Deck posts are an extremely important part of your deck. So, it should be obvious that ensuring they stay in good condition and a part of any routine deck inspection is critical.
A deck is built for load to be evenly distributed throughout the entire surface area. This suggests the ledger board and posts will have an equal load. This assumption is wrong in most cases. If you plan to entertain on your deck, your guests will have a tendency to hang out at the end of the deck where the railings are; thereby increasing the load on the posts and not the ledger board.
Posts play a very important role so inspect them carefully and make sure that each of the following inspection points pass.
Posts need to need to be set on concrete footings on undisturbed soil. There is no excuses for this. Concrete footings provide the appropriate base for the posts to rest upon. Now, the concrete footings need to be set well below the frost line (dependent upon location and building codes). Typically these footings need to rise above ground at least 7” but your local code may allow them to be fully underground (ALWAYS check your local building codes prior to inspection and any renovations). If you have an existing deck, contact a local contractor to inspect the area and see how the deck was installed.
One of the most important aspects of proper installation is making sure the posts are securely attached to the concrete footings. The connectors are typically a stand-off post fastener attached to the concrete footing with anchor bolts. These stand-off posts are then attached to the post with bolts to create a secure connection that will prevent the posts from slipping. Checking these connections for rust or improper hardware (nails instead of bolts) will help you determine if any corrections are needed.
When inspecting your posts and foundation, look for any indentations in the ground surrounding the posts that may allow water accumulation. Also, look for any water drainage that may discharge near the posts. If any of these conditions exists, take measures to allow proper drainage away from the posts. Inspect each post by driving a screw driver or icepick into it. If the wood feels spongy and it penetrates deep in the wood, decay may be present and it’s time to replace the post.
Following these simple, but very important guidelines, will aid in the lifespan of your deck and the safety of those who use it.
We always advise you to check your local building codes to use as a guideline when checking your deck.
Always exercise caution when inspecting your deck and rely on your common sense to stay safe. If you believe that areas are not safe, do not stand on it or attempt to inspect it. Instead, hire a licensed inspector.
Read more tips on deck safety and inspection. Also, if you have any tips or stories to share of your own, please leave us a comment below. Thanks for reading!