Deck Check: Stairs, Railings, Furniture, and Decor

Posted on Posted in Deck Safety

This month is Deck Safety Month. You may have done an inspection of your deck, but have you checked your stairs and railings, not to mention the décor and furniture that are on your deck?

Stairs and railings are often neglected during inspection and maintenance, which is unfortunate because both components are crucial to the safety of friends and family on your deck. Broken railings and stairs are a leading cause of deck related injuries.

Years ago, there weren’t any codes to adhere to when constructing these elements. However, with the existence of building codes today, it is plain common sense to make certain that not only are decks are in compliance with local building codes but our deck stairs and railings as well. This blog has some articles regarding codes and you may find them here as a quick reference: US Building Codes for Wood Decks, International Building Code for Stairs, and US Building Codes for Deck Railings.

Stairs are the natural passageway for people to access your deck and for attached decks, an alternate route into your home as well. As such, stairs have the highest weight-to-square-foot ratio among all the elements of the deck. Often in attached decks, the stairs are use to move large and heavy objects inside and outside your home.

 

(from www.lowes.com)
(photo from www.lowes.com)

The stringer is the diagonal supporting structure that carries the weight of stair assembly as well as the people using the stairs. Make sure the deck stairs’ stringer is properly secured to the top landing of the deck. Movement in the stringer can lead to separation of the connection between the treads and the stringer leading to stair collapse. Check for loose, rotted, bowed, and/or damaged stringer.

Examine the connectors. Specialized hardware is required in order to support heavy loads. Check if the hardware is in good condition – no loose nails or any signs of corrosion. If there are, repair or replace these as soon as possible.

As with the deck itself, check all parts of the stairs including the treads, balusters, and handrail for water damage, wood rot, cracks, and protruding nails and screws.

The second most common cause of deck-related injuries is railing failures. People naturally lean against the railing while enjoying themselves on the deck. Tragic accidents may happen if the railings are not in a stable condition. Including railings in your Deck Check will ensure that the time you, your family, and your friends spend on the deck will truly be enjoyable.

Test for loose railings. Gently shake the railing. If it gives even just a little bit, it is time to repair or replace the railing. Inspect for rusty and loose fasteners. When the fasteners fail, the railing can’t support a person’s weight, and tragic accidents may ensue. For older decks built during the time when there weren’t building codes for railings, it is possible that nails were used as fasteners. Nails don’t have the capacity or fastening strength to hold the rails. Now may be the best time to replace the nails with stainless brackets and bolts. This will give the rails secure connection as well as the ability to bear weight.

Check all railing parts for water damage and wood rot as well, just like all the other parts of the deck.

Another thing you should not overlook while doing your Deck Check is your deck’s furniture and décor. These objects may seem trivial but if these aren’t in good condition, they can also cause injuries and accidents.

Just like your deck’s fasteners and wood components, chairs, tables and other furniture must be checked for rust and corrosion to avoid these from breaking when someone uses them.

This also applies if you have a barbecue grill on your deck. Make sure that it is well maintained from rust to avoid the grill from toppling and possibly spilling hot coals on the deck which in turn may lead to burns and fires.

Make sure that there are no exposed wires on any fixture or appliance that uses electricity. Test to see if they are working properly. It is best to immediately repair or replace anything that is malfunctioning to avoid hazardous situations.

If you have a hot tub on your deck, don’t neglect it while doing your Deck Check. Hot tubs can break or leak. If these leaks form puddles on or under the deck, they can cause warping and rotting of the joists and deck boards.

Pay close attention to any décor that rests directly on the deck. These items can trap moisture at their base and cause rot on your deck boards. This is especially true for pots and planter boxes. It is also important to check on the condition of the décor pieces themselves as well, since any rust, paint, or dirt that washes off them in the rain can stain your deck.

Keeping your furniture and décor in tip-top shape is another ingredient to creating a safe and pleasurable atmosphere for everyone who uses your deck.

What is the next step when you are done with Deck Check and you find out that you have water damage, wood rot, rusty fasteners and/or any of the other issues mentioned above? Call or e-mail Westside Company ASAP! Westside Company is a professional decking contractor serving in Southern California including Santa Ana, Anaheim, Torrance, and Brentwood among others.

We have over 20 years of experience in inspecting and repairing of decks of all materials – be it wood, composite, stone, stucco, etc. As a decking contractor, our services are not only limited to decks, but also includes repair and maintenance of stairs and railings.

We guarantee to offer the most competitive pricing in the greater Los Angeles area for our decking services to both residential and commercial building owners. We also provide our customers with up to ten years of material warranty and a five-year labor warranty. Allow us to give you a free, no obligation quote on your project. Call Westside Company at 310 994 4626 or e-mail at westsidecompany@gmail.com to make an appointment today.