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Preventing Outdoor Decks From Failing
Date:12/30/2013

door living space and are exceptionally beautiful. But if a deck if not built to code, installed correctly or properly maintained,” von Dohren warned, “it shouldn’t be built at all. Many deck throughout the SF Bay Area are a disaster and should be torn down. Homeowners should be looking at their decks with a critical eye.”

In 30 years as a deck builder, von Dohren has seen decks fail for many reasons. But the primary cause for deck collapse in the United States is a separation between the deck's ledger board and the home. Ledger-board failure often happens when nails have been used instead of thru bolts as fasteners.Nationwide, this so called deck-ledger board failure is the cause of 90% of deck collapses, according to National Association of Deck Builders (NADRA). Other reasons for deck collapse include deck joists being nailed to the outer girder; a post or beam fails due to wood rot; and foundation failure.

Preventing deck failure, von Dohren remarked, starts by creating a deck out of hardwood or a durable composite material. “Redwood decking and ipe decks are stunningly beautiful. They also happen to wear extremely well,” remarked von Dohren. “Pressure treated woods and composite decking materials are also a wise choice, both of which are rot-resistant and need very little maintenance.”

As for those with an existing deck, Von Dohren recommends inspecting it every season. Start by looking underneath it. Support posts and joists should be examined for signs of moisture that causes dry rot. The deck boards, railings and stairs and the flashing should also be inspected. Most importantly, check the fasteners, those all-important, thru-bolt attachments; make sure they are tight and not corroded. A well-built hardwood deck can last up to 50 years.

"Enjoy using your deck year round as a place
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