The Bluff is a wonderful place for a wooden deck builder in Durban. A lot of the properties there have relatively steep gardens and lend themselves well to installing wooden decks. It allows the property owner to make use of land which would have otherwise not been usable.
This property was very steep with a steep flight of concrete stairs to get from road level to the house. There was a second steep flight of stairs from the house to some outbuildings which contained a pub, pool and a small granny flat. The idea was to deck from the pub area over a small retaining wall towards the pool and around the corner of the pub to the braai area. All in all we were looking at about 35m² of decking. The client didn’t want a full height balustrade of 1m, but instead opted for a 500mm high simple balustrade as can be seen from the pics alongside. He didn’t want to obstruct the view when in a seated position. There was also to be a flight of stairs to gain access from the pool area which was built over some existing concrete stairs.
The actual construction of the deck was relatively simple in that we were attaching joists or batons to the existing concrete floor directly outside the pub area and deck boards on top of that. We needed to place an under beam on the edge by the pool side as that was about 1.5m above ground level. This wooden deck was built completely out of balau so cost a little more than one with a CCA Pine substructure.
As I’ve mentioned in other articles we now build our substructures primarily out of H3 CCA pine with balau deck boards on top. The guarantee that comes with the H3 CCA Pine provides a good basis for an argument that it will outlast the balau as a substructure.
This wooden deck was left unsealed and allowed to go grey in colour from the sun’s UV. Balau won’t necessarily rot any quicker if left unsealed. It is so hard and dense that water does not easily get absorbed by it. The cause of rot is water that allows fungi and algae to grow. The algae causes the fibres in the wood to break down which is rot. Because the water cannot penetrate the balau that easily rot is reduced to a minimum. Also balau contains many natural oils and resins which prevent water getting in. It also contains toxins which prevent insects from eating it. So overall it is a very suitable timber to use in wooden decks. Pine on the other hand, if left untreated, will rot very quickly, hence the need to CCA treat it to prevent rot and to prevent insect infestation.
When left unsealed balau will turn a grey colour. The grey is actually black algae but it is contained to the surface of the wood so doesn’t necessarily affect the integrity of the timber. It can however become slippery when wet. It is advisable to therefore pressure clean the deck from time to time to remove this black algae. After many years, leaving it unsealed can also produce small fissures in the wood which can collect water. One important thing to remember is that if you do plan to seal your balau deck after it has greyed, then it is imperative to remove this black algae before sealing it otherwise the final product will be very dark. This can be done by bleaching it using Timbrite or other suitable bleach designed for the purpose of reviving old greyed wood. One can also use a pressure cleaner or sand it off. But sanding is not always that practical on decks once they are constructed as there are many areas where the sander can’t reach.
For a free no obligation quote or just some advice please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below to send me an e-mail.
- Balau screening in Cotswold Downs – June 2013 (thewoodjoint.co.za)
- Stairs and balustrade – Durban North – July 2011 (thewoodjoint.co.za)
- Reducing rot in wooden sun decks (thewoodjoint.co.za)