According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 33,000 people are injured per year because of structural failure of a deck, porch, railing, or staircase. Now is the time to ensure your deck is safe to enjoy the sun. A little maintenance will go a long way toward your summer enjoyment and safety. Following are some steps towards outdoor safety with a safe deck.
Clutter Is the Enemy of Safety
Most decks and porches don’t have built-in storage. Chairs, cushions, barbeque tools, planters and hoses are some of the items that may end up on your deck, causing tripping hazards. Attractive weather-resistant storage boxes provide a way to stow the stuff and provide additional seating.
Clean and Check the Deck
A winter’s worth of weather will add debris and dirt to the deck. In some cases, mold and mildew can develop, making the deck slippery.
- Sweep the deck first, getting rid of leaves and dirt.
- Once the surface is clear, it’s time to use a deck cleaner for the wash cycle. The cleaning agents TSP and bleach have been used for years, but they are toxic to the user and the environment. Consider using a homemade mixture of vinegar and water or baking soda and water, or an environmentally approved cleaner like Simple Green. Look for the Green Seal to know a product has been certified for environmental and health. Some people like to pressure wash at this point. Before starting, read the warning labels about the recommended pressure to use on wood or composite deck.
- Winter weather can damage decks with snow and rain, causing cracks and loosening connections. Look around your deck, including underneath if possible, checking for loose or rotting boards, rusty connections and screws in the structure. These things need to be fixed right away.
If you don’t have the skill or experience to do this kind of work, find a handyman. The BIAWC website and Angie’s List are great referral sites for qualified contractors. Having a safe deck is worth the costs this may incur.
Test the Railings and Stair Treads
Just like the deck, stairs and handrails can get cracked or loosened over the winter.
- Make sure that treads are sturdy, with no wiggles.
- Handrails should be tightly fastened.
- Harsh weather can make paint blister, causing cracks and splinters on the handrail. Sand these down until they’re smooth and repaint as necessary.
- Also, add handrails to stairs that don’t have any, even short sections of stairs. They’re good for everyone using the stairs.
Add the Finishing Touch for a Safe Deck
After cleaning and repairing, consider using a paint that has non-slip texture additive in it for increased safety. Anti-slip stair tread tape is easy to install. A thick adhesive handrail and guardrail protection product make handrails safe. Add lighting to avoid tripping accidents and a nice glow in the evening. Solar-powered sensor lights are great for this purpose. This this makes for a welcoming, safe deck.
Enjoy spending time with friends and family on your safe and refreshed deck!
Susie Landsem provides design solutions for people who want to stay in their homes safely and independently.