Balau wooden screens installed in Umhlanga Durban

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We installed these balau wooden screens in Umhlanga in Durban in early 2018. The brief was to provide some privacy to the upstairs verandah. There was originally a glass balustrade on this verandah and being at the end of a cul-de-sac this property’s verandah was very visible to vehicles and people driving or walking to the end of this cul-de-sac.

We removed the glass balustrade to make way for the wooden balau privacy screens. A balau structure was first installed fixing 40 x 60 vertical posts to the top side of the lower slab and the underside of the top slab to provide a frame on to which we screwed our horizontal balau slats.

When installing screens it is quite common to use different sized slats as we did here. Balau deck boards normally come in two different sizes being 19 x 68mm and 19 x 90mm. 19mm is sufficient thickness for screens and then one can mix the width by using a 68mm board and then a 90mm board. One can also rip a 68mm in half leaving 30mm and use that as well to create a visually appealing screen with differing widths of boards.

Gaps between these boards should ideally be 19mm to allow for wind loading. Obviously the closer the boards the less wind can penetrate the screen thereby increasing the wind loading on the screen. A gap bigger than 19mm results in too large a gap and privacy is sacrificed.

Sufficient vertical supports should be provided for stability and integrity and they should be close enough together so that the boards don’t bow between supports. Balau can normally be spanned about 600mm to 1m between supports to sufficiently pull each board straight to reduce bowing. At times a “strap” can be installed behind the boards to pull them all straight.

It is often a lot cheaper, and just as effective, to use a correctly treated pine structure to fix these boards to. However with a 19mm gap and visibility of the structure as well as visibility from behind, we prefer to use a balau structure. In this instance we used a 40 x 60 balau solid piece from top to bottom which worked well.

These screens can be oiled or left to grey naturally. Either way the life span of the wood is not increased that much be oiling them as balau contains natural toxins which limit insect infestation and oils and resins which repel water and limit rot. If they are to be sealed then an oil is the right way to go. Any other coating that dries on the surface of the wood will eventually peel and flake which will be costly to remove and re-coat.

For a no obligation quote on your timber decking, screens, pergolas etc. please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact form below.

Balau Ceiling Cladding at Hillcrest Corner, Durban

The Owen Kemp Building at Hillcrest Corner, is being refurbished and there are two restaurants coming in to the space which was Mr Price. The entire shop is being revamped and changed to accommodate these two restaurants and we have been appointed to attend to the balau ceiling work, decking and cladding of various entrance ways and some screens. This article will deal with the ceiling work.

A steel fabrication company has installed a steel structure on top of which they have installed roofing material. Our job is to now to clad the underside of the steel purlins and battens using 19 x 68mm balau deck boards with a 90mm gap which will accomodate flush mount LED lights. One can’t attach the balau deck boards directly to the steel structure so we’ve built a mini timber structure on to which we will attach the balau planks. We needed to build it so that the bottom of these boards were flush to the bottom of each I beam as the I beam itself will remain exposed and visible. Cleats and battens were attached to the steel and then painted to match the colour of the steel itself. Deck boards were then fixed to these battens with a 90mm gap. The gaps of 90mm are to accommodate a bracket which will be used to fix LED lights which will be flush with the bottom of our boards. We installed the brackets once we had already installed the boards to make it easier to get the alignment right. We drilled through the board and counter sunk a nut and bolt which will be filled with epoxy to cover the bolt head. The lighting company then installed their lights into those purpose made brackets.

On the long straight section the boards were relatively easy to install as they followed the profile of the roof sheeting which was parallel to the I beams supporting them. At the corner the I beams no longer run parallel to the profile of the roof sheeting so we installed our boards still parallel to the profile of the roof sheeting but mitred at an angle to the I beam resulting in a very neat finish. The difficulty in this type of job is drilling through the 12mm I beams to fix the cleats securely. Also the height slows the job down as one is working above one’s head on scaffolding.

On the screens we need to fix a cleat on the outside of the building between screen steel frame and balustrade. We drilled form the inside using a magnetic drill as the wall of the steel was about 8mm and it was virtually impossible to drill from the outside through 8mm of steel. Still there were at least 300 holes to drill in this manner. It is much easier to install wood on to steel if the steel has been pre drilled before fabrication.

There is still a deck to come below this ceiling and screens at various points. I will follow up with a separate article on these other items.

For a quote on your sun deck or other balau timber cladding or screening please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Balau Cladding on Ceiling – Umhlanga, Durban

Here’s some balau cladding work we did on the ceiling in the reception of a new office building in Umhlanga Rocks.

We used 19 x 30mm strips of balau which we ripped from a standard 19 x 68mm balau deck board. We started off with a treated pine frame or structure on to which we attached these balau strips. Being a ceiling it was important to ensure that our structure didn’t fail under the weight of the balau. Balau, being a very heavy and dense wood, can get quite heavy when suspended from a ceiling. Secure fixing points, and enough of them, are necessary to ensure it doesn’t fail.

It was very important to do this as neatly as possible as it is the reception area and as such is visible to all visitors as they enter the door. Care needs to be taken to ensure that gaps between boards are uniform and that the boards are parallel to each other. Also it is important to get the total structure to line up parallel with walls and corner of walls and slab above. It becomes unsightly when these don’t. At times the corners of walls may not be perfectly square and adjustments then need to be made so that the ends of the timber structure are at least parallel to the adjacent wall even if it means the structure itself isn’t square. Small adjustment can be made to the gaps between boards to compensate for this. 1mm on each end of a gap won’t be visible to the naked eye but will result in a 20mm “gain”, after 20 boards, on one side.

The ends of this suspended balau ceiling or bulk head needed to tie up with the boards to give it an appearance of being one solid, much wider piece of timber. It is often not possible to use a full-sized timber as it becomes too heavy on the structure, and the pocket. In these instances “build ups” are used to make it look like one solid wider piece of timber. The same principle is common in table tops where the top is only 22mm thick but is built up on the edges to give it the appearance of being 40mm thick. Care must be taken to do it neatly and it must be planned properly so that each piece fits into each other. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end only to find you are 20mm out and should have set your first piece 20mm closer in.

Screw holes were filled with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust and sanded flat.

This balau ceiling was left un-oiled to give it as much of a natural appearance as possible. It can be finished with an oil and the only product to use here is either Timberlife Satin Wood 28 Base or Woodoc Deck Dressing. This oil soaks into the timber. Most other products will dry on the surface and will eventually peel and flake.

For a quote on all of your balau timber works, decks, balustrades, walkways and stairs please use the contact form us below or contact us on 031 – 762 1795. If you prefer to build your own we supply the timber and other materials required through our sister company Ocean Timber Products (www.oceantimber.co.za). You can leave an enquiry there or on this page.

Wooden Screens and In Fills

Wooden screens Durban and Cape Town

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Screens can be used for a multitude of purposes from screening out the view of the neighbours to enclosing an air conditioner so that it is not visible. They are sometimes concreted into the ground and can vary in height. Sometimes they are attached to boundary walls or the main building and some contain gates and hinged or removable lids for access to air conditioners, pool pumps, koi pond pumps and so on.

In fills are similar to screens but are normally installed between two brick columns on a boundary wall to create the effect of brick work and timber.

Most often the slats are installed horizontally with a 20mm gap between boards. This allows you to still be able to see through but screens out the view of others on the outside. This gap can however be changed for different applications. Double sided screens are also available so that both the inside and outside look the same.

To request a quote or for some advice please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below to contact us.

Wooden Deck, Umhlanga, Durban

Here’s a wooden decking project we completed in Hawaan Forest Estate, Umhlanga, Durban. There were two houses right next door to each other so it was a bit easier on the pocket when it came to travel to site. The whole job was quite big too, in excess of 200 square metres of coverage, so it was worth the travel from Home Base in Waterfall, Hillcrest.

House 1 consisted of a fairly large deck of about 80 square metres. It was an interesting deck to build in that it was built flush with the tiled covered patio, extending to the pool, with steps as wide as the deck leading into the garden. It incorporated a fire pit with step benches on three sides set slightly away from the pool. The front of the steps were clad so that beneath the deck was not visible. We met our deck boards at a 45 degree angle on the vertical cladding.

There were various smaller decks around the front of the house and the courtyard consisted of a steel frame and steel gate clad in balau deck boards. There was an interesting deck on the first floor of about 7 square metres that is accessed through a door on to the roof top. It is bordered by three sides of planter boxes surrounded by balau.

The garage doors were 6m wide and 2.7m high. The frame was made of steel and deck boards were used to clad it. It resulted in it being quite heavy but complimented the front of the house by following through with the wood cladding design so typical of Hawaan Forest Estate homes.

Along the front of the first floor are steel sliding screens of 14m x 3.1m high. The decks and courtyard screens were all done in 19 x 68mm balau reeded deck boards whilst the sliding screens on the first floor were done in 19 x 30 balau slat. In order to get a 19 x 30 slat we ripped a normal 19 x 68 deck board in half to 30mm wide. These were then attached to the steel with a 20mm screw from behind so that no screw holes are visible from the front.

Most deck boards are reeded on one side which allows water to dissipate more easily between the deck board and joist, so we had to source non reeded deck boards for this application. If it had been reeded the grooved side would have been visible from either the inside or the outside. Non reeded deck boards are not that common, but they are available, and it is cheaper to rip deck boards to 19 x 30 than to buy 20 x 30mm slats.

House 2 had a much smaller pool deck of about 25 square metres. It was fairly intricate though in that the deck had to be tucked underneath the wall on one side and beneath the tiles of the pool fascia. The patio above the pool had a fall to it to allow water to run off, so the edge of the deck could not be level, otherwise it would have resulted in a stepped join between the wooden deck and the patio. There are also a few smaller decks surrounding this house and it too has a 13m long by 3.1m high sliding screen system in steel with balau 19 x 30 slats.

I will update these pics above once other contractors have completed their areas of work to give you a good idea of what is possible in timber decking and screening.

For a quote, and design, of your wooden decking and screening requirements, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden deck in Massaranduba, Hillcrest, Durban

This deck was built with Massaranduba. Although Massaranduba is about 30% more per square metre than balau the client insisted on it as it is a much harder and denser wood than balau. As such it will last longer. It has a slight reddish tinge to it. This deck is to be left unsealed so will eventually turn grey / sliver. Therefore one will not notice that is massaranduba, but it will last longer. When choosing between balau or massaranduba one needs to weigh up the difference in cost vs. the longevity of both timbers. There is nothing wrong with balau, it will also give you a long life span. Massa is of a better quality and will therefore outlast balau.

We decked around the pool flush with the tiling on the patio which resulted in a single 90mm deck board being used as a fascia on the inside of the pool. Hence the difference in height between the water level and the deck is not that great. Often the deck can come up too high resulting in a big step up to the deck from water level. The pool therefore needs to be set at the correct height, in relation to the patio, to accommodate the deck at the correct height.

A quick note on new pool decks. The hardwood typically used in decking contains tannins which leach out when it rains. Storing them on a tiled surface almost always results in stains being left on the tiles after a downpour. Likewise one needs to be careful of installing the fascia on the inside of the pool, or deck boards that are installed on the pool’s edge, prior to filling the pool with water. If there is no water in the pool and it rains, these tannins will leach out and run down the new marbelite pool surface, staining it. The only way to get rid of the stains successfully is to sand it off. It is advisable therefore to get the pool done and filled before decking up to the sides of the pool and installing the fascia board. Alternatively, don’t marbelite until these tannins have completely leached out. It’s a tricky one because the pool contractor doesn’t want to marbelite until the lawn is done because of dust. The landscaper normally comes last, so it’s a bit of juggling that is required.

We decked around a circular concrete slab which is to be a fire pit and up to the edge of the brick and plaster bench around the fire pit.

We also installed a small pergola above the sliding door and included a small bar counter that can be accessed from both sides of the patio and deck. There was also a small decked area at the back of the house next to the fish pond and a screen on the front of the house.

For the screen we used a 20 x 30 slat instead of a normal 19 x 68 deck board. Although a 19 x 68 deck board works well as a screen, a narrower piece (30mm) with a smaller gap is a bit different and not the run of the mill timber screening. Although it is slightly more expensive than a normal 68mm wide deck board screen, it is very effective.

All in all a very nice job to work on and a pleasure to work with Massaranduba. It is lovely stuff. Hard as nails and long-lasting.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden decking, pergola or screening needs in Durban or Cape Town, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Decking Companies in Durban

wooden decking companies durban

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There are many wooden decking companies in Durban that one can choose from when planning to install a wooden deck. Some are reputable companies and some are not, as in any industry.

Besides comparing price one should always compare services to make sure you are comparing like quotes. Some wooden decking companies in Durban for instance will offer to build you wooden deck as well as seal it and other will only quote to build it. Some will offer to fill the screw holes with epoxy to stop water getting in them which will cause rot and others won’t. It is these small things that one needs to ask about and make sure that the service being received from one wooden decking company in Durban is the same as the other that you are comparing to.

Our service at The Wood Joint, includes the following: –

Building the deck with quality yellow balau. We generally build our substructure out of H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine. This is not only due to a cost factor but also because the pine is correctly treated to H3 CCA level which has a life span of at least 50 years exposed to the elements. You can expect to pay about 40% more if you chose a balau substructure. H3 CCA Treated pine is guaranteed for 50 years if used in the correct application and installed correctly.  It will therefore outlast balau as a substructure because the balau is not, and cannot be, pressure treated. I have often seen balau joists rotting from the top where the water gets trapped between the joist and the deck board. We always use balau deck boards as balau behaves better than pine on horizontal surfaces. Balau is a lot more stable and the pine tends to cup and warp over time with the constant hot and cold, expansion and contraction and occasional wetting.

wooden decking companies durban

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Our balustrades and stairs are all made from balau, unless otherwise specified, because if one uses pine as a balustrade, the pickets and cross supports need to be almost twice as thick as balau so they tend to look a bit too chunky. Balustrades do not work well in pine because of the knots found in pine which weaken the timber.

We use a kalgard decking screw which is guaranteed for 25 years by the manufacturer against rust. The screws are counter sunk and the counter sunk hole is filled with epoxy and saw dust so as to match the colour as closely as possible. Filling the screw hole stops water sitting in that hole and travelling up the deck board along the grain. Exposure to water for too long will speed up the rot process. So we fill it, sand it flat, and seal the deck using an oil based sealer which contains no wax. This makes it easy and therefore inexpensive to maintain your deck going forward. I have done a few refurbishment jobs where the decking company has not filled these holes and on the older decks, the deck boards have started to rot there. These are all standard services we offer which are normally included in the price we quote. So when comparing our quotes to others, please check what value added services they are offering you.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck, pergolas, screens, walkways, etc. please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Balau Horizontal Balustrade using Deck Boards

Wooden Balau Horizontal Balustrade using deck boards

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Wooden balau balustrades can be designed and built in many different ways. One gets traditional picket style wooden balustrades, which seem to be the most popular with nice clean straight vertical lines. There are the criss cross designs and criss cross with a box in the middle. These are all very basic descriptions for these designs. They are also known by other names such as Zimbali, Colonial etc. They all carry with them their own individual cost due to the different size timbers used in their construction.

The cost of standard deck boards are a lot less expensive, in terms of per cubic metre rate, than the structural pieces of balau. Structural pieces refer to sizes such as 60mm x 60mm which is used for the vertical posts, 30 x 40 which is used for rails etc. So it stands to reason that a balustrade that is made from deck boards of 19 x 68 will cost less in timber.

The pics alongside show a balustrade that we built using deck boards. The gaps were 20mm wide and the deck boards were attached to a cleat which was fixed to the vertical brick columns. Obviously the smaller the gaps between the boards, the more expensive it will be because more deck boards will be used. I wouldn’t increase the gap to more than 68mm, being one deck board’s width. For the cleats we used a 30mm x 40mm which is our standard rail in the picket style balustrade. The cleat only needs to be about 850mm or so, so these pieces can be taken from off cuts of previously built picket style balustrades resulting in a further cost saving that can be passed on the client. For the capping we used a standard capping of 30 x 102, but this can be changed too to a narrower one. I wouldn’t go narrower than 30 x 60. This is then bull nosed on the corners using a round over bit in the router.

This job was built in between brick columns, so these can actually be referred to as in-fills rather than a balustrade. This can also be built using 60mm x 60mm posts in place of the brick columns and these should be spaced about 1.5m apart to give the structure rigidity. The 60 x 60 posts can also be substituted for 30 x 60 posts, for intermediate posts, if budget is a concern. I prefer to use 60 x 60 posts on corners and ends though.

Wooden Balau Horizontal Balustrade using deck boards

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What to watch out for in building one of these is that the tops are all level and at the same height. Sometimes you will find that the distance between the top and bottom of the brick column varies. In this instance you will keep the tops level and it will result in a varying gap at the bottom. When looking at a balustrade or in-fill one looks at the top so it is better to have your variation in gaps at the bottom.

For a free no obligation quote on wooden balustrades, in fills or any other outdoor timber construction please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the handy contact us form below.