May is Deck Safety Month – More on Decks…

May is Deck Safety Month – More on Decks…

The month of May is the last month of the season of spring when we welcome the warmer weather and the time of year to enjoy the great outdoors, often right in our own backyard.

Last year we discussed twenty-year-old decks, don’t you remember? If you didn’t take some time to rejuvenate your old deck, you can find the article on the Tiger Blog.  And our friends at Simpson Strong-Tie have an informative infographic on some of the key areas to check on your deck.

When homeowners think of the backyard deck, they conjure images of relaxing and enjoying great weather. As Inspectors, we think of a structure exposed to the outdoor elements for years-on-end while envisioning potential safety concerns. Therefore, we recognize “Deck Safety Month” annually.

This year we would like to make you aware of some of the deck construction improvements made available via ongoing product development. There are few systems found in residential and multi-family housing that should receive regular scrutiny more than the backyard deck. Last year we touched on the engineering; this year let’s look at some of the advancements made in the systems components and the assembly of those products that when properly utilized yield a stronger, more durable installation.

When looking for frame fastening systems, the mechanical fasteners (those that attach the framing components to themselves as well as the structure) play an important role in determining how strong the end product will be, as well as how long it will stay together. One of the better-known companies specializing in mechanical fasteners for decks is Simpson Strong-tie. Take a trip through their online Deck Center, there’s a great deal you can learn.

Probably the most sought-after consumer product information is the decking and railing systems. A variety of composite and wood products are available for purchase; while still small in comparison with wood decking, it is the composite products that continue to capture more market share. If you are interested in a composite surface, be sure to consider the UV protection, mold, and moisture resistance. We think most people would agree that the composite products are more maintenance-free than most wood products. Regardless of which material you choose, researching the maintenance requirements before purchasing is an important consideration.

Here’s a comparison guide from Moisture Shield on Wood vs. Composites. (To be fair, they produce composite decking and railing systems only, not wood products).

We don’t favor one material type over another, the point of including this information is to create awareness of the different products and systems available; either way decks are durable and expensive investments that should be made to last. Doing your own research for maintaining or constructing a backyard deck is always a good beginning to a long-lasting and safe installation.