It’s a common DIY misconception that building a deck is a simple, straightforward process and that a lot of steps professionals take to ensure structural integrity and overall durability are really just excuses for padding the bill. In fact most of the decks that collapse each year are designed and built either by homeowners, self-proclaimed handymen or discount contractors, and often without proper permits or follow up inspections.
The Importance of Professional Deck Design
Decks problems, including collapses, don’t just happen for no reason. They’re the result of poor deck design and/or construction. Here are several all-too-common errors that lead to deck problems and failures in Toronto.
- Setting posts into the footing – Concrete is a porous material that absorbs ground moisture. When the posts have been sealed directly into the footing they’ll absorb whatever moisture the concrete absorbs and rot away creating a major safety hazard.
- Incorrect footings – DIYers will often either create footings that are too small or try and rest their post directly on an existing concrete slab. In either case what you’re likely to get is a deck that begins to sag in various places and which will likely collapse in time.
- Inadequate structural support – The impulse to follow their gut instead of building codes leads many a handyman to use undersized structural supports when building the deck platform. In time this too will lead to sagging and sinking and potentially collapse.
- Using the wrong joist hangers – To the untrained eye it may seem a joist hanger is a joist hanger, but this is not the case. Using undersized hangers or worse, a design that does not include hangers, is an invitation to future problems, including collapse.
- Incorrectly securing the deck – This is a major contributing factor to many a deck collapse. A few bolts holding the deck to the house isn’t going to cut it when you have 30 people on the deck for a barbeque. Your deck design needs to be to code or beyond.
- Inadequate flashing – While the deck must be properly secured to the house that point of connection must be properly protected from water intrusion as well. If flashings are poorly designed or even missing water can undermine the connection’s integrity.
- Using non-galvanized bolts – As decks are exposed to the elements the bolts used to hold the various components together must be galvanized. Non-galvanized bolts will rust away significantly faster than galvanize bolts which could lead to structural failure and collapse.
- Not sealing the deck – An unsealed deck will deteriorate much faster than a properly sealed one. Even before rot settles in you’ll likely be dealing with warping and cracking. Avoid the weathered look and prolong the life of your deck by sealing it properly.
- Not having the deck design approved – Always build using proper permits and always make sure the design of the deck will pass inspection before setting one piling or buying one plank. If you decide on your own that your deck design or that of your handyman is just fine you could be in for a rude awakening when inspectors arrive and order you to remove the deck because it’s not up to code.
Toronto Decks and Fence Company has been building beautiful durable decks for homeowners in the GTA for more than 10 years. With our experience and knowhow your new deck is sure to add significant value to your home and be a place where you, your family and your friends can entertain safely and securely for years to come. Don’t cut corners when it comes to deck design. Enlist the help of our design specialists and prepare to have your expectations exceeded.