Decks can be the highlight areas of summer nights. The best designed decks take advantage of height to make the outdoor experience more bug-free and pleasant, offering views of landscape and garden designs while decreasing the bug potential. Often a gathering place in summer months, the best decks also offer up an adjacent grill area, seating for meals and lounging, and easy access for parties and entertaining. Unfortunately, decks can also be dangerous if not designed well, so let’s look at some deck design pointers to help make your deck the best extension of your home possible.
The Banisters and Railings
The first parts of a deck design that can be potentially hazardous are the railing and banister designs. Let’s take a closer look at deck requirements to help you build the best, safest deck around:
- Banisters should be placed in any area where a fall would be harmful or life threatening. This distance can be very short for children, so a good rule of thumb in deck building is to provide a railing if the deck is more than one step high.
- Railings are important for going up and down deck stairs, so any areas with stairs should be fitted with handholds and railings.
The Basic Construction
Another point in deck building that can be very hazardous is the support. If a deck is not supported properly, it could fall at any minute. This can be especially dangerous if multiple people are standing on a second story deck: A collapse could seriously harm or even kill many people all at once. To avoid constructing a dangerous deck, it is very important to follow local building codes. Since local codes vary so widely, let’s look at some of the basic ideas to get you started on design, then you can check your code for specifics like rail height, tie-ins, support piers, etc.:
- Decks should always be anchored to the ground. The size of the anchor and the material used will vary by your deck design, height and local codes, but it is important to note that all decks must be anchored in some way to provide you with the best in safety and design.
- Decks must be anchored to the house properly. This includes using bolts designed for anchoring the deck (no nails or screws).
- Deck floors must be supported properly. This means that decks should consist of beams on the lowest layer, joists on the second layer and deck flooring on top.
- Posts and piers should be the correct materials and girth for the deck support, and the posts and piers should be placed the correct width from one another. If posts are too far apart, there may not be enough support in one or more areas of the deck.
Deck safety is possible when the rules and regulations of deck building are followed, so make sure you follow the local codes for deck building to ensure you, your family and your friends can enjoy the safest and most pleasant deck possible.