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A Safe Approach to Decks, Balconies

Sep 01, 2016 04:31AM ● Published by Family Features

From beautiful beaches to arid mountain ranges, sunny California enjoys a range of climates well-suited to outdoor living. However, these diverse regions, combined with the tendency for seismic activity and the threat of wildfires, pose unique challenges for structures like decks and balconies.

When designing an outdoor living space, it’s natural for most homeowners to focus on function and aesthetics first. Will it be big enough for a grill, what shape and size do I need, should I include built-in seating – these are all common questions. However, two essential considerations are often either given low priority or left out of the equation entirely: safety and maintenance.

Safety first
Stress from environmental impacts like tremors and fires, prolonged exposure to the elements and even animals and insects can take a toll on outdoor structures. Over time, the resulting damage is not only unsightly; it can actually be quite risky.

“As traditional wood-construction decks begin to weaken from weather exposure, use and pest issues, questions are being raised about the safety of these materials and the associated liability of using them,” said Tory Weber, president of SigmaDek Ltd.

Balcony and deck collapses are becoming an increasingly dangerous matter. Research conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that about 224,000 people were injured due to a deck or porch in the United States over a recent five-year period. Of those injuries, nearly 15 percent resulted from structural failure or collapse.

Fire resistance is another important consideration for outdoor structures.Even an errant ember can present a sudden and dangerous fire on traditional wood decking, particularly during summer months when wildland vegetation dries in the blistering sun.

An alternative building material such as the forest-friendly SigmaDek product line, which combines aerospace-grade aluminum substructure with aluminum-and-porcelain deck boards, is both aesthetically pleasing and durable. The components are impervious to saltwater and won’t rot in damp coastal climates, crack in arid environments or fuel a fire – all factors that influence structural safety.

Long-term care
A brand new custom outdoor living space that is beautiful and safely constructed brings enjoyment for a time. But after a season or two, maintenance can become a concern. Keeping up with paint or stain and replacing damaged, warped or rotted boards are common challenges of traditional wooden structures.

One solution is a maintenance free decking system that offers a lifetime warranty. For example, durable SigmaDek components are pest resistant and will not rot, chip or degrade over time. With no cupped or warped boards to deal with, no need to re-stain, repair or replace, you can save your time for savoring every minute of outdoor living.

As you’re designing your new outdoor living area, be sure to focus not only on the appearance and features, but also how you can safely use the structure and what type of maintenance you can expect. Find more resources to help create a deck or balcony that stands the test of time at

Sponsored by SigmaDek

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