Deck Safety

Decks are a framed structure that a lot of homeowners in Jacksonville like to attempt themselves but sometimes there is a lack of good workmanship. This is especially critical when the deck is elevated.  There are approximately 40 million decks throughout the United States and it has been estimated that about half of these decks are flawed either through inadequate workmanship or age.

As a carpenter by trade, I am very familiar with deck building and house framing in general. Usually when I go out for a home inspection that has a deck,  I will  find problems.  These common defects consist of  largely of loose railings, wood deterioration, improperly fastened ledger boards, poor stair carriage installation and support, poor joist clip installation (brackets that support the floor joist structure) and excessive lateral deck movement, meaning side to side sway.  Decks are a part of the house that homeowners want to do themselves, yet permits are not taken out and the work is not inspected. And a large number of improperly constructed decks are by mis-informed sub-contractors.

Many decks that are improperly built may remain intact for a while but what finally can happen is failure or collapse because of the tremendous weight load. This is especially more frequent when there is a change of ownership to a larger family with friends. Perhaps during the first house warming party, the deck’s structure really gets tested.  This could lead to a deck shift possibly due to broken or rusted joist clips or just rusted nails or poor post supports. Nails can only fasten components together, but structural integrity and load bearing often relies on the way the framing lumber is supported together and the use of bolts in critical support areas.

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