DIY Deck Improvement

The summer months are a popular time to make improvements around the house—deck building included. Home improvement specialist Bill McAnally says that regular inspection and repairs are critical to a deck’s longevity but are often overlooked by homeowners.

McAnally says the best resource for prospective deck builders and current deck owners is the American Wood Council’s Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide, which can be downloaded from their website. This guide offers tips for inspection when looking for incorrect fasteners and wood rot.

“It’s roughly a 40-some page manual. If you are going to build a deck, especially now, you would want to follow that. It’s also a good guide to go back to look at the deck you have now to see where your deck may be underbuilt.”

He also says that it’s especially important to inspect for damage on older decks because the methods for attaching them to houses have dramatically changed.

“When you go out onto a deck, you’re standing on it, so you’re thinking of weight going downwards. Most decks fail though, because the deck pulls away from the house,” he says. “They call that a lateral load. When you walk out on it or the wind is pushing on it, it’s moving left or right… That push doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s enough to pull things away [from the house].”

On this Talk of Iowa, McAnally joins host Charity Nebbe to discuss his advice for deck building projects and takes questions from DIY listeners.


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