Building a deck can be a hazardous task
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.