With more than 50 million residential decks in the US, it is estimated that 30 million decks are past their useful life and need to be replaced or repaired, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). A significant percentage of decks are missing key components, are poorly constructed, lack proper maintenance, and have significant safety issues.  (From the journal: ASHI Reporter May 2022 by Laura Rote)

For those of us who have decks, we all know how much enjoyment we can have drinking a nice cup of coffee in the morning, having friends and family over for a cookout or watching the sun set on the deck in the evening. Rarely do we ever question how our deck was constructed. Was it built according to code? How old is it? Is it going to fall down?

Age is a very common denominator when it comes to deck failures. If your deck is 15 to 20 years old, not only has it deteriorated but as deck building methods have improved over the years, it most likely was not built very well. Deck building 20 years ago was left up to the builder’s interpretation of construction methods and techniques. When a deck was built by a homeowner as a weekend warrior project, things could be even worse without knowing it.

Flashing details and how the ledger board is connected to the house are the two main culprits when it comes to deck failure. The ledger board runs along the wall of the house and should be properly flashed to protect from water infiltration. If not flashed correctly, water gets in and rots the wood. It doesn’t matter how many bolts and screws you use, they are not going to hold into rotted wood. If the ledger board is not properly attached to the house it to is going to ultimately fail causing deck collapse.

Another common safety concern are the deck railings and stairs. Railings, being some of the smaller components, tend to deteriorate sooner than the larger bulkier materials. Stairs not properly attached can also be points of weakness. Numerous family photos of the group assembled on the stairs for a photo moment have ended in disaster as the weight exceeded the capabilities of the stair connection. Note that loose railings at steps and across the edge of the deck are common even on newer decks.

May is deck safety month. We ask you to consider having your deck inspected. Highland Home Inspections has had very specific deck inspection training from ASHI and the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) and we want to help you to have many safe and enjoyable times on your deck for years to come.

If you have any questions about home inspections, please call to schedule an appointment.

One of our 9 fully licensed and ASHI certified inspectors (2 Spanish speaking and one Portuguese speaking) would be glad to come out to look at your property and provide a report for you.

Call 410-772-9332 or reserve an appointment by going to .

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Highland Home Inspections is a Veteran Owned local business with offices in Ellicott City and Prince Frederick, Maryland and serves Central and Southern Maryland the Eastern Shore, Ocean City and Fenwick Island, DE. And now in Northern Virginia.