What you know as your outdoor decking is only a section of the whole structure. Even if this is a simple structure, the deck construction is much more complicated – at least, much more than meets the eye.
Now, while decks are the means for small getaways from everyday life to the home’s outdoor backyard paradise, their structural integrity will define your family’s safety. The structural integrity of the deck will also determine its lifespan.
When it comes to such matters concerning your wooden deck, you need to remember that the integrity of the structure depends on three main things. Ready to discover them?
Get to know your deck: the understructure
What hides below your deck, what you see and what you know as your wood deck? The understructure or substructure. Whichever name you like to use, there’s a number of components that make up the structure of the deck. It kind of resembles a platform bed structure. There are posts, joists, beams, joist hangers and also, ledger boards if the deck is attached to the house. These are the main components a deck builder uses to create a structure.
Now, what can compromise the integrity of the substructure and by the extension, of the whole deck? Well, it has to do with truly everything – the quality of the material, the way the measurements are taken from the start, the joist spacing, the drainage system, the fasteners. That’s why it’s important that you hire a professional, truly experienced deck contractor. If such a project starts on the wrong foot, the integrity of the deck will be compromised from day one.
Naturally, all such components eventually wear. That’s the reason why it’s best to have deck builders inspecting your structure from time to time, especially the substructure. Anything with the flashing, screw and all fasteners, the beams and the posts may go wrong. The ledger often causes troubles if it’s not properly attached and bolted to the house.
The decking material makes a difference
Today, the materials used for the construction of outdoor decking are several with wood and composite being the dominant ones. And while both wood and composite decks have the pros and cons, you need to consider the conditions in your location before you choose the material. Anything from the climate to the backyard’s soil will affect the structure in the long run. And although it’s only natural to say that even the best decks don’t last for a lifetime, they should last for quite a while. And it’s not just about the longevity of your deck, but mostly about the deck’s structural integrity or problems with it due to the material.
To give you a simple example. If real wood, cedar deck options are not suitable for your location’s climate due to the increased humidity, such a choice will end up in premature weathering and damage – mostly due to the moisture. And when the decking material is worn, rotten, dried, or infested with termites, its integrity will be compromised.
Deck building matters the most
The experience of the deck company is incredibly important. Think about it. No backyard is perfect. Not all home structures are the same. But a good deck contractor will know how to evaluate all odds and how to design the deck so that everything, from the posts to the ledger board and the joists will be perfect for the specific location.
And while planning the deck design with mathematical precision is a must, building the deck to ensure stability, safety – excellent structural integrity, is all in the hands of the builders. In other words, don’t make any compromises when it comes to choosing the deck company either.