Your deck is the perfect place to enjoy warm weather with friends and loved ones. However, a poorly maintained or unsafe deck could possibly collapse, causing serious injuries to you and your guests. This month, experts at the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) recommend homeowners check their decks before starting any family activities.
“Our number one priority and message to the public is to ensure that the decks they use are safe,” said Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of NADRA. “Outdoor structures like decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow and extreme temperature changes over the years. The need to maintain and inspect them is critical for keeping decks strong and safe.”
NADRA has created campaigns and educational programs, along with certifications for home inspectors, deck builders, remodelers, builders, code officials, engineers, architects, distributors, lumberyards and manufacturers to improve proper installation practices. The organization has also developed checklists and safety awareness information for consumers to assure they have details available to them to evaluate their decks. With an estimated 40 million residential and 10 million commercial decks in the United States that are more than 20 to 30 years old, it is important for homeowners to check their deck on a yearly basis.
A key element to enjoying your deck for years to come is making sure it is safe and code compliant. NADRA’s “10-Point Consumer Safety Checklist” is an efficient way to take a good look at the different parts of your deck, with an eye to what might need maintenance, repair or replacement. The checklist can be found at www.nadra.org/deck_evaluation_form.pdf.
Homeowners should consider a professional deck inspection. “A professional inspector will thoroughly examine your deck, provide information on your deck’s capacity limits, identify any dangerous problem areas and give you some insight of what to keep your eye on in the future,” said Beaudry.
Older decks require closer scrutiny and regular inspections. Many decks were built before code requirements were established to protect consumers. Some of these older decks may have deck-to-house attachments using only nails instead of the current recommended construction using deck tension hardware that greatly helps in the prevention of ledger failures.
“We recommend ASHI-certified home inspectors or a knowledgeable deck builder for inspections of older decks,” said Beaudry. “Our NADRA member deck builders are required to adhere to a code of ethics and comply with state licensing and insurance requirements.”
Deck inspection requires special knowledge, expertise and experience. NADRA offers training and certification for its members along with ASHI home inspectors and others interested in professional deck inspection.
NADRA is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks. For more information visit www.nadra.org.