Mike Guertin

It’s difficult to determine how many injuries are caused by deck collapses each year in the U.S. Estimates vary wildly. In two recent studies of overlapping five-year periods, for example, one reports more than 30,000 injuries, the other cites 1,100. One thing is certain, however: Stories of deck collapses are in the news every week. And while they rarely report a fatality, they almost always mention injuries.

It’s also difficult to find much data on what causes deck failures. Certainly some are caused by rotted decking or railings, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that most of the failures that make the news occur at framing connections. Based on what we have seen, two types of connections in particular are most vulnerable: the connection of...

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