With summer festivities quickly approaching, ensuring your outdoor space is safe and structurally sound is essential. Even the smallest maintenance efforts can help you kick off deck season with confidence. In honor of May’s Deck Safety Month, here are the best tips to keep your entire outdoor living area in top shape:
Ideally, a quick deck inspection should take place every year before the deck season begins. Even if your deck’s surface has been finished with a longer-lasting material like composite decking, its structure may still be at risk. Check the support posts, beams, joists, deck boards, railing, fasteners and connectors to ensure they are in good condition. Usually the first board installed, called the ledger board, is a great place to start looking for damp areas or small holes in the wood that might indicate termite damage or moisture decay. If something looks questionable, call a professional in to take a look.
It is no secret that your deck will be exposed to the elements, but it is not just the structural material that is at risk. All metal connectors, screws and nails will be exposed to just as much rain, sunlight and wind, and should be checked for corrosion or other damage. Be sure to check for popped nails, tighten loose screws and replace any rusted or corroded fasteners to keep them from deteriorating the surrounding wood.
Build it right:
Like any structure, decks and patios must be built to withstand the weight they will hold. People and furniture will make up the obvious load on a deck, but weather elements such as wind and snow can also add to that load. Safe decks are built with materials that have been tested for load-bearing, so to ensure that winter weather hasn’t weakened your deck, check the safety of your railings and stairs annually, which includes looking for any signs of rot or decay in stair stringers and risers. Local building departments or contractors will have expert advice on which materials are the best fit for your deck, and if you are planning to do-it-yourself, they will be a great resource for you to make sure your structure meets all building and safety codes.
If your deck is built with ChoiceDek, you won’t have to do much of this! It is important to perform regular maintenance duties in order to keep your deck beautiful and safe. Water repellant sealants and stains can protect wood boards from moisture, which not only keeps them looking good, but can sometimes even extend the life of a deck board. If the amount of maintenance that comes with a traditional wood deck is daunting to you, there are other options out there. Materials like composite decking only simple annual cleanings, leaving you with more free time to enjoy your deck.
Your deck is an expansion of your house and should be used as much as possible. If you are uncertain about the safety of your deck, contact a professional to help with an inspection so you can get back outside quicker.