Did you know May is Deck Safety Month? Unfortunately, as people begin enjoying the outdoors each spring, we also begin to hear news of porch and deck collapses. Before you have your first family barbecue of the season, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at your deck or porch to ensure that it remains in good shape and is ready for use.
At Archadeck of Raleigh, Durham and the Greater Triangle, we recommend you check your outdoor structure annually. Most homeowners can get a general sense of a change in the safety of their deck by jumping on it, wiggling the railings, and paying close attention to visual defects. However, for a more thorough home deck inspection, check the 5 areas listed below, starting from the ground and working your way up. When you do your inspection, if anything looks amiss, or if you are unsure about the assessment itself, we recommend having a professional contractor, such as Archadeck, conduct a more thorough inspection.
1. Foundation & Columns
- Check where your supports meet the ground for rot or decay. (If the wood feels spongy or breaks off without splintering it could indicate rot.)
- Examine deck supports for holes. This could indicate insect damage.
- Stand back and look at the supports from a distance to check for sagging or sinking.
- Check to be sure there is lateral bracing on any deck over 4 feet above the ground. (Added support beams running from the columns to the main framing structure — usually at a 45 degree angle.)
- Inspect fasteners or brackets on deck supports. Look for damage, rusting, or bending and be sure the hardware looks properly attached.
2. House Attachment & Framing (best done from underneath)
- Look closely where the deck attaches to your home or structure. Make sure nothing looks or feels loose. Ensure it is attached with screws and bolts, rather than nails.
- Inspect your moisture barrier/flashing between the deck and your home. If it is loose, cracked, peeling, or even missing, water could be leaking into your home’s structural framing. (This is one of the most common failures, quickly leading to rot and water damage.)
- Look underneath at your deck’s framing. Make sure joists are attached securely to framing and foundations. If you have noticeable sagging, your joists could be over-spanned (too far apart) which can lead to deck failure.
3. Deck Boards (Move to the top of the deck to continue your check.)
- Inspect the fasteners that hold your deck boards in place. Make sure they are not coming loose.
- Look for rotted, splintered, split, or otherwise damaged boards.
- Visually evaluate the overall condition of your deck for re-sealing/staining needs.
- Scrutinize railing posts, making sure they are properly secured with appropriate fasteners.
- Inspect for missing or damaged spindles.
- Examine the rail cap for splinters, rot or warping.
- Inspect the frame of your stairs for cracks, splits, rot, or damage.
- Review stair tread and riser boards for overall strength and condition. Look for splits, cracks or other damage. Feel for looseness.
- Examine closely where your stairs attach to the deck. Look and feel for adequate strength and support.
If any of these items catch your attention, it is time to call for a professional deck inspection so the problem can be assessed and corrected as soon as possible. Archadeck of Raleigh Durham and the Greater Triangle offers a thorough deck safety inspection that can help you gain peace of mind for years to come. Call today (919) 446-5585. We look forward to working with you!