Deck Safety Month: How Safe Is Your Deck?

May 7, 2018

Decking is a project many homeowners think they can handle by themselves. All of the videos online today make it look easy. The reality is, it’s not. There’s so much that goes into a deck, that not using a professional decking contractor can potentially lead to issues if a homeowner is not aware of all of the areas to consider.  Your deck can provide years of fun and enjoyment for your family; avoid a safety issue by following these four steps.

  1. A deck should be designed by a professional so it’s built to meet current building code requirements.  There are many types of software on the market that can help design a deck. When decks fail, it’s typically caused by one or more of these areas: connection to the home;  connection to the support posts; undersized framing members and/or; incorrect fasteners. Service calls usually involves repair to one or more of these areas.
  2. Hiring an engineer is key to ensure the deck is designed to withstand Mother Nature, designed to meet code, and designed to meet your needs. Using an engineer to review plans is also very important.  Deck designing software is good, but it does not replace an engineer. Make sure your deck drawings have an engineered stamp of approval. Don’t risk your family’s’ safety by not having your deck properly designed.
  3. Once your deck is designed and properly built by a professional, inspect the deck annually to ensure the structural integrity has not been compromised.  This inspection needs to look at all structural components, from framing to fasteners. Taking five minutes twice a year can save you from a potentially bigger problem in the future.
  4. When hiring a professional to build your deck, ensure they have the knowledge and accreditations to give you the peace of mind that your deck will not only look great, but that it’s built properly and will last for years to come.  Some of these accreditations are: NADRA (North American Deck and Railing Association), NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), or NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).  They should also be backed by the manufacturer as each  manufacturer has a contractor program which requires a company to show they have consistently installed their product to manufacturers requirements.  If you are talking to a decking company that does not have one or more of these accreditations, be aware the contractor may not have the proper technical skills to ensure your deck is safe.  

If you follow these four steps you can have peace of mind knowing your deck is designed to meet your family’s needs, be a focal point of your outdoor living space and more importantly, that your deck is safe for years to come.  So take five minutes this week to look at the underside of your deck to make sure everything is ready for another great year of enjoyment. Your deck can be such a great extension of your home, so don’t risk your family’s safety by not taking the proper steps to ensure you have a structure that will last, year over year.

Deck Safety graphic

Randy Hann
Contract Exteriors

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