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17 Ways to Make an Old Deck Safe

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Decks are an excellent way to expand your outdoor living space and add value to your home. However, just like anything else, decks deteriorate over time, especially with constant exposure to the elements. An old deck can be dangerous, and it's essential to address any safety concerns as soon as possible.

  • Check the structure: The first step in making your old deck safe is to inspect the structure thoroughly. Check for rotting or damaged wood, particularly where the deck connects to the house, as well as any signs of movement or wobbling. Loose nails, screws, or bolts can also be a safety hazard, so make sure all hardware is securely fastened.

  • Upgrade the railings: The railings are an essential safety feature of any deck. They prevent people from falling off the deck and provide stability for those using it. If your deck railings are old, wobbly, or shaky, it's time to upgrade them. Make sure the railings are high enough, at least 36 inches, and the pickets or balusters are spaced no more than 4 inches apart.

  • Replace decking boards: Decking boards can become worn out, warped, or damaged over time. If they have holes or splinters, they can be a tripping hazard. Replace them with new boards to improve safety. If the framing underneath the decking is also damaged, consider replacing it.

  • Add slip-resistant coatings: Decks can become slippery, especially when wet, which can lead to falls and other accidents. Adding slip-resistant coatings can make the deck safer, particularly for older adults or young children. Various coatings, such as anti-slip paint, are available for this purpose.

  • Install lighting: Decks can be hazardous when visibility is poor, particularly at night. Adding proper lighting can help prevent accidents on the deck. Install lighting fixtures along stairs, railings, and around the perimeter to ensure safety.

  • Provide shade: Decks can become hot, making them uncomfortable and dangerous to use. Installing a shade structure such as a pergola or awning can help keep the deck cool and protect people from sunburn and heat exhaustion.

  • Install a drainage system: Poor drainage can lead to water damage, rotting wood, and compromise the deck's stability. Installing a proper drainage system can prevent water from pooling on the deck, leading to slippery surfaces, mold growth, and other safety hazards.

  • Hire a professional: If you're not confident in your DIY skills, it's best to hire a professional to inspect and repair your deck. They can assess the structure's stability and identify potential safety hazards. They can also recommend the best course of action for repairs or replacements and ensure the job is done correctly.

· Check the stairs: Stairs are a common area where accidents can happen on a deck. Make sure the stairs are in good condition, with no loose or missing steps. The steps should also be the same height and depth, with a handrail on at least one side for safety. · Repair or replace the ledger board: The ledger board is the piece of lumber that connects the deck to the house. It's essential to make sure it's securely fastened and not rotting or damaged. If the ledger board is in poor condition, it can lead to a collapse of the entire deck. · Install skirting: Skirting is the material that covers the area under the deck, providing a finished look and preventing access by animals and pests. Installing skirting also helps prevent injuries by hiding exposed framing, electrical wires, or other hazards. · Use non-combustible materials: If you're considering replacing any decking, railing, or other materials on your deck, consider using non-combustible materials. This is particularly important if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Non-combustible materials such as aluminum, steel, or composite materials can help prevent fires from spreading to your home. · Keep the deck clean: Regular cleaning of your deck can help prevent slips, trips, and falls. Debris, leaves, and moss can make surfaces slippery and dangerous. Use a pressure washer or cleaning solution to keep your deck clean and free of hazards. · Consider adding a ramp: If someone in your household uses a wheelchair or mobility device, consider adding a ramp to the deck. This will make it easier and safer for them to access the deck and enjoy outdoor living. · Upgrade the electrical system: If your deck has electrical outlets or fixtures, it's essential to ensure the system is up to code and safe. Consider upgrading to GFCI outlets, which help prevent electrical shocks and fires. · Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: If you have a gas grill or other gas-powered appliances on your deck, it's important to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure safety. Make sure they're installed in the correct locations and regularly tested. · Have a fire extinguisher on hand: A fire extinguisher can be a lifesaver in case of a fire on your deck or nearby. Make sure you have one on hand and know how to use it.

In conclusion, making an old deck safe requires a combination of careful inspection, regular maintenance, and upgrades to ensure it meets current safety standards. By following these tips, you can continue to enjoy your outdoor living space with peace of mind. However, it's important to note that some of these tips may require professional help, especially when dealing with structural issues or electrical systems. Don't hesitate to seek the help of a professional if you're not confident in your DIY skills. Remember, safety should always come first! EEEadvisor is an active member of AOA and our services include a FREE estimate for visual inspection, FREE consultation, and a FREE proposal from industry leaders in waterproofing and structural repairs. We offer fixed prices with no hidden fees and our experts are always available to answer any questions you may have.

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