Every year hundreds of decks fail resulting in injuries and in extreme cases, death. A majority of these incidences could have been prevented with regular maintenance and then replacement at the end of the deck’s serviceable life.
With our spectacular views and approximately three hundred days of sunshine each year, approximately 85% of the homes in Colorado have a deck attached. What many home owners do not realize is that without regular maintenance, the serviceable life of your deck may drop 50%. This may mean a recently constructed deck may become unsafe in as little as 10 years.
Most deck failures are not due to weathering as many home owners would suspect. Most failures are to due to inadequate connections, specifically nailing. Over the life of a deck it is subjected to thousands of loading cycles. These cycles can range from brief gusting winds to large outdoor parties. In addition to these loads, the wood in your deck expands and contracts with the outside temperature. The combination of these situations cause smooth shank fasteners such as nails to be prone to creeping out of their holes, which in turn leads to failure of the deck structure over time.
Screws are considerably less susceptible to this, but are not completely immune to failure as the wood weathers or the deck is overloaded.
If you have an older deck that is reaching the end of its service life some things to look for are:
- Is the ledger (typically a 2×8 or larger placed flush against the house) pulling away from the house itself?
- Are there visible gaps in the connections between wooden deck members?
- Do you feel you the deck move when you are using it?
If you answered yes to any of these questions it may be a wise investment to have your deck evaluated by a structural engineer, such as EVstudio. We can evaluate the structural integrity of your existing deck, make repair recommendations and if necessary design a replacement deck.