Balau Timber Deck – Westville

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Here’s some before pics and some after pics of a deck in Westville that had rotted and was removed and replaced.

The original deck had been built using H2 CCA Treated pine as a structure and what looked like balau deck boards and H2 CCA treated timber was used in the balustrade. See here for an article on the correct Hazard Classification for using treated pine in outdoor projects.

It is vitally important to use at least H3 CCA treated pine in any outdoor application where occasional wetting occurs. H2 CCA pine is designed for roofs and will rot outdoors. H3 is designed for outdoors and will last at least 50 years outdoors in the rain provided it has a chance to dry out after it rains.

The balau deck boards on this deck run in the opposite direction to the way we normally build them. In other words they run the width rather than the length. The reason for this was that we needed to follow the curve of the existing paving and running the deck boards the length would have resulted in long thin slivers of deck boards to get the curve. Running them the width meant we could cut the end of the deck board to follow the curve. A much neater job at the end of the day and less chance of splintering.

Because of the way the deck boards run it results in short main beams and longer joists as can be seen from the front view of the deck. The mean beams always run in the same direction as the deck boards with joists on top of beams running perpendicular to deck boards. The ends of these main beams of 228mm can look unsightly and can be clad to cover the pine. In this instance though the client opted not to clad them as there is unfortunately an additional cost and the front of this deck is not really seen unless one is standing in the garden on the lower level. We did clad the sides though as these are very visible. This we did at no extra cost. You know, “going the extra mile” and all.

The balustrade is full balau this time around and should outlast at least me. Maybe not my kids, as all wood will rot in time. The balau just takes a lot longer to rot which makes it the ideal outdoor timber to be used in timber decks and balustrades.

The deck was oiled as opposed to being coated which retains the natural look and feel of the wood and is easy to maintain going forward as you simply clean it and put more oil on it.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber decking, balustrade, pergola, screens and other outdoor work, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below. We also supply install in door wooden floors.

Wooden balau Deck Built in Umkomaas – KZN South Coast

This wooden deck built in Umkomaas on the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal turned into a very nice job with many extras and a happy client who paid timeously. What a pleasure.

We removed and dumped an existing pine deck that had started to show signs of failure in the deck boards themselves. The structure was still ok as it had been built using H3 CCA Treated pine which is suitable for outdoors for a minimum of 50 years as per It was the deck boards that had started to rot at the screw hole due to water sitting in the screw hole for long periods of time. It is very important to firstly close that screw hole at the time of building the deck and then to maintain them going forward to stop any water getting into the screw hole. Water will travel very quickly along the end grain of wood and this screw hole provides an ideal point of entry for water. They are simply filled with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust to match the colour and then sanded flat before sealing or oiling the deck.

Once we had a clear slate we built a new deck using balau deck boards. We changed the design a few times as we built to accommodate the clients requirements. We tried to create a deck that would flow nicely from one level to the other. The top deck was built flush with the house and then we built steps at a 45 degree angle to gain access to the lower deck around the pool which extended along the front of the lower level sliding doors.

We included a curved front on the upper deck to break the straight lines and then clad that fascia as it was very visible when driving up the driveway. We normally include two deck boards as a fascia to the front edge of a deck to hide the structure below and finish it off neatly. In this instance we added four deck boards on the curve because the driveway is a lot lower then the deck and when driving up the driveway the underside of the deck was the first thing you see when entering the property. The client may still need to add planters with some plants in to completely cover that structure but the 4 deck boards give it a nice broad fascia which hides a lot of the structure.

The stairs were challenging. Originally they were to be curved risers and treads which would have meant either cutting deck boards at an angle and laying them straight or trying to bend the deck boards. The risers would have been easy enough by bending a deck board around the arc, but the treads would have been a bit more difficult because it would have meant bending the board through its width (not thickness). The centre of the circle, was off set to the corner of the deck or the top of the stairs and the centre of the circle occurred in the pool. So all in all not an easy task. Because the arc itself was quite gentle you would not have really noticed that it was curved so we opted for a straight edge to our risers and treads. Much easier and less problems going forward with deck boards trying to return to their original straight position. Often less is more.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck, pergola, stairs and other timber works please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Balustrades

Wooden Balustrades Durban and Cape Town

Balau Horizontal Balustrade

Wooden balustrades are necessary on all decks that are above 1m off the ground for safety reasons. Some people opt for them even if the deck is lower than 1m. They normally sit 1m above the deck surface but on decks which are higher than about 4m off the ground, it is recommended that one install a 1.2m high balustrade for safety reasons.

There are various designs from a standard vertical picket style balustrade to a criss cross pattern to diagonal slats and even deck boards installed horizontally. One should consider the reason for installing a wooden balustrade and then decide which one to opt for. For instance a vertical picket style is safe for high decks as they can’t be easily climbed and all gaps between pickets are less than 100mm so small children can’t fall through.

A criss cross balustrade has large openings and is not as safe.

Most balustrades have a capping on top of about 30mm x 100m allowing for a comfortable arm rest and a spot to place a drink.

Wooden Decks Durban and Cape Town

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Contact us if you’re planning on doing any wooden balustrade work on 082 496 5444 or use the form provided below.

Stainless Steel Wire Rope Balustrades, Durban

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Below is an article on wire rope balustrades to refresh the methods of installing them, display some pictures and highlight some pros and cons of this type of balustrade.

Wire rope balustrades are normally installed when one wants to avoid limiting the view as much as possible whilst still providing a barrier at the end of a deck. As opposed to solid timber balustrades which obstruct the view when in a seated position. A wire rope balustrade limits this as the cables are only 4mm thick.

On a standard 1m high compliant balustrade one would use 8 strands resulting in 9 gaps of 107mm each after taking into account that the capping is 30mm thick. Although the wire rope is tensioned on either end it is not tensioned to guitar string tension and can therefore be pulled open to create a bigger opening than 107mm. Care should therefore be taken when installing these wire rope balustrades if the property owner has small kids. They are not the safest and the height of the deck off the ground should be taken into account when choosing this style of balustrade.

As mentioned above the wire rope has a 4mm diameter. It consists of 19 smaller strands making up one larger strand (1 x19). The other type of wire rope is a 5mm wire rope. This is a 7 x 19. So it has 7 x 19 strands that make one 5mm strand. At The Wood Joint we use only the 4mm (1 x 19) wire rope as this is marine grade stainless steel and won’t tarnish as easily as the 5mm wire rope.

The 4mm rope doesn’t bend as easily as the 5mm rope so it cannot be used in conjunction with turn buckles where the rope needs to bend around the buckle 180º. Instead we make use of a swage and button head system where the wire rope is crimped into a swage on one end and a button head, which is sunk into the timber upright, on the other end. They are much neater than turn buckles but it does result in terminating the strands at a 90º corner and starting a new strand for the next run. As such, posts need to be doubled up so that a new button head can be installed where a swage terminates on the previous run. The end result is a slightly more expensive balustrade but one that won’t tarnish as easily and one that has a much neater appearance.

Care must be taken to cut the wire rope at the right length so as to have enough rope to insert it into the swage but not too much so that it can’t be tensioned properly. Once it is cut and crimped it can’t be re-cut or “uncrimped”.

The swage and button heads should be crimped towards the beginning and crimped twice to avoid failure later on. They can be finished off neatly with a stainless steel dome nut.

We are both suppliers and installers of wire rope balustrades. We own a crimping tool designed for 4mm wire rope which is also available for hire. Call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below for pricing and availability.

Balustrades on Wooden Deck, Durban

There are a number of different types of wooden balustrades one can have built for your wooden deck. We offer this product in both Durban and Cape Town. I will run through a few options in this article and will mention the pros and cons of each one.

There is a slide show above which shows the different options. I do not have fancy names for them such as Colonial, or Mediterranean. I call them simply what they are.

The vertical picket wooden balustrades are probably the only ones that are compliant in terms of building regulations as none of the gaps are larger than 100mm. They are generally made from 60 x 60 balau upright posts attached to the fascia beam or first or last joist in a wooden deck. We use the 60 x 60 upright post on the corners and in the middle of a long run. All other intermediary posts are 30 x 60 balau. There is a top rail and a bottom rail onto which the vertical pickets are attached. Rails are generally 30 x 40 and pickets are 20 x 30 balau. The bottom rail is set at 100mm off the deck surface and the top rail can be set either 100mm below the capping, or directly beneath the capping. The capping is generally made from a 30 x 102 balau giving it ample width to place a glass or lean comfortably on it. The capping is then routed to give the corners a rounded edge. The distance between upright posts is determined by the total length of the wooden balustrade resulting in equal spaces between uprights. Pickets too are set at equal spaces between uprights. This is the most affordable design of balustrade as it is fairly simple to construct.

The Criss Cross design can come in two main designs. A simple criss cross between uprights with a capping on top or a criss cross between uprights with a box in the middle of the criss cross. The two pieces of timber that are used for the criss cross are normally notched half way through each piece at an angle so that they fit snugly into each other instead of lapping over each other. The box is also set inside the two criss cross pieces so that the whole balustrade is in line rather than pieces over lapping each other. This design can be expensive as the method to construct is time-consuming and the pieces of timber are generally larger than the vertical picket design. It can also be changed to result in many different patterns.

The wire rope design is particularity useful when you don’t want to obscure the view when seated. A balustrade at 1m high will block the view in a seated position for most average height people. The wire rope is 4mm in diameter so it is less visible than say a 30mm piece of timber. The posts are generally also 60 x 60 and 30 x 60 uprights with a capping of 30 x 102 balau on top. The wire rope is set at 100mm intervals but can be opened wider as they are not tensioned to guitar string tension. As such they are not suitable if you have small kids and anything over 1m from the deck to ground level. The swages, turn buckles and wire rope are all marine grade stainless steel.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber balustrade requirements please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Sun Decks and Wire Rope Balustrades

Wooden Balau Deck with Wire Rope BalustradeWooden deck with wire rope balustradeWooden deck with wire rope balustradeA wire rope balustrade on a wooden sun deck, as pictured in this article, has a few pros and cons to it which I will discuss below. I will also describe the method used to install wire rope balustrades and what to be careful of to ensure that the job runs smoothly. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, or don’t have the right tools or time, then scroll to the bottom and complete the contact us form below. I will contact you and we can take the task off your hands. Alternatively call us on 082 496 5444. We are Durban based.

Firstly one should choose the correct wire rope to use. We use the 4mm marine grade stainless steel wire rope with button heads. One can also get the 5mm wire rope but I have found that that often contains one rogue strand which will tarnish over time and spoil the look of your balustrade. The 4mm wire rope does not bend as easily as the others so where you get to a 90° bend you will need to terminate your wire rope with a button head and start again on the next run. The 4mm wire rope can bend around gentler curves quite easily. It is just the 90° bends that require a new run.

We start by installing our wooden, normally balau, uprights and these can be anything from a 30 x 60, 40 x 60 or 60 x 60. Obviously the 60 x 60 is better as it is more solid and stable, but it unavoidably carries a higher price tag. A 40 x 60 works very well, but the 30 x 60 can do the job just as well if installed properly. Now install your capping on the top to hold the whole lot together while you install your wire rope.

There are various methods of securing your wire rope. We use the button heads as opposed to turnbuckles. A hole is drilled, to a diameter slightly bigger than the button head, in the wooden upright and the wire rope is threaded through it so that the tag end is protruding to the outside of the balustrade. One side of the button head is then inserted over the wire rope and crimped using a special crimping tool. The crimping tool looks very similar to a large bolt cutter with a head that has been adapted to accept the button head and crimp it to the right size to hold the wire rope without damaging it.

Now cut a length of wire rope to slightly more than is required. Remember think twice, cut once as it is always easier to cut more off then to add more on once it has been cut too short. Now all your holes need to be drilled in all the other upright posts. Measure you spaces out accurately so that your wire rope will run parallel to the capping on the top and the wooden deck on the bottom. When drilling through a piece of wood it is easy to hold the drill slightly skew resulting in the drill bit exiting the wood at an angle which will result in the exit hole not being in the place it should be. So drill half way from one side and then drill from the other side to get your entry and exit holes perfectly lined up. It doesn’t matter if the middle of your hole is slightly skew because you can’t see it and it is not enough to impede the path of the wire rope. Thread the other un crimped end of the wire rope through all your holes in your uprights until you get to the end.

Wooden deck with wire rope balustradeNow take the other button head with the thread on it and measure, very carefully, where you need to cut your wire rope. You will need to cut it with a thin cutting disk on a baby grinder so as to get a nice clean-cut. If you cut it too long you won’t be able to tension it and too short, well start again from the beginning. So cut and check before crimping the other end. The second button head will be inserted through the hole from the back and the wire rope inserted into it from the front and crimped. Make sure you have your thread to its longest position so that you still have thread to use to tension it. Now tension it, but do not over tighten it. It is not a guitar string and only needs to be tight enough to be visibly straight. Over tightening it will result in the end wooden uprights bowing, or even failing.

Pros of Wire Rope Balustrades

• Does not interfere in your vision when seated and looking through the balustrade
• Adds a second material, other than timber, for a clean minimalist look and feel
• Marine grade stainless will last a life time

Cons of Wire Rope Balustrades

• Does not offer as much protection from objects or people falling through the strands as timber does
• If installed incorrectly can look terrible
• Can detract from the timber look and feel

Good luck in installing your wire rope balustrade. I hope this article has helped. If you’re not up to it, please complete the form below, or contact us on 082 496 5444 and we will gladly quote you to do the task for you. We are Durban based and work throughout KZN.

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 082 496 5444 or use the handy contact us form below.

Wooden Sun Decks Durban – Westville

Wooden Sun Decks Durban

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Wooden Sun Decks Durban

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This wooden sun deck we built in Westville Durban was designed to try to maximise outdoor space. The house we built it at had very little outdoor space as it was situated on a steep plot. You can see from the pics that before we built the wooden sun deck, the garden had only a small area of about 1m around the pool on the front side of the garden. There was then a steep concrete staircase down the side of the house going to the back garden. The back garden was however not very usable as it was far from any entrance to the house. So the idea here was to build a wooden sun deck that extended from the slasto of the pool area to meet the far side of the house. It was about 48m² in total floor area and was surrounded by a wooden balustrade in a picket design. We left the existing concrete stair case in place and built the wooden sun deck so that one could use this existing stair case. Hence the U Shaped deck.

Wooden Sun Decks Durban

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We also had to split the wooden sun deck into two levels as the area by the pool was a little lower than the area where it met the existing concrete deck. So we had a split level deck with a small step up of about 180mm. 180mm is always a good step height or riser height.

Wooden Sun Decks Durban

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The posts beneath had also been lined up so as to avoid being placed in the middle of the stair case. Even though the outer posts were some distance from the bottom of the stairs, if we had placed them where they would normally have gone (i.e. equal distances from either end) then it would have spoilt the line of sight as one was walking down the stairs. So they were shifted slightly left and right to miss the line of the stairs.

We also had a garden shed beneath the front edge of the deck so we had to build around that which had had a new roof built on it and waterproofed. When building over waterproofed structures one cannot drill through the torch on as it will results in leaks beneath. You need to then build on either side of it or use thicker beams and joists to be able to span them further apart.

Wooden Sun Decks Durban

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Wooden Sun Decks Durban

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In the pics on this article you can also see the horse shoes we used to support the beams on the walls. Instead of dropping posts to ground you can simply attach the beam to the wall by cutting a horse shoe using the same timber as the beams. The bottoms are always cut to 45° for both neatness and to avoid having sharp corners jutting out. This also applies to the ends of main beams.

We treated our cut ends with Permaseal, an approved end sealer used to stop rot or insect damage to cut ends of CCA treated timber. This was necessary in order for us to activate the 50 year guarantee that the supplier provides on the CCA Treated pine substructure. There are a few articles on this blog that go into detail about this and what is required in order to activate your 50 year guarantee.

For a free no obligation quote on wooden sun decks, wooden floors or wooden fences, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.


Wooden Screens, Pergolas, Decks and Gates Durban

Driveway gate clad in balau

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Wooden gates Durban

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Wooden Screens Durban

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Wooden balustrades and pergolas Durban

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We were asked to quote on wooden screens, wooden pergolas, wooden decks and wooden gates on a new build in Prestondale, an area north of Umhlanga, at a development called Izinga Ridge. We originally quoted in about June 2013 and the work was awarded to us for s start date of about 1 November 2013. The job consisted of various screens between brick columns on the boundary wall, a pergola on an open balcony on the first floor, external and internal balustrades, garden gates, a driveway gate and a pool deck.

All the timber we used was balau hardwood with the exception of the substructure of the pool deck which was H3 and H4 CCA treated pine. In other articles you can read about how we have managed to keep our prices down by using this as a substructure whilst still being able to offer up to a 50 year guarantee on this treated timber.

Most of the screens were pretty straight forward with balau cleats on the wall and then clad using a non reeded 19 x 68 deck board. We used non reeded so that both sides would look the same, but we did battle to find non reeded boards as most of the deck boards available are already reeded, or grooved on one side. There were two screens that proved a little more difficult as the wall we were attaching them to was angled. So the boards had to be cut at that angle and secured to each other whilst still remaining level and the join remaining plumb.

The external balustrades were different to our normal vertical picket style balustrades as the client requested horizontal slats instead. Again we used non reeded deck boards for this with a normal post system. On each post we attached vertical cleats to accept the horizontal deck boards or slats. They were installed in line, or on top of the concrete slab, rather than being attached to the front of the concrete slab. The tiles had already gone down so we had to drill through the tiles without cracking them. We installed an “ankle” on the middle post to provide support which is attached to the vertical post and is then shaped to fit around the slab to attach again to the vertical of the concrete slab. This, in effect, allows the post to be attached to the outside but still allows the balustrade to sit on top of the slab. It is much neater but does require a bit more thought and re-enforcing.

Wooden decks durban

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The pool deck was relatively simple as it was a low-level deck around the pool with a simple frame system using 38 x 114 joists and beams. Extra posts had to be concreted in as it wasn’t high enough to slot an under beam, or main beam, of 50 x 228 in.

The driveway gate was fun. We had the steel made up in a design that would work well by cladding it with wood. We had to source long enough non reeded boards to run the full width of 4m. One cannot join boards in this type of gate unless there is a centre steel vertical support which would spoil the look of the gate a bit. We had run out of standard non reeded boards and so had all suppliers so we sourced a 20 x 140 board and ripped it in half, length ways, to arrive at two boards of 20 x 68.

Wooden balustrades Durban

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The pictures alongside show some work in progress and some completed work. It was an interesting but challenging job as there were many contractors on site all trying to work, and finish, before the handover of the house. The worst part of the job was fighting traffic from north Umhlanga to the freeway in both the morning and afternoon.

For a free, no obligation, quote on wooden decks, pergolas, garden gates, balustrades and all other outdoor timber work, please call us on 082 496 5444 or complete the form below.

Wooden Decks Durban – Paradise Valley Pinetown

Wooden decks Durban

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This is a follow-up article on a previous article I wrote about a high level wooden deck we are building at Paradise Valley in Pinetown Durban. Click here for the original article.

The poles proved to be quite a story getting up. We were 5 people on the day. The poles were 9m long and we had to get them in to a hole of 1m deep, secure them and then pour concrete. The difficulty was to get the pole up because with 8m in the air and only 1m in the ground you have no leverage to pull the pole vertically plumb. We got two of them in without having to resort to other methods, but our third and final pole proved a bit more difficult as by now we had stays and ropes all over the place holding the poles in position while the concrete set. So there was nowhere that we could actually move the pole to get it into the hole without disturbing the other poles. We ended up pulling it up (3 of us) from the flat which was about 2 stories up, using ropes, while 2 others pushed the bottom into the hole. The top of the pole kept catching underneath the balcony. We eventually got it up over the balcony edge and could then pull it so the foot of the pole went into the hole. We then nailed a 38 x 114 to the top of the pole and pushed it to vertical. Each hole took about 6 barrows of concrete mix. We were lucky enough to be able to mix right where we

Wooden decks Durban

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were building. I won’t say “never again”, because if challenged with the same task again I will most certainly attempt it. However, I will use a crane truck to get the poles in the hole. 9m is a bit long to handle by hand and although we did it, it was a bit dangerous at times and we had to continually stop to make sure that no one would get injured. A crane truck for a day will simply make the job a lot easier and much safer.

Wooden decks Durban

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We built our platform which took us a full day. We used 50 x 228 beams and set the platform below the level of our deck so that we could stand on that platform and build our deck. Once we had the 50 x 228 installed on two sides, we cut the same timber to lengths of just over 2m and nailed them down perpendicular to these main beams to create a platform. Needless to say we have taken perfectly good timber and cut it into 3 pieces to create this platform. At some point I suppose we will use them for stair treads or similar, so it is not a complete waste of money.

We strapped ourselves into harnesses, hired a 10m extension ladder and set about building the deck substructure. We had to resort to our old method of installing the substructure of first setting posts, then cutting and notching posts, then installing beams and finally joists. So it took a fair amount of extra time but there is no other way of doing this at that height. The substructure for 20m² took one day and deck boards another full day. The balustrade will go in on Monday and then it’s just a matter of installing diagonal supports to stop any racking (sideways movement), filling, sanding and sealing. As mentioned above I will attempt another high level deck, but I will cost it more accurately and I will use a

Wooden decks Durban

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crane truck to get the poles in.

For a free no obligation quote, please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.