by Becky Baker, Building Safety Division Director
comments open from May 7 until May 26
In 2006, the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month. Decks are popular structures used frequently as a gathering place for friends and family. Decks are designed to support the weight of people and objects on it as well as forces of Mother Nature. While decks look relatively simple to build, many do not realize these structures need to be designed to adequately resist certain stresses.
Life expectancy of a deck can be as short as 10 to 15 years. Decks are exposed to elements, which can cause damage. It is important that decks are regularly inspected and maintained. To prolong the life of your deck, check for things like loose boards or protruding nails. Over time metal connectors, screws and nails can corrode or become loose and weaken the structure of your deck.
Five Warning Signs
Missing Connections: A deck should be built using a series of wood members, nails, screws and metal connectors to create a continuous load path.
Loose Connections: Look for wobbly railings, loose stairs and ledgers that appear to be pulling away from the home.
Corrosion of Connectors and Fasteners: Look for red rust and other signs of corrosion that can weaken the deck.
Rot: Overtime wood can rot and degrade due to exposure to the elements.
Cracks: Large cracks or excessive cracking overall can weaken a deck.
To determine if repairing or replacing is in order, professionals such as structural engineers or contractors are an excellent resource. In some situations retrofitting your deck by applying new or additional hardware to existing framing members may extend the lifespan.
The Building Safety Division is available to answer questions you may have on repairing or replacing your deck.