13 July 2022
It is summer when our decks get a lot of use. It is worth the time to check it for safety. Here are some of the more common errors that are made in construction and should be remedied.
The ledger board is a support beam that connects to the side of the house. It braces the deck against the solid structure of the house not to the siding or outer skin. The fasteners should be stainless steel or have a hot-dipped double galvanized coating. The fasteners need to go completely through the ledger board, outer part of the house ,and then into the home’s interior joist. Add a washer and nut threaded through the bolt. This means if the deck starts to collapse, it will pull the horizontal joist along with it, which is unlikely.
Most decks are raised off the ground and the end of the deck that is away from the house and that section is supported by posts. The posts need to be set into concrete and secured so that the ends of the deck won’t wobble. It is also possible to use a structural metal connector (corrosion resistant) to hold them steady between the posts and the beam.
The boards that form the floor of your deck are often nailed into place. This is a quick and, using a nail gun, easy construction. However, after time, you will see the nails start pulling out and rusting. Yes, you can take a hammer and make it flat, but you are not making the deck more secure. The best plan is to secure the decking with screws because they rarely pull loose. Check with the lumber manufacturer to see what type of fastener they recommend so that you don’t void the warranty on the wood.
Guardrails are one of the most important features of the deck. Not only are the they most visible, they need to be secure enough to hold the weight of adults leaning against them. In addition to the safety aspect, they often reflect the architectural style of the home and the overall décor. Handrails are a feature that not all decks incorporate. Actually in most areas, it is code to have them installed. Just like the deck railings, the handrail can dislodge if enough weight is applied. Use approved fasteners, not nails to be sure the handrail is anchored securely and the upright at the base of the stairs is also set in concrete like the other support posts.
In the same genre, be sure you have good exits and egress from the deck in the event of an emergency. Don’t allow items to block the stairs or door into the house. Just some common sense will work here.
The easiest way to be sure you are safe is to have your deck inspected by a professional who is well versed in the local codes. Correct any problems as soon as you are able and you will have many years of enjoyment from your outdoor “room”.