Wood Decks need Attention Too

Home Inspector with DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector

Many people build, our have built, nice beautiful decks on their homes all the time.  But like everything, it needs attention from time to time.  It seems that decks, like many things, get over looked and even forgotten about when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

This wooden set of stairs looks normal enough.  Close to being up to code. BUT...

Wood stairs up to deck

As you can see this stair is about to DEMAND some attention when it has finally had enough and lets loose to send someone tumbling down the steps to certain injury.

top step about to give up

And if that doesn't get your attention, then this might even kill someone eventually.  Leaning or pushing into this rail might just be enough someday.

rail close to giving up

It's a good idea to do a THOROUGH inspection of your deck, stairs and rails every spring to check for defects and potential failures.  Many home repair service providers will provide this inspection for you, and of course with a quote to make repairs/replacements too.

Or better yet, get a COMPLETE Home Inspection to check the entire home for serious problems that could save you a lot of money in the long run.  A simple repair might do before the problem gets too serious and even more expensive, requiring a total replacement.



This information is provided by David Holden, DRH Home Inspection in the Akron Ohio, Summit County Ohio Area.

Comments (18)

TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

David, For a minute I thought that you were putting in a plug for me... LOL

Jul 07, 2008 08:37 PM
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Good post. Looks like they should have used better fasteners, and maybe galvanized? Toe-nailing is not a very strong fastening method. And those treads should be out of 1 piece of wood, not two. I like to use deck screws for building a deck, as opposed to nails.

Jul 08, 2008 12:04 AM
David Holden
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector - Akron, OH
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit

Michael, It is a plug for your, in Nashville.

Kevin,  When I build decks, I only use approved and galvanized screws.  I DON'T use nails ever.

Jul 08, 2008 12:53 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

You just never know when someone is going to haul a refrigerator up rickety stairs like that----or a full keg of beer:)

Jul 08, 2008 01:48 AM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


Only Charlie would present the "heavy beer" scenario. Breaking the six pack would break his heart. Broken leg, oh well. Broken bottle, translate that as a crisis. I was on a deck once that a realtor put her foot through and bruised her leg. Good post.

Jul 08, 2008 02:41 AM
David Holden
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector - Akron, OH
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit

Charles,  Loosing the beer would be tragic for sure, refrigerator, oh well.

Steven,  You know Charles better then anyone, I will believe you.  This inspection was for the owner doing a pre-listing inspection, she hadn't even noticed the step or rail, along with many other issues as well.  Good thing she had the inspection before an open-house and someone got hurt.  That is if she has it repaired.

Jul 08, 2008 04:12 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

David, one year I had six beers:)

Jul 08, 2008 04:37 AM
David Holden
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector - Akron, OH
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit

Charles,  Me too, I drink very little alcohol.

Jul 08, 2008 04:44 AM
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

David - We were at the Texas coast over the 4th of July and did some work on my son's deck. The builder used nails and we are replacing nails with screws. 

Jul 08, 2008 02:16 PM
Tony Stiles
The BrickKicker Inspection Services - Omaha, NE

Here in Nebraska, the weather has really nailed our decks.  I've had to comment about them 9 out of 10 inspections.  This is good info, keep it up!

Jul 12, 2008 05:22 AM
Charles (Chuck) Crooker
Jul 17, 2008 03:23 PM
Erol Kartal
Schaumburg, IL

There are so many poor deck /porch installtions that I have added an extra fee. A large deck inspection if performed properly, is a dirty, crawling, additional time adventure to the unknown. Besides, it's not part of the home.

Dec 21, 2008 09:45 AM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Something else - I recommend on each inspection where there is a deck that it be sealed with something that is not only waterproofing, but also UV protective.  That helps forestall splitting, splintering, warping, spitting out nails (I agree that a deck should be screwed up, so to speak...) and so forth. 

You had some good catches on that deck.  Definite homeowner installations...  and who knows, the county may have inspected it and let that stuff go!

The word I am supposed to type below is "rambai." What is that, a bunch of Asain Rambos?  I can hear the charge, "Bonzai Rambai!!"

Dec 21, 2008 08:58 PM
Jon Wnoroski
America's 1st Choice RH Realty Co., Inc. - Green, OH
Summit County Realtor

Hi David - Great pictures and commentary on deck safety.  I had a listing where the railings and steps were in disrepair.  There was apparent rotting (possibly insect infestation) and did not look safe at all.  During my showings I was compelled to warn people about the condition of the deck and point out the defects.  The deck was on the top floor of a bi-level and a real hazard.  My seller did not want to make any repairs and, of course, this listing expired with no interest.


Jan 11, 2009 11:25 PM
David Holden
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector - Akron, OH
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit

Erol, Jay and Jon,  Thanks for the recent comments.  I have seen many decks in very poor condition and in need of major repairs or even tore down and rebuilt correctly.  Too many homeowners think a deck is a simple weekend project and hack one together.

Thanks, Dave

Jan 12, 2009 12:58 AM
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

David:  I think some more nails will fix this deck right up...and maybe duct tape of course to make it permanent.

Jan 12, 2009 08:08 AM
The BrickKicker of Lincoln - Tony Stiles 402.613.7783
The BrickKicker Inspection Services - Lincoln, NE

duct tape and twistie ties.

Jan 12, 2009 08:29 AM
Deck Contractor MA

Nice pictures, it looks as though nobody ever cared about the deck! When I build pressure-treated decks here in Ma., I always nail the main framing members together with galvanized nails and use joist hangers. And as for the decking and railings, I always screw the decking down, to ensure no twisting, cupping, buckling of the decking. And finally, you don't have to wait a few months for pressure-treated decking to dry out to treat it with stain. Just sand and stain, once you have built your deck.

Apr 04, 2009 06:59 AM