clean and clear garden deck

Decking Safety: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the most common ways in which we enjoy the summer is sitting out on our garden decks, soaking in those precious few months. However, to make the most of this time, you should ensure your deck is safe for you, your family, pets and visitors.

Read on for our comprehensive decking safety guide and make time on your deck, well spent.

Railing or handrail installation/replacement/repair

Wooden deck with railings

A common thing to first fail on a garden deck is the railing and/or handrail. Having them be constantly used by people leaning or pushing against them will cause them to eventually become loose and wobbly.

Be sure to inspect all areas twice a year at a minimum. Once wood has begun to rot, it does not take long to go from unsightly to being dangerous. Be sure to replace and wood and/or fasteners and be sure to just give everything a once over with your hammer/electric screwdriver.


Balustrades are required on any deck that sits higher than 300mm above the ground and should have a handrail of no less than 1100mm height from the floor.

The spacing between the balusters (the railings vertical posts) should be less than 100mm. This is to prevent things such as animals and children from slipping through.

The distance between the bottom of the railing and the top of the deck should be no more than 100mm.

Add a finish to protect the wood

Aquadecks being applied to decking

If you have recently had a deck installed or are doing so soon, we highly recommend an application of Owatrol Seasonite. Seasonite dramatically reduces the risk of damage to new wood during its first winter. It minimises the greying and weathering process and after 6-12 months (6-9 months for softwood and 12 months for hardwood), provides a sound surface for paint, wood stain or other finish to be applied to.

Adding a protective finish will not only make your deck look good, but it will also keep it in a better condition for longer.

If you or someone who frequents the deck has difficulty walking, children or even pets, we recommend the use of a slip resistant finish. Owatrol Antislip is an effective anti-slip protection for exterior wood surfaces which contains polypropylene wax microbeads (particle size 100 microns). It provides an anti-slip surface for pedestrian traffic as well as a skid-resistant surface for wheeled traffic to help to prevent falling and skidding in areas with slip and skid hazards.

Our range of finishes suitable for all kinds of decks can be found here.

BBQ safety / Fire prevention

BBQ on deck with protective mat

Firing up the BBQ is one of the best and most common ways in which we enjoy our gardens. You should always practice proper BBQing protocols to avoid causing any damage on your deck such as:

  • Make sure to place the BBQ at least 2 feet away from things such as furniture, siding, railings and any other things that could become damaged
  • Keep any over hanging branches that are too close to the grill trimmed
  • Have a fire extinguisher close to hand by the BBQ
  • Keep any hazardous and/or flammable materials (such as lighter fluid) stored away from the BBQ area

Keep any other fire accessory items such as chimineas, garden candles, or fire pits off the deck boards – or use a heat-resistant pad.

Check for any mould or mildew

algae on garden deck

Having green mould or mildew on your garden deck is not only unesthetic, but it can also be dangerous. This can cause the board to become very slippery and it will eventually work its way into your wood and cause damage that can only be fixed via replacement. This is an unnecessary waste of time and expense with proper routine maintenance.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to keep up with cleaning. You should ideally do this at least twice a year and can simply use strong soapy water. However, if you already have mould or mildew present, you will need to use a proper mould/mildew removing product to ensure it is killed and won’t return.

Replace rotten wood asap

Damaged deck board in need of replacement

Next in our decking safety guide is to replace rotten wood asap. Remember, rot spreads very quickly and can make decks extremely unsafe – especially ones that are high and require stairs.

Be sure to check everywhere. This means the boards, stairs, balustrades and handrails from top to bottom. Take extra care around fastening areas or areas that see more moisture than others.

If you have a board that has cracked or is creaking when you walk on it, don’t ignore it. This could be a blessing in disguise of a warning that something more sinister lies underneath. Be sure to lift any problematic boards and inspect them thoroughly – as well as the support beams. If anything is showing sign of decay, be sure to replace it.

Replace/retighten fasteners

rusting nails in a loose deck board

If any fasteners (such as screws, nails etc.) are sticking up out of a board, be sure to hammer/screw them back down. If the fastener won’t go back in, this means there could be an issue underneath, such as decay. This is because the wood may have become soft, making it so that there is nothing for the fastener to attach to.

Best case, the fastener may have rusted and simply need replacing.


garden deck with lighting installed

At first glance this may seem to be an odd one for a decking safety guide, but we assure you it’s an important one. Lighting should always be considered, especially on large decks with obstacles or steps. If you don’t already have a light source in place, we highly recommend getting something.

There are a huge variety of lighting options available now in all price points – so it doesn’t need to be expensive.

If you already have lighting installed on your decking area, we recommend regularly check bulbs have not blown, or that no plants are blocking them.

Inspect and replace the leger, leger flashing and/or flashing tape

garden deck flashing

The majority of decks are connected to the house. The leger, leger flashing and flashing tape all work together to protect your home from moisture ingress. This is done by creating a way for rain and moisture to easily divert away from the house and into the ground.

Once a year or so you will want to lift the boards closest to the house and check each of these components are in good condition. Failing to keep them all in good working condition could well be catastrophic for your home and be extremely expensive and time consuming to fix.

Keep your deck clean & clear

clean and clear garden deck

We recommend you try to keep your deck clean and clear of clutter as much as possible. This is especially so over the winter months. There’s nothing worse than come the spring, finding your deck is falling apart!

For example, we recommend:

Make sure trees, bushes etc. surrounding the deck are well kept and don’t pose a hazard. Falling leaves, branches, pollen etc. sit on your deck and cause it to be unsightly at best and a dangerous at worst.

Be sure to keep your deck nice and clean. As we previously mentioned, you should be washing your deck at least twice a year to keep it in the best possible condition.

Remove furniture if possible during the winter. We understand this may be difficult, especially due to lack of space. However, if you can store larger items such as furniture off your deck and out of the elements, the longer both the deck and the furniture will last.

Carry out regular deck inspections

The last thing we will mention in our decking safety guide, is to make sure you carry out regular inspections. This should be done a minimum of once a year, but twice a year would be more beneficial. Countries that see a lot of rainfall can cause issues to arise very quickly. The sooner you spot the issue and deal with it, the better.

We recommend you try to check up on your deck in the early spring time and again mid Autumn. This way you should have plenty of time (and hopefully fair weather!) to be able to carry out any repairs that may be required before winter.

We hope you found this decking safety guide helpful.

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Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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