Most deck failures and collapses occur when under the heaviest of loads, which unfortunately can occur when people are actively enjoying the deck. It can have fatal and catastrophic consequences.
These failures take place at certain key points in the deck’s structure, with the connection of the deck to its ledger board at the building being a common culprit. Having the appropriate span, spacing and sizing of structural components like beams and joists correct in the first place is crucial. However, all of these must be attached with proper fasteners and brackets (where appropriate) using nails or screws designed for its purpose (e.g. use of joist hanger nails / screws not deck screws or drywall screws). Screws and nails are not interchangeable in the construction process. Making sure the deck structure is plumb and level will ensure loads are transferred to intended locations.
Other common deck failures occur as a result of weak guardrails that can give way and allow someone to fall off the deck. Bench seating around the deck’s perimeter or guardrails with horizontal slats on them are also unsafe as children can be climb up them and fall. Guardrails that are too low or that have balusters / spindles spaced too far apart are also potential fall hazards. Spacing deck boards properly can reduce trip hazards as well.
Make your deck a safe & enjoyable space for everyone to use. If you are unsure, call a professional.