Blog Deck Safety

Know the Key Deck Safety Signals

Every year there seems to be a story about a deck or dock that collapses, which can cause serious injury. May is National Deck Safety Awareness Month and it’s something that we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are very passionate about. Our deck safety inspections are thorough and let homeowners know what they need to address now, what they can wait on and what to be aware of.

If you aren’t sure if your deck is in good shape, here are a few safety signals to be aware of:

Splintering. Not only are splinters annoying and sometimes painful, they are signs of a deck that needs some TLC. When wood is out in the elements for extended periods of time it dries out, causing splintering. Splintering is the first sign of wood that needs to be attended to or replaced. Sometimes a good professional cleaning and sealing will do while other times new deck boards are required.

Creaking. When walking on your deck, it shouldn’t creak extensively. A lot of sounds could be a sign of a weakening attachment or connection. A professional deck builder can evaluate the connections and attachment and make sure a collapse isn’t right around the corner.

Swaying and Shaking. When a deck is in good structural shape, it will not shake or sway. If your deck is moving, call a professional. The issue could be that the structure is just past its prime or maybe more footings are needed.

Warping or bowing. Much like splinters, warping or bowing can be a sign of a deck safety issue. If the boards are pulling apart from the structure, it may need to be replaced with new boards.

If your deck is displaying any of these issues, it doesn’t necessarily mean your deck needs to be replaced. A deck can be structurally sound but the boards may need to be addressed for instance. That being said, it’s important to have it evaluated by a local deck builder if you have questions. Contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up your deck safety inspection.

Creaking Deck? Call for a Deck Safety Inspection

I recently visited some family friends that have a beautiful backyard space and view. We decided that before dinner we’d have a drink on their deck since it was a lovely night. Their deck is high off the ground and is pretty large. While it felt sturdy enough, it did creak a bit as all 7 of us walked around it. Lucky for them, they already have plans to have it replaced later this month.

As you enter fall, it’s a good time to think about the safety of your deck. It’s (hopefully) withheld the busy spring and summer months, but it’s now going into fall and winter when the elements can be tough. Especially in northern areas, decks have to stand up to the weight of large snowfalls and ice. Before winter really sets in, check your deck for signs that it needs to be repaired or replaced. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How old is your deck? The typical deck last 7-10 years. Five years after construction is a good time to start taking notice of the condition of your deck to make sure that it lasts. You may be able to get more mileage out of it if you address any concerns when they first start.

Is your deck starting to sway or shake? A shaky deck is not a safe deck. It is one sign of an attachment or footing that is weak. Deck collapses can very serious when an attachment or footing fails. If your deck sways, make sure you call a professional deck builder to come perform a deck safety inspection.

Are you deck boards splintering a lot? Cracks and splinters in wood is normal over time, but if they are splintering a lot, it’s a sign of the boards starting to dry out. Replacing a few deck boards can be an easy fix and doesn’t require the entire deck to be replaced.

Do you rails feel steady and secure? Deck railings are a very important safety aspect of your outdoor living structure. Make sure that your railings are not unstable or shaky.

If you think you are in need of a professional deck safety inspection, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Replacement Makes all the Difference

Whether the space is inside or outside, sometimes living areas need an update. A living room may need a new coat of paint, a kitchen may need a new counter and a deck may need to be resealed. When it comes to decks, however, they do need to be replaced periodically (the typical deck lasts 10 years).

This deck replacement project in Austin is a great example of how an old deck can be replaced to make a big visual impact.

This multi-level deck and large staircase had been better days. While the design and layout of the space worked well for the homeowners, the wood was warping and splitting. Deck safety is always a concern for older decks, but injuries can be more serious if the deck is set high off the ground like this one.

When looking at material for their deck replacement, the homeowners wanted to make it more visually appealing and to bring some color into the space. The current deck was done in a pressure treated wood that had dried out, weathered and greyed over time . The modern house needed a deck to match! In looking at different wood and composite decking options, Archadeck of Austin recommended tigerwood decking for its strength and color.

Tigerwood is an exotic hardwood gaining popularity in the US decking market. It naturally repels insects, fungus, and rot so it doesn’t have to be treated with additional chemicals. The lifespan of Tigerwood is longer than pressure treated wood meaning a deck doesn’t have to be replaced as often. It does however, need to be treated with deck oil periodically.

The color of Tigerwood, as you can see, is gorgeous. The deep reds and oranges are highlighted with streaks of brown making it visually appealing. It may not be an option for homeowners that want a solid consistent color, but on a modern home in a wooded setting like this, it’s a stunner. Archadeck of Austin finished the space with horizontal iron railings to provide the necessary safety, but it doesn’t compete with the Tigerwood at all.

If you have questions on deck replacement or different decking options in your area, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Collapse Puts a Damper on any Outdoor Event

Every year there are stories of deck failures. Either there are too many people on the structure, it’s not built to code or it is just too old. The newest viral video spreading online is from a dock collapse in Minnesota that sent an entire bridal party into the lake below as they posed for pictures.

They may have needed some time to dry off before the big wedding celebration, but the bride and groom are lucky that no one was hurt when this dock gave way.

Deck (and dock) safety is a serious concern. People are injured each year as a result of deck footings giving way or the deck detaching from a home. In the case of the video above, it may have been a case of too many people on a small dock. Over the past few years, videos of deck failures at special events, like weddings or proms, have been released online. If you are hosting a graduation party, wedding or other special event at your home, make sure you evaluate the safety of your outdoor structures.

Your deck may feel safe normally, but can it withhold the weight of a large number of people? If your deck has ever shook or felt at all uneasy before, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional deck builder. A professional will be able to look at the structure and tell you the overall shape it is in, what, if anything, should be addressed now or if it should be replaced entirely.

There are certain parts of a deck that are key components of the overall safety of the space, while others can be easily replaced or enhanced in the short term.

The structure, footings, connections and attachment are all very important to the deck’s safety. If one of these fail, it could cause the deck to collapse. Conversely, decking boards, stairs and rails can be updated or replaced until the entire structure is enhanced.

If you have concerns over the safety of your deck, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Deck Collapse is a Serious Risk

Temperatures are finally rising in many parts of the country and, if you are like me, you can’t wait to take advantage of it and spend some time outdoors. Before you do, however, make sure that your deck is safe to enjoy.

An Atlanta area deck collapsed earlier this week injuring four people. Two men were standing on the deck and two were below when the deck gave way and fell from the home and all four men were taken to the hospital with injuries. Unfortunately, stories like this are far too common.

The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced for safety reasons. During those 10 years not only will the foundation and structure weaken, but codes will change, often for safety purposes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest that decks over 7 years old should undergo a deck safety inspection. You may need to have your deck inspected earlier if it is displaying any issues.

If you aren’t sure on how to evaluate the overall condition of your structure, we recommend the acronym BE SAFER.

Boards - Look for sagging or splintering of decking boards that may make it unsafe to walk on.

Every Connection – This may be difficult to check if you cannot see underneath the structure, but try to look at the condition of the metal fasteners that hold the structure together.

Structure – While you are looking under the deck, look at the posts, beams and joists. Is there any sagging?

Attachment – The majority of deck failures happen at the attachment of the house. Make sure it is attached with the necessary bolts and screws, NO NAILS!

Foundation/Footings – This part of the deck’s structure holds the weight. Check to see that it is in good shape, without any sagging, sinking or separation.

Exit – Check the conditions of the exits/stairs of the deck.

Rails – Railings are very important to the safety of your deck. Make sure that each is secure and does not shake/move when pressure is applied.

This past winter has been a tough one for many parts of the country with above average snow and ice. This could have affected the safety of your deck, so please make sure to check it. For questions, concerns or to have a professional deck builder look at the structure for you, please contact Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Gas or Wood Fired, what’s best for your Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit

One of the growing trends in outdoor living is fire features. More homeowners are including either an outdoor fireplace or fire pit to their decks, porches and patios to allow them to use the space more often. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design both fireplaces and fire pits that work seamlessly with your outdoor structure.

When considering an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, one of the questions that commonly comes up is: should it be gas or wood fired? While some people have strong feelings for or against an option (I can’t blame someone who loves the smell of a wood fire), here are some questions to consider as you make your decision:

Where do you live? Wood burning fireplaces or fire pits aren’t made for all parts of the country. If you live in a dry area of the country, you may not have easy access to firewood, making gas a better option. Conversely, gas is usually a better choice for heavily wooded properties as well. If there isn’t a clear opening above the fire, you’d want the control of a gas fire feature as opposed to wood. Wood fires give off more smoke and embers that shouldn’t go up into branches from trees.

What will be the cost of running it? Wood fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are more cost-effective to have if you have easy access to firewood. If your property abuts a wooded area for instance, you could probably grab wood for the fire for free. Conversely, with gas fires you do have to pay for fuel costs.

Do you need easy control and convenience? This question is especially important if you have any small children that may be around the fire. Gas flames are much easier to control and use. They are easy to turn on, off, up or down. So, if you need to turn it off in a hurry, you can. Additionally, there is no smoke and you don’t have to clean up any ashes. Wood burning fires cannot be easily turned on or off and there is always smoke. You have to watch it more carefully to make sure it isn’t getting too big or hot and from time to time, you will want to clean out any built up ashes.

Are you adding it on to an existing space? At Archadeck, we try to plan for all parts of your outdoor living space (even future additions) when we design a deck, porch, patio, etc. When you plan ahead, the choice of gas or wood can be easier due to gas lines. If you know you want a gas fire pit on your patio in the future, for example, you should have the line put in as you build the patio. If you are adding a fire feature to an existing space and hadn’t planned for it, it may cost more if anything needs to be torn up for a gas line. In that case, a wood burning fire feature may be your best option.

Is the flame important for you? Personally, I love the sound of a crackling fire and I love the smell of wood burning. A gas fireplace can’t give me that. If having the characteristics of a real fire isn’t important to you, however, you’ll be happy with what a gas fire pit or fireplace can provide you.

If you are looking to enhance your outdoor living space with a fire feature, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. With our knowledge and expertise, we can help you to create a space that you can’t help but love.

Check your deck before having company

Despite the cooler weather, fall provides its own set of outdoor entertaining opportunities. From homecoming get-togethers and tailgating, there is always a reason to be outdoors in the fall. Before having friends and family outside on your deck this season, make sure to have it checked for any safety issues.

Last Saturday afternoon, eight people were injured when a deck collapsed in Winona, Minnesota. A group of students were celebrating homecoming at an apartment with a raised deck when the deck broke away from the home and fell. The number of people on the deck at the time is unclear, but eight people were treated for injuries.

One student that was in the lower apartment heard a crack went to see what was happening; “I was in shock watching it because you don’t expect a deck with people, I mean everyone’s having fun, it’s homecoming, everyone’s out here having a good time seeing each other and then you look outside and people are falling to the ground.” Source.

Deck failures are, unfortunately, a common cause of injury in the United States. The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced, but it could be unsafe before then. At Archadeck, we suggest that decks should have regular deck inspections after 7 years or if any issues are noticed. A homeowner may, for instance, notice some creaking while walking on the structure or warping of deck boards.

Trained deck safety inspectors will look at all parts of the outdoor structure before providing the homeowner with recommendations on next steps. In many instances, there are simple replacements or improvements that can be made to make the deck last a little longer. In other instances, the inspector may recommend taking down the existing structure and replacing it with a new one that is up to code and deemed safe.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we use the acronym BE SAFER to explain the deck components we inspect when we look at existing structures: boards, exits, structure, attachment, footings and foundation, every connection and railings.

Fall is the best time of year for a deck safety inspection. Heavy snow, ice and yard debris in the winter months can weaken the deck’s structural integrity even more if not inspected before the harsh weather hits. If you need to have a professional deck builder and inspector look at your outdoor space, please contact your local Archadeck.

The Archadeck Grand Prize Winner’s Backyard Design

Posted by: janegwalker

Last week, we showed you the finished patio for the second place winner of Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover contest. We received some requests for an update on the Grand Prize Winners’ home and who are we to disappoint?!

The last time we visited Merea and Rick Bentrott, their backyard looked like this, but Merea’s contest write up was hard to ignore:


“As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and a deteriorating wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself if a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.”

When the contest voting was over, we were thrilled to surprise the Bentrotts at home to tell them they had won:

Since then, Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa has been working with the Bentrotts to finalize a patio and deck design that will fit their needs. We are thrilled to announce that the design is now complete, and we should be breaking ground in the next few weeks! But, let’s talk about the design!

The Grand Prize Winners will receive a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include both a deck and patio component, with products from our partnering sponsors, TimberTech Decking and Belgard Hardscapes. Merea and Rick really wanted a place to entertain family and friends so Harold came up with a combination project that includes a deck, covered patio and outdoor kitchen. Doesn’t it look like a nice place to enjoy time outdoors?

Despite the condition of their current deck, the Bentrotts did like having a deck off their main living area and wanted to keep that in the design. Railings will be installed around most of the deck not only for safety (which is very important with four young kids), but also to guide visitors into the lower covered patio portion of the project. The patio has plenty of space for Merea and Rick to prepare meals with their new outdoor kitchen! Harold decided to cover the majority of the patio not only to define the space, but also to provide some shade and coverage from the sun, rain, and in Iowa, snow.

We are thrilled to start the building phase of the project. We will share images throughout the build through their first party on their new space!

If you have any questions about outdoor living structures, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Deck and Patio Design Coming Together in Richmond, VA

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a long time since we updated you on the outdoor living structure that we designed and are building for our corporate office and we are happy to say that it is 99% finished. The remaining items on the list are primarily clean up. So what’s been going on since we last updated you? In short, a lot.

To recap, this is the boring side yard that we had at our office:

And this is what we have now:

It is quite the difference, right? In our last post about the project, we had just finished framing the deck and started laying the deck boards. As you can see, that and more has been completed.

The majority of the deck is a dark brown TimberTech composite material. It was installed at an angle for added visual interest with highlight boards that are a brick red color (I apologize for the shadows in the pictures). The composite material will minimize our need for regular maintenance. Pressure-treated wood, as opposed to composite, needs to be pressure washed and stained to ensure that water, dirt and other debris don’t settle in the wood cracks and cause splitting.

As you can see in the picture, the built-in benches have been added to the space. One of our goals in creating this outdoor living space at the office was to have a space that everyone in building would really use (not just look at). Seating is extremely important for regular use and with a commercial space that does get some traffic, the seating couldn’t be movable. While the retaining walls offer some seating, benches were added throughout the space to invite people to relax and take a seat.

With such a large amount of dark decking, our deck designers decided to complement the structure with white highlights in the form of railings and the pergola. Timbertech vinyl railing was installed around the open edges of the deck for safety purposes. Any deck that isn’t low to grade, meaning that it rises at least 36 inches off the ground, must have a railing by code. Once the railing was up, everyone here started to see the whole the project come together. The crisp white makes it really pop.

When the Archadeck Outdoor Living team discussed what they wanted in the space, a shade structure was a key component. The pergola was added to the design and covers nearly half of the 900 square foot deck. In a space that gets a lot of sunlight, the pergola offers a reprieve.

While the building part of the space is pretty much finished, there are a few finishing details that are still to come. Outdoor lighting is going to be installed for safety and security (as well as beauty). Besides that, we just need to get rid of any construction debris and we are ready to host our first barbecue at the office.

If you have questions on how you can enhance your backyard with a custom outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers will work with you to create something that works for you, your family, your needs and your budget.

Deck Collapse Leads to Dozens of Injuries

Whether you wanted to Heat or the Spurs to win, it surely was an exciting matchup, but unfortunately watching the game took a dangerous turn for many fans in Florida.

Local basketball fans gathered on the 13th of June at a North Bay Village, FL bar and grill to watch the NBA finals game. Nearly 100 people decided to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather and watch it outside on the restaurant’s large wooden deck. What they didn’t know is that the deck was unstable and would collapse, dropping patrons into the bay below. There were 24 reported injuries with two being serious.

Since the collapse, the city has been investigating what went wrong on this commercial property that was inspected back in January. The owners had to have their establishment inspected in the beginning of the year, but although the property’s building was signed off on, the deck wasn’t included in the inspection. County officials are looking into why. When the collapsed deck, which practically split in half, was looked at the day after, the structural issues were very clear. Most of the steel used to support the deck had corroded over time and couldn’t withstand the weight of the group.

It is unclear when the last time the deck itself was inspected.

One thing that is clear is that the load was way too much for the deck to hold. Its capacity according to local records is 74. With 26 extra people, it isn’t surprising that the deck failed. Now the restaurant owner is being sued by his patrons. They claim the owners had a duty to properly maintain the deck to ensure safety for those that go to the bar and grill.

This situation, unfortunately, is a common occurrence. Decks, like any structure need to be maintained and replaced over time. Their frame work will corrode and deteriorate through the years as it is exposed to harsh weather, and in this case, salt water.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we suggest that any deck over 7 years be inspected by a professional deck builder. If a younger deck is showing signs of needing work, we urge homeowners to have it looked at. A deck safety inspection will look at all parts of the deck, (boards, connections, structure, attachment, foundation, stairs, railings, etc.) and will evaluate where they are in its life. A checklist is done and recommendations are made. We sometimes see that while parts of the deck may need to be repaired or replaced, not everything has to. For example, boards may need to be replaced, but the deck frame may be just fine. Make sure to ask your inspector when the deck needs to be inspected again and when you should be ready to replace the entire structure.

Commercial decks usually have to carry a heavier load and receive more wear and tear. If you are a commercial property owner who has a deck, you have to make sure that it is safe for your patrons. Having regular safety inspections and making sure to do timely repairs will give you the peace of mind that your structure won’t collapse.

If you are worried that your deck isn’t in the best shape, please contact your local Archadeck office and have them come to your property for a deck safety inspection.

Source information for this blog are the Miami Herald and WCF Courier.

Fourth of July on the Deck

Whenever we are designing an outdoor living space for a client, we always ask how they intend to use the space. Many of our clients are sure to be using their deck, porch, patio, or other outdoor structure next week to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you are hosting friends and family for the holiday, here are some ideas that may help.

Make sure there is enough seating.
If you want to keep your party outdoors, you need to make sure there is enough seating to accommodate your guests. We often include built-in benches in our deck designs for those clients who entertain a lot. If you don’t have built in seating, most home improvement stores have outdoor chairs that aren’t too expensive or you can just bring some chairs out from around your kitchen table. As long as you remember to bring them in at the end of the night, you’ll be fine.

Think about the traffic flow.
Your outdoor living space may be set up perfectly for its everyday use, but it may need some tweaking to accommodate the flow of traffic for your party. Make sure that your furniture allows for people to move around and go to different part of the space. Consider having the food scattered throughout the space so everyone isn’t always hovering in one area.

Make sure it is safe.
If you have an older deck and you know that there is a good chance a lot of people will be on it at the same time, have it checked for safety. The last thing anyone wants in the middle of a Fourth of July celebration is a deck collapse. Call a professional deck builder and ask them to come out for a deck safety inspection. They will be able to tell you what needs immediate attention and what can wait. Trust us, the peace of mind of knowing your friends and family are safe is worth it.

Now that you know your outdoor space is ready for your party, let’s get to the fun stuff:

Make a festive drink.
Who doesn’t love a little red, white and blue on the Fourth? Here’s a yummy and easy Sangria that screams Independence Day. Cut up strawberries and star fruit and place in a pitcher. Add blueberries and a bottle of white wine. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and enjoy!

Get the grill going.
If you aren’t in the mood for hamburgers and hotdogs but want something quick and delicious, flank steak is a great option. It doesn’t take a lot of cooking time and you can’t go wrong with this marinade: 1/2c dry red wine, 1/2c soy sauce, 1/4c olive oil, 4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed), 1/4c parsley (chopped) and ½tsp black pepper (more if you like). Mix it all together and place in a container with the flank steak and refrigerate it overnight (or at least 10 hours). Your guests will love it.

Don’t forget dessert.
If you or your guests are anything like me, dinner doesn’t feel complete without a little something sweet. Entertaining can be tiring, so make dessert simple. Last year, I was served a Fourth of July kebab for dessert that was delicious. Get some kebab skewers and skewer on some marshmallows, strawberries, blueberries, and brownie or devils food pieces. It’s yummy and patriotic!

From all of us at Archadeck Outdoor Living, have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Building a Deck at Archadeck Corporate Headquarters

It’s been a few weeks since we updated you on the progress of our deck and patio installation at the Archadeck Outdoor Living headquarters, and there has been a lot done! We have a fully installed and functional outdoor kitchen and the large deck is in progress.

We didn’t show you in the last picture, but there is a smaller patio that is set down beyond the deck. It was installed at the same time as the rest of the Belgard paver patio and retaining walls. We designed the space with this extra patio for our outdoor kitchen as it could be a little removed from everything else. Our team of designers kept the layout of the kitchen simple, with a large grill (yes, we already broke it in) and some counter and storage space. The kitchen was finished with a natural stone to complement the Belgard patio pavers, but we chose a dark black countertop to dress it up a bit.

Once the patio and outdoor kitchen were complete, the Archadeck team of deck builders was hard at work on this 900 square foot composite deck. The footings were dug prior to the patio going down, but the deck frame took a few days to complete before the county inspected it. The frame was built using a pressure treated wood and you can see that each beam and joist were securely put in place with large bolts as no deck can be safely built with only nails (that’s a deck collapse waiting to happen).

After the county inspector came on site and passed the deck frame, we began laying our deck boards. For the decking material, we chose a TimberTech composite from their Evolution line. As we hope to get a lot of use out of the deck, including hosting corporate events, we needed something that would stand up against scratches and wear and tear, which TimberTech does.

You notice in the picture of the decking going down that you don’t see a lot of nails, and that’s because there aren’t any. These decking boards have hidden fasteners that lock everything in place without the need for nails, which helps create a clean look.

While building the deck, we also constructed the stairs leading down to the outdoor kitchen and small patio. The framing of the stairs were inspected at the same time as the deck and the decking began shortly after.

Unfortunately, as with many outdoor builds, Mother Nature hasn’t been too cooperative and has put us a little bit behind. The team is finishing the decking and then will begin on the railings. The railings will be white vinyl from TimberTech that will border the entire deck for safety and code purposes.

If you have questions about designing custom decks, porches, patios, sunrooms or some combination thereof, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Have Your Deck Checked During May’s Deck Safety Month

The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month back in 2006. May is the month that many homeowners start to spend extended time outside on their decks as the weather turns nicer. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t have their deck’s safety evaluated properly. Just because it is standing, doesn’t mean that it is safe!

According to NADRA, there are over 40 million decks in the United States that are over 20 years old. This is a scary idea for deck builders like us at Archadeck. Building and code requirements have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Those decks that were built 20 years ago most likely would not be considered safe or up to code by today’s standards.

At Archadeck, we suggest having any deck over 7 years old checked for safety. A professional deck builder can come out to home and check all the components of your existing structure. From there, you should get a list of any issues and how they can be addressed. When we do our deck safety inspections, for example, we often find problems with the deck that can be fixed quickly to extend the life of the structure. There are times, however, that we find that it is best to just replace the deck entirely to ensure that those enjoying it are safe and secure.

So what are deck inspectors looking for when they evaluate your deck? At Archadeck, we use the BE SAFER acronym to explain what we are looking at:

Boards – While most wood decking will show cracks over time, the overall condition of the boards need to be considered.

Every Connection – Hardware is key when considering deck safety. Every connection and fastener should be looked at to ensure safety and stability.

Structure – What is the condition of the posts, beams and joists that make up the skeleton of the deck? Is there any visible sagging?

Attachment – It’s imperative to check how the deck was attached to the house as that is where most deck failures occur.

Foundation and Footings – This part of the deck supports the weight of the structure and those who enjoy it. Foundations and footings need to be checked for sinking, sagging and separation from beams.

Exits – Are all of the exits from the deck, like stairs and ramps, in good condition?

Rails – Check that all parts of the railing system, posts, pickets and balusters, are sturdy, properly built and the correct height.

Before you host a barbecue with twenty friends, make sure that you have a deck safety inspection, especially if your deck is more than 7 years old. It will give you the peace of mind that you need to truly enjoy the spring and summer months. Call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up an inspection at your home.

Voting is Now Open for Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover

The time has come! Voting is now available for the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Out of over 2,000 photo entries, we’ve narrowed the field down to six and here’s where you come in. Logon to the Archadeck Facebook voting page to vote for your favorite finalists! Public votes will help us decide who the final winner will be. I can’t wait to announce the grand prize winner in mid-May!

After the winner is revealed, we’ll be keeping everyone abreast of each step of the process, from deck and patio design through construction and the final project. I’m particularly excited to learn more about how the winner envisions using the space and how we can make that a reality through our custom outdoor living design!

Congratulations again to all of our winners. Please visit the contest voting page to vote for one of these six finalists:

We hired a contractor to rebuild our deck and he did about half the work and abandoned to work sight. After inspection, we found out that nothing was to code and he did not have a contractors license. This was part of our retirement savings and now we will have to wait until we can save up the money to have the deck torn down and rebuilt.

We bought our first house last summer (2012), 3 days after the birth of our first child. It’s the “forever house” where we will raise our family. It’s a great house, but it needs some TLC here and there. One of those places is the backyard. Our house is on a corner lot and the house is situated at such an angle that the backyard is very exposed to the street. This exposure makes the curb appeal for our back yard as important as our front yard! We would love to have a beautiful new backyard to have parties and hang out with our friends and get to know our new neighbors. And when they all ohh and ahh over our awesome back yard, we’ll be sure to tell them that we owe it all to Archedeck! Be sure to leave plenty of business cards because I know we’ll be handing them out to friends and passers-by alike! Pick me! : )

As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining, and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and deteriorating, wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself is a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.

My husband and I are brand new homeowners and first time parents to a son…all within the same year. Both my husband and myself never had a private backyard to play in when we grew up (he grew up in the Bronx and I grew up in Queens, NY). So when we saw this house in Greenwich, CT with a private backyard overlooking a pretty pond we overlooked the ugly red, 1968, totally not up to code, beat up porch and thought this could be a great place to raise a family. We had to do a gut renovation of our house but didn’t have the funds to do any work on our backyard. This will be our first summer where our son can really enjoy the outdoors so we would love the opportunity to give him a space that is safe and enjoyable for friends and family BBQs. The photo is of my husband on our porch when we got the keys to our very first home.

We are of family of 8 with 6 kids ranging in age from 2 up to 11. That doesn’t include numerous neighborhood kids that all love to come over and play at our house. They all enjoy the outdoors and we would like to make our backyard a safe and fun place for them all to play as well as a beautiful spot for my husband and I to relax and enjoy. Our home is situated on a hill and the backyard is terraced. The retaining walls, made with railroad ties, are rotting away and our deck is falling apart. We would love to have a sturdy deck that we could sit on in the evenings, grilling out, and serving up a bunch of fun to all the kids.

My family and I are fortunate to live in a wonderful neighborhood surrounded by beautiful trees and great neighbors, but our fixer-upper leaves much to be desired. We recently purchased this home with stars in our eyes, creativity in our hearts, and a shoestring budget. The first words that came out of my husband’s mouth when we were viewing the back yard with our realtor were: “someday this will be the most amazing spot for a deck…” Our dream is magnificent, but our reality is daunting. The current state of our backyard makes me cringe every day when I open the curtains, or chase down my toddler and tell him “No, no – you can’t go back there”. Our dream deck would replace vines, a pile of concrete, construction debris, and other unsightly features that make the space unusable. We envision a tiered outdoor living space where we can grill, unwind, entertain, get to know our neighbors, let our toddler play, and enjoy the natural beauty of our neighborhood. We have a blank canvas on an amazing lot that is full of possibilities. We just need help to turn our dreams for this space into reality!

Deck and Patio Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor entertaining has emerged as a large theme in outdoor living. Many people really want a place for family and friends to gather and spend quality time outdoors.

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, it helps to have an outdoor space that was designed to accommodate that. A good patio or deck design will address flow and layout so that your outdoor parties are enjoyed by all.

Before we get into deck design ideas, if you are planning to have a barbecue or outdoor party and have an existing outdoor structure, make sure you have a deck safety inspection if you haven’t recently. The average lifespan of a deck is 10 years, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest having your first safety inspection when the structure is 5 to 7 years old. Just because the deck looks OK, doesn’t mean that it is structurally sound. A professional can come and give you an idea of the current shape of your deck as well as tell you what small fixes you can do to make it last longer.

When considering a new porch, patio, deck or combination outdoor project, make sure you tell your deck designer how you intend to use the space, especially if you are looking to entertain outdoors. Be specific so they can create a space that will fit all of your needs and wants. Planning to have your guests sit around in an outdoor living room is very different than needing an outdoor dining room.

Defining the different areas of your outdoor space is key to keeping the flow open and useful. Take this deck for example, I love that the dining area is clearly defined. In this instance it was done by elevating the area a bit, but this can also be achieved by adding a pergola or other roof structure to create a “room” or by switching the material pattern.

A space that is well designed for entertaining takes into account that entertaining means people and people means space to sit. For some homeowners that means an open space where they can place outdoor furniture. That allows for some flexibility if furniture needs to be moved or if you would like to switch out the furniture periodically. Other deck builders will include a built-in seating bench or retaining wall to accommodate guests. Normally benches or retaining walls are used both as a place to sit and a way to designate the use of the space.

When people entertain outdoors they sometimes like to do the respective cooking outdoors too. For that, an outdoor kitchen is perfect, however, the design should be able to hold more than just the chef. This outdoor kitchen is perfect for entertaining, for example, because it has space for people to circle around and talk while people cook on the grill or outdoor pizza oven. It keeps the chef in the middle of the action and conversation.

The key to any good patio or deck design idea is that it checks off your list of needs and wants. An outdoor living structure can be pricey, so it is best to be very clear with your deck builder what you want out of the space. If you aren’t sure, download our free Archadeck Design Guide. The guide asks a series of questions that will help you envision the backyard of your dreams.

Pool Decks for Every Yard

It’s the official beginning of spring which means the warm days of sunshine aren’t too far away. On a nice sunny day it is hard to find me anywhere but outside and one of my favorite spots to put my feet up and take in the sun is around my parents’ pool. They have a great pool deck that is a great place to spend some time outdoors.

A spa or pool without a deck looks incomplete. The outdoors should be an extension of your home with space to sit and relax around the pool as the kids jump inside. The size, color and material of pool decks are endless. There is a style for everyone, but the function is what is most important. A material that tends to be slippery when wet, for example, wouldn’t be a good idea around a spa or pool. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our franchisees have designed and built custom outdoor living spaces that fit all types of pools and spas. Take a look at these…

This first design is from our deck builder in Charlotte. The homeowners have a large backyard, but they wanted a mini sanctuary for their hot tub and outdoor shower that was private. They essentially wanted a room outdoors. Our designer designed a space that was beautiful, private and safe. The biggest issue when designing a spa deck is the weight of the spa. The weight of the tub, as well as the water needs to be accounted for to make sure the structure is safe for everyone using it. Additional foundation may be needed underneath to ensure there is no sinking. Our Archadeck of Charlotte team designed the space with this beautiful wood in mind. The wood decking for the deck and fence gives the area a spa like feel that I would love to relax in.

This pool deck in the Tri-Cities is on a large, rural property. The homeowners had an above ground pool that they weren’t getting enough use out of. They thought that having a deck built at the pool’s height would make the area more inviting. Our Archadeck designer decided to build a pool deck that had enough room for several lounge chairs and a slide for the kids. Because the homeowners had young kids that they wanted to keep away from the pool at times, the entire space was fenced in using vinyl deck railing. The only way to climb into the pool is off the deck.

I wouldn’t mind having this view from this pool deck in Charleston. This commercial area in South Carolina has a small in-ground pool and beautiful view, but until recently didn’t have the outdoor structure needed to pull it all together. The property owners wanted a space that visitors could sit and relax or dine on while enjoying the view and the pool. The pool already had pavers surrounding it and the Charleston deck designer was able to create a smooth transition from one space to another by adding a step onto the pool deck. The grey TimberTech decking complements the grey tones of the pavers beautifully.

This last pool deck comes from Austin, TX. The homeowners built a beautiful pool and spa area in their backyard that had a unique shape and wanted the new pool deck to mirror its curves. Our Archadeck of Austin team designed a low to grade curved deck to surround the pool on three sides. By making the deck low to grade, the deck was not only at the same height as the pool, but no railings were necessary for safety. The designer and homeowners agreed that adding railing would make the space more cut off from the rest of the property and obscure the views. I love the deep red color of the wood; with the spaces more natural surroundings, it goes with the more earthy feel of the space.

Pool decks are a great way to make a pool the center of an outdoor area. They make the space more welcoming to the homeowners and their guests. If you have an unfinished pool area or your current one needs an update, contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Our trained deck designers will make sure to create a space you love.

Outdoor Fireplaces: Some Design and Practical Considerations

Outdoor fireplaces are a great gathering space for friends and family. Available in a wide range of styles (for a wide range of budgets), the type of outdoor fireplace you choose for your home shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take time to consider what works best for your home and you’ll enjoy not only your time around the fireplace, but also a return on investment when it’s time to sell your home.

Design Considerations

A beautiful, modern design may include a concrete fireplace with a concrete bench attached. It’s stunning on the pages of the magazine. But, it doesn’t fit the style of your country home in the Midwest. So how do you know what works best for your home?

  • Identify the style of your home. Friends or family may know, or you can browse the Internet for this information.
  • Look at your design elements you utilize. The types of items you choose in your home will also appeal to you outside your home.
  • Browse the Internet and the pages of your favorite design magazines to find styles that appeal to you. Even if you can’t have that exact fireplace, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of fireplace you want.

Practical Considerations

The perfect outdoor fireplace may need some adaptation so it’s the perfect outdoor fireplace for your backyard. Look at your options practically so you know the fireplace you choose is the best option.

Zoning Regulations

Outdoor fireplaces are not allowed in every neighborhood. Check with city officials to find out if you can obtain a permit to install an outdoor fireplace.

Weather

Materials you choose for your fireplace should stand up to your climate. If you live in an area with ample rainfall, the materials you’re able to choose from will be different from areas with desert-like climates.

Sun

Consider the area where you will install your fireplace and make sure the setting sun doesn’t blind you when you gather around it.

Safety

Sparks generated by the fireplace should not be able to reach power lines or trees. It’s also important to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. An outdoor fireplace can also bring the most elaborate deck ideas to life, but be sure to choose materials that can sufficiently contain the flames and keep your deck out of harm’s way.

Space

A small yard may not accommodate a large fireplace. Alternately, if you have a large space, you need a fireplace that looks proportional.

With a little planning, and a lot of dialogue with a great contractor like Archadeck, you’re sure to enjoy an outdoor fireplace that’s both enjoyable for your family and a good investment for your home.

Enjoy Your View on an Elevated Deck

I recently visited my mother and father-in-law about 45 minutes away. During our visit, my husband and I walked the dog around the neighborhood as it has expanded significantly over the last few years. While we walked around, I noticed a theme on many of the houses: elevated decks. You see, the neighborhood itself is VERY hilly and many of the lots slope in the back. The main living space is anywhere from 20 to 40 feet above the ground below. Elevated decks allow them to easily enjoy the outdoors.

When properties have slopes, raised decks are a great way to provide a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces without any steep staircases connecting them. Imagine having to go down a 20 foot staircase just to throw your burgers on the grill when it could be so much easier?

The building of an elevated deck, however, does involve more than the standard deck. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, safety is our number one priority, both for the clients and our team of deck builders and we make sure we do everything to make the process go smoothly. It’s all in the planning of the build.

The first thing we look at is the skeleton of the deck. Elevated decks have to withstand a greater load so the footings are usually wider and set deeper into the ground. We also test the ground dirt to see how much it can bear and then use the required amount of cement at the base of the structure.

The taller the elevate deck, the taller the support posts have to be and the better the bracing. Bracing is used to strengthen the structure and prevent any sway which can cause safety concerns, especially with taller decks. The support posts, depending on weight may need to be larger than the standard width.

Different materials may also be used on elevated decks that don’t need to be considered for lower grade decks. For instance, steel may need to be incorporated for support.

Elevated decks, although they can be more difficult to build, allow for some great design features that aren’t available for other decks. For instance, under decking creates dry, usable outdoor space underneath the tall structure. And porches or rooms can be added to the structure. Take a look at these great Archadeck elevated decks.

Checking Your Outdoor Living Spaces after Sandy

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our passion is improving outdoor living spaces for families to enjoy and unfortunately strong storms and hurricanes like Sandy can bring havoc on such areas of the property.

As the weeks and months of recovery beginning, we wanted to offer guidance to those that were impacted regarding their outdoor living areas. High winds and rains can cause damage to decks, porches, patios, etc. and it’s important to look for that damage and have it repaired by a deck professional.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Exposed or washed out footings/foundations. Especially in areas where flooding occurred, it’s important to check and see if you can see the foundations of your deck or if the structure seems to have sunk. This is one of the most important safety components of your deck, so if you are worried about the structure, call your local deck builder to come and take a look.
  • Erosion under your deck or on your patio. The ground underneath a deck helps support the foundation of it. When the ground is washed away either by high winds or rain like many areas experienced due to Sandy, it weakens the structure. For patios, the pavers are locked in by compacted dirt and sand. Under harsh conditions some of the sand may be swept away, leaving the pavers loose and unsafe to walk on.
  • High winds may weaken decks, especially older decks. If any deck boards, railings or steps are loose and shaky, it’s important to have a professional come and look at the structural integrity of the project.
  • For structures that are attached to the house, check for any water infiltration at the place of attachment. For many homeowners that will be in the crawl space or basement of their home. If there is water dripping, it can cause damage to the structure of not only your outdoor living space, but your home.

Mother Nature can cause safety issues when it comes to outdoor living spaces. After big storms like Sandy, you should have an outdoor living contractor come and inspect your spaces. At Archadeck, we offer a deck safety inspection where we check all parts of your structure and provide recommendations as what you may need to do now and what you can plan for in the future.

Check Your Deck this Fall to Ensure your Deck is Safe

There has been influx of news regarding deck safety in the last few months. Both the Today Show and local news have covered deck safety and how, when not built or maintained properly, decks can be very dangerous.


Decks in general have to withstand a lot of outside influences including rain, snow, wind, temperature changes. Additionally, a lot of homeowners don’t invest in the routine maintenance that decks need. All of these factors can result in a deck failure that can cause serious injury.

According to the North American Deck and Railing Association, there are more than 40 million decks in the United States that are 20 years old or older. We at Archadeck Outdoor Living, recommend checking the structure of the deck each fall and spring if your deck is over 7 years old (the average deck needs to be replaced every ten years).

To help homeowners determine if their deck is safe or not, we have come up with the Acronym “BE SAFER.” Go outside and take a look at the be safer components. If you have concerns or questions regarding the safety of your structure, have a professional come and perform a comprehensive deck safety inspection.

  • Boards – check the deck boards for signs of rot, softness or major cracking.
  • Every Connection – Look for screws or nails that are breaking away from the deck or have rusted.
  • Structure – look at the posts, beams and joists that make up the framework of the deck. Pay special attention to any sagging that may be present.
  • Attachments – the attachment to the house is very important as it is where most deck failures occur. Take a look under your deck and verify it is connected to the house using the proper bolts (not nails!) and flashing for moisture protection.
  • Foundations/Footings – Look for sinking or sagging.
  • Exits – Check the exits of the deck (usually stairs). Are they sagging? Does the rail need replacing?
  • Rails – Look at the rail posts and rail sections and make sure everything is tight and not loose or wobbly.

Again, if you have any questions regarding the safety of your deck, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Outdoor Living Safety, it Doesn’t End at the Deck

Over the last few weeks there have been a few stories of deck collapses in the news where people were injured. We’ve talked about the importance of making sure your deck is safe to use, but safety in your outdoor living space doesn’t end at the deck.

A friend of mine spends a lot of time in his backyard doing projects. He’s cleaned up a lot of the dead trees and branches, cut back bushes and much more. After he removed a large tree, he decided to make a fire pit out of the stumps. For a while it was fine, but eventually the stumps burned up as well and parts of his yard were scorched that weren’t meant to be. Luckily no one was hurt and there haven’t been any more fires in the pit sense, but it did get me thinking about safety. Now I’m not DIYer, but I know a lot of people that really enjoy building things outdoors, but when building something you have to make sure that you are paying attention to local building codes, how you are going to use the space and what materials you are using.

Fire pits are one of the most commonly DIYed projects in outdoors. They’re small, so they must be easy to build, right? Wrong. Not all materials that people think would be fine for a fire pit are. You have to make sure you are getting the right type of stone, the right type of concrete, etc. Make sure that you talk to a professional about the best course of action to taking on that project.

Outdoor fireplaces, like indoor fireplaces, needs to be inspected from time to time to ensure their safety. Soot can build up in the flu and create blockages for the smoke. Also, because they are outdoors year round, they can be affected by the elements. Make sure you are checking for wear periodically.

Patios, walkways and retaining walls also need to be checked for safety periodically. People are constantly stepping on the edges of hardscapes (and sometimes sit on retaining walls). If the project is older some of the pavers or stones may become loose. If one slips when someone is on it, it can result in injury.

If you have any questions regarding the safety of your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. We will come out and check it to see what changes you need to make now and help you plan for future changes and upgrades.

Aging in Place Goes Beyond the House

A recent article from the ARA titled “Remodeling for Aging in Place Today will Help Sell Your Home Tomorrow” discusses changes you can consider to make your home more appealing to an older generation of buyers. “Aging in Place” is a term used for “design features that make it easier for older adults to live on their own longer. These modifications are the fastest-growing segment of the home remodeling industry, says the National Association of Home Builders.” Source.

I can relate to Aging in Place. My parents moved a few years ago and needed to take their age into consideration. Will they want stairs in the house in a few years? Do you need more lights in certain areas? Are wider hallways necessary? They thought about it all. But aging in place design goes beyond the inside of the home. There are features that can be considered to make your outdoor living spaces more convenient as you age.

Stairs are necessary evils sometimes, but certain design features can make them easier on your knees or can provide more support. They can be built wider both length and width wise with a smaller height change. It may result in more stairs, but less pain. Additionally, easy-to-grip railings are a good way to make sure you can keep your balance as you age. My grandparents even had brackets attached to the side of their doorways to help pull themselves up into the house if they needed.

For those people that can’t use stairs at all, ramps are a good option, but they don’t have to be the normal wooden ramps that you so often see. You can have them designed so they flow seamlessly into your space. For instance, instead of the wood skeleton, stone walls may line the edges.

At Archadeck, creating designs that work for you and your family now and in the future is important. How you’ll use the space in 5, 10, 20 years is an important thing to consider when you are investing a significant amount of money so make sure you tell your contractor your future plans.

If you have questions about aging in place design, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Collapse Sends Four to the Hospital

I love the Fourth of July. The barbecues with family and friends, fireworks and the red, white and blue always makes me smile. But unfortunately, for one family, an annual holiday party turned scary when their deck collapsed on Tuesday night before the Fourth.

Earlier this week, a family was having party on their deck in Littleton, CO when the structure broke away from the home at about 9:30pm. Those people who were on the deck at the time of the failure where dropped more than 10 feet to ground level. Luckily for everyone, no one was too seriously injured, but four people were sent to the hospital with bruises and broken bones (they were later released).

This probably wasn’t the holiday party the homeowners had hoped for. Upon looking at the structure, it became apparent that the deck was not up to current building code, resulting in the deck failure. As we discussed during Deck Safety month in May, when a deck is attached to the side of the home, it is strategically bolted to the structure of the home using what is called a ledger board. Instead of bolts, this deck in Littleton was attached using nails.

Nails are inadequate when it comes to providing the safety a deck connection needs. According to Structure Tech Home Inspections, nailed connections are probably the most common cause of deck collapses because they can easily pull out of ledger boards when significant pressure is placed on it.

The ledger board of a deck can usually be seen when accessing the deck from below. If you take a look at your deck from below and only see nails on the board (as opposed to bolts), make sure to call your local deck builder or contractor. Depending on the size of the structure and access to the ledger board, this can be easily fixed.

If you have a deck that you think needs to be replaced or have questions about overall deck safety, please call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Poor Deck Safety Leads to Proms Gone Wrong

Prom, it’s one of the best days in many students’ high school careers. Girls spend hours on their hair, makeup and nails before putting on their dresses and waiting for their dates to arrive. Pictures, pictures and more pictures are taken to make sure the memory lasts forever. 2012 is no different, except for two groups of students whose pictures sessions took an eventful twist.

Two groups of students (one in Wisconsin and one in Indiana) were taking pictures when the decks (one was a dock) collapsed. Luckily for them, no one was hurt and everyone was able to make it to prom.

Featured on the Today show (see video on Hulu here), this group of 13 Indiana students got together at one family’s home before heading to prom. As parents are taking pictures upward, the deck collapses. Looking at the video, it seems that the front part of the deck gave out by either due to a footing failure or a failure at the connection from the band/beam to the post.

This second deck failure comes from Wisconsin. Take a look here.

A joist connection failure or board failure could be the cause of this deck collapse. Joists are used to build the frame of a deck (or dock in this particular case). Here, a joist would have been located between the outside frame boards of the deck. When it failed, it could no longer support the boards holding the students.

In both of these examples, the students were lucky that no one was hurt, but that isn’t always the case. Injuries are likely to happen if someone is on an outdoor living structure when it fails. As a structure gets older, it’s important to have a professional come out and inspect its safety. They’ll make recommendations as to what needs addressed now and later so you can be confident in your deck’s safety when you are enjoying your outdoor spaces.

May is Deck Safety Month – BE SAFER on your Deck

In the last six years there have been over 179 deck failures resulting in 1,122 injuries and 33 deaths. Those are incredible statistics. It’s May, Deck Safety Month, and we at Archadeck Outdoor Living encourage those homeowners with decks over 10 years to have a thorough deck safety inspection (the average decks lasts 10 years).


“Many of us have delayed home repairs and improvement until they are absolutely essential,” says Rob Haislip, vice president of Archadeck. “Even then, sometimes homeowners don’t have enough information to decide when something is optional or truly a safety hazard that could result in an injury.” That’s why Archadeck offers deck safety inspections to those looking to see if they are in need of a deck repair or replacement. Our deck safety professionals will look at all parts of the deck and make recommendations regarding its safety so you can feel comfortable spending time on your structure with friends and family. It’s important to BE SAFER, an acronym we came up with to make deck safety easy to remember:

B- Boards. Look at the condition of your deck boards. While most wood will show some minor cracks and splits over time, boards should be good and not rotting or damaged.

E- Every Connection. Decks should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors. Check every connection on the deck to make certain that they are not corroded or compromised. Look for nails backing out, red rust and other sings of corrosion that can weaken the integrity of the deck.

S- Structure. If visible, look at the posts, beams and joists that provide the structural framework of the deck. Is there any noticeable sagging between supports?

A- Attachment. The attachment of the deck to the house is where most deck failures occur. Ensure that the deck is properly attached to the house with bolts (no nails!) and is properly flashed for water protection.

F- Foundation/Footings: The foundation/footings support the weight, also known as the load, on a deck and the columns that bear on them. A footing that is sinking may cause a noticeable sag in an area or a column to separate from a beam.

E- Exits. Check the areas where people exit from the deck, usually stairs. Check the condition of the material used on the stair stringers, stair treads and risers. Do the stairs require a handrail? Is there adequate lighting to safely use the exits at night?

R- Rails. Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing to make sure that they aren’t loose or wobbly. Verify that the pickets/balusters are fastened securely and spaced no more than four inches apart.

If you think your deck is in need of a safety inspection, please call your local Archadeck office and ask them to come and evaluate your existing structure.

Spring Has Sprung. Are your Outdoor Spaces ready?

The time for barbecues, outdoor games and deck sitting is almost here. The grass is turning greener and the flowers are starting to bloom. Just like your house, it’s important to prepare your outdoor living spaces with some spring cleaning and upkeep so you can enjoy it all season long without worry or work. Here are a few tips:

  • Sweep and hose off (or power wash if necessary) your outdoor living structures. Leaves, dirt and other grime can build up on your structures during the cooler months. Wash all of it away and start fresh each spring.
  • Check for safety. If you have an older deck (5+ years), have a professional come out and conduct a deck safety inspection as the winter elements can weaken outdoor living structures. The inspector should check all aspects of the deck including the boards, railings, stairs, etc and give you recommendations on if or when you may need to take action. It will give you piece of mind knowing that your deck is safe when you have guests at your next barbeque.
  • Scrub your outdoor furniture and rugs. No matter where you store your patio furniture, cushions or rugs, they will need some cleaning, but be careful to clean with the proper solution. Wood furniture will require a different cleaner than aluminum or plastic furniture. Read the directions on the bottle to make sure you aren’t going to harm your furniture or outdoor fabrics.

  • Take notice of your landscaping. Are there bushes or trees that have grown into your outdoor living spaces and need to be trimmed? Are there flowerbeds lining your structures that need to be tidied up or freshly mulched? If you do need to do some work, watch out for flowers that may bloom in the spring. For instance, we have azaleas alongside our deck that need to be trimmed, but I’m holding off until the blooms are gone and before they get their buds for next year. Here’s a great guide on when to prune different types of plants.
  • Check your outdoor lighting. Whether you have coach, deck, landscape or overhead lighting, make sure that everything is working properly. Do you need to have any bulbs replaced? Is anything obstructing the light spread?
  • Get the grill ready. Grills often need a good cleaning or tune up after a long season without use. Make sure everything is working properly before you are ready to throw on the burgers and hot dogs.
  • Get rid of any standing water. Unfortunately the warm weather has brought out the mosquitoes earlier this season than usual and they breed in standing water. Tossing over object like dog dishes, kids’ toys and loose tarps will cut down on the breeding sites in your yard (if you have a bad mosquito problem, check out our sister company Mosquito Squad).
  • Enjoy. By spending some time checking and cleaning your outdoor living space you are ready to sit back and enjoy your space throughout the spring and summer months.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.


The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.

The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Plan Your Outdoor Living Space Now and Enjoy it More this Year

It has been unseasonably warm throughout many parts of the country which makes me look forward to the warm days of Spring and Summer. I’m currently in the process of planning a lot of house projects, trips and events for the upcoming months. Why? Well, for one I’m a type A planner who likes to have things organized, and two, some of these things take time and I want to make sure I can enjoy them to the fullest, like updating my deck. You see, I know my deck needs some TLC and I want to make sure I can spend as much time as possible on it this Spring, so that means I need to get the ball rolling.


If you’re like me and enjoy your outdoor living spaces but are thinking of making some changes or may need to address certain aspects of the space, start now. Depending on what types of updates you would like to make to your outdoor living space, it may take some time.

Do you want new outdoor furniture? Look to see how long it will take to get it ordered and shipped so you have it at the beginning of the season. Some companies may have a quick turnaround while custom orders may take up to 12 weeks.

A custom outdoor living space can take up to three months from the first contact with a contractor through design and permits to the completion of the build. The longer you wait to start the project, the less time you get to enjoy it on the sunny and warm days of Spring and Summer.

Even if you aren’t in the market for a new deck, porch, pergola or gazebo, you may want to have your existing structure inspected for safety. Winter conditions will wear on an outdoor living structure so it is important to have it inspected by a professional if it is older than 5 years. You may not need a full replacement, but you may need some extra screws or a few new boards. A quick inspection now will ensure you can safely use your structure the rest of the year.

Outdoor Living is important to all of us here at Archadeck and we want to make sure you get the most out of your spaces outside. If you have any questions, please visit Archadeck.com.

Contact Us