If you are about to have a baby, you are probably getting your house ready for their arrival. While you check for hazards and redecorate your interior, it is important to also pay attention to the exterior of your home. You should check your deck for common hazards and make the following five repairs if they are necessary.
Re-size Your Railing
Depending on where you live, the building requirements for the height of your railing and the space between the balusters on your deck may be strictly enforced or overlooked. In fact, many families have decks without a railing, which causes a falling hazard for young children.
You should measure to make sure the space between your balusters is not more than four inches, which is commonly considered close enough that a baby cannot fit their head through the opening. If you currently have a further spacing, you may want to call in a professional to add more balusters.
You should also make sure that no horizontal bars, lattice work, or netting is installed against your railing. While you might think this will protect your child from falling through openings that are too large, they actually provide a surface that a curious toddler can climb up, putting them in greater danger of falling.
Replace Loose Nails
Loose nails and screws can go unnoticed for months or even years. However, a crawling baby or a toddler can easily find nails that stick out of the wood and suffer cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
While you may be tempted to hammer loose nails back in, you may want to remove them completely and replace them with new nails or screws to ensure the structural integrity of your deck.
Seal the Surface
If your deck is looking dull or becoming weathered, you should sand, stain, and seal it before the arrival of your baby. This way, your infant will not be exposed to wood particles during the sanding or chemicals during the staining and sealing. Also, this will help smooth out any rough patches on the deck that could cause splinters or scrapes on a young baby's skin.
If you seal your deck just before the arrival of your baby, you should not have to seal it again until they are two or three years old and the risks of inhaling chemicals or particles is less severe.
Evaluate Your Boards
If your deck boards have large gaps or are showing signs of rot, such as a damp smell, fungus growth, or dark stains, you will need to replace them. This will prevent your baby (or an adult) from falling through the deck due to weak boards or growing gaps.
While you only have to replace the boards that show signs of damage, you may want to pull up all of the boards on your deck, salvage the ones that are still structurally sound, and lay your entire deck again.
Anchor Your Stairs
Anchoring your stairs involves replacing loose screws and damaged boards. However, since the stairs are one of the areas of the deck that are used more often, it is important that you give them special attention. After years of use, you may need to add several more nails than were originally used in your deck. Tightening your stairs can prevent you from slipping while you are carrying your baby. Once your child begins walking, it will also give them a safe place to practice climbing and descending stairs.
If you are concerned about the safety of your deck, you may want to consult with a professional contractor for more information. They can advise you on the best methods for getting your deck ready for use by babies children.