Does your deck look safe?

Deck Railing

This building is a multiple unit Condominium.

The Unit that I inspected is on the top floor–its deck is visible at the top center of the picture.

Certainly at this height the deck guard/barriers had better be adequate. Of course when this deck was built the spacing between the vertical metal bars would have been considered adequate and upgrading the spacing for safety is a good idea. Upgrading is something to perhaps discuss with the Condo Association. If you look close you can see where someone has added some bamboo lattice-work to the inside of the guard to provide a little more protection.

The point of this blog post is the connection of the top rail of the guard–inside the red circle in the picture above.

As you can see in the picture below, it appears that the lag-bolts that have been screwed through the rail on the left, into the end grain of the rail on the right, are pulling loose.

Unsafe deck guard

I used this short 5 second video to remind myself that it is actually worse than it looks.

The reality is that this barrier would not likely support someone falling against it–possibly resulting in a very serious fall to the ground below. It would certainly not resist the required 200 lbs of lateral force required of these guards by current standards.

Decks can be very dangerous. It seems we hear almost weekly of decks collapsing and people being injured or killed.

Please make sure your decks are safe–have them professionally inspected today.


By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

ASHI member Charles Buell has been designing and building residential structures for over 35 years and currently sits on the Washington State Home Inspector License Advisory Board.

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