Deck Safety Awareness Month: How to Spot Weaknesses in Your Deck

spotting a weakened deck

The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) has dubbed May Deck Safety Awareness Month. This time of year always sees a surge in deck construction, repair, and use, as people prepare to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. The goal of Deck Safety Awareness Month is to educate deck owners on how to safely enjoy and maintain their decks to avoid property damage and injury. According to NADRA, approximately half of all decks in the U.S. (30 out of 60 million) are in need of repair or replacement. While it’s best to hire deck repair and restoration experts to properly assess your deck, it’s good to conduct your own check-ins on a regular basis, too. Of course, you’ll need to know what to look for when doing so. This Deck Safety Awareness Month, let’s go over how to spot weaknesses in your deck.

Leaning, Tilting, Sagging, Pulling, and/or Sinking

When inspecting your deck for weak points, it’s always good to start with the big picture. Stand at a distance and take in your deck as a whole—ideally, the structure should be straight and level. If instead, your deck is leaning to one side, sagging in certain areas, pulling away from your home, and/or sinking into the ground, your deck’s entire structure is at risk of eventually collapsing. You will need to consult with a decking contractor to assess the root of the problem(s) and decide whether repair or replacement is necessary.

Soft, Spongy Areas

After taking a broader look at your deck, it’s time to get closer and examine the individual features, such as the deck railings, floorboards, stairs, nails/screws, and so on. The wood itself should be solid and firm. Take the time to feel each part of your deck, especially areas that look darker or in some way different than others. If you notice any softer, spongy parts, this may be a sign of water damage, mold, or rot. If the softened wood is isolated to one area, you may only need to repair or replace a single section. But if the problem is widespread and/or present in the beams, joists, and other supportive components, your deck’s entire structural integrity is at risk.

Cracks and Splintering Boards

Also look for cracked, splintering boards. Minor fracturing is commonplace as wood ages, but when neglected, dirt, water, bacteria, fungi, pests, and more can enter these openings and cause further damage. So, any cracks should be quickly filled and sealed, which is typically an easy repair to make.

Protruding, Rusting, or Missing Nails, Screws, or Fasteners

Screws, nails, and fasteners are essential for holding each part of your deck together. So, if you find that any of these components are missing, popping out, rusting, or generally damaged, your deck will be weakened as a result. To secure your deck, these features will have to be properly put back in place or be replaced altogether.

Warping and Curling

When viewed from a distance, your deck might look totally level. When taking a closer look, however, you might find that some boards are bent. Moisture damage, thermal shock, and rot can all contribute to this warping or curling. And as boards warp, adjacent parts of your deck become affected as well. This is why it’s important to replace these boards after addressing the problem’s root cause.


Even when stained, the color of your deck’s boards won’t be completely uniform. That said, major disparities in your wood’s coloration may indicate weakness from moisture intrusion, mold, or rot. If you see yellow, white, gray, dark brown, and/or black spots where they don’t belong, you may have a problem. Investing in proper deck sealing every few years is a good way to stave off the various threats that lead to discoloration.

What to Do About a Weakened Deck?

Any of the signs listed above are good indicators of a weakened deck. If and when you encounter such a problem, you should act quickly to ensure that your deck is restored and safe to enjoy all season. The deck restoration experts at SEAL-A-DECK specialize in deck treatments, repairs, construction, design, and more. 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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