How should I inspect my deck to ensure it is safe?

As part of your deck maintenance, you should inspect your deck in the spring every year or two. All decks need some new boards occasionally to keep them looking their best. After a few years of exposure to the elements, these boards will start to become prone to water damage and need replacing.

You should start by removing all the furniture, planters, toys etc. from your deck prior to inspecting your deck. Check for wood rot around posts where they contact the ground or sit on concrete. Any wood that’s soft is suspect. Check where stair stringers meet the ground or landing pad. Probe around railing posts and the decking surface.

Next check the ledger, the framing material that attaches the deck to your house. The flashing should be in good shape with no holes or rust, and the ledger should be attached with lag screws, not nails.

Look for any cracks, loose boards and/or protruding nails are appearing in your deck boards. If you have a board that is split down the middle, has signs of wood rot or terminate damage those will need replacement. Look for severe splintering in the wood or places where it seems extra soft; test the wood with a screwdriver to see how soft it is. It is easy to replace a decking board. Choosing pressure-treated lumber should also help to prevent damage in the future.

However, the new board might stand out like a sore thumb — try staining it to match the rest of your decking before you install it.

Lastly, inspect the railing system for loose posts and handrails. You can quickly fix any issues by drilling pilot holes and securing with galvanized or stainless-steel screws.

All your repairs should be completed prior to your annual cleaning of your deck. If you find items during your inspection and you need assistance in getting them completed, keep Mr. Handyman in mind for those repairs. Next week we will feature additional insights on cleaning your deck.