Having a deck for relaxation and entertainment is every homeowner's dream, but the dream can turn into a nightmare is your decking or deck railings collapse. A good decking contractor
knows how to make a deck that will remain secure under the heaviest load, but if you have an older deck or want to construct a DIY deck, how can you know that your deck is safe? Use this decking safety checklist to get you started, ask your decking materials supplier
for their advice and avoid making the most serious mistakes.
1. Deck anchoring
Safety begins at ground level and your decking posts must be firmly anchored to the ground or the entire structure could collapse. Different materials and ground surfaces require different types of deck anchoring systems and techniques, so check with your decking supplier and spare no expense to ensure your deck is firmly anchored to the ground.
2. House anchoring
A deck is not a free-standing construction. A vital part of its safety depends on how well it is anchored to your house. Nails or screws do not provide adequate anchoring: you need to use bolts.
3. Decking floor
Your decking floor must be of sound construction, consisting of the right sized beams and joists. They must be properly spaced and firmly fastened together. Use galvanised brackets instead of nails to fasten beams to posts and joists to beams. The old "toenailing" nail technique is not sufficient to support your deck long term.
4. Rail posts
Deck railing posts must be firmly anchored to the deck using the appropriate fasteners. They must be spaced closely enough together to ensure there are no weak areas between the rails.
Stairs, even if there are only one of two of them, must have banisters. Even a short fall can have serious consequences and young children, elderly and physically handicapped persons need a handrail for support and balance.
A safety gate is vitally important, but often overlooked. Even if there are not small children in your family, visiting children will be tempted to try to walk down the stairs. Falls from deck staircases are a major source of children's accidents around the home.
If you have a timber deck
, the finish you use will determine how long your decking remains strong and stable. Ask your decking sealing and finishing supplier
what types of finishes you need to protect your deck from rot and termite infestation. Finally, each type of decking material requires some different construction techniques. Timber, aluminium, PVC and composite decking materials are all safe materials to use, but only if they are used as directed, using the right techniques and fasteners. If you are in doubt about your ability to build a safe deck, contact a decking construction
expert in your area and let them do the job for you. As the old adage says: "Better safe than sorry."