Is your deck safe? 4 tips for wood deck maintenance

Is your deck safe? 4 tips for wood deck maintenance

May is National Deck Safety Month, so as you’re getting the yard in order for summertime fun, don’t forget about the deck.

Regularly checking decks for weak spots in the flooring, wood rot and unstable posts or framework should be part of deck maintenance, say highly rated service providers Mark Dillon, owner of Evergreen Fence & Deck of Brookeville, Maryland, and Ralph Ford, owner of DeckMasters of Greenwood, Indiana.

Signs that your deck may need replacing:

Split or decaying wood: Check the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house), support posts, joists under the deck, deck boards, railings and stairs for wood rot. Look closely at areas that remain damp, are exposed to water, or are in contact with fasteners.

Hint: It could be decay if you can dig into one-quarter to a half-inch of wood with an ice pick or a screwdriver, break off a sliver of wood without splinters, or the wood is soft and spongy. Also, inspect for insect infestation.

Flashing: The metal or plastic guard keeps water and debris from collecting and is installed where the deck and house meet is flashing. Hint: If you notice areas collecting water, replace or add flashing.

Read more on keeping your deck safe

Loose or corroded fasteners: Tighten loose screws or anchors and hammer popped nails. Replace corroded fasteners as corrosion causes wood decay. The deck or stairs shouldn’t move sag or move.

Railings and banisters: Are they secure? Do they give when pushed? Are they high enough? Most deck building codes require 36-inch high railing with rails a maximum of 4 inches apart so small children and pets can’t squeeze through.


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Keep decks safe by hiring qualified contractors who follow local building codes. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Gregory H. of Monument, Colo.)

Want to install a deck? Highly rated service providers explain what homeowners should do to ensure the safety of their newly built or replacement deck.

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