descending the stair, is only visible for a few treads when ascending and is therefore not “readily apparent from both directions of travel”. The building official also notes that the insertion of the above noted phrase is a variation to the BC Building Code and does not appear in the National Building Code. The building official considers the intent of the variation was to require the colour contrast on the vertical surface of the stair as well as on the horizontal surface.

Appeal Board Decision #1765

It is the determination of the Board that the application of colour contrast on the leading edge of the horizontal surface is “readily apparent from both directions of travel”.  The additional statement “readily apparent from both directions of travel” prevents the application of the colour contrast on the vertical face only, as this would not be readily apparent when descending the flight of stairs.

Lyle Kuhnert, Chair