Deck Safety Awareness Month: 7 Decking Hazards to Avoid

safety awareness month 7 decking hazards avoid

The month of May is Deck Safety Awareness Month, as deemed by The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). As homeowners all over the country reopen their outdoor spaces for the warm weather, there is no better time to be reminded of the importance of proper deck safety. Various forces can do a number on a deck over time, diminishing its integrity. If your deck is falling apart or lacking certain features, you, your family, and your guests will be at greater risk of injury as a result, so it’s important to be mindful of the potential hazards posed by and facing your deck. This Deck Safety Awareness Month, let’s outline seven major decking hazards to avoid.

1. Improper Installation

It all starts with installation. If your deck was built and put into place by those lacking experience or integrity, you may be facing any number of hazards. For instance, your deck must feature the proper baluster spacing (no more than four inches apart) to meet U.S. building codes and ensure the safety of those on or near your deck. If the spacing is too large, small children may get through and fall off the deck. Flashing is also an important part of proper outdoor deck installation to prevent the transfer of water from the deck to the inside of the home. Deck risers must also meet certain regulations—the list goes on. The bottom line is this: hire a reputable, experienced decking contractor from the outset. This will save you time and money in the long run and keep everyone safe.

2. Moisture Intrusion

In many ways, water is a wooden deck’s worst enemy. Because decks exist outside, there is no way to remove water from the equation, of course. However, it’s important to take steps to prevent moisture from gaining entry to the wood itself, as this can lead to fracturing, warping, mold, mildew, rot, and more. Be sure to properly seal your deck every 2-3 years, and, when installing a new deck, consider using waterproof materials such as pressure-treated composite wood or wood-free PVC decking.

3. Pest Infestation

Unwanted visitors present another major hazard for your deck’s integrity. Wood-boring insects like termites, carpenter ants/bees, powder post beetles, and more, will either eat or nest in wooden structures, including decks. When enough of these pests congregate, your deck can become like swiss-cheese, ridden with holes and structurally weakened as a result. To avoid major deck repairs, you want to use insect-resistant, pressure-treated wood or PVC and maintain your deck by cleaning it regularly and sealing it every few years.

4. Faulty Handrails/Stairs

It goes without saying, but your deck must be safe for people to walk upon. As such, decks that feature stairs are made safer when accompanied by deck railings. Of course, both the stairs and handrails must remain sturdy and secure. To avoid tripping/falling hazards, make sure these features are properly fastened and that the wood itself is in good shape (not bending, cracking, rotting, etc.).

5. Unsecure (or Non-Existent) Gates

The presence of deck steps should also necessitate a gate at the top of them, especially if children have access to the deck. Wide-open stairs will increase the risk of falling, after all. To maximize deck safety, make sure the gate is securely fastened to your deck and isn’t able to be unlocked or opened by unsupervised children.

6. Poor Lighting

Visibility also contributes to deck safety. Lighting is less of a concern during the day, but if you want to enjoy your deck at night, you need to make sure every part of it can be seen, especially ledges, stairs, and rails. A well-lit deck isn’t just safer—it’s also more inviting, so you can enjoy multiple benefits from enhancing your deck lighting.

7. Direct Ground Contact

If your deck’s foundation isn’t secure, none of it truly is, which is why installation is number one on this list. That said, even a well-installed deck can lose its footing over time if not well-maintained. Any wood that is in direct contact with the ground is susceptible to higher levels of pest infestation, moisture intrusion, and more. If wood is around 10 years old or more and hasn’t been replaced or at least placed into a bracket, it may be rotting or sinking, which is a major issue for your entire deck.

If you want to keep your deck safe and around for a long time, you need to know what threats lie in wait. The deck repair and restoration specialists at SEAL-A-DECK are well aware of all the decking hazards out there and how to best avoid them. To learn more about us or to schedule a deck check-up today, give us a call at 978-538-7325.


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