Wooden Sundeck Installed – Oriel Place, Bluff, Durban

Wooden sundeck Durban

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This sundeck we installed in Durban was a relatively simple one to build. The client wanted to extend the area around the pool to create more space. It was a simple cleat, beam and joist system with a fascia beam on the front to attach the balustrade uprights to. There was one challenge in that the retaining wall that runs below the paving next to the pool was not parallel to the paving and as such not parallel to the edge of the deck. A bit of fancy timber work was required with supports, small posts and sleeve anchors which created a substructure that became parallel to the pool, paving and resulted in the sundeck being parallel too.

Many of the properties in the Bluff are on situated on steep slopes and decking allows the home owner to reclaim a lot land that would not have been utilised. Terracing the garden is one option and decking over those can add extra space to one’s garden and therefore value to one’s property. I’m not sure if you have noticed, but a garden that has even a few stairs tends not be used as much as a garden that flows on the same level. It is important therefore to design the deck in such a way that you try to keep it all to one plane or the same level. This will result in more of the garden being used. If stairs are necessary one should consider staggering it over a longer length rather than 1m wide stairs.

Wooden sundeck Durban

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On this build posts had to be set again in the cavities of the loffelstein retaining wall. It was a relatively small deck and only took a few days to complete. I am sure the owners are now enjoying it through the last two summers and it has created a lot more space that they can now use in their garden.

It was sealed using a Timberlife Satin Wood Base 28 sealer with a mahogany tint. This sealer soaks into the timber rather than leaving a varnish type finish on the surface. There are two types of this sealer, one for woods of high porosity (pine) and one of timbers of low porosity (balau). Be careful to select the correct one. It is relatively low in wax content compared to their other products which is better for the horizontal surfaces that tend to get hammered by the hot African sun. The higher wax content sealers are good for vertical surfaces such as balustrades, screens, cladding etc. It is very easy to apply as it is very viscous and because it doesn’t dry on the surface, brush marks and runs are impossible to achieve. It simply soaks in. 2 to 3 coats are recommended and in the first year of the decks life it will be necessary to reseal it every 3 to 4 months. As time goes by the maintenance intervals will become longer as the timber is continually being nourished with this sealer.

It is inexpensive and is easy to use so re-sealing every 3 or 4 months in the first year is also inexpensive. There is no need to sand the deck before each application. Simply clean it, high pressures clean it if you wish, and re-seal. I will go into more detail in another article on sealing decks and maintaining them as it is a subject that warrants its own platform. Since writing this I have written and article on deck sealing which can be found here.

For a free no obligation quote or to discuss the design of your deck, please complete the form below and we will contact you.  Or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

Pool Deck Built in Northdene, Durban

Pool Deck Builder Durban

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This pool deck we built in Northdene was in excess of 100 square metres. Pool decks can be quite difficult to measure as the pool is sometimes not square and the area to be covered is often an irregular shape. Care should be taken to measure it properly to avoid an underestimate of area for both the client and the contractor. No one, the client nor the contractor, wants to realise half way through the job that it has been grossly under, or over, quoted.

There were two levels on this deck. An area of about 1m running around the pool was in concrete while the rest of the deck was to be laid on soil. Also there was an area towards the steps where the existing concrete sloped upwards in an effort to get rain water to run towards the pool instead of collecting near the wall. This area ran almost up to pool level, so in order to get the deck level at the height we wanted we had to cut our baton at a wedge shape.

We placed posts in concrete throughout the soil area and where we got to the concrete plinth around the pool we switch to a 30mm baton. In total we decked about 100m². It took time to lay these joists and make sure that the tops were all flat and level. Deckboards also took time as we laid them down without a single joint line.

Pool deck builder Durban

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Where a deckboard ends and new one starts, creates of course a join in the surface. What one needs to do is sort of finger the deckboards so that the join is alternated on each adjoining deckboard. This is not only more pleasing to the eye but also prevents lifting in one single line. If a deckboard is going to lift it will almost always lift on the join. If all those joins are in a straight line then it will lift along the entire line. If they have been staggered then it won’t be as noticeable or as serious. So they took longer to deck but are done the correct way.

We built a small hut around the pool pump and heater that came off an adjoining wall. The hut had its own doors and roof and finished it off neatly to cover the pump and filter.

Around the edge that was exposed to the pool water we planned some deckboards to 10mm thick which allowed us to bend them around the curve of the pool. This fascia will protect the deckboards from excessive water from the pool and will ensure they last longer. Wood has a tendency to take in water from the end grain. Picture it as a bunch of straws held together. The water will travel up the end grain and this is where rot will start. Wood takes in very little water from side or face grain and it is therefore imperative to seal the ends off properly. When timber is purchased one will always find that the ends have been sealed using a wax substance. This is done in order to prevent the wood taking in water during transport, often by ship. Once it gets to site, it is cross-cut and this seal is lost. It is important therefore to apply plenty of sealer to this end grain.

Pool deck builder Durban

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For a free no obligation quote please complete the form below and we will contact you.  or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

Timber Stairs Built Hawaan Forest Estate, Durban

Timber stairs Durban

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These timber stairs I built-in Durban were the first stairs I built. This was towards the beginning of my deck building career and I had no idea really what to do. I had been involved in carpentry for a fair while so I had an understanding of timber, how it behaves and how to construct and manufacture items, but I had no idea of what needed to be done to build stairs both effectively and affordably. I resorted to Google and surprisingly, or not, I found hundreds of videos on how to make stairs. Mostly American videos so a few adaptions to our local conditions and I had a good idea of what was required.

I used the more conventional, more expensive method of building stairs. I took three pieces of 50 x 220 stock and cut my treads and risers out of the timber (see the diagram attached). This is done by first calculating the riser and tread based on the height of the deck that you need to reach with the stairs. Although an optimal height of each riser is about 190mm and the tread about 280mm, it will vary depending on the vertical height so as to keep each riser and tread the same height and length.

Timber stairs Durban

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Once these two measurements have been calculated, one uses a large steel square to draw the risers and treads on the stock. The square is simply placed on the stock and the two points are marked off on each end of the square resulting in a right angle where the tread meets the riser. The trick was cutting through the 50mm wood with a hand-held skill saw. My skill saw has a small blade so it kept jamming and burning the wood. In hindsight I would have used 40mm stock or even less as the strength of the timber exists in the width, not the thickness. So a 30 or 40 by 220 would have been much more affordable and much easier to work with. Nevertheless, we persevered and eventually had 3 lovely stringers cut and ready for installation.

From there it was a matter of placing the stringers in place with the tread level and securing them in place with posts concreted into the ground. The inner most stringer was secure directly to the wall using sleeve anchors and this became our starting point from which we set the others, level to that and to ground. With all our stringers in place we decked the surface using 19 x 68 deckboards. We added a bit of substructure to the sides to accept our cladding, clad it and sealed it using a Nova product. Nova produces some top quality timber preservatives, but be careful not to mix them up with the varnishes. Varnish is a no go on any deck as it will peel and flake as the sun breaks it down. To get it off afterwards is near impossible and varnishing over it again results in a blotchy effect. One can’t use anything other than varnish once it has been varnished so stay away from varnish or anything that dries on the surface, with the exception of water based sealers. An article on sealing decks can be found here.

You can find a large reference base on Wikipedia about stairs here.

For a free no obligation quote please complete the form below and we will contact you.  Or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

Sundeck Installed in Durban Bluff

Wooden sundecks Durban

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This sundeck I installed in Durban I actually subbed out because I had too many new builds on the go at the same time to be able to do it quickly enough. I use a very good subbie who charges reasonable rates, has his own transport and tools and skilled labour. He has actually been building sundecks in Durban for a lot longer than me and I can therefore leave him to his own devices and let him get on with the job. We follow him to fill sand and seal the deck after he has constructed it.

This deck was built off the bar area and canter levered over the retaining wall above the pool. It went around the corner to a braai area and had a set of stairs for access. An awning was first installed by an awning company and we then decked around the posts of this awning.

It was installed flush with the entrance to the bar which only allowed us about 150mm between the top of the deck and the existing concrete slab on which we were installing it. As a result there was not enough space for any under beams and we employed a slightly different method to a deck on the first floor.

Wooden decks Durban

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The substructure is first built on the ground and is then attached to the wall using sleeve anchors. It results in the entire substructure being flat and in the same plane. This as opposed to a beam that supports a joist sitting on top of it. So to start with a 30 x 102 is cut to length to fit the length of the building to which it will be attached. Joists, at 550 centres, are then T’ed off this and secured from behind using two kalgard screws. A last fascia beam is secured in the same way resulting in a grid type substructure which is then lifted into place, chocked if need be, and secured to the wall using sleeve anchors. The front edge is then supported by short legs which rested directly onto the concrete. There was no need to dig through the concrete as it was solid enough to support the weight of the deck. On the front edge where we have canter levered it we had to drop longer posts down onto the retaining wall and concrete these into the retaining blocks.

The balustrade was an unconventional balustrade as can be seen from the pic. Because the client didn’t want to obstruct his view when in a seated position, we reduced the height of the balustrade to 500mm instead of the normal 1m. We also left the balustrade open and no pickets or cross pieces were installed resulting in a very simple straight lined balustrade. It worked well and looked quite neat afterwards.

Stairs were installed at 1m wide with the same style balustrade or hand rail running up each side.
This deck was intentionally left unsealed so that it would weather. When balau weathers it turns a very attractive grey colour. It’s a personal preference I suppose. Some like it, some don’t. It looks more rustic without looking too tatty. It must be noted though that if one decides to seal it afterwards, then it must be bleached and prepared properly otherwise it will turn very dark, almost black. The greying is actually black algae that grows on the surface of the wood and although it won’t necessarily result in rot, needs to be bleached and removed with a high pressure cleaner before sealing. This is also applicable to decks that have been sealed and are now to be re-sealed and have started greying.

For a free no obligation quote to construct your sundeck please complete the form below and I will get in touch with you.  Or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

Wooden Pergola La Lucia – Durban

Wooden Pergola Durban

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Wooden Pergola, Durban

This pergola was built for a client of mine in La Lucia, Durban. They were on of my first clients and have since continued to come back to me for other work ranging from sundecks to doors, bars etc. Their pergola is still in good condition and we have since been back to install corrugated roof sheeting on top to block the rain out but still allow light through. We used a translucent bronze roof sheeting from Safintra.

The pergola was drawn by a draftsman and we quoted based on that. With all due respect to engineers, draftsmen and architects, they do tend to over spec when it comes to using balau. Perhaps it is building regulations that force them to spec it the way they do. Balau is twice as dense as SA Pine, twice as heavy and far stronger. I have seen a deck 3.5m in the air being held up with 60 x 60 posts which had been joined with a half check in the middle. Although I wouldn’t build like that, it bears testimony to the strength of balau and its stability. That deck was at least 15 years old and the posts were still straight and had not bowed under the weight of the deck.

Wooden Pergola Durban

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Nevertheless we built according to the spec and used two 40 x 140 pieces of balau as the posts with a spacer in between. So we had a split post which measured a total of 120 x 140 with a gap in between. These were secured to pre fabricated galvanised steel feet that kept the wood of the ground and were secured to the concrete patio using sleeve anchors.

From there we built a structure up to the desired height and built it around an existing braai chimney. It was secured to the chimney on both sides to give the effect of the joists or rafters moving through the brick work of the chimney. There was an angled front to it and we fixed a fascia beam to that front edge.

The top was clad with thatching laths to give it a rustic look and feel. It kept the sun out and provided the shade they wanted, but the rain obviously still came through.  Bolts were used to secure the posts together through the spacers.

2 years later they asked me to come back and place bronze translucent roof sheeting on the top and clad the sides using the same thatching laths. Now it keeps the sun out and the rain but still retains its rustic look and feel.

Wooden Pergola Durban

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The roof was completed easily enough by attaching some rafters and purlins at the correct spacing and then attaching the roof sheets using self-drilling Tek roofing screws. The front end of the roof sheeting had to be cut as the front edge of the pergola was angled. Cutting plastic roof sheeting can be tricky as it tends to burn and melt with the heat generated from the angle grinder disk. It was therefore better to use a non-abrasive disk like the steel disks normally used to cut concrete or stone. The fiber disk was too abrasive and melted the sheeting wherever it touched it.

Please feel free to give us a call for quotes on wooden pergolas, sun decks and other timber related construction by completing this simple form.  Or you can get us on 082 496 5444.