If you have a deck, you and your family might find that you spend more time outside than inside during the summer months (and even well into the fall)! There’s nothing like firing up the grill and enjoying a breezy Carolina night outdoors. You might not, however, have stopped to ask yourself if your deck is in good shape after enduring another winter. It’s important to inspect your deck at least once per year to make sure it is safe for you and your loved ones.
This guide showcases six key things you should look for every year before you start using your deck on a regular basis. You might want to print this guide and put it somewhere you know you will see it before you have your first barbeque of the season next year. No matter how much you love your outdoor space, it’s not worth risking your family’s safety by not double-checking these issues annually!
The Wood Itself
If your deck is made from real wood, you need to carefully look at each board, making sure there are no cracks or holes. Decaying boards need to be replaced immediately, as they could cause someone to fall through, leading to potentially serious injuries. Rotten boards will be any combination of discolored, spongy, and splintered.
Any cracks should be tested with a flathead screwdriver. If it goes over ¼” into any openings, you should consider replacing the board. Holes should be watched carefully, as they could be an indication of the presence of destructive insects, such as termites.
The Ledger Board
Ledger boards connect decks to houses, making them quite important in the world of deck construction. If there is a noticeable gap between your ledger board and the exterior wall of your house, you should inspect each screw in the ledger board. Typically, galvanized screws at least ½” long need to be used to secure this type of board.
Flashing is put around the ledger board to prevent it from molding and rotting. If the flashing is detaching from your house or if the caulk seals appear to be broken, it is probably time for new flashing to be installed.
In order to keep your friends and family members safe, it is essential to have solid railings on your deck. This is especially true if you have children in your household or often have them as visitors. To inspect your rails and balustrades, shake them firmly to see if they give at all. If they wiggle, you need to make sure they are re-secured before you begin using your deck for the season.
Furthermore, if it has been a while since your deck railings were installed, you might want to make sure they still meet all city-mandated building codes, especially if you’re going to be doing repairs anyway.
The Support Posts
To inspect your deck’s support posts, you will need to walk around underneath of it, shaking each post firmly. If they move at all, you should replace the ½” bolts that are securing them to your deck. For the sake of safety, support posts should be a minimum of 6” square and should not exceed 14-feet in height.
If your deck has a stain or a finish coat on it, make sure you look at it before concluding your annual deck inspection. Any areas that have mold or mildew on them need to be cleaned and restained or resealed. You may also want to power wash your entire deck on a yearly basis.
If you are interested in having renovations done to your deck, or if you’d simply like assistance with your annual deck walkthrough, someone from the Hatch Homes team would be happy to meet with you at your convenience. We want all of our clients to have safe, fun summers enjoying their outdoor spaces and we are committed to making sure your deck is the best it can be!