Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's a Gorgeous Deck, But Will It Fall?

Mine is a pretty deck, but is it safe?
If you have a deck on your home or are considering building one, a Virginia Tech professor has some advice for you: be especially careful how it is built and maintained. It can fall.

 The article in Virginia Tech Spotlight is here and it came out today online.

I have built a number of decks and from what Tech's Joe Loferski tells us about deck construction, it looks like most of what I built--even when I was sober--was wrong and could be dangerous. The 4X4 posts were too small; the notched guardrails could break; there probably wasn't a strong enough connection between the deck ledger and the house (a critical juncture where most crashing decks fail); I didn't put enough support intermittently beneath the deck.

When I moved into the house I live in now, one of the selling points was a wonderful deck, but the inspector for the sale told me it needed support in several places and the juncture between the house and the deck needed more bolts. There were no 6X6 posts, which are now required in most localities, but weren't when this deck was built. The deck looks great, but I will not put a hot tub on it, nor will I allow 20 people to gather out there at a time. 'Course, I could just fix it, I guess.

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