June marks the start of summer weather which makes it the perfect time to check that your client's deck is ready for outdoor entertaining. Just as a car needs to be taken in for regular maintenance to avoid bigger problems, a little deck maintenance goes a long way to ensure peace of mind and to give a deck a longer life. Here are four tips to keep in mind as your client prepares to enjoy their backyard oasis.
Inspect Your Deck Every Year
Ideally, you should inspect your client’s deck each year by going underneath it to make sure posts, beams, joists, deck boards, railings, fasteners and connectors are all in good shape, and nothing is unstable. “The ledger connection is where the deck connects to the house. It is one of the most common failure points on a poorly built deck. It’s very important to use structural screws rather than nails to secure your deck ledger board to your home,” said David Finkenbinder, a branch engineer with Simpson Strong-Tie.
Build It Right
Like a house, a deck should be designed to support the weight it will need to carry – think people and furniture as well as the forces of Mother Nature, like wind and snow. A safe deck needs load-tested, structural connectors and fasteners throughout the entire structure, spanning from the house to the posts in the ground. The local county building department or a licensed contractor are both great resources to check that your client’s outdoor structures are up to code.
Decks, and the metal connectors that keep them connected and safe, are exposed to the elements. Over time, metal connectors, screws and nails can corrode and weaken the structure of a deck. When choosing connectors, take into account where your client lives, and how weather and the environment may affect their deck. In many cases, connectors with a zinc galvanized coating and hot-dip galvanized fasteners provide adequate corrosion resistance. If your client lives along the coast or near bodies of water, it is recommended that you use stainless-steel connectors and fasteners.
Maintain for Beauty and Safety
Just like other parts of a home, regular maintenance is needed. The deck should be kept clean from debris, and every deck should be cleaned once a year. If needed, you can apply a water-repellent sealant or stain.