We can all agree that a deck is the perfect place to enjoy warm weather with your loved ones. However, a poorly maintained or unsafe deck could possibly collapse, causing serious injuries to your family, friends and your home. During Deck Safety Month® in May, MOSO® North America recommends that all homeowners Check Your Deck® before starting to participate in summer activities.
The number one priority and message to homeowners is to ensure that their decks are safe for use. Outdoor structures like decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow
and extreme temperature changes over the years. The need to maintain and inspect them is critical for keeping decks strong and safe. Decks need to be checked on a yearly basis, but the best time to Check Your Deck® is May.
MOSO® North America, a proud member of the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) supports the message and work of the organization completely as an Official 2023 Sponsor of Deck Safety Month®. NADRA has created campaigns and educational programs, along with certifications for home inspectors, deck builders, remodelers, builders, code officials, engineers, architects, distributors, lumberyards and manufacturers to improve proper installation practices.
A key element to homeowners enjoying their decks for years to come is making sure it is safe and code compliant. NADRA's 10-Point Consumer Safety Checklist is an efficient way to take a good look at the different parts of the deck, with an eye to what might need maintenance, repair or replacement.
1. Check for Split or Decaying Decking Material
- Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the bamboo is still sound. This includes the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house and a common source of deck failure), support posts and joists under the deck (if you can reach them), deck boards, railings, and stairs.
- Pay special attention to any areas that tend to remain damp, are regularly exposed to water, or are in contact with fasteners. Use a tool like an ice pick or a screwdriver to penetrate the surface. If you can easily penetrate 1/4 – 1/2 inch of the material or the material is soft and spongy, decay may be present.
- Look for small holes in the deck boards, which may indicate insects.
- Learn about the lifespan of our bamboo decking and why it has a 25 year warranty!
2. Check the Flashing
- Flashing is a metal or plastic guard that directs water out and away from sensitive areas. It’s often installed where the deck and house come together, keeping moisture and debris from collecting between the house and the deck’s ledger board. Be certain the flashing is sound and firmly in place. Consider adding or replacing flashing if you notice areas that are obviously allowing water to collect.
3. Check for Loose or Corroded Fasteners
- Fasteners include nails, screws or anchors in the ledger board. Tighten any loose fasteners, and pound in any nails that have popped up. (Note: The ledger board should not be fastened with only nails.)
- If a fastener appears rusted or corroded, consider replacing it. A corroded fastener can cause deterioration in the surrounding material.
- The deck or stairs should appear even without sagging and should not sway or move when tested.
4. Check the Stairs
- Check any railings or handrails to be sure they are firmly held in place. Also check the risers and stringers to be certain they are securely attached and not decayed.
- If the area behind the stair treads is open, this opening should be no more than 4” high.
- Always keep stair pathways clear of planters, décor, toys, and other items that can present a tripping hazard.
5. Check the Railings & Banisters
- All railings and banisters should be secure. This is especially important the higher your deck is off the ground.
6. Cleaning & Maintenance
- Clean away any leaves and debris, since these can be slippery and promote mildew.
- Proper maintenance can help prevent decay and movement in the bamboo decking material, especially loosened fasteners mentioned above.
- Read our full bamboo deck care and maintenance instructions.
7. Grills, Firepits, Chimneys, Heaters, and Candles
- These features can create a warm and cozy deck atmosphere, but make sure any source of fire or heat is safely placed away from flammable surfaces or that the deck surface is protected by a non-flammable pad.
- Always use caution and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
8. Lighting & Electrical
- Be sure all lighting is working properly; clean any light covers to allow maximum light to shine through, and trim any plants or tree limbs that may be blocking light.
- If you don’t have adequate lighting consider adding new deck lighting products to illuminate your steps and pathways.
- Be sure all electrical outlets, appliances, and features are up to code, in good condition, and childproof if children are present. Ensure that any electrical cords do not present a tripping hazard.
9. Outdoor Furniture & Storage
- Test all outdoor furniture to be sure it is sturdy. Avoid placing seating right at the edge of the deck. If you have a swing or hammock installed, test the chains and ropes to be sure they are secure. Consider installing child-proof latches on any storage boxes and benches.
- Be sure to keep all deck-related chemical products stored safely away from children, including BBQ lighter fluids, matches, cleaners, etc.
10. Surrounding Trees
- If you have trees overhanging your deck, make sure there is no danger of decaying limbs breaking free and falling from trees surrounding the deck. Fallen trees or limbs could physically injure your loved ones and/or structurally damage your deck.
Checking a deck using this information does not constitute a code-compliant deck, it is intended to assist homeowners. Please seek a NADRA professional such as MOSO North America or our many authorized dealers to get a complete deck evaluation. You can also design and plan your dream deck with the Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Planner Software™ which will provide detailed renderings, construction drawings and materials lists to build a safe, durable and sustainable deck.