Is Your Deck Putting Your Home at Risk?
Summertime often means cookouts on the deck and gatherings with friends. But did you know that choosing the right kind of materials to build your deck and keeping it clear of combustible materials (both on the top and underneath) are critical steps in reducing the risk of a wildfire damaging your home? Find out what steps you should take to create a safer deck, porch or patio with help from IBHS.
Watch this video to see how different types of decking materials and combustible materials on top of the deck performed in wildfire testing at the IBHS Research Center. Then, make clearing the deck part of your next weekend maintenance project.
Use your deck for entertaining, but remember – when a wildfire threatens, move combustible deck furniture and cushions inside or move as far away from the house as possible. Treat other combustible items, such as a broom, as your furniture and move them inside or far away from the house. Any LP tank for a grill should be moved off the deck and away from the home.
Here are some suggestions from IBHS experts to help you have the safest deck possible in wildfire-prone areas:
- Is your home located on a steep slope? If your deck overhangs a steep slope, be sure your defensible space is sufficient to minimize flames spreading up the hill. Consider building a noncombustible wall across the slope approximately 15–20 feet from the edge of the deck.
- Do you have materials stored under the deck? Do not store combustible materials under your deck. If you have no other option, installing a noncombustible siding product around the deck perimeter may be an option. Be sure the enclosed space is adequately ventilated to minimize the chance of water-related damage.
- Are the materials used to build your deck combustible? Most deck boards are combustible, including wood, plastic and wood-plastic composites. Solid surface decks, such as those made from lightweight concrete, are usually noncombustible, but are also more expensive. If you live in a wildfire-prone area anywhere in the country, when it’s time to replace deck boards, choose a product that complies with the requirements of the California Building Code, as provided in the Office of the State Fire Marshal Wildland Urban Interface Handbook.
- Has debris accumulated between deck boards? Regularly clean out debris from between deck board joints and other areas where debris has accumulated. Check the condition of wood deck boards and structural support members–replace or repair rotted members.
© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety