It’s summer here in Metro Detroit and that means more time outside enjoying the sunshine. Be it for a back yard BBQ or enjoying your morning coffee, deck safety is important for every homeowner and we’re here to help. Maintenance is much more than cleaning your deck surface. It means evaluating the structure and making any repairs or adjustments that might be needed. Here’s a great checklist to get you started.
1 – Search for split or decaying wood. Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is still sound, including the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house and a common source of deck failure), support posts and joists under the deck, deck boards, railings and stairs. Look for soft, spongy areas in wood that can indicate insect damage or decay.
2 – Test railings and banisters. Assure the security of these key pieces of the deck by gently pushing on them to assure they are firmly attached with no “give” that could indicate failure. Then, get the yard stick out. Most codes require a 36” high railing (and usually encourage 42” high railings) with rails placed no more than 4” inches apart (measured from the inside of the rails) to keep small children and pets from squeezing through.
3 – Check your fasteners. Over time, fasteners may “pop” from wood, loosen or even corrode. Check nails, screws or anchors and reinforce or replace anything that looks suspicious.
4 – Step carefully. Check each step to make certain of security and lack of decay. If an area behind the stair treads is open, this opening should be no more than 4” high. A fast tip is to also keep stair pathways clear of planters, décor, toys and other items that can present a tripping hazard.
5 – Clean up debris. Make it a priority to clean away leaves, branches or other debris from your deck. When left in place, these can be slippery and promote mildew. If you’re already seeing mildew on the deck, or the deck coating has worn away, now is the time to clean and apply a new waterproof coating.
It’s also a great time to check the everyday items ON the deck, like your grill, furnishings, storage and lighting.