Coast to Coast Collapses Show Decks Affected by Elements

Another deck collapse recently made the headlines; this time from a family gathering at a seaside vacation home at Emerald Isle, NC on July 4th, 2015. This instance took 26 family members down with the deck when it failed, sending 16 people to hospital with emergency responders and another 4-6 people from private transport. At least 5 of the injured parties were in critical condition. It was supposed to be a happy occasion intended to be captured by camera but instead became a nightmare its victims would like to forget.

According to the final report from Emerald Isle town manager (link to official press release below), 26 people were injured in the collapse. A building official concluded that corroded fasteners were the primary contributor that brought the 8-foot by 10-foot section of deck crashing 9 feet to the ground.

This follows last month’s horrific Berkley balcony collapse that claimed the lives of 6 of the 13 students that occupied the 4th floor balcony when it detached from the building. In this instance, the balcony reportedly detached from the building and swung down at a 90 degree angle sending all of its occupants to the ground below. A Berkley Building and Safety Division inspector said the deck’s severed joist ends looked “extensively rotted”. The outer beams of the balcony had sustained “significant rot and decay”. CNN succinctly summarizes this story and the findings in the official report.

Ambassador of Deck Safety 2015
Ambassador of Deck Safety 2015

It’s an all-too-familiar story of summer celebration turning tragic and why Duradek is an active supporter of the North America Deck and Railing Association’s Deck Safety Program. This deck safety initiative was created to increase public awareness on deck safety issues as well as provide some very useful tools for both consumers and professionals on deck evaluations and maintenance.

Deck maintenance is not just to keep your outdoor living space attractive. Deck waterproofing is critical in maintaining the structural integrity of your deck.

See online magazine page 31 to view “Three Common Deck Collapse Factors and How to Avoid Them”.

From west coast to east coast, the contributing factors to deck collapse are often the same and Duradek addressed these issues in Landlord BC’s ‘The Key’ publication in the summer 2015 issue with “Three Common Deck Collapse Factors and How to Avoid Them” (.pdf).

In most deck collapse occurrences, the decks were originally built to code, but water infiltration and its resulting damage appear to be the primary contributors to the collapses. Weakened wood from dry rot and fasteners disintegrated by corrosion would leave any deck unable to support the load it was originally built to sustain.

It is important to remember that while a deck is a cherished part of the home, its maintenance requirements are very different from most other parts of the home as it is the only load bearing part of the structure that is under constant exposure to the elements.

In the final Emerald Isle report, town manager Frank Rush wrote, “North Carolina General Statures do not currently grant authority to NC cities and counties to conduct periodic building code or deck inspections of vacation rental units. Routine inspections of vacation rental units / exiting homes are the responsibility of the property owner and / or property management company.”

Duradek vinyl deck membranes have been waterproofing decks and balconies for over 40 years. With this experience we know that when it comes to waterproofing, it is all in the details which is why Duradek is not available as a do-it-yourself product. Deck waterproofing is a specialty trade and general contractors may not have a full understanding of the specific details and techniques required for long lasting deck waterproof integrity.

To speak to a Duradek professional installer about your decking project, look for a Duradek Dealer in your area for a no obligation estimate.

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