"It's springtime and we all want to get out and enjoy our decks," says Bob Lett, vice president of market development for WOLF Home Products. "NADRA wants to help keep homeowners safe. Deck maintenance means so much more than just cleaning your deck. It means making sure your entire deck structure is in good, safe order. Just like your car, you need to evaluate, 'tune up' and keep your deck in safe operating condition on a regular basis. This checklist from NADRA can help you do just that."
Key areas of the deck to check during Deck Safety Month include:
1- Search for split or decaying wood. Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is still sound, including the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house and a common source of deck failure), support posts and joists under the deck, deck boards, railings and stairs. Look for soft, spongy areas in wood that can indicate insect damage or decay.
2- Test railings and banisters. Assure the security of these key pieces of the deck by gently pushing on them to assure they are firmly attached with no "give" that could indicate failure. Then, get the yard stick out. Most codes require a 36” high railing (and usually encourage 42” high railings) with rails placed no more than 4” inches apart (measured from the inside of the rails) to keep small children and pets from squeezing through.
3- Check your fasteners. Over time, fasteners may "pop" from wood, loosen or even corrode. Check nails, screws or anchors and reinforce or replace anything that looks suspicious.
4- Step carefully. Check each step to make certain of security and lack of decay. If an area behind the stair treads is open, this opening should be no more than 4” high. A fast tip is to also keep stair pathways clear of planters, décor, toys and other items that can present a tripping hazard.
5- Clean up debris. Make it a priority to clean away leaves, branches or other debris from your deck. When left in place, these can be slippery and promote mildew. If you're already seeing mildew on the deck, or the deck coating has worn away, now is the time to clean and apply a new waterproof coating.
"Your deck and stairs should appear even without sagging, and should not sway or move when tested," says Lett. "Plus, it's important to check on anything used on the deck, such as grills, lighting, storage and furnishings. Making these easy evaluations part of your yearly springtime maintenance can help keep your entire family safe."
For a complete 10-point consumer safety checklist and more deck safety tips from NADRA, visit http://bit.ly/NADRA10PointConsumerChecklist.
The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks. For more information visit http://NADRA.org.