You may love spending time on your deck, but can you accurately gauge if it’s safe to do so? As long as a deck is standing and serving us, we tend to ignore the maintenance and quality of the structure until something goes wrong. Avoid the dangers of deck denial by answering these questions about your deck:
Was your deck built over 20 years ago?
Over 40 million American decks were built over 20 years ago, so they do not meet the updated codes and are simply old. As Michael Beaudry, Executive Vice President of North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) says, “Decks don’t last forever, they need to be maintained, and they need to be inspected.” If your deck was originally built in the 1990s or earlier, have it professionally inspected to insure your safety.
Was your deck built by family or friends as a weekend project?
The deck construction is relatively simple, which is why it’s a popular do-it-yourself project. This is also what makes so many decks potentially dangerous. Weekend Warrior carpenters are most likely unfamiliar with local building codes and structural standards that are put in place to prevent deck failure. From flashing to proper fasteners, there’s definitely a correct way to build a deck. If a professional did not build your deck with a permit, have it inspected ASAP.
Was your deck built with water management in mind?
Water is the natural enemy of your deck, and a properly built deck uses flashing to direct water away from the areas where the deck connects to the house (also known as the ledger board). Proper fasteners need to be used to avoid rust and rot from normal water run-off. If you see areas of rusted metal or perpetually damp and spongey wood, there are water management problems that need to be addressed immediately.
Does your deck creak or move when you walk on it?
A structurally sound deck never makes you aware it’s there. If you step on a deck that makes sounds or moves when you do, know that the deck is giving you a heads up that something’s wrong. A loose railing or step is another warning sign. Pay attention to a deck that’s moving and making sounds – it’s a cry for help.
Does your deck look old and worn?
Take a look at the condition of the wood, posts and fasteners on your deck. If they look visibly worn then they are. Everything wears out, so it’s important to keep an eye on the pieces of your deck, checking for weak spots or potential dangers. Here’s a good NADRA checklist of what to look for on your deck. If you spot any of these problems, please have your deck professionally inspected so it can be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Your safety should be your top priority. The consultants and building professionals at Mosby Building Arts are qualified to inspect and repair your existing deck. Or, if you’re ready for a new deck, Mosby designers will help you with that, as well. Call the Mosby office at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.