A Homeowner Safety Checklist When Building a Deck

Updated: Jan 15

Homeowner Safety checklist: 

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Condition of Wood:

- When wood on a deck is cracked, rotted, curled, buckled or pulling loose replacement is needed. Prime locations for decay and failure start at the ledger board where the deck is attached to the house. Look for decay in support posts where posts meet the ground. Check post attachments at the deck and where posts are attached to piers at the ground.

-If you can easily penetrate ¼ – ½ inch, break off a sliver of wood without splinters, or the wood is soft and spongy, decay may be present and damages sections should be replaced.

Flashing:

-Flashing is a metal or plastic guard that directs water away from the house and away from bolts and joist hangers at the surface of the ledger board. Keeping water and debris from collecting between the house and the deck’s ledger board is essential to help prevent damage and decay. Be certain the flashing is not loose, has no holes, is not corroded and extends away from the house far enough to protect bolts and joist hangers.

Loose or corroded fasteners:

-Fasteners include nails, screws, bolts, lag screws or anchors. Tighten any loose fasteners, and pound in any nails that have popped up.

(Note: A ledger board should not be fastened with only nails.)

-If a fastener appears rusted or corroded, all should be replaced.

Railings and banisters:

-All railings should be secure. Push on them to be sure there is no give. If railing move or wobble with little effort, securing or replacing some elements is needed.

-Measure railings to make sure they are high enough (most codes require a 36” high railing and usually encourage 42”

high railings) openings between balusters (pickets) should not allow the passage of a  4” sphere this to keep small children and

pets from squeezing through the openings.

Stairs:

-A deck and/or stairs should be even without sagging and neither should, wobble, sway or move when walked upon

- Check to make sure stair stringers are not cracked and where needed stairs are supported at or near mid the mid-span between deck and the ground check to see  if stairs are securely attached to the deck.

-Stairs should always terminates on a smooth and stable concrete, stone or masonry landing area

Cleaning and maintenance:

-Clean away leaves and debris, these can be slippery and promote mildew.

-If mildew is present or the deck coating is worn away, clean, smooth and apply a new waterproofing coating.

A good waterproof coating can prevent wood from splits and decay.

Protect your family and friends:

-Do not use a fire pit unless the fire pit manufacturer installation instructions allow usage on a wood deck.

-Always use caution and always follow a manufacturers’ installation and operating instructions.

Lighting and electrical:

-Be sure all lighting is working; clean any light covers to allow maximum light to shine through, and trim any plants or tree limbs that may be blocking light.

-All waling surfaces including stairs and landings should be illuminated. NOTE: A spot light on the corner of a roof, if directed toward stairs and walking surfaces can be an effective method of illumination.

-Be sure all electrical outlets, appliances and other features are in good operating condition and are childproof.

Outdoor Furniture &Storage:

-Test all outdoor furniture to be sure it is sturdy. Avoid placing seating right at the edge of the deck. If you have a swing or hammock installed, test the chains and ropes to be sure they are secure. Consider installing childproof latches on any storage boxes and benches.

-Be sure to keep all deck related chemical products stored safely away from children, including BBQ lighter fluids, matches, cleaners, etc.

Surrounding trees:

-If you have trees overhanging your deck, make certain there is no danger of decaying limbs breaking free and falling from trees surrounding the deck.

The above checklist is provided by Deck Builders USA, LLC - NADRA's check list can be downloaded HERE

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