Written by: Bob Smith, Atlanta Decking Project Manager
You may have heard about the recent deck collapse in Atlanta that sent seven people to the hospital. That’s a somber reminder to take a second look at your deck (or even those of friends and relatives) and ensure the deck’s in great shape to safely support everyone as they enjoy the benefits of ownership. Collapses like these emphasize the importance of deck safety. Here are a few tips for checking deck wear and tear and making sure your deck safety is up to snuff.
Check the connection between the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house), especially if your deck is more than 3 feet off the ground. Be sure the boards are bolted or screwed securely versus nailed because nails can pull out. Look for any deck wear or rot and address immediately if you find any. Look for signs of water behind the ledger board by probing the area with an awl or a screwdriver for soft spots. Examine for cracks that follow the line of bolts or screws because when they go all the way through the board, they can split apart.
Tighten or replace fasteners including nails, screws, bolts, metal hangers and anchors that have become loose or corroded. Address any protruding nails or screws that can be a hazard to bare feet and compromise deck safety.
If you have an older deck, check joists, beams, posts, stairs, railings and decking areas to be sure wood is in good condition. Use an awl or screwdriver to identify wood that is soft or spongy which is a sure sign of decay.
Check the railing system for strength. Guests tend to lean on railings and children like to climb up them, contributing to deck wear and compromising deck safety over time. If they are nailed versus screwed or bolted together, railings, structural posts and balusters can loosen over time.
If the deck has stairs, check railings to ensure they are firmly attached. Inspect the risers, treads and stringer for decay or other signs of deck wear. Be sure the handrails are secure as well.
If your deck is showing obvious signs of wear, it may be time to replace it. We’d be happy to meet with you and discuss the latest construction materials and design options available so that you can get the most enjoyment out of your outdoor living space while keeping your family safe. Call us at 770-781-4641 or click here. With over 25 years experience, you can trust Atlanta Decking’s craftsman to design and build your new deck correctly — and beautifully, too.