Deck Safety: 5 Tips To Check Your Deck

Posted on March 6, 2017

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In the beginning of March, it can feel like these cold days will never end. The nice thing is that it is on the tail end of winter, so you know that barbecue weather is just around the corner. What better way is there to enjoy the great outdoors than to grill on a deck when the weather is nice?

Family barbecuing on a deck in the forest

A family enjoying their outdoor deck.

I personally love being outside with my kids while my husband is grilling. My daughter loves taking her homework outside and doing it on our patio furniture while we wait for dinner to finish cooking on the grill.

Are you ready to enjoy your outdoor living space when the weather turns nice? It is important to check your main outdoor living space: your deck. Before you host any family gatherings, check your deck so that you can have the peace of mind of knowing it is safe, strong and sound. While we recommend getting a professional deck inspection, here are some deck safety tips that can help you get started:

Learn About Critical Deck Connections

If you are like me and not too handy with tools, you may not even know where to start when it comes to checking your deck. A great place to start is with the Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Connection and Fastening Guide.

Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Connection and Fastening Guide

Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Connection and Fastening Guide

We have a page on critical deck connections that will help you understand all of the key connections on a deck that create a continuous load path such as joist-to-beam, ledger attachment and others.

Look for Loose Deck Connections

Your deck’s important connections could weaken over time. Keep an eye out for loose stairs, wobbly railings and loose ledgers. All of these are warning signs of a dangerous deck.

Check the Wood On Your Deck

Wood can rot and decay over time due to exposure to the elements. Take a look and see if there is any decay in the wood. Rotted wood should be replaced. Look for wood that is cracked, spongy or feels soft. Use a poker to poke at your deck to find rotted wood. Rotted wood easily gives way to the tip.

Round wooden planks, with the middle one broken.

Here is an example of a broken plank due to wood rot.

Watch Out for Rust

Over time, the metal connectors and fasteners can corrode if a product with less corrosion resistance was installed in your deck. Outdoor environments are more corrosive to steel, so it is crucial to select corrosion resistant connectors and fasteners. Other sources of corrosion are chemicals from preservative-treated wood, fire retardants, fertilizers, acid rain and fumes.

Shallow focus on an residential house deck board plank that has warped and is curling up from exposure to the elements outside.

Rusted nails on a deck.

Get a Professional Deck Inspection

While the tips above can help you get started, there is nothing like the peace of mind of getting a professional deck inspection. A professional can assess the safety of your deck based on location and the materials used to build your deck and make safety recommendations that you can feel secure about.