Garden deck with furniture

Decking Safety: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the best ways to enjoy the Summer is sitting out on your garden deck soaking in the sun. To make the most of your time spend outside, you should make sure your deck is safe for not only you but also your family, pets and any visitors.

We have created a comprehensive decking safety guide to make time on your deck, well spent.

Railing/handrail & balustrade installation, replacement or repair

deck with railing

One of the most common things to fail on a deck is its railing/handrail and balustrades. Having people constantly use, lean or push up against them will eventually cause them to loosen. One of the most important parts of a deck safety inspection involves the handrail and balustrades.

Be sure to inspect them at least twice a year. Rotting wood does not take long to go from unsightly to down right dangerous. Replace any wood and/or fixings that require replacing and give everything a once over with an electric screwdriver to make sure it is all nice and tight still.

Did you know?

Balustrades should be in place for any deck that is higher than 300mm above the ground, with a handrail of no less than 1100mm height from the floor, where the parapet creates a step.

The space between the balusters (the vertical posts in a railing) should be less than 100mm to prevent things such as animals and children from slipping through them.

The distance between the bottom of the railing and the top of the deck surface also should be no more than 100mm.

Finish & protect your wood

Application of Textrol on a deck

If you have just installed a deck or are thinking of doing so in the near future, we recommend using Seasonite. Seasonite dramatically reduces the risk of damage to new wood during its first winter. It minimises the greying and weathering process and after 6-12 months (6-9 months for softwood and 12 months for hardwood), provides a sound surface for paint, wood stain or other finish to be applied to.

Finishing and protecting your wood will not only make it look good but will also help keep it in great condition for longer.

The use of a slip resistant finish is especially helpful for those with difficulty walking, children and even pets. Owatrol Antislip is an effective anti-slip protection for exterior wood surfaces which contains polypropylene wax microbeads (particle size 100 microns). It provides an anti-slip surface for pedestrian traffic as well as a skid-resistant surface for wheeled traffic to help to prevent falling and skidding in areas with slip and skid hazards.

We have a wide variety of finishes suitable for all kinds of decks, including paint that you can find here.

Fire prevention / BBQ safety

BBQ on deck with protective heat mat

BBQing is one of the best and most common ways to enjoy your garden. Practice proper BBQing protocols to avoid burning or damaging your deck such as:

  • Place the BBQ at least 2 feet away from furniture, siding, railings and any other areas that could become damaged from close proximity to fire
  • Keep any branches that are hanging too close to the grill trimmed back
  • Have a fire extinguisher close by to where you are cooking
  • Make sure that any hazardous and/or flammable materials (lighter fluid for example) are stored away from the BBQ

Make sure to keep any other items such as chimineas, garden candles, or fire pits off the deck boards, or use a heat-resistant pad.

Check for mould & mildew

Mildew on deck

A green tint on your garden deck can not only be unaesthetically pleasing but also dangerous. Mould and mildew can become very slippery to walk on and will eventually work its way into your wood causing damage that can only be resolved with replacement. An unnecessary and expensive thing to do with proper routine maintenance.

Be sure to keep up with cleaning – you will want to do this at least twice a year. You can simply use strong soapy water to keep all the nasties at bay. However, if mould or mildew is already present on the wood, you should use a proper mould/mildew removing product that will kill it dead.

Replace rotten wood

damaged rotten deck boards

Up next in our decking safety guide is to replace any rotten wood. This is something you should always be on the look out for and sorting as soon as you notice it. Rot spreads very quickly and can make decks extremely unsafe to use – especially ones that are high.

Be sure to check everything – we mean the boards, stairs, balustrades and handrails. If you have boards that have cracked or are creaking when you walk on them, don’t just ignore them. This could be an early warning sign of something more sinister underneath. Lift any problematic boards and inspect them as well as the support beams. If any are showing sign of decay, be sure to replace them.

Replace and/or retighten fasteners

Rusted nail on loose deck board

If you have any fasteners (screws, nails etc.) sticking up out of a board slightly, be sure to hammer/screw them back down. If it won’t go back in, there could be an issue with what lies beneath, such as decay, as the wood may have become so soft that there is nothing for the fastener to attach to.

Alternatively, the fastener itself may have suffered from rust and simply need replacing.

Consider installing lighting

Garden deck with lighting

Large decks with obstacles or steps can be dangerous places without proper lighting. If you don’t already have some lighting in place, we highly recommend installing some.

There’s a wide range of lighting options now in a variety of price points so it need not be an expensive thing to do.

If you have lighting installed, be sure to regularly check bulbs have not blown, or that no plants are disrupting them.

Inspect and replace the leger, leger flashing and/or flashing tape

garden deck being installed

The majority of garden decks are connected to the house. The leger, leger flashing and flashing tape all work together to protect your home from moisture ingress and overall damage. It does this by creating a way for rain and moisture to divert away from the house.

Once a year, we recommend you lift the boards closest to the house and check each of these components are in good condition. Failing to keep them all working well could be catastrophic for your home and be very costly to remedy if left too long.

Keep your deck clean & clear

Large clear garden deck with no furniture

As part of ongoing maintenance you should try to keep your deck clean and clear of clutter – especially in the winter months. There’s nothing worse than using your deck all summer long to then find the following spring it is falling apart.

For example:

Make sure surrounding trees are well kept and don’t pose a hazard. Falling leaves, branches, pollen etc. that sit on your deck cause it to be unsightly at best and a slippery dangerous place to be at worst.

Keep your deck clean. As previously mentioned, you should wash your deck at least twice a year to keep it in good condition.

Remove as much furniture from the deck as possible during the winter months. We understand this may be difficult due to lack of space, however, if you can store any garden furniture off your deck and out of the elements, the longer it will last.

Conduct regular deck inspections

The final point in our decking safety guide is to make sure you check the overall condition of your deck regularly. At least once but if not twice a year if possible. Wet countries such as the UK can lead to issues arising very quickly and the sooner they are dealt with the better.

Try to check over the entire deck in the early spring and then again in the following Autumn. That way you will have plenty of time (and hopefully decent weather!) to be able to conduct and fixes that are required before the long, wet winter sets in.

We hope you found this decking safety guide helpful.

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Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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