The key to a healthy deck is consistent care. With these three steps, your client's deck will be equipped to handle whatever nature may send your way.
A little maintenance goes a long way to keep your client’s deck safe, reliable and well-kept any time of year. Just as you need yearly health checkups with your doctor, a deck needs to be examined annually to ensure it’s in good health. Spring is an ideal time to check a deck in preparation for the warm summer days and nights to come!
Step One: Make sure you’re up to code
We 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.
Step Two: Check the wood and deck connections
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.”
Step Three: Inspect flashing
After assessing your client’s 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 the 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 — lawn, garden, car — a deck requires a little tender loving care. Performing annual checks ensures that your client’s deck remains safe and secure for them and their family to enjoy all year long.