Safety First: Essential Features for a Secure Home Deck

A new deck installation involves countless decisions, such as design and material. However, many do-it-yourself deck builders neglect to include safety elements. 

Deck safety features such as railings, lighting, sealants, and stair grip are crucial, as they can be dangerous if not built correctly. Inadequate safety precautions cause thousands of accidents on decks every year. 

The risks are significant, from slick surfaces to collapsed railings. So, how do you ensure your deck is safe to use for years? 

In this article, we’ll go over the essential deck features for a safe home deck. This information is vital for older people, families with small children, or anyone who appreciates their home’s security.

Footings

Usually, in the first phase, concrete footings serve as the deck’s foundation. Contractors pour concrete according to your area’s frost depth and local construction requirements. Footings support post anchors and posts. 

From a structural and safety standpoint, a deck’s footing is extremely significant because it is the lowest layer. Sometimes, the concrete is accompanied by sand and gravel to improve overall stability.

Posts and post anchors 

Post anchors or concrete piers are used to secure the vertical boards known as posts to the footings. In addition to providing adequate ventilation beneath the deck to permit access to the under-deck space for maintenance, these pillars support the support beams off the ground. 

Before beginning construction, discuss deck height with your professional. The post indicates the size of the deck above the ground.

Deck boards

The deck planks are the earth beneath your feet, resting on top of everything else. Contractors lay these deck planks as one of the last stages of construction. 

Decking is delivered to the construction site and left to settle for a week or so before installation. Wood beams must acclimate to lessen the likelihood of cupping or buckling, especially near the edges. 

When choosing a deck material for your new outdoor space, make sure to take into account slip-resistant surfaces. Do some research on the different materials and coatings available that are resistant to slippage.

Beams

Beams provide two essential purposes by horizontally resting atop the posts. They start by defining the deck’s overall dimensions. Think of the beams as a college essay’s outline. 

Second, beams provide the joists, deck boards, and other associated sections that rest on top of them with the structural support they require.

Rim joists

Next are the joists. In addition to providing structural support and creating specific aesthetic flourishes, a deck’s joists form a framework underneath and perpendicular to the deck boards but above the beams. As their name implies, rim joists serve as this framework’s outside rim. 

Because they are visible from the side, these rim joists typically have a little more flair than the other joist boards. Thus, the rim joist that joins the house is called a ledger. A free-standing deck gets by without one.

Blocking 

Blocking lumber provides additional stability and a secure location for deck-related structures, like stairs and railroads, to attach between the joists. These wood components attach perpendicular to the joist and are made from the same materials as the joists. 

The blocks are all about the same size, although somewhat smaller. 

Railings

Railings keep your guests safe from falling several feet to the earth below from the deck. Since there is little chance of steep falls, railings are not advised on low-ground decks. 

Decks that are thirty inches or taller should have this safety device installed. The rails ought to be at least three feet high and meet the waist of the typical human. 

This safety feature is also useful for deterring animals and other intruders from entering the yard and attempting to climb onto the deck.

 

 

 

Sealants

As the premier deck builder in Bismarck-Mandan, ND, we understand the challenges of deck sealing and staining. These tasks can be time-consuming and difficult, which is why we recommend upgrading to a deck built with low-maintenance materials. This option eliminates the need for frequent upkeep, offering you a durable, hassle-free decking experience. 

Ledger board

A ledger board fastened to the house is not necessary for a freestanding patio. This board gives your inviting deck the structural strength it needs to last for many years. 

Certain deck sections will begin to break off as the board rots and decays. Although concrete, stone, or brick should not be used in the installation, pressure-treated wood is advised.

When building in a region that receives regular rainfall or snowfall, an experienced deck builder in Woodbridge, VA, takes extra precautions. Before being installed, the boards need to be straight, smooth, and aligned before being installed. It’s critical to choose the appropriate installation method for the type of deck.

Flashing

Flashing is optional but not necessary on decks where a lot of water collects after a downpour. Flooding in the backyard is a typical issue in most places. 

The guard who flashes is the one who transfers the water to the ground. Because too much water causes substantial harm, this construction is essential. 

Similar to domestic plumbing, a tiny leak might begin in one place, expand, and eventually find its way throughout the entire structure.

The absence of flashing raises the possibility of mold growth. Long-term mold exposure can lead to health issues and is challenging to remove from wood. The entire wood framework has to be replaced after a while.

The balustrade and balusters 

These are a deck railing’s two main constituents. The balustrade—the top and bottom rails—frames the structure. 

Conversely, the posts positioned vertically and dispersed across the railing are known as balusters. An extensive range of materials, colors, and designs is available for both balustrades and balusters. 

The stair grip

Wet steps can be dangerous, particularly after dark or if you have a pool. Adding gripping material to the top of any stairs on your deck will increase their overall safety. 

Handrails reduce accidents and falls, particularly for older adults and kids. Handrails also help kids become more independent and self-assured as they explore a deck independently because they provide extra stability.

Robust gate

Installing a strong fence on your elevated deck can help to make it a safe area, especially for kids. A gate provides peace of mind and keeps a child on or off a deck based on parental preferences. 

A raised deck is safer for the whole family when gates prevent access via the stairs. Additionally, gates help keep curious and unsteady toddlers from exploring the yard unsupervised.

Lighting

Adding lighting fixtures to your deck is another way to make it seem like a lovely, welcoming area. Lighting elements have two functions on your deck:

The first is purely practical: lights enhance night vision. Install lighting fixtures in areas that are likely dangerous for people to be around, like staircases or where people gather. To improve nighttime safety on your property and discourage intruders, you may also consider installing floodlights.

Remember, though, that lighting serves an aesthetic function as well. On your terrace, the right lighting provides a welcoming atmosphere.

Stairway

The steps provide the means of access to the deck that you require. A deck’s stairs have tread on top of each riser, a concrete foundational slab at the bottom, and risers that indicate the height of each stair. Contractors use a stringer to support the tread and add visual interest if the deck’s stairway is visible from the side. 

The same safety precautions that apply to the railings on the deck also apply to the guardrails on the stairs. Additionally, ensure that the steps are stable by inspecting their structural integrity. 

The risers, stringers, and treads are responsible for the stability of the stairs. Therefore, check that each of the stairs’ separate components—particularly the joint where the deck and steps meet—is still sturdy and firmly attached.

Furthermore, remove any decorations, pots, and other items that could trip someone up from the stairs.

Fireproof padding

When you have a wooden deck, fire can become a serious concern. Thus, it’s advisable to set up the grill somewhere away from the deck if you’re having a BBQ party. This includes a fire pit, chimney, and candle.

To ensure safety, if you must have a barbecue in your outdoor kitchen or candles on your wood deck, put a fireproof mat.

Proper drainage

Ensuring your deck drains correctly is the first step in removing the moisture that promotes the growth of moss and algae. You may have noticed a tiny space between each of your decking boards. 

These spaces are designed to let water and moisture escape so that nothing can grow in them and sit on your deck. They are also designed to let the boards expand and compress.

These drainage holes may fill up as dirt and debris accumulate on your deck, obstructing the water’s ability to drain correctly. This will cause extra moisture and water to pool, which could eventually result in a slippery deck surface.

Ensure the areas between the decking boards can drain properly by clearing them away to avoid this. To remove anything that might be occupying the crevices between the boards, use a tiny putty knife or screwdriver.

Anti-slip strips

Deck painting or staining can drastically alter the appearance of your deck, but it can also be very labour-intensive. That is fantastic if you’re ready for such a shift and a challenge. However, only some people want to invest so much time and effort in their deck.

Anti-skid strips are an additional, considerably quicker and simpler solution. These are rigid plastic pieces with an attached grip. Installing them is simple; just screw them into your decking boards.

On the one hand, by drilling screw holes into every deck board, this may harm the wood underneath. However, this installation takes only a few minutes and is a permanent addition that won’t go away.

Remember, there is a small chance of tripping over anti-skid strips because they are a little higher. However, even when wet, they all offer a ton of traction.

Shade

Decks can get heated, which makes using them uncomfortable and risky. 

For added comfort and protection from sunburn and heat exhaustion, erect a shade structure on the deck like an awning or pergola. Cooling off in a shaded area with outdoor furniture is the best way to cool off on a hot summer day. 

Without constructing a roof, a pergola can block sunlight. Handrails and decorative posts add a welcome touch of elegance to a shady spot.

Skirting

Skirting is the material that covers the space beneath the deck, giving it a finished appearance and keeping pests and animals out. A deck can make a comfortable home for outdoor creatures looking for warm refuge. 

While the occasional bird’s nest can seem harmless, the dangerous and excavating kinds are not as fun. Use deck skirting to keep out raccoons, skunks, rats, and other animals. 

You can place mesh wiring inside the skirting to create an extra barrier. This safeguard stops animals from gnawing on any wiring, timber, or infrastructure under your existing deck and from burrowing into your home and getting into the products kept underneath.

Covering exposed wiring, framing, and other risks with skirting also helps reduce the risk of injury.

 

Key Takeaway: 

A deck is a beautiful addition to any home and a location for many happy memories. Still, there’s a chance that a serious incident could occur on the deck. Therefore, it’s best to incorporate elements like railings, stairways, and stair grips that increase safety so you won’t ever have to face the threat of accidents due to collapse or structural concerns.

At Vantage View Decks, we go above and beyond to ensure we use the newest safety measures in every deck we construct. You may be confident that your deck complies with local construction codes because we abide by them.

If you’re interested in adding a deck to your home, please don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.

We would be more than delighted to assist you in bringing your dream deck to life.

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