Creaking Deck? Call for a Deck Safety Inspection

I recently visited some family friends that have a beautiful backyard space and view. We decided that before dinner we’d have a drink on their deck since it was a lovely night. Their deck is high off the ground and is pretty large. While it felt sturdy enough, it did creak a bit as all 7 of us walked around it. Lucky for them, they already have plans to have it replaced later this month.

As you enter fall, it’s a good time to think about the safety of your deck. It’s (hopefully) withheld the busy spring and summer months, but it’s now going into fall and winter when the elements can be tough. Especially in northern areas, decks have to stand up to the weight of large snowfalls and ice. Before winter really sets in, check your deck for signs that it needs to be repaired or replaced. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How old is your deck? The typical deck last 7-10 years. Five years after construction is a good time to start taking notice of the condition of your deck to make sure that it lasts. You may be able to get more mileage out of it if you address any concerns when they first start.

088Is your deck starting to sway or shake? A shaky deck is not a safe deck. It is one sign of an attachment or footing that is weak. Deck collapses can very serious when an attachment or footing fails. If your deck sways, make sure you call a professional deck builder to come perform a deck safety inspection.

Are you deck boards splintering a lot? Cracks and splinters in wood is normal over time, but if they are splintering a lot, it’s a sign of the boards starting to dry out. Replacing a few deck boards can be an easy fix and doesn’t require the entire deck to be replaced.

Do you rails feel steady and secure? Deck railings are a very important safety aspect of your outdoor living structure. Make sure that your railings are not unstable or shaky.

If you think you are in need of a professional deck safety inspection, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck and Patio Design Coming Together in Richmond, VA

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a long time since we updated you on the outdoor living structure that we designed and are building for our corporate office and we are happy to say that it is 99% finished. The remaining items on the list are primarily clean up. So what’s been going on since we last updated you? In short, a lot.

To recap, this is the boring side yard that we had at our office:

photo

And this is what we have now:

Archadeck-building

It is quite the difference, right? In our last post about the project, we had just finished framing the deck and started laying the deck boards. As you can see, that and more has been completed.

TimberTech-benchThe majority of the deck is a dark brown TimberTech composite material. It was installed at an angle for added visual interest with highlight boards that are a brick red color (I apologize for the shadows in the pictures). The composite material will minimize our need for regular maintenance. Pressure-treated wood, as opposed to composite, needs to be pressure washed and stained to ensure that water, dirt and other debris don’t settle in the wood cracks and cause splitting.

As you can see in the picture, the built-in benches have been added to the space. One of our goals in creating this outdoor living space at the office was to have a space that everyone in building would really use (not just look at). Seating is extremely important for regular use and with a commercial space that does get some traffic, the seating couldn’t be movable. While the retaining walls offer some seating, benches were added throughout the space to invite people to relax and take a seat.

With such a large amount of dark decking, our deck designers decided to complement the structure with white highlights in the form of railings and the pergola. Timbertech vinyl railing was installed around the open edges of the deck for safety purposes. Any deck that isn’t low to grade, meaning that it rises at least 36 inches off the ground, must have a railing by code. Once the railing was up, everyone here started to see the whole the project come together. The crisp white makes it really pop.

When the Archadeck Outdoor Living team discussed what they wanted in the space, a shade structure was a key component. The pergola was added to the design and covers nearly half of the 900 square foot deck. In a space that gets a lot of sunlight, the pergola offers a reprieve.

While the building part of the space is pretty much finished, there are a few finishing details that are still to come. Outdoor lighting is going to be installed for safety and security (as well as beauty). Besides that, we just need to get rid of any construction debris and we are ready to host our first barbecue at the office.

If you have questions on how you can enhance your backyard with a custom outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers will work with you to create something that works for you, your family, your needs and your budget.

Checking Your Outdoor Living Spaces after Sandy

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our passion is improving outdoor living spaces for families to enjoy and unfortunately strong storms and hurricanes like Sandy can bring havoc on such areas of the property.

Make sure your deck is safe for your friends and family

As the weeks and months of recovery beginning, we wanted to offer guidance to those that were impacted regarding their outdoor living areas. High winds and rains can cause damage to decks, porches, patios, etc. and it’s important to look for that damage and have it repaired by a deck professional.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Exposed or washed out footings/foundations. Especially in areas where flooding occurred, it’s important to check and see if you can see the foundations of your deck or if the structure seems to have sunk. This is one of the most important safety components of your deck, so if you are worried about the structure, call your local deck builder to come and take a look.
  • Erosion under your deck or on your patio. The ground underneath a deck helps support the foundation of it. When the ground is washed away either by high winds or rain like many areas experienced due to Sandy, it weakens the structure. For patios, the pavers are locked in by compacted dirt and sand. Under harsh conditions some of the sand may be swept away, leaving the pavers loose and unsafe to walk on.
  • High winds may weaken decks, especially older decks. If any deck boards, railings or steps are loose and shaky, it’s important to have a professional come and look at the structural integrity of the project.
  • For structures that are attached to the house, check for any water infiltration at the place of attachment. For many homeowners that will be in the crawl space or basement of their home. If there is water dripping, it can cause damage to the structure of not only your outdoor living space, but your home.

Mother Nature can cause safety issues when it comes to outdoor living spaces. After big storms like Sandy, you should have an outdoor living contractor come and inspect your spaces. At Archadeck, we offer a deck safety inspection where we check all parts of your structure and provide recommendations as what you may need to do now and what you can plan for in the future.

Deck Collapse Sends Four to the Hospital

I love the Fourth of July. The barbecues with family and friends, fireworks and the red, white and blue always makes me smile. But unfortunately, for one family, an annual holiday party turned scary when their deck collapsed on Tuesday night before the Fourth.

Earlier this week, a family was having party on their deck in Littleton, CO when the structure broke away from the home at about 9:30pm. Those people who were on the deck at the time of the failure where dropped more than 10 feet to ground level. Luckily for everyone, no one was too seriously injured, but four people were sent to the hospital with bruises and broken bones (they were later released).

This probably wasn’t the holiday party the homeowners had hoped for. Upon looking at the structure, it became apparent that the deck was not up to current building code, resulting in the deck failure. As we discussed during Deck Safety month in May, when a deck is attached to the side of the home, it is strategically bolted to the structure of the home using what is called a ledger board. Instead of bolts, this deck in Littleton was attached using nails.

Nails are inadequate when it comes to providing the safety a deck connection needs. According to Structure Tech Home Inspections, nailed connections are probably the most common cause of deck collapses because they can easily pull out of ledger boards when significant pressure is placed on it.

The ledger board of a deck can usually be seen when accessing the deck from below. If you take a look at your deck from below and only see nails on the board (as opposed to bolts), make sure to call your local deck builder or contractor. Depending on the size of the structure and access to the ledger board, this can be easily fixed.

If you have a deck that you think needs to be replaced or have questions about overall deck safety, please call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

May is Deck Safety Month – BE SAFER on your Deck

In the last six years there have been over 179 deck failures resulting in 1,122 injuries and 33 deaths. Those are incredible statistics. It’s May, Deck Safety Month, and we at Archadeck Outdoor Living encourage those homeowners with decks over 10 years to have a thorough deck safety inspection (the average decks lasts 10 years).

Make sure your deck is safe for your friends and family this summer

“Many of us have delayed home repairs and improvement until they are absolutely essential,” says Rob Haislip, vice president of Archadeck. “Even then, sometimes homeowners don’t have enough information to decide when something is optional or truly a safety hazard that could result in an injury.” That’s why Archadeck offers deck safety inspections to those looking to see if they are in need of a deck repair or replacement. Our deck safety professionals will look at all parts of the deck and make recommendations regarding its safety so you can feel comfortable spending time on your structure with friends and family. It’s important to BE SAFER, an acronym we came up with to make deck safety easy to remember:

B- Boards. Look at the condition of your deck boards. While most wood will show some minor cracks and splits over time, boards should be good and not rotting or damaged.

E- Every Connection. Decks should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors. Check every connection on the deck to make certain that they are not corroded or compromised. Look for nails backing out, red rust and other sings of corrosion that can weaken the integrity of the deck.

S- Structure. If visible, look at the posts, beams and joists that provide the structural framework of the deck. Is there any noticeable sagging between supports?

A- Attachment. The attachment of the deck to the house is where most deck failures occur. Ensure that the deck is properly attached to the house with bolts (no nails!) and is properly flashed for water protection.

F- Foundation/Footings: The foundation/footings support the weight, also known as the load, on a deck and the columns that bear on them. A footing that is sinking may cause a noticeable sag in an area or a column to separate from a beam.

E- Exits. Check the areas where people exit from the deck, usually stairs. Check the condition of the material used on the stair stringers, stair treads and risers. Do the stairs require a handrail? Is there adequate lighting to safely use the exits at night?

R- Rails. Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing to make sure that they aren’t loose or wobbly. Verify that the pickets/balusters are fastened securely and spaced no more than four inches apart.

If you think your deck is in need of a safety inspection, please call your local Archadeck office and ask them to come and evaluate your existing structure.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.

Power Washing your Deck

It's important to do research before power washing your deck as when used incorrectly it can cause damage to your outdoor living structure.

The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.