Q: Is my home's deck safe?
A: The odds aren't in your favor.. Chances are that you will find something that can be a threat to your safety!
Fact: There are more than 2 million home decks built and/or replaced every year in North America. It is estimated of the 45 million existing decks, only 40% of them are completely safe!
Decks appear to be a simple build. Because of this, many builders (or DIY homeowners) do not consider that decks should be able to handle many types of stress.. These stresses include the weight of people, appliances, high-wind storms, snow loads, and seismic activity.
Improper deck installation is a safety hazard, almost every single deck collapse occurs while occupied. This can lead to serious injury, or even death..
More decks collapse during the summer.
Why? There is more activity during this time. Who doesn't enjoy going outside and having a cookout with your family, during the summer? Not to mention, walking out to witness these amazing Oklahoma sunsets!!
What should I look for?
The most common problems that lead to deck failure are improper ledger board attachment, heavy loads, deck post wood rot, and insufficient handrail/guardrail support.
Ledger board failure: Separation of the deck from the house via the deck ledger board, this allows the deck to pull away from the house and eventually, collapse. Causes include improper fastener attachment, and improper attachment to the homes structure.
Heavy loads: Hot tubs filled with water and people are heavy and can weigh a couple of tons. Most decks are designed for loads of 40 to 60 pounds per square foot. Hot tubs require framing that can support more than 100 pounds per square foot.
This image depicts, likely deck load distribution. People tend to gather near the railings of a deck. As a result, loads are improperly distributed across the deck.
Deck Post Wood Rot: Posts that are in contact with soil should be pressure-treated and oriented so the cut end is above grade. This prevents wood rot, which can lead to instability and deck failure while occupied.
Insufficient handrail/guardrail support: Guardrails should be supported by posts every 6ft. Otherwise someone could lean on the guardrail and fall, due to separation from the deck. Handrails also require support from posts. It is uncommon knowledge that handrails should be graspable! Imagine falling and reaching for the handrail, only to touch something that is wide and ungraspable... Ouch... Many deck handrails consist of 2x6 lumber or decking, this is not safe. Handrails should be graspable, continuous and smooth.
Decks are an awesome thing to have! They serve many purposes, it can be a great place for social gatherings and a place where you can lay back and relax in your outdoor spa. Just remember to insure that your deck is safe!
If you feel that your deck is unsafe, don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email! We are more than willing to help and answer any questions that you may have!
Gerardo Angeles Jr.