May Is Deck Safety Month
Deck Safety Month is the perfect time to check and be sure your deck is in tip-top shape for the upcoming deck season. We’ve got a checklist for you to go through and if it turns out you need a new deck, consult one of our associates at Marling Lumber and HomeWorks. You can get deck help at our Janesville and Madison locations. FYI - we’ve got the largest outdoor deck display in the state at our Madison, Atlas Avenue location.
There are more than 50 million decks in the United States, and estimates put half as past their use life and in need of repair or replacement. “It is crucial for homeowners to verify the integrity of their deck to ensure user safety as well as help extend the deck’s lifespan, improve the appearance and increase the viability,” according to Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of the North American Deck and Railing Association. Enjoying outdoor living is great, but you need to make sure you are enjoying it in a safe environment. Here’s your checklist:
Is There Split or Decaying Wood?
Take a look at several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is sound in all areas. Take a special look at the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house and a prime spot for deck failure), support posts and posts under the deck. Look at deck boards, railings and stairs.
Pay special attention to any areas that seem to stay damp and/or are regularly exposed to water. Look near the fasteners.
Use a screwdriver or icepick to poke into the wood surface. If you can easily push in ¼ to ½ inch, break off a sliver of wood with no splinters or the wood seems spongy, you may have decay present.
Look for small holes that may indicate insect damage to the wood.
Check the Flashing
Flashing is the metal or plastic guard that moves water out and away from deck areas. It is usually installed where the deck and the house meet. It is supposed to keep moisture and debris from collecting between the house and deck. If you notice water or debris collecting, consider adding or replacing flashing.
Loose or Corroded Fasteners
By fasteners we mean nails, screws, or anchors in the ledger board. Tighten loose fasteners and pound in nails that may have popped out. If fasteners appear rusted or corroded, they should be replaced. Your deck and the stairs to the deck should not appear to be sagging, nor should they move or sway when tested.
Make sure stair railings and handrails are secure. Check the stair risers and stringers to make sure they are firmly attached and not decayed. Always keep stair pathways clear of tripping hazards such as planters, decorative items and toys.
Railings and Banisters
These should be secure. They should not rock or move when you push on them. This is especially important if your deck is high off the ground.
Clear off leaves and debris because they are slippery and also promote mold and rot. Applying a new waterproof coating can help prevent wood from splitting or decaying.
Grills, Fire Pits, Heaters
These outdoor features can create a warm and cozy entertaining area, but be careful you keep them away from flammable areas. You may consider protecting the deck surface with a non-flammable pad.
Lighting and Electrical
Clean light covers for maximum efficiency and move tree limbs or plants that may be blocking the light. There are some great new lighting options for deck railing as well as stairways if you feel you don’t have enough outdoor illumination to safely entertain. Be sure outdoor electrical outlets are in good shape and child-proof if needed.
Outdoor Furniture and Storage
Test all outdoor furniture to make sure its sturdy. Don’t place seating at the edge of your deck. If you have a hammock or swing, make sure chains and ropes are secure. If you have outdoor storage benches, you may want to consider installing child-proof latches.
Make sure you store items used outside such as lighter fluid, matches, cleaners, etc. away from children.
If you have trees that overhang your deck, be sure there are no weak or decaying limbs that might fall and damage your deck.
Need a New Deck?
There are new colors and new materials for composite decks if you choose to go that direction rather than a wood deck. There are also great railing and other decorative options for your deck. Check out the colors and options at our Madison or Janesville Marling Lumber and HomeWorks locations.