Your deck is an extension of your living space, the perfect location for leisurely summer entertaining, and an ideal spot for priceless memories to be made with family and friends. Ensuring your safety and that of your family and guests while enjoying your deck is of utmost importance.
You may think decking just needs a good washing and staining periodically, but a safety check should be incorporated in your regular deck maintenance.
Read on to gain practical tips on deck safety to ensure you can enjoy the great outdoors with those you love without compromising anyone’s well-being.
Why Decks Can Become Dangerous
Poor Deck Construction
When decks aren’t constructed properly, they may not be structurally sound, and they may fail.
Lack of Proper Maintenance
If you don’t perform routine maintenance, your deck may become a hazard and accidents could occur as a result.
- Water damage: If decking isn’t regularly sealed, it may incur moisture intrusion, causing it to rot or deteriorate and ultimately present a safety issue.
- Insect infestation: Termites can eat away at your deck, compromising its integrity and your security.
- Severe weather: Harsh weather—including high winds and windblown debris—can cause damage and put safety at risk.
Signs that Indicate Your Deck Is Unsafe
- The wood on your decking is rotted or warped
- Deck fasteners are loose or missing
- Decking connectors are corroded
- The railings are not stable
- There is too much space between rungs on the deck’s railing
- Severe weather caused deck damage
How to Ensure Your Deck Is Safe
Creating a secure and enjoyable environment on your deck will enable you to appreciate outdoor living while safeguarding the well-being of those you love.
1. Have your deck built by a reputable contractor who will do it right
The way decking is constructed has everything to do with your long-term safety on it. Your deck’s foundation is the cornerstone of deck safety. Its piers should have holes that go deep enough to be below the frost line so support posts don’t move during the winter (when soil shifts as moisture in the ground freezes).
2. Inspect your deck’s features carefully each spring
The North American Decking and Railing Association (NADRA) has a complete deck evaluation checklist that leads you through the inspection process for your deck. You’ll inspect everything from the deck boards to your stairs and railings!
3. Keep your deck well maintained
- Clean and seal your deck to prevent damage such as wood rot. Keeping it properly sealed will help hold damaging water intrusion at bay, as well as contribute to deck safety.
- Remove moss or mildew growth on deck surfaces to keep people from slipping.
- Eliminate clutter such as children’s toys to prevent tripping accidents.
- Trim nearby trees regularly to keep tree limbs and leaves from falling randomly on your deck and creating tripping hazards.
- Check nails or screws for corrosion, and ensure they have not loosened. Tighten or replace any wobbly nails or screws on decking surfaces.
4. Prioritize good lighting
Your deck should be well lit as a safety precaution for you and your guests. Replace burnt out light bulbs promptly, and ensure fixtures and outlets are in proper working order. Keep deck stairs illuminated to prevent falls.
5. Use good fire safety precautions
If you choose to use anything that has to do with fire on your deck, use a fireproof mat for your protection. It’s best to put your grill, fire pit, and candles someplace away from your deck. Have a fire extinguisher located within reasonable proximity for your safety.
6. Ensure railings are safe
- Are railings strong and stable enough to support at least 200 pounds of pressure on all sides? If they don’t remain secure when you push them, have your deck professionally inspected.
- To ensure your deck’s railing is stable, are the support posts no farther than six feet apart?
- For the security of you and your guests, is the railing that surrounds your deck at least 36 inches high?
- To ensure the protection of small children and pets, are the rails no more than four inches apart?
7. Make sure deck stairs are safe
- To help prevent falls, is the handrail on the deck’s stairs easy to grip?
- Make sure the steps don’t wobble and are securely attached to decking.
- Keep your deck stairs free from clutter to prevent tripping.
8. Address any needed deck repairs promptly
Accidents on faulty decks can be dangerous. If you want to fix your current deck, it may be a bigger job than you think to get it up to code. To ensure the safety of all those who use your deck, contact a reputable contractor to confirm repairs are done properly.
- If wood rot or termites have compromised your deck’s wood, have damaged wood replaced.
Entertain Outdoors on a Gorgeous Custom Deck
An outdoor living space on a custom deck with your favorite amenities gives you the perfect area to enjoy. Create a backyard oasis that enhances your lifestyle, boosts your entertaining options, and increases your property value.
At Preferred Home Improvement, we listen to your desires, design the perfect deck, and use premium materials to build a safe, beautiful deck you can enjoy for years. For over 35 years, we have served homeowners with quality materials and installations.
Take a look at a project our team completed that included deck work.