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Inspection Insights: Decks



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For many, a deck is an extension of the home. It brings indoor life to the great outdoors. With a little care, a deck can last for many years. Neglected, it can become an eyesore or worse, unsafe!

Permit
Is a permit required to build a deck? Most municipalities require a permit to build a deck. Many decks get built without a permit. The result is that many decks are poorly constructed and some are unsafe.

Deck Materials
Pressure Treated Wood: Properly maintained, a pressure treated wood deck can last 20 years.
Cedar: Cedar is a premium deck building material with a rich look and feel. It is more expensive than pressure treated wood but it has many desirable properties. It is naturally more dimensionally stable than pressure treated wood so it does not shrink and split. A well maintained cedar deck can last 20 years.
Synthetic: Synthetic decking is the most expensive decking material but it requires little to no maintenance beyond cleaning and should last many years.
Wood Sealer: The secret to a deck that looks good over the years is wood sealer. Unsealed wood will absorb water and expand and then dry out and shrink. Over time the wood splits and deteriorates.
Guard Rails: Guard rails keep you safe on your deck. The specifics of a quality guard rail are spelled out in local building codes.
Deck Collapse: “Except for hurricanes and tornadoes, more injuries may be connected to deck failures than all other wood building components and loading cases combined.” - Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory at Washington State University. Many decks fail because they are old, worn and rotted. Others fail because they were not built properly in the first place.

Read more tips in our latest edition of ePostNotes.



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