With deck and BBQ season fast approaching it's time to take a look at your summer playground.
Start with the basics:
-What is the condition of the paint or stain on the deck? If it is peeling or missing water can penetrate the wood causing rot.
-Check for rot. Have any floor boards or railings rotted over the winter. It puts a real downer on the party when your friend comes over and puts his leg through the deck.
-Check railings and guard-rails for weak areas or missing balusters. Remove any climbable features to keep kids safe.
Then go a little deeper:
-Check the joists for rot. These are the lateral pieces on end under the floor of the deck. They are also susceptible to rot and are less visible but a very important structure of the deck. Use a screwdriver to poke at different areas of the wood to discover rot. Cantilevered decks (where the deck joist is part of the floor of the interior of the home) are particularly susceptible.
-Inspect beams and columns for leaning, twisting, sagging, and proper end Bering. Minimum end bearing for a wood beam is 1 1/2".
-Prevent wood/soil contact when ever possible.The bottoms of stairs and columns is a good place to look.
-Inspect the stairs for loose or rotted wood. If rot is present replacement is the only acceptable option.
Maybe one of the most important things to do is to add lag bolts and washers to the ledger board. The ledger board is the board that is connected to the home and holds the ends of the joists with joist hangers. 99% of the time this board is simply nailed on. If you have your friends out on the deck to see the view there is a lot of force trying to pull the deck away from the house causing collapse. Nails have little strength to counteract these forces so it is recommended the ledger board have lag bolts with washers that drill into the structure of the home securing the deck.
Inspecting the deck only takes 10-15 minutes and can help ensure your summer continues safely and smoothly. Have fun!