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Common Deck Building Mistakes — an article on the Smart Living Network
August 18, 2014 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Common Deck Building Mistakes

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Of all the DIY home improvement ideas, building or expanding upon a deck is one of the more exciting undertakings. However, it’s also one of the most dangerous, if not done correctly.

It’s Improperly Attached to Your Home

First, take a look at where your deck is attached to your home. One of the leading causes for deck collapses is using nails. Since they are smooth, they are easily removed. Use screws and bolts instead.

Using proper fasteners is only the first step. You need to inspect them to make sure they are securely in place. Also, if any of the fasteners are showing signs of rust or corrosion, which can cause the surrounding wood to deteriorate. Don’t settle for just any fasteners. Be sure to use stainless steel or coated screws that are tailor made for pressure-treated wood.

Wrong (Or No) Joist Hangers

Another key component to reinforcing and supporting your deck is joist hangers. Be sure to choose the correct size and that they are properly installed.

Neglect Sealing Wood

Sealing deck wood is good for retaining its initial visual appeal. More importantly, unsealed deck wood ages faster than sealed decks. Sealing wood is also necessary to keep it from rotting, which is more than an eyesore -- it’s a structural danger.

Wrong Railing Height and Baluster Spacing

There are building codes for a good reason: to prevent injuries. To do that, ideal dimensions are dictated to maximize safety. The handrail needs to be between 28 and 34 inches high. For safety reasons, it needs to be easy to grip. So, besides being at the right height, the diameter should be between 1.25 and 2.25 inches.

Balusters, the vertical posts that support support the handrail, are not to be more than four inches apart from each other.

No Railing or Stairs with Open Risers

What’s worse than the wrong railing height? No railing at all! Even the most nimble person needs to have support now and again when walking up and down stairs. Open space between the stairs is also an invitation to trip.

Undersized footings

It all starts with the foundation your deck is built upon. If the footings of your deck are too small, the deck will be unstable, with the potential for sagging and warping.

If you are confident in your deck building skills, be sure you get a permit before you start your dream backyard project.

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