Around here, we love decks. However, we don’t love poorly constructed decks. Decks that are improperly built are dangerous, and can collapse causing injury or death. Here are some of the most common deck construction mistakes.

Unsealed Wood

Wood that is unsealed can get weathered and deteriorate much faster than sealed decks. Not only do unsealed decks look worn out and old, but it can also shorten the life span of your deck.

Stairs with Open Risers or Missing Railings

Open space between steps is pretty dangerous. The gaps allow feet to get caught between the steps and can result in injury. In addition, open risers tend to make the stairs look unfinished. For a more professional and tailored look, try covering the risers. In addition, many deck steps are built without hand railings, which are detrimental to any set of steps. Be sure to install a secure railing on your deck steps to help prevent falls and injuries.

Improper Railing Height and Baluster Spacing

On the same topic as railings, it is vital that a deck builder follows the specific measurements for the height and spacing of balusters (posts between the railings) to avoid potential accidents.

Undersized Structural Members

A structural support that is undersized makes the deck prone to sagging because of improper weight distribution. This improper weight distribution, over time, can lead to severe warping and eventually a deck collapse. Avoid this by ensuring that all components and support structures are properly sized.

Improper or Missing Joist Hangers

Joist hangers are a necessary part of deck support, but often times, improperly built decks are missing this piece. Nails are not strong enough to hold up the structural members, so joist hangers are critical to the safety of those on the deck.

Improper Deck Materials

Because of the nature of decks, being outdoors 24/7 and receiving so much wear and tear, it is essential that decks be built with longevity and safety in mind. Using cheap, improper materials will mean that your deck will deteriorate faster, increasing the safety risk, as well. Always build a deck from materials that were made specifically to withstand all weather.

Undersized Footings

Footings are the base of your deck and it’s critical that the footings are solid enough to provide support for the whole deck. If the footings are too small, the deck may sag, warp or collapse.

Incorrect Fasteners

Improper attachment to the house can be a dangerous problem. There are minimum standards for securing the deck to a building, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to over build beyond the minimum requirements. Pay attention to size, quality and materials used to secure the deck.


Because of the nature of the way decks connect to a house, it’s imperative that the builder addresses water management while building the deck to avoid water soaking into the home at the point where the deck meets the building. Flashing, a barrier to prevent moisture from entering the house, is a way to reduce erosion to deck materials and prevent problems that could jeopardize the safety of the deck.

Deck Permitting

Every town has a permitting process for deck building, and the main focus of this is safety for you and your family. Be sure to obtain a permit before breaking ground, as this is one of the most overlooked steps in deck building. By applying for a deck building permit, most mistakes listed above will be avoided Permit applications require drawings and specifications of your proposed deck, and building inspectors will verify that the deck plans meet all safety requirements.

At Garuda Custom Decks, we build beautiful custom decks that meet all building specifications, codes and safety requirements. We are experts at handling the design, drawings, permit applications and constructions of custom decks. Check out our gallery to see some of our work, and give us a call for a free estimate.