Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture

Degree Level



Landscape Architecture


Boyer, Mark

Committee Member/Reader

Erdman, Kimball

Committee Member/Third Reader

Hale, Micah


Between 2003 and 2007, an estimated 11,120 Americans went to the emergency room as a direct result of a structural failure or collapse of wood deck railings. This is an average of 2,224 people each year. Furthermore, estimates show there are over 40 million decks in the United States and about half of these are more than fifteen years old, which is past their expected lifespan (Legacy Services, 2012). Decks are exterior structures susceptible to the elements that degrade over time, making the need for proper, safe construction techniques even more important. The safety of unsuspecting people who use decks and rely on the deck’s safety components is at stake. There is typically at least six feet between posts, obviously comprising the vast majority of the guardrail system of a deck. This space between the posts relies mainly on the cap rail and top rails to keep people from falling through and they also need to meet the 200-pound concentrated load safety requirement, but do they? That is the main question and area of research for this paper as there has been practically no testing done on this subject.