Balau Screening in Cotswold Downs – June 2013

Balau or timber screening
Click to enlarge

We were called upon to quote on some balau screening in the Hillcrest, Durban area at a new development called Cotswold Downs.

There were various aircons, heat pumps and gas bottles that needed to be clad or screened so as to conceal them.

We used balau 30 x 40 struts or cleats attached to the walls. In some instances we used hiltis as there was not much load on the cleat.   In other instances we used 10mm x 100mm sleeve anchors.  We built a frame using the 30 x 40 balau and then clad it using a standard deck board of 19 x 68 with a 19mm space between. The 19mm space is standard in screening or cladding as it provides enough coverage without being too tight in its appearance. A gap of 5mm, which is standard in building a deck, would be far too close and would give it an odd appearance.

Most of the structures we built here were simple enough with either two or three sides and a removable lid so that access could be gained to change gas bottles or service aircons. Some of them had to have fronts

Balau or timber screening
Click to enlarge

that were removable as well as tops so that access could be gained from above or from the front. Some were removable lids and fronts and some were hinged. One needs to be careful which hinges you chose as they need to be strong enough and weather resistant. Solid brass hinges are expensive and with the weight of the balau can be problematic. Solid stainless hinges with bearings are best if the weight of the door is quite large. On the smaller door we used aluminium hinges as the door wasn’t too heavy and the aluminium will stand up the weather.

There were two doors we made which measured 2.5m high and 750mm wide each. That size door in balau is quite heavy and we used three galvanised strap hinges on either side. The only problem with strap hinges is that they need to be placed on the side of the door that opens, so they were visible on the outside. Some may say it adds character to the door, but sometimes you don’t want to see them. Being galvanised steel they are difficult to paint but can be painted with a Hammerite product specially designed for galvanised steel.  The only other alternative to these were to use the galvanised strap hinges that have a bent arm and slot into another piece attached to the frame. However these would have resulted in a large gap between the frame and the door or gate. Normal butt hinges wouldn’t have been strong enough to hold the door due to the sheer weight of them in balau.

Balau or timber screening
Click to enlarge

When building this type of structure it is often easier to try to build the whole thing in situ. So a frame goes up first, then you set the braces at the back to the correct length and then start adding deckboards, leaving one side long which can be cut afterwards.  If it is quite large then the door needs to be built on the ground, leaving the ends long and hung, then cut in situ.

They are unlike a normal door in that they can’t be successfully planned to fit the frame because the end grain is on the side.

We finished them off by filling holes with epoxy, sanding flat and sealing with Timberlife Satin Wood Base 28 in a mahogany tint.

For a free no obligation quote or advice on your decking or screening requirements please complete the form below and I will contact you, or you can call us on 031 – 762 1795.

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