Consumer reports: Tips for keeping your deck safe and in good shape

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — If you’re lucky enough to have a deck, chances are it’s gotten a lot of use over the past year. As Consumer Reports reminds us, keeping a deck in tip-top shape not only makes it look good, it also makes it safer.

A relaxing deck is also a safe deck, says Consumer Reports’ Home EditorTobie Stanger. She has three checks to add to your deck maintenance.

Check one: Watch for wobbling! Deck and stair railings that aren’t secure could mean trouble. You can fix that by tightening fasteners, screws, nails and replacing rusty ones. Hammer down any screws or nails that are popping up, too.

“So if any fasteners or nails won’t go in it may mean a supporting joist or structural element is damaged and needs to be replaced. and if a screw or nail won’t go in the wood, it could mean that the wood is too decayed,” Stanger said. 

If you can poke a screwdriver into the wood more than ⅛ of an inch, it’s probably rotted and you’ll need to replace it. 

Check two: For decks that are connected to your house, look at the ledger board to be sure it’s secure. The ledger board is a long piece of wood that gets screwed or bolted to the house and runs parallel to the deck. The connection should be capable of supporting the load or you run the risk of a deck collapse.

“The safest ledger connection goes all the way from the ledger on the outside through the wall of the house to connect to the interior floor support. it’s called a rim joist. if you’ve got an older home it’s a good idea to have a professional deck inspector come and check,” said Stanger. 

Check three: Stop slips! Some composite and plastic decking materials can get slick from morning dew, light frost or heavy rain, while traditional wood and aluminium are better at resisting slips.

No matter what material your deck is made of, you can reduce the chance of slips and falls by adding area rugs or mats.

CR says look for outdoor rugs made from solution-dyed acrylic. Not only is it a high-quality and inexpensive material, it’s also colorfast and water and stain resistant.

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