May is Deck Safety Month, and each year building professionals — deck builders, contractors, manufacturers, and home inspectors — emphasize the importance of inspecting the residential deck to ensure it is safe and secure for the warm weather season. Most homeowners can perform their own precursory inspections with the steps outlined below.
1. Check deck boards
Whether it’s a composite, PVC, or wood deck boards, check for any damage from the winter. Look for loose, rotting, or warped boards, and replace or add a finishing coat of paint or stain. While checking the boards, look for any rusted or corroded nails or fasteners and replace them with Grip-Rite fasteners.
2. Examine railings and banisters
Check that banisters (posts) are properly fastened and secured (with brackets or per the manufacturers’ recommendation). Ensure railings are accurately spaced and follow the 4-inch sphere rule, and if you notice loose or wobbly connections, repair or replace them as necessary.
3. Inspect stairs
Ensure stair stringers are sturdy and secure to the deck frame from the surface to the landing area. Like deck boards, check stairs for loose, rotting, or warped boards and replace them as necessary. Check the handrail for grasp-abilty, and that it is continuous and smooth.
4. Check underbelly connections
Check for any deck ledger connections that have pulled away from the home (if applicable) and are connected appropriately to the deck joist. Check the posts, beams, and footings are stable and secure.
5. Check for pest damage, mold, and mildew
Pest damage can occur on exterior structures no matter your location. Check for nesting areas and any insect damage; treat appropriately. Mold and mildew grow on everything, from humid to wet and cold regions. Clean off any residual mold and mildew with a deck cleaner.
6. Clean your railings
Most deck surfaces only require washing off the debris collected over the fall and winter months. For railings, especially if you have cable railings, use a mild detergent and soft cloth to clean and protect your cable railings. We offer RailFX EZ-Clean that cleans and protects all season long.
These quick tips are easy for most homeowners to inspect the deck and detect any quick fixes. Keeping up with regular maintenance is essential to ensure your deck lasts for years to come.
If your deck is older than 10-years or you detect some problem areas, it is recommended that you seek a building professional to conduct a thorough inspection for peace of mind.