Decking Inspections – Where do decks typically fail?

The National Association of Decking and Railings has an excellent article (originally written by Anne W. West for Professional Deck Builders Magazine) on what inspectors look for when reviewing decking projects.  An inspection now can save expensive and hazardous failures later on.

The four main areas of concern identified are:

  • connections:  ledger attachments and screw vs nail vs bolted connections
  • flashing failure:  built to code, hidden moisture issues, wood treatment impact on aluminum flashing (and fasteners)
  • railings:  built to code, material selection, 200 lb IRC test, “no notched support posts”
  • new designs: materials and designs change often;  so do building codes so it’s important to keep up

The results of good construction, building inspection, and plan review are often unseen, according to Elliott. “The absence of TV news reports of building code-related accidents and no calls from attorneys concerning those accidents are peripheral goals of every inspector,” he said. Robertson summed up why deck inspections are so critical. “No one wants to build an unsafe deck and that’s what it’s all about.” And as deck collapses continue to make headlines, the focus on safety and the quality of deck construction is bound to be strengthened.

Read more about Deck inspections and where they fail here:

If you want to dive deeper into sound deck design, this article by InterNACHI could be your instruction manual:


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