Whether you’re building a small backyard retreat or a sprawling multi-level structure, ensuring safety, functionality, and aesthetic appeal should be at the forefront of the deck design and construction process. Fortunately, you can implement many essential features and practices that will significantly enhance the safety of your deck.

Join the experts at Powell Exteriors KC as we explore various ways to reduce the risk of accidents on your deck, covering everything from design considerations to essential features and maintenance tips.

Common Deck Materials and Their Safety Risks

Regardless of the materials and size, safe deck design requires strong attention to detail and careful consideration of potential hazards. Deck material is still a significant factor, though, and each material comes with its own safety concerns.

Below, we’ll discuss the common issues with three popular deck materials: wood, metal, and composite materials.


Wooden decks pose a fire risk, can lead to splinters, and can wear down quickly in particularly damp climates. With a wooden deck, you need to ensure that flames cannot come into contact with wood, and use lasting treatments that are fire and moisture-resistant while providing added protection against splintering.


Metal retains more heat than wood, can corrode or rust, especially in wet climates, and can conduct electricity. Metal components, therefore, require more shade, regular maintenance or coatings to prevent corrosion, and proper grounding of any nearby electrical systems.

Composite Materials

Composite decks give you the look of wood without the maintenance worries. They have comparatively fewer safety risks depending on the exact makeup of the material. However, they share metal’s heat retention properties and can be prone to expanding and contracting with changing temperatures, making precise spacing especially important.

Design Considerations for a Safe Deck

You can take many other measures to improve your deck design's safety. By carefully considering factors such as railing height, baluster spacing, surface texture, and lighting, you can create a deck that not only enhances your outdoor living space but also provides a safe and enjoyable environment for you and your family.

Here are some other key design considerations to keep in mind:

Proper Deck Railing Height

Building codes typically require deck railings to be a certain height to prevent accidental falls. The railing height should be at least 36 inches for residential decks and 42 inches for commercial decks, though it’s a good idea to check with your local authorities.

Secure Balusters on Deck

Ensure that the spacing between balusters or pickets is no more than 4 inches apart to prevent small children and pets from getting stuck or falling through.

Sturdy Deck Construction

Use high-quality materials and construction techniques to ensure the structural integrity of your deck. This includes properly securing joists, beams, and ledger boards, as well as using corrosion-resistant fasteners.

Invest in Slip-Resistant Decking

Choose decking materials with textured surfaces or apply non-slip coatings to prevent slips and falls, especially when the deck is wet.

Deck Drainage System

Proper drainage is essential to prevent water from pooling on the deck surface, creating slippery conditions and leading to accidents. Consider installing a drainage system or sloping the deck surface to direct water away from the house.

Incorporate Ample Lighting into Your Deck Design

Install adequate lighting fixtures to illuminate the deck and surrounding areas, enhancing visibility and safety, especially during the evening and nighttime hours.

Must-Have Safety Features for Your Deck

In addition to design considerations, incorporating specific safety features can further enhance the safety of your deck.

Here are some essential features to consider:

Sturdy Handrails

Install sturdy deck handrails along the perimeter of the deck and stairs to provide stability and support for users, especially when navigating elevated areas.

Gates and Latches

If your deck has stairs or access points, consider installing gates with self-closing hinges and childproof latches to prevent unauthorized access and keep young children and pets safe.

Fire Safety Measures for Decks

Keep fire safety in mind by installing fire-resistant materials, such as composite decking, and avoiding the use of open flames or combustible materials on the deck. Provide easy access to fire extinguishers and ensure that barbecue grills are positioned away from the house and flammable materials.

Emergency Exit

Establish a clear emergency exit plan in case of fire or other emergencies. Ensure that all occupants know how to safely evacuate the deck and have access to emergency exits and escape routes.

Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Ensuring the safety and longevity of your deck entails more than just the initial construction phase—it requires ongoing maintenance and periodic inspections. By investing in regular inspections and learning about preventative measures, you’ll enhance safety and extend the lifespan of your deck, allowing you to enjoy stress-free outdoor gatherings and relaxation.

Here are some maintenance tips to keep your deck safe and in optimal condition:

Inspecting Deck for Damages

Regularly inspect the deck structure, railings, stairs, and fasteners for signs of wear, damage, or deterioration. Promptly repairing or replacing damaged components prevents accidents and ensures the deck's long-term durability and stability. Regular inspections can also catch minor hazards like splintered wood that can lead to slivers.

Deck Staining and Sealing

Resealing the deck surface prevents mildew buildup that can create slippery conditions and compromise safety. Applying a fresh coat of sealant or stain every few years protects wood from moisture damage, UV exposure, and premature aging, preserving its structural integrity and appearance. Regularly applying protective coatings achieves similar aims for metal ducks.

Regular Deck Sweeping and Clearing

In addition to moisture, plenty of potential fall risks can appear on your deck from cords, toys, or tools that haven’t been put away. Ensuring your deck is clear and tidy reduces the chance of injury from a fall.

Trimming Surrounding Vegetation

Trimming back overhanging branches and foliage is essential to prevent accidents from falling vegetation. Proper vegetation maintenance enhances safety and preserves the deck's aesthetics and structural integrity.

Ward off Deck Repairs: Checking for Pests

Regularly inspecting the deck for signs of pest infestation, such as termites or carpenter ants, is vital for preventing structural damage. Prompt treatment and preventive measures help deter pests and safeguard the deck against costly repairs and safety risks.

Test Your Deck Lighting Fixtures Regularly

Regularly test lights and replace bulbs as needed to ensure lighting fixtures function correctly and provide adequate illumination for safe deck use, especially at night.

Work With a Deck Building Company That Put Safety First

Partnering with a reputable deck building company ensures that your deck remains as safe and functional as possible in the years to come. Powell Exteriors KC is here to help. With careful planning, thoughtful design, and regular maintenance, we’ll give you a safe and inviting outdoor area that enhances your home's beauty and functionality.

Call (816) 656-1160 now to speak with our deck experts.