This was my first deck I built. I had been toying with the idea of building sundecks for some time, rather than trying to sell furniture which I had been making for some years. There simply isn’t a viable market to make furniture in South Africa unless one has large regular orders and a production line can be set up for a specific product. Saying that I still make the odd Adirondack Chair and picnic table, but my focus changed at that point to decking. Something that could not be imported and sold as flat pack.
I secured this job at a very cheap rate. It was in Pennington which was too far to commute each day so we stayed down there. With a crew that had never built a deck and myself who had studied it in theory only we proceeded to build.
We had to first remove an old deck that had been built using non treated pine which had rotted beyond imagination. It still annoys me to see decks being built out of non-treated pine. Some are often built from H2 treated pine where as they should be at least H3 but preferably H4 treated pine. I will go into more detail on that subject in a later article. Perhaps it is ignorance, and not a specialised deck building company doing the job, but there is a vast difference between the different grades of CCA Treated Pine.
Nevertheless, we cut away at our rotten deck which was actually unsafe to walk on so it took some time to carefully remove all pieces and the joists. We left the post in tact as they were teak and were still very good. Once down we placed our cleat on the wall of the house, erected our main beam and set out our joists. There was a canter lever involved which worked well as we had increased the size of our joists to 40 x 140 so we could span them longer and canter lever longer than if we had used 30 x 102 joists.
The deckboards went down without a problem. Our balustrade had to match the neighbour’s balustrades as it was situated in a complex with other decks. It was a simple criss cross style balustrade so went down without much hassle and relatively quickly.
The biggest challenge on this deck was removing the old one which took us just over a full day. Removing a deck can be very dangerous, as you can imagine, and needs to be thought out carefully and taken down with extreme care so as not to damage buildings around it or result in injury to crew.
We made no money on this job because we had over sized most of our timber, the client had requested 21 x 72 deck boards which were a lot more expensive than the standard 19 x 68 boards and we had to factor in accommodation and food for a week while we built it. Nevertheless it was our first deck and we learnt a lot.
- Timber Sundecks in Durban (thewoodjoint.co.za)