A little maintenance goes a long way to keep your deck safe, reliable and well-kept any time of year. Just as you need yearly health checkups with your doctor, your deck needs to be examined annually to ensure it’s in good health. Spring is an ideal time to check your deck in preparation for the warm summer days and nights to come!
I’d recommend reading the DCA 6 prescriptive deck building code to confirm. It includes everything you need to know to properly build a strong and durable deck, from how big your joists and posts need to be, to how to attach the ledger board to the house.
The best thing you can do for deck safety is go underneath the deck and examine how it’s put together. That starts with the ledger board, which fastens the deck to your house. Then, make sure posts, beams, joists, deck boards, railings, fasteners and connectors are all in good shape and that nothing is unstable.
There are many advances in deck connectors that can help strengthen a deck, according to David Finkenbinder, branch engineer of Simpson Strong-Tie. “If you need to attach your post to concrete, for example, there are new connectors that can be retrofitted onto a deck that has older connectors or no connectors at all.”
After assessing your deck’s foundation, be sure to also check the flashing, which is an L-shaped piece of metal that diverts water and is on top of the ledger board. If it’s degraded, has holes, or is missing, replace it or have a new one installed.
Remember, when it comes to decking, nails are not enough. A safe deck features the use of heavy-duty, metal hardware throughout the entire structure, spanning from the house to the posts in the ground. Missing connections are the number one warning sign of an unsafe deck.
Lastly, when in doubt, check with a professional. Contractors and licensed professionals can help inspect your deck, provide suggestions and let you know how much a repair should cost.
For additional safety tips, check out the Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Connection and Fastening Guide, which provides details on everything from ledger connections to joist hangers, post to footing connections, and pertinent building code sections.
Wood is a natural choice for outdoor living. And, just like anything that lives outside — your lawn, your garden, your car — your deck requires a little tender loving care. Performing annual checks ensures that your deck remains safe and secure for you and your family to enjoy all year long.
Mark knows more about tools than anyone has a right to know. With his wife Theresa, Mark hosts the popular MyFixitUpLife talk show, is the general contractor for Food Network’s ‘Save My Bakery,’ and has been a project manager for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and expert guest on PBS, DIY Network, Discovery Channel, A&E, NBC’s The 10! Show, Good Day Philadelphia, and other national radio and TV programs.