May is Deck Safety Month—make sure your outdoor living space is ready for the season.
Did you know Spring cleaning isn’t just for the interior of your home? As the weather gets nicer and you start scheduling get-togethers and cookouts, it’s critical to do some Spring cleaning— and inspecting —of your outdoor living spaces to ensure they are ready for entertaining. Of course, we don’t just mean that the grill is in the optimal spot for cooking but that your deck is safe and secure for your friends and family.
The North American Deck & Railing Association (NADRA) takes deck safety seriously, and rightfully so, as they estimate that “over 30 million decks [in the US] are past their useful life and need to be replaced or repaired.” That’s why they stress the importance of checking your deck during May, National Deck Safety Month®.
There’s no better time as a homeowner to check your deck to make sure it’s structurally sound and as a builder (anchor link to section) to evaluate that you are building decks with safety front of mind.
For Homeowners: Check Your Deck
When you go out to clear off dirt and debris from your deck, it’s easy to look at the face of your deck boards, and if they aren’t splintered or cracked, assume your deck is good for the season. But deck issues are often underlying, so you’ll need to do more digging and prodding to ensure total deck safety. Luckily, you can use NADRA’s Check Your Deck® Consumer Checklist to help you evaluate any issues.
The checklist highlights key actions and things to look out for;
- For example keep an eye open for rot in the structural parts of the deck, like the joists, posts, and ledger board.
- You’ll also want to look closely at all the fasteners, tightening any that have come loose or replacing those that have corroded or rusted.
- Additionally, pay special attention to the stability of railings and banisters to prevent any possibility of them failing.
- Check your grill to ensure it and other heat sources are away from flammable items or surfaces.
- If you have lighting, check your light fixtures, electrical outlets, and patio furniture to confirm they’re all in good condition.
- Finally, take a look around and evaluate your environment: are tree limbs hanging over the deck that could fall, or is there a hornet’s nest you need to remove?
If any significant issues are present, NADRA recommends having a professional inspect and repair your deck; you can find inspectors and builders on NADRA.org.
Other items on the checklist pertain to the aesthetics and surroundings of your deck. We joked about the grill earlier, but you want to ensure it and other heat sources are away from flammable items or surfaces. Next, Finally,
For Builders: Check Your Deck-Building Practices
As a deck builder, Deck Safety Month is an excellent time to review your crew’s practices to ensure you install to the highest standard so homeowners never have to worry about safety. Of course, brand affinity plays a significant role in the products you use, but it’s a good habit to take inventory of the products you’re using to ensure you’ve got the best ones for the job.
For instance, CAMO®, a 2023 Deck Safety Ambassador and brand that built its name on the deck top with innovative deck fastening systems, now offers code-compliant Structural Screws that deliver the same reliability and durability to the substructure and beyond. These Structural Screws are third-party tested and certified IRC and IBC code-compliant by DrJ engineering. These screws start fast, drive smoothly, and hold strong in every popular interior and exterior structural application and may be an excellent option for your crew to try this year.
When evaluating the fasteners you’re using, keep coatings in mind too. For example, CAMO’s Structural Screws are available in a proprietary PROTECH™ Ultra 4 four-layer coating that protects your connections against the harshest environmental elements. Each layer works together for optimum corrosion resistance, UV and environmental protection, and torque reduction for a high-performing, long-lasting screw. It’s the only screw coating on the market tested to ASTM G198 standard, which required 2X longer testing and 3X more samples than the industry standard. If you’re building in marine settings or near water, use hot-dip galvanized structural screws and 316 Stainless Steel fasteners for every other connection.
Before laying down deck boards, take the extra step to extend the deck’s life by using deck tape. CAMO offers Joist + Ledger Deck Tape that adds uncompromised moisture defense to joists and ledger boards and its textured, non-skid surface provides an added level of safety during install. The flexible butyl Deck Tape also delivers exceptional performance to protect your project from harsh elements like UV radiation and even extreme temperatures.
Finally, when it comes to fastening the decking, consider using fasteners that will preserve the life of the board so homeowners don’t have to deal with splitting and cracking. For square decking, use CAMO Edge screws that fasten the board through the edge, making a strong v-lock connection into the joist. Edge screws feature a patented rake tip that augers board material while being driven. That action makes space for the screw and prevents splitting and cracking without the need to pre-drill holes on most boards. For grooved boards, rely on CAMO Universal Deck Clips that are up to 88% stronger than competitors’ clips in reducing lateral movement and up to 50% stronger in uplift holding power, thanks to the stainless steel gusset that locks the boards down. A bonus of using CAMO fasteners? CAMO backs its fasteners with a warranty, so you and the homeowner will have invaluable peace of mind.
Don’t get the grilling and deck-building season underway before you take the time to check your deck and make sure you’re using the right products to help you build better.