Deck Safety: Loose and Corroded Fasteners
More than 40 million decks in the United States are over 20 years old. Summer is right around the corner, but before you host any backyard parties, make sure the harsh winter hasn’t damaged your deck.
If you recently purchased a home with an older deck, it would be best not to set foot on it until it’s been thoroughly inspected. Walk underneath the deck and look at the fasteners, especially the ones on the ledger board. The ledger board is what attaches the decking to the house and is where most decks fail because the only fasteners used were nails.
Why are nails the worst fastener for your deck? Throughout the year decking expands and contracts. Over time, the wood around the fastener becomes loose. Moisture can enter through these holes and cause the decking to rot. Nails are just a bad idea.
If you discover your deck is held together with only nails, DO NOT WALK ON IT. This is extremely dangerous and needs to be handled by a licensed contractor before you set foot on it.
Now you might be asking the question, “If nails are the only thing holding my decking together, how did this get past inspection?”
The answer is simple: updated building codes. Nails are no longer allowed to be the sole fastener for a deck. Lag bolts and screws are now required to be up to code.
If you look under your deck and you see lag bolts or screws, you’re lucky! Most of the time these fasteners just need tightening up, but if you see corrosion or rusting, it’s important to replace these fasteners. If you do have to replace fasteners completely, opt for stainless steel.
If you are unsure about the safety and stability of your deck DO NOT WALK ON IT. Contact a local licensed contractor that is familiar with the installation process.
Have a safe and happy summer!