Making Your Raised Deck Safe For Kids, Yet Retaining Its Beauty

BY contributor | Wed Oct 16, 2013

When considering houses during a move, smaller homes can be incredibly charming and inviting, particularly if you have a knack for interior design. Unfortunately, though, that lack of space can become problematic on certain occasions. For example, if you love entertaining, your quaint little house may begin to feel cramped when you host dinner parties and family get-togethers. A deck is the perfect solution to the problem. It’s not heated square footage under your roof, but it can make your home seem a lot larger than it really is.

Unlike patios, which are traditionally outdoor spaces crafted from poured concrete or areas topped with brick, stone or pavers, decks are constructed of wood, composite wood or a vinyl-type material. Platform decks are set close to the ground while raised decks are raised off of the ground, as the name implies. Platform decks do not require stairs while raised decks generally have a staircase leading to the ground below.

Making Your Raised Deck Safe For Kids Image credit: Texas Custom Patios

Extra Room for Dining and Mingling

Regardless of the size of your home, a raised deck can easily create additional space for gatherings and day-to-day living. Who wouldn’t love to slip through a pair of French doors onto a backyard deck that provides adequate room for a patio dining table or furniture set? A deck is the perfect place to dine outdoors or enjoy a relaxing mug of tea before bed!

Decks can be used not only as a clean, safe place to keep your barbeque grill or fire pit table but also for other outdoor storage. Weather-friendly storage benches can provide extra seating while giving you a place to keep your gardening tools. Better yet, reports show that a deck is one of the best home improvement additions in which a homeowner can invest!

porch2 Image credit: Joe Barbosa

Room for the Kids to Play!

Families also appreciate the fact that decks provide outdoor room for the kids to play. Grass can be muddy or home to ants and other pests and concrete patios can cause plenty of scraped knees, but children can safely play outdoor games use fun toys like bubbles and jump ropes on a deck. Little princesses will love dancing outdoors while little superheroes will get a kick out of fighting the bad guys in their very own universe.

porch3Image credit: James Harton

Children’s safety is always a big concern, but it’s just as possible to create a kid-friendly deck as it is to baby-proof the inside of your home. Watchful adult supervision is always a necessity, and the following precautions can also help to make your raised deck safe for kids without deterring from its beauty.

Add a Gate at the Top of the Stairway

Just like the spring-loaded baby gates commonly found at the top of staircases inside homes, a permanent latching gate or even a piece of wood that can be easily removed can serve as a barrier and potential fall-breaker for exploring tots. It may also help deter nosy neighbors and possibly keep squirrels and other backyard critters from joining in on the fun!

porch4 Image credit: Pahz

Install Railings; They are Decorative and a Safety Precaution!

Railings are often considered unnecessary on platform decks because they are low to the ground, but they are common on raised decks. Regardless of the height of your deck, a railing can provide both beauty and safety.

Decorative metal railings add beauty to the deck’s appearance while serving as protection for “kids” of all ages, especially if your home is on waterfront property. You never know when you could accidentally trip and fall!

porch5 Image credit: Dale Chumbley

Glass or Plexiglas can even be incorporated into vinyl deck railings, providing a beautiful view.

porch6 Image credit: Victoria Renovations

Illuminate your Deck with Proper Lighting

Fumbling around in the dark is a recipe for disaster, especially in the great outdoors! Make sure your deck is well-lit, even if you think you’ll only use it during daylight hours. Outdoor and patio lighting can be as simple or as sophisticated as your tastes allow. Simple strands of white Christmas lights can also be strung around a deck’s railing for both ambiance and a secondary light source.

porch7Image credit: Guian Bolisay

Conceal Foundation Posts

Many homeowners opt to use the area under their raised decks as patios or storage areas. If you have small children at home, it’s a good idea to conceal this area with skirting, lattice or even privacy fence, whether or not the space will be used. This can help to prevent tots from wandering under the raised deck and getting lost or injured, and if you are using the area under your raised deck as a first-floor patio, it will offer additional privacy.

porch8Image credit: Victoria Renovations

Perform Proper Deck Maintenance

Just as automobiles require oil changes and tune-ups to stay in peak condition, decks do require proper periodic maintenance. Mold and mildew, both of which can cause a deck to become slick and slippery, are fairly common in rainy climates. Make sure you keep your deck clean to prevent buildup and potential slips and falls.

If your deck is made from wood or a composite wood, you should also check for nails that may have popped out. This often occurs as the wood expands and contracts due to changes in temperature. Hammer any popped nails back into the planks to prevent potential accidents and boo-boos!

As you can see, it’s possible to have a beautiful raised deck as well as a safe family. Enjoy!

porch9 Image credit: Brad Coy

Author bio: Carrie Thompson works with Triple R Construction Inc and enjoys the sunshine and fresh air of outdoor living. Connect with Carrie on Google+.

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