6 Possible Deadly Deck & Railing Hazards You May Not Know About
I mean it has taken a beating over the years. It’s almost to the point that you need everyone to sign a waiver before stepping out there. And you’ve heard yourself repeating the words, “Watch out for those nails and splinters!” or, “Don’t lean on that rail, it may come loose!” It needs some paint, maybe a touch of sealant, and a lot of TLC. I mean, what’s the point in having a deck, if you can’t use it, right? So where do we start?
Well with the month of May being National Deck Safety Month, now is no better time to check your deck. But there’s one problem, you’re not a contractor, well you may be, but what about people like me that the closest I’ve come to building a house was made of plastic bricks. Well for those without the builder’s gene, here are 6 major areas to check to make sure your deck stays off the condemned list.
1 Check your deck support posts/pilings
Sometimes the evidence is right in front of you, and sometimes it’s not. Try digging around below the ground surface. You might see that insects have eaten away at the wood and your deck is just sitting on toothpicks. Another way to check to see if you have rot or decay, try poking the wood with a screwdriver or icepick, if it can go in about ¼ – ½ inch, you may have decay.
2 Deck connection to the house
In most cases where a deck has collapsed or otherwise failed, was due to improper attachment to the home. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) there has been a significant increase in deck failure. If your deck is attached to the home, make sure it’s attached with 5/8” through bolts. Also check the spacing of each bolt, if there is less than an 8’ joist span, that requires your through bolts to be a minimum of 20 inches apart on the center of the deck band (the board that is attached to the home).
The joists can be supported by joist hangers or by a ledger board. Joist hangers are metal hangers that wrap around the ends of the floor joist. A ledger band is a board, usually made out of wood, that goes along the bottom of the joist. If you have metal joist hangers, make sure they’re not bent or cut in any way. If you have a ledger board, make sure there are no signs of rotting or decaying. If you see that there’s evidence of splintering or decaying, you could be the future victim of a deck collapse.
Checking the riser and stringers can be a great place to prevent a potential accident. Make sure each step is not wobbling or warping. This could become a trip hazard and may end up with a trip to the hospital (pun intended). Plus, over time, it could cause you to push and lean too much on the hand rails and start causing it to become less secure.
5 Hand rails
The guards and rails over time can become less and less secure. Over time, the nails or screws that attach the rails can work their way out. The changing weather can be to blame here. When wood gets hot, it expands, slowly working the nails and screws out. When the wood gets cold, it shrinks, making the nails and screws no longer able to properly hold the wood.
6 Deck Boards
Where there’s a will there’s a way, and where there’s uprooted nails, there’s some potential trips to the hospital. Over time, your deck takes a huge beating from the sun, rain, and all types of weather. And if your deck isn’t treated on a yearly or bi-yearly biases, you may start seeing your wood splinter up. And just like your steps if the boards start to warp, they eventually work out the nails and screws, which will cause some major damage to those bare feet.
So now that we know what to look for, what’s next? Well if you see you do have some hazardous areas on your deck, the best move is to get them repaired by a professional. The downside to that is, you may be doing this year after year, and who has time for that, am I right? If you’re anything like me, I want what I pay for to be at the ready. I’m not a “maintain” kind of person. You may call me crazy, but I like when things last.
So what’s the solution? Well there are some options out there that keep that maintaining level to a minimum. Your best bet there is composite decking. I’m not talking about that cheap stuff you can get at the big box stores; I’m talking real quality composite. And while there are many home improvement companies out there to choose from, you’ll want to pick one that will provide not only a great price, but some customer service that is unmatched. And has far as options of decking, there are so many styles and colors to choose from, you could drive yourself crazy trying to pick out what’s best. So I’ve provide some additional resources to help with that. Happy hunting!
For a free shopping guide on composite decks, go here and check out all the options: https://www.durantewindows.com/deck-shopping-guide
For more info about deck safety, check out www.nadra.org
If you’re in need of a new deck or you’re just tired of maintaining your old one, let Durante Home Exteriors come out and give you a FREE estimate on their virtually maintenance free composite decks. Check them out at www.GoDurante.com. And be sure to check out some of their great specials to help you save money!