Whether just a few years old, or a few decades, your vinyl deck should be checked for safety on a regular basis. Safety is paramount to not only enjoying your outdoor living space, but also for the well being of your family, friends, and acquaintances that you may share your deck with from time to time. So, here’s how to ensure your deck is safe.
Step One: Is Your Deck Up to Code?
Building codes and rules are constantly changing. Depending on how old or how worn your vinyl deck is it might no longer meet current safety regulations. To ensure your deck surface and underlying structure is safe, it might be time to bring your deck up to code to meet the latest requirements. Start by obtaining current building codes for your area, or ask a professional contractor to review and evaluate your deck’s condition. Most contractors will offer a free deck inspection and then provide you with a cost estimate.
Example: Many older decks used nails, which can work loose over time. Newer decks installations use screws and lag bolts to ensure the long term stability of the deck structure and surface.
Step Two: Deck Ledger = Deck Security
Outdoor decks may fail for a variety of reasons, but the primary reason has to do with the deck ledger. The deck ledger is what anchors the deck to your home or building. It’s also the place where older decks seem to run into issues. Whether a lack of attachments, the wrong type of fastener, or the permeation of water into the board, ledger boards that aren’t strong or have been compromised with time can also compromise your deck’s safety. Check your ledger board thoroughly and if needed, add secure attachments and check for water damage.
Tip: Use galvanized or stainless steel attachments for your deck ledger board to ensure that they can’t corrode and will last for the life of your deck.
Step Three: Watch for Water on Vinyl Decks
Water is one of the primary issues to be aware of, even with waterproof deck surfaces. If water is left unchecked and gets into places it shouldn’t, water can corrode metal and rot wood. This combination can be dreadful to the deck’s structure and the deck surface, resulting in loose or rotten boards and wobbly railings that can undermine the safety of your deck.
Besides an intact vinyl deck surface, you need to ensure that your home (or building) is adequately protected with the proper flashings as well. Water that ends up on your deck needs a way to escape and drain away from the structure, without being trapped on or below your deck surface.
Step Four: Deck Joists
Picture joists as the skeleton that gives your deck a solid structure and keeps everything securely tied together. Those ties are an important part of the deck’s safety – which is why newer deck builds use hot-dipped galvanized hangars and a specific type of nail. If your vinyl deck does not use these attachments, it might be time for a change.
The same rules apply for where the joists attach to the deck beams and posts.
Step Five: Secure Stairs and Safe Vinyl Deck Railings
Stairs and deck railings are key deck safety features – ones that many homeowners tend to frequently overlook. Loose or wobbly stairs and loose deck railings are items that need to be addressed immediately, before an accident happens. One primary thing to look for is how they are attached to the deck – screws and lag bolts are an absolute must.
Step Six: Plan A Deck Upgrade
Like most things, decks and deck surfaces have a limited lifespan. If your deck is more than 20 years old then it might be time to get ready to plan to replace it (or resurface it if the deck structure is sound). A new outdoor deck will be safer, last longer and improve your home’s value, while giving you added living space for entertaining. If you install a new vinyl deck membrane over an existing deck surface that is sound, you’ll have nothing to worry about for many years.
If you are a DIYer, you can certainly inspect your deck and install a new waterproof vinyl surface on your own, but if you need help, don’t hesitate to employ a professional to fix any major issues with your deck.
Econodek waterproof vinyl decking has been designed for DIYers who want to install a vinyl deck surface on a sundeck, roof deck, patio, or balcony. To find out more about how to install waterproof vinyl decking, or if you have any questions, contact Econodek online or by email, or call toll free at 1-877-766-1366.