Know the Key Deck Safety Signals

Every year there seems to be a story about a deck or dock that collapses, which can cause serious injury. May is National Deck Safety Awareness Month and it’s something that we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are very passionate about. Our deck safety inspections are thorough and let homeowners know what they need to address now, what they can wait on and what to be aware of.

deck-design-ideasIf you aren’t sure if your deck is in good shape, here are a few safety signals to be aware of:

Splintering. Not only are splinters annoying and sometimes painful, they are signs of a deck that needs some TLC. When wood is out in the elements for extended periods of time it dries out, causing splintering. Splintering is the first sign of wood that needs to be attended to or replaced. Sometimes a good professional cleaning and sealing will do while other times new deck boards are required.

Creaking. When walking on your deck, it shouldn’t creak extensively. A lot of sounds could be a sign of a weakening attachment or connection. A professional deck builder can evaluate the connections and attachment and make sure a collapse isn’t right around the corner.

Swaying and Shaking. When a deck is in good structural shape, it will not shake or sway. If your deck is moving, call a professional. The issue could be that the structure is just past its prime or maybe more footings are needed.

TimberTech Desert Bronze TimberTech XLM Deck by Juan Cardona - Archadeck of Chester County, PAWarping or bowing. Much like splinters, warping or bowing can be a sign of a deck safety issue. If the boards are pulling apart from the structure, it may need to be replaced with new boards.

If your deck is displaying any of these issues, it doesn’t necessarily mean your deck needs to be replaced. A deck can be structurally sound but the boards may need to be addressed for instance. That being said, it’s important to have it evaluated by a local deck builder if you have questions. Contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up your deck safety inspection.

Deck Collapse is a Serious Risk

XX-030Temperatures are finally rising in many parts of the country and, if you are like me, you can’t wait to take advantage of it and spend some time outdoors. Before you do, however, make sure that your deck is safe to enjoy.

An Atlanta area deck collapsed earlier this week injuring four people. Two men were standing on the deck and two were below when the deck gave way and fell from the home and all four men were taken to the hospital with injuries. Unfortunately, stories like this are far too common.

The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced for safety reasons. During those 10 years not only will the foundation and structure weaken, but codes will change, often for safety purposes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest that decks over 7 years old should undergo a deck safety inspection. You may need to have your deck inspected earlier if it is displaying any issues.

screened porchIf you aren’t sure on how to evaluate the overall condition of your structure, we recommend the acronym BE SAFER.

Boards. Look for sagging or splintering of decking boards that may make it unsafe to walk on.

Every Connection – This may be difficult to check if you cannot see underneath the structure, but try to look at the condition of the metal fasteners that hold the structure together.

Structure – While you are looking under the deck, look at the posts, beams and joists. Is there any sagging?

Attachment – The majority of deck failures happen at the attachment of the house. Make sure it is attached with the necessary bolts and screws, NO NAILS!

Foundation/Footings – This part of the deck’s structure holds the weight. Check to see that it is in good shape, without any sagging, sinking or separation.

Exit – Check the conditions of the exits/stairs of the deck.

Rails – Railings are very important to the safety of your deck. Make sure that each is secure and does not shake/move when pressure is applied.

This past winter has been a tough one for many parts of the country with above average snow and ice. This could have affected the safety of your deck, so please make sure to check it. For questions, concerns or to have a professional deck builder look at the structure for you, please contact Archadeck Outdoor Living.