Build­ing a deck can be a haz­ardous task

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

One of the most pop­u­lar doit- your­self projects, a deck, can be one of the most dan­ger­ous ad­di­tions to your home if the proper pre­cau­tions aren’t fol­lowed.

ACC says there are sev­eral safety fac­tors to con­sider, from whether you need a build­ing con­sent to the height of bar­ri­ers and choice of sur­faces.

If your deck is to be 1 me­tre above the ground, you will need a build­ing con­sent from your lo­cal author­ity and a safety bar­rier (the lat­ter is rec­om­mended even if the deck isn’t a me­tre high, to pre­vent peo­ple ac­ci­den­tally step­ping off the edge).

To stop chil­dren climb­ing the bar­rier, use ver­ti­cal rather than hor­i­zon­tal slats with spac­ing about the width of a tennis ball be­tween them so young­sters can’t climb through or get their heads stuck.

Avoid po­si­tion­ing low seats near the edges of the deck and, if you have young chil­dren, in­stall a gate at the top of any stairs lead­ing from the deck so there’s no risk of them fall­ing down them.

Be­cause rain, ice and moss can make decks slip­pery, it’s im­por­tant to slope a deck so rain wa­ter drains off it and can’t pool.

If build­ing a tim­ber deck use grooved wooden slats on walk-on sur­faces. These will pro­vide bet­ter grip than smooth, flat tim­ber, es­pe­cially if run at a right an­gle to the di­rec­tion in which you’ll most of­ten cross the deck.

A non-slip fin­ish is rec­om­mended re­gard­less of the con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als. Adding sand to the paint you ap­ply to the deck sur­face will im­prove grip and there are spe­cial non-slip ap­pli­ca­tions you can buy.

Try to avoid small changes in the level of your deck, as these can eas­ily trip peo­ple up.

Only use treated tim­ber, as un­treated tim­ber is more likely to rot, which can weaken the struc­ture of the deck.

Main­te­nance is a must. Sweep the deck reg­u­larly with a stiff­bris­tled yard broom so leaves and grime can’t set­tle and lead to damp­ness and rot. Re­move mould and moss by wash­ing the deck with bleach and hot wa­ter, or an anti-mould prod­uct, and reg­u­larly in­spect the deck for signs of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.

Watch for black stains around bolt­holes, which can in­di­cate bolts are rust­ing and need re­plac­ing.

In­spect all wood for signs of rot, too, es­pe­cially where mois­ture can get trapped in the tim­ber. Some­times tim­ber may ap­pear fine on the out­side, even though it has started to rot on the inside. Use a screw­driver to prod for weak points, and re­place any af­fected tim­ber im­me­di­ately.

Slip­pery when wet: If build­ing a tim­ber deck use grooved wooden slats on walk-on sur­faces for bet­ter grip.

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