If you haven’t yet performed a post-winter safety inspection on your cedar decking, now is the time to do so. Winters in the Pacific Northwest can be hard on a cedar deck; Vancouver and Portland are also recovering from an exceptionally rainy spring, which can contribute to mold and rot and eventually cause decks to become unsafe.
Last year, at least 12 major deck collapses occurred in the United States, and half of the 40 million decks in the country are in danger of collapse, according to the Home Safety Council. In a Consumer Reports survey, 10 percent of deck owners said they had not checked their decks for structural problems. Nearly 20 percent had never cleaned their decking, and even more hadn’t stained or sealed their cedar decking.
More than 75 percent of people who are on a deck when it collapses are either killed or injured. Before you get too deep into barbecue season, protect your family and guests by checking your Portland decking materials for basic safety issues.
1. Make sure your cedar decking is up to code. Many older decks were constructed before today’s building codes were created and may include unsafe elements. Consider having your deck inspected by a certified home inspector or a knowledgeable deck installation professional if you own an older cedar deck. Vancouver and Portland-area homeowners can contact one of Rick’s specialists for a professional safety inspection.
2. Check the ledger board. The area where your cedar decking is connected to your home is one of the parts of a deck that are most likely to fail. Inspect the ledger board for loose connection; your cedar decking should be connected to the house with lag bolts, not nails. If you find any problems with the ledger board, stop using the deck until a licensed contractor has repaired it.
3. Test stability. Check all support posts, beams, rails and stairs for stability. Test your deck’s overall health by standing in the middle and making a hula hoop motion. If it wobbles, it needs repair.
4. Examine for rot. Inspect your Portland decking materials for dry rot, particularly places where fasteners enter a post or where two pieces of wood overlap.