May has been declared “Deck Safety Month” by the North American of Deck & Railing Association, a program the group started in 2006. Today, homeowners are more aware of the need to keep their deck safe, but they often don’t know what that entails. Knowing what they can do to be safe can help create a closer bond with customers—and bring in more business.
Homeowners may ask a contractor about concerns they have about their older deck, either while they’re discussing another project or by calling a contractor they know from previous work. To help guide homeowners through key inspection needs, NADRA put together a checklist of quick, easy spots to review. Providing this list to customers can allay their fears or generate more business. This is also a good time to suggest a thorough deck cleaning, per the manufacturer’s instructions – even before inspection.
A copy of the one-page detailed consumer safety checklist is available for distribution from NADRA at http://www.nadra.org/NADRA_DSM_Checklist.pdf
. Here are some of its key points that can be passed along in a quick conversation:
Key Places for Consumers to Check on a Deck:
1. Split or decaying wood. Look at different areas to be sure the wood is still sound, especially the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house, a common source of failures). Pay special attention to places that remain damp or where water puddles.
2. Flashing. Check the metal or plastic guards installed where the house and deck join.
3. Fasteners. Test for tightness and corrosion at various locations on the deck. Check the ledger plate attachment to the house and the joist attachment. It is critical that they are properly bolted using the right fasteners.
4. Railings and Bannisters. Wiggle them to ensure they’re secure. Also measure to confirm that they’re at least 36 inches high and preferably 42 inches high, with railing balusters no more than 4 inches apart.
5. Stairs. Confirm that the risers and stringers are secure. If the area behind the stairs is open, the opening should be no more than 4 inches tall.
6. Grills, fire pits, etc. Look for burn or scorch marks. Ensure the deck surface is protected with a non-flammable pad.
7. Lighting and electrical. Test all lighting and ensure none is blocked by landscaping. Childproof or cover all open outlets.
8. Furniture and storage. Check furniture to ensure it’s stable and move it away from the deck’s edge. Ensure there is secure storage for all deck maintenance chemicals and lighter fluid.
Provide these quick inspection aids to homeowners can ensure they check their decks before the heavy entertainment season begins. This assistance can avoid mid-season problems and set up the contractor as a knowledgeable source.