Summer entertaining frequently means being outdoors for drinks, games, grilling, and relaxing. Before you invite family and friends to join you, take a moment to look at your deck. If your deck is more than 30 years old, it’s time to do some serious inspecting.
According to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), there are about 50 million decks in North America; 40 million are residential and 10 million are commercial. Twenty million to twenty-five million of these decks are 30 years old.
The experts at This Old House have provided some interesting and useful thoughts about your deck. Here are some of their recommendations on inspecting your deck.
Wood tends to split a bit with wear, but certain kinds of cracks signal problems. Pay particular attention to a crack in the middle of a deck-joist span. Decks are typically built on joists spaced 16 or 24 inches apart, depending on local regulations.
Because of a deck's "tremendous" exposure to the elements, consider staining it at least every few years to prevent cracks and other problems. Avoid power washing which can rip into the fibers of the wood and weaken it.
A little rot may seem harmless enough, but that's a no-brainer that needs attention and sooner is better than later in the rotted wood area.
Deck railing is an essential safety feature for the gathering spot. It might also seem like the perfect place to take a seat during a crowded gathering, but it's not. Avoid sitting on or pushing against the rail. Railings are supposed to withstand about 200 pounds of lateral force. If it sways when you push on it, have an inspector check it out.
Mold and Mildew Growth
While a green tinge on a deck in the shadows is nothing to bat an eye at, growths like mushrooms or fuzzy mold, however, require attention. Stairs are particularly susceptible to dangerously slick surfaces from mold or mildew growth.
Pops, Creaks, and Unusual Give
For any change in your deck that seems to happen overnight, get an inspector's opinion. When you walk across the deck to your favorite chair and hear a creak that wasn't there before, the noise needs to be checked out. The same goes for a deck surface that feels spongey or springy.
Call a Pro
Like many parts of your home, your deck can fade into your everyday landscape, causing you to overlook dangerous defects that an outsider could spot. Get your deck inspected every few years. You can find an inspector at ASHI's website or the North American Deck and Railing Association.
Dean and Draper
Have a great summer enjoying your time outdoors. When you have questions about your insurance, we invite you to call us. We’re here to give you well informed answers.
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