Of course, depending on the age and size of your children, you may have to take some extra precautions to ensure they can safely enjoy it.
But if you’re asking yourself where to start when child-proofing your deck, consider this your guide.
Below we will cover our top tips for child-proofing your deck in perfect time for summer!
Steps to Child Proof Your Deck
Step 1: Add some locks
We’ll start with one of the easiest additions to make to your home to ensure the safety of your children – adding locks to deck access points.
Whether it’s your backyard door or the gate to the deck steps, ensuring these entrances are locked up will prevent children from accessing the deck unsupervised. You don’t have to choose a specific child-proofing lock either, rather a simple flip lock that’s high enough off the ground will do the trick.
Step 2: Install gates
Decks with open areas around the stairs are hazardous to children. Avoid dangerous falls by installing safety gates with a child-resistant latch. Though you can install a gate yourself, it’s best to opt for professional installation for safety reasons.
You can choose a custom gate that’s permanent and matches your deck’s material or style, but if you need a temporary solution while your child is growing, you can use a temporary gate. This is a great solution if you need a quick option that can be removed when the stairs are no longer a safety concern.
Step 3: Check your railings
Likely the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of childproofing your deck is the gaps between the rails on your deck.
Even if you think the gap is too small for your child to fit through, hands, arms, and legs can all get stuck in these gaps leading to an uncomfortable situation.
To remedy the issue, consider adding a mesh or deck netting behind the railings to eliminate any gaps that are present.
If you don’t care for the look of mesh, there are companies that create plexiglass panes that can be attached to the back of your deck rails.
Not only will this eliminate potentially dangerous gaps, but you won’t have to worry about the look of your outdoor space being altered.
Along with the railing spaces, it’s important to make sure the railing is secure. Children can lean or push on a railing that’s loose, leading them to fall off the edge.
For example, this before picture shows a railing is poor condition that could be hazardous:
And this after picture shows the same railing after some TLC:
Step 4: Block the stairs
Although we mentioned adding locks to doors or gates to prevent deck access, deck stair access should also be prevented.
You can add a child gate for temporary blockage, or if you’re looking for something more permanent, consider constructing a gate that matches the look and feel of the rest of your deck.
With the second option you have the added benefit of keeping pets on or off your deck. Not only will a gate prevent children from accessing the deck unsupervised, but it will prevent them from falling down the stairs or accessing the rest of the backyard without permission.
Step 5: Pay attention to furniture placement
The last thing you want to do is provide an easy way for children to climb over the deck railing, and unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize that patio furniture can do just that.
Of course, we’re not suggesting eliminating all furniture completely, just be thoughtful of the placement of the furniture on your deck.
Keep furniture away from the edges of your deck and don’t choose any that’s so light that a child could move.
Step 6: Maintain your deck
Dangerous falls aren’t the only hazard with a deck. If you don’t maintain your deck, wear and tear like splinters, lifted boards, or exposed nails can be hazardous to children.
Routinely check your deck for signs of wear and tear, including boards that are loose, uplifted, or rotted, nails that have come loose or exposed, and splinters and cracks in the wood. It’s best to fix these issues when you see them to keep your deck in tiptop shape.
Building a Child Proofed Deck From Scratch
If you don’t have a deck already, you can be sure your deck is childproof while you’re designing and building it.
Here are some things to consider:
Make sure the space between the deck railings is 3 inches apart.
Keep the railing height at least 36 inches, or three feet. If your building codes permit, it’s better to have a higher deck railing that children can’t climb or lean over.
Avoid horizontal rails, which are easier for children to climb on and over.
Choose high-quality decking materials, which are not only safer but easier to maintain. Look for splinter-free surfaces for hardwood and protective sealants, which give life to your deck. It’s best to avoid plastic decking, which heats up in summer and can be uncomfortable to walk on barefoot.
Still have questions? Here are answers to common questions:
Are decks safe for kids?
Yes, decks can be safe for kids, but it takes some extra childproofing steps to avoid accidents and injuries. Aside from falls, children can be injured from splinters, nails, or hot surfaces.
How do you childproof horizontal railings?
Banister or railing shields are a great way to keep children from climbing or getting in between the spaces on a horizontal railing. These shields are usually made of durable, slick plastic that make the railing more difficult to climb or squeeze through without impacting the look of your deck.
For all of your decking, gate, and fencing needs, give our experts a call at Austex. We’ll be happy to discuss your project with you and provide suggestions based on our years of experience – give us a call today!
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