Poor Deck and Stair Construction Can Kill

Poor Deck and Stair Construction Can Kill

In a recent article published in The Los Angeles Times, July 6th of this year, a tragic deck collapse resulting in serious injury and death, is reported. The deck was part of a three story apartment complex in a Birmingham suburb. Seven party-goers is all it took to create this tragic event. Unfortunately, this is an all to common occurrence now days. Reports are continually surfacing, confirming the growing frequency of these serious, life threatening collapses.

Over the past several years, much has been done to address deck and stair safety issues, but we still have a long way to go. One glaring example of the failure in deck and stair safety protocol is the industry standard of permitting “hot dipped galvanized” anchors, screws, hangers and other hardware to be in direct contact with ACQ, pressure treated wood. The galvanic corrosion created between the high copper content of the wood and the galvanizing is so severe that the normal industry standard of G90 galvanizing will corrode in as little as 12 months and G185, such as Z-Max® can be gone in 24 months. The industry (including code officials) has adopted G185 as a fall back position with no engineering testing available to substantiate the validity or longevity of this adoption…this is a “knee jerk” reaction and is an accident waiting to happen. Without a barrier between the pressure treated wood and galvanized hardware, serious corrosion is inevitable.

At McNish Outdoor living service, we promise not only high quality products but we ensure that we add value to our customer’s property. Adding a backyard structure is not the only thing that can add value to your property. Still, their placement has a lot to do with the overall appeal of your house. Adding a backyard structure can increase the resale value of your house by 10 percent. It also increases the overall square footage of your available living space on the property. Our fully customized and creative designs add beauty and value to your property. So, even if you wish to resale your property, you will have a better value for the property in the end. 

Take for example the new NADRA (North American Deck and Railing Association) study that examined the number of injuries caused by outdoor deck stairs and porches from 2003 to 2007. The report confirms that deck and stair injuries are on the increase. NADRA points to a 2003 study showing a total of 37,760 injuries which required a visit to the hospital. Of these injuries, 6,120 were a result of structural failure or collapse. Further, the report shows that by 2007, the incidents of serious injury had risen to 55,160. Quoting from the report- “Nearly 15% of all injuries are a result of structural failure”. Wood decks are constantly exposed to the elements and they have a limited life span of 10-15 years. As you can see, important to have your deck and deck stairs inspected so that signs of wood decay and deterioration can be repaired.

Turn your backyard into a destination. Enjoy the Florida sunshine with a custom outdoor living space, whether it is to enhance the aesthetics of your home or increase its value a backyard structure is always a good investment. No one likes to be cooped up inside and extend your living space beyond the walls of your home, your dream backyard awaits. McNish Outdoor Living offers a wide range of services whether it is a deck, a gazebo by the pool, a pergola on a sunny Florida afternoon, or hosting a cookout with your new outdoor kitchen, we will get it done.

Other codes address “rail post support” safety. A rail post per code regulations is required to support a lateral load of 200 lbs. This is a poorly enforced area of the code and with many inspectors content with the bump test. If it doesn’t move too much when they bump it with their hip, the rail will pass inspection. Many rail posts are simply lagged or nailed to the rim joists and post which are mounted directly to the deck surface will simply not meet code. The tragedy is, there are systems available on the market that correctly address this problem. Simpson, USP and Deck-Loc have brackets which will meet code for rim joist attachment but there’s only one adjustable bracket system (discussed below) which will meet code for wood or composite stairs.

Attention is now being given to the ability of the vertical post’s strength when hit by various degrees of lateral thrust pressure. These new directives, requiring the vertical rail post to support a minimum of 200 lbs. of lateral thrust, is making engineered stair systems extremely popular, with their ability to withstand over 500 lbs of lateral thrust for the ‘rail post support’ structural sections of the overall decking plans.

Stairs are perhaps the most overlooked area of construction. Stairs using standard cut stringers have been used for eons and are “grandfathered” into code as accepted construction. Stringers are cut from 2×12’s and greatly weakened in the process. Several stringers are then run longitudinal down length of the stair to make up for the strength loss during cutting. Long stair run tend to bounce and stringer failure is not uncommon. Additionally, many of these stairs are built without risers which is a “child safety” issue in many states. General Contractor and renowned professional deck builder, Pat Noonan of Minnesota says, “Of the 50+ decks I have torn off and replaced, not one had a stair system that outlasted the deck.” The majority of them had shaky, unsafe stairs, and it was the main reason they were doing the rest of the deck.”

McNish Outdoor Living
https://mcnishoutdoorliving.com/

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