Mesh Hog Panels For Deck Railing and Residential Guardrail Requirements

Residential Railing with Mesh Hog Panel

We are replacing our deck railing and screening in our back porch and are thinking of using industrial grade mesh panels for the railing. Will this meet code in Ontario?

Editor's Comments

This is a great question. This question has been asked quite often and is important to address before beginning your next building project!

If you are planning on building your railing panels using industrial grade mesh—or any other climbable material such as horizontal cables—there are a few things to consider, such as your local building code or jurisdiction and what type of area the deck is built in (i.e., residential or commercial).

The Ontario Building Code

Broadly speaking, the answer to your question is no. The building code in Ontario does not allow for "climbable" material to be used for the panels of railings. The Ontario building code stipulates, "except those in industrial occupancies and where it can be be shown that the location and size of openings do not represent a hazard, shall be designed so that no member, attachment or opening will facilitate climbing".

The Ontario building code provides a very narrow definition and based on this the use of mesh railing panels is deemed unsafe.

However, there is one exception: if the deck railing is built in an industrial area.

So, if you live in Ontario, in a residential neighborhood, mesh railing panels are not up to code.

Outside of Ontario, however, materials such as industrial grade mesh are permissible for railing panels.


For the U.S. and residential decks, have no fear because mesh railings, also sometimes referred to as Hog Panels, are permissible under the IRC. To the best of my knowledge, at the time of this writing, the IRC does not prohibit the use of materials such as mesh for residential railing panels.

The use of mesh railing panels is quickly becoming more popular in the U.S. When used as railing panels, mesh is a great material to use as it provides an open look.

If you have questions of your own that you think we could answer for you, submit your question to us. We would love to write more posts about the topics you want answers to!

Comments for Mesh Hog Panels For Deck Railing and Residential Guardrail Requirements

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Feb 08, 2021
Open mesh hog or goat panels
by: Broadfoot

Our local building codes department specifies that 4" is the maximum allowed opening for deck railing panels. I was dismayed by this restriction until it occurred to me that the 4 gauge wire must be welded on 4" centers. Sure enough the actual dimension of the openings is 3-3/4" to 3-7/8". That’s less than 4" so it will comply.

Editor's Comments

That is correct. But the last question is the infill load requirement of 50 lbs/sqft over the mesh. Pretty easy to fulfill but that is the design load minimum. Then for testing procedures there is a safefty factor of 2.5x the design load. That works out to 125 lbs/sqft. Still a pretty easy load to acheive.

Dec 02, 2016
What are the specific dimensions for allowable mesh openings in Ontario?
by: Mary

I should have included this with my original question but if could the size of the mesh make a difference in being up to code? I am sure many people have used lattice on their decks. Is that code?

Editor's Comments

Following up on your comment, it is difficult to absolutely state that the mesh or lattice is up to code, in Ontario. For example, the 2006 Ontario Building Code (section Design to Prevent Climbing) stipulates:

(1) Guards required by Article, except those in industrial occupancies where it can be shown that the location and size of openings do not represent a hazard, shall be designed so that no member, attachment or opening will facilitate climbing.

(2) Guards shall be deemed to comply with Sentence (1) where any elements protruding from the vertical and located within the area between 140 mm (5 1/2 in) and 900 mm (2 ft 11 in) above the floor or walking surface protected by the guard,

(a) are located more than 450 mm (17 3/4 in) horizontally and vertically, or
(b) provide not more than 15 mm (5/8 in) horizontal offset,
(c) do not provide a toe-space more than 45 mm (1 3/4 in) horizontally and 20 mm (13/16 in) vertically, or
(d) present more than a 1-in-2 slope on the offset.

Keep in mind the latest rendition of the Ontario Building Code is 2012. To the best of my knowledge, nothing has changed with regards to Designs to Prevent Climbing; however, I encourage you to verify with the Ontario Code to be certain.

The specified dimensions make it difficult to follow. If followed, the mesh square would be very small.

If you plan on using cedar lattice, there are a few things to consider. You need to ensure that the lattice is thick enough and securely attached so that it can withstand lateral force of 112 lbs (0.5 kN) per square foot.

Therefore, it is difficult to say that the lattice is or is not up to code. I encourage you to look at this article on Deck Railing Loads in Canada and further consult with the Ontario Building Code.

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