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 www.sawpa.co.za. 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 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.
Here’s another wooden deck we built in Kloof, Durban which is similar to one we built in Hawaan Forest estate a few years ago. It has a fire pit with a U Shaped bench which double up as steps around it. These steps were designed so that they were wide enough to sit around the fire and with a riser that is not too steep to climb.
The substructure or frame was the normal H3 and H4 CCA Treated S5 pine we use. All our decks are built with an S5, H3 and H4 treated pine substructure. S5 refers to the grade of pine which is commonly called industrial grade. It is graded as such based on the number of knots per square metre. S5 is SABS industrial grade and has been passed by SABS to be used in construction. It doesn’t however make a very good deck board as there are too many knots which are not only unsightly but also they can become dislodged leaving a hole in the deck board. H3 and H4 CCA Treated refers to the hazard classification of the treatment as set out by The Wood Preservers Association of South Africa. Each H classification has a specific application and provided the correct H classified timber is used, the life span of the timber can be many more than 50 years.
The deck boards that went on top of the substructure were 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards. The other option for deck boards is 19 x 90mm yellow balau deck boards but they do carry a surcharge as they cost more per square metre than the 68mm wide boards.
There are two types of balau readily available in South Africa. Yellow balau and red balau. Yellow balau is more common and is superior to red balau. What we are seeing in South Africa nowadays which is called red balau is a lot more porous and softer and as such will absorb more water and rot more quickly. We only stock and use yellow balau.
This project in Kloof also included a pergola. What we have found to be most cost effective in pergolas is to use a 90 x 90 square balau post, 30 x 215 balau beam and 30 x 102 balau purlins or trusses at about 600 centres. This spec gives the pergola enough timber to be attractive and serve its purpose whilst still keeping costs down. With this particular job we also installed extra battens on top of the purlins. We used 30 x 40 balau for this purpose which again keeps costs down whilst still providing enough timber to keep it looking good and to do it’s job. Other options for battens on pergolas are to use a 30mm wide strip of balau with a 30mm or 60mm gap between. This provides more shade but of course comes with a higher price tag because more timber is being used.
The timber was sanded and sealed with an oil based sealer we use which doesn’t dry on the surface of the wood so it cannot peel and flake. Unlike other coatings which dry on the surface. These tend to peel and flake.
For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck, pergola, balustrade and stairs requirements please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.
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.
This wooden balau pergola was built at Plantations in August 2016. We had custom-made galvanised steel base plates made up in order to secure the uprights to the existing paving. Because the uprights had to be installed on the edge of the paving we couldn’t dig and bury the post so we installed them into these base plates which were then fixed to the paving using sleeve anchors.
When designing a base plate for this application it is important to make the tube that will carry the upright post long enough in order to give it lateral support to stop the structure “racking”. Also the actual base must be big enough to be sturdy, but small enough so as to still be neat and not get in the way. We used a 90 x 90mm balau upright. The back row of uprights were fixed to the outside of the wall surrounding the entertainment area.
On the top we installed 30 x 102 as purlins which were spaced at 600 centres. I’ve found that spacing a 30 x 102 at 600mm centres works best from a structural point of view and a cost point of view. Obviously the closer the purlins are spaced the more expensive the pergola will be and one must be careful not to space them too far apart as it affects the stability of the structure and the visual appearance.
On top of that we installed 30 x 40 balau battens running perpendicular to the purlins at 120mm centres resulting in a gap between battens of 90mm being 3 times that of the batten itself. This works well in order to give enough broken shade without creating a completely closed effect on top. It also helps on the pocket by using 30 x 40 as opposed to 30 x 60mm.
Because of the existing chimney on one side of the area we had to cut purlins beams and battens in order to finish it neatly around this chimney whilst still making sure that all ends were fixed. If the ends are left unsecured they tend to twist over time.
These balau pergolas can be left un-oiled or oiled. If left un-oiled then they will eventually turn a silvery grey colour. If oiled they will remain slightly darker. It is not advisable to coat them with any other product other than an oil as it will eventually peel and flake and maintenance then becomes difficult and expensive. They can be pressure washed to remove dirt and grime that settles over time.
For a quote on your wooden balau pergolas, deck, walkways, balustrades, stairs and other timber works, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.
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 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.
Click to enlarge
Contact us if you’re planning on doing any wooden balustrade work on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form provided below.
Wooden bridges and walkways are popular in gardens that have small streams or where the garden necessitates a walkway in order to get from one place to another.
Instead of allowing a path to form from wear on the grass you can install a 1m or so wide walkway which is level and flat allowing you to move from one side to the other in comfort. They are often complimented by stairs or the occasional step up or down where the ground falls. They are often used to join one deck to another or a doorway to a deck.
Bridges can be spanned quite far without using supporting posts if balau is used. If posts are needed to support the bridge midway then H5 CCA treated posts can be used which can live in water for up to 30 years.
Please complete the form below if you require a quote and I will contact you or you can call on 031 – 762 1795.
A wooden pergola is a structure above that is designed using timber beams, purlins and slats. It is largely decorative as it does not prevent rain and provides limited shade depending on how many slats are installed.
They are sometimes referred to as Sun Screens and can be built in such a way as to offer shade at certain times of the day by adding more or less slats to the top. There are a multitude of designs and they are only limited by ones imagination, and of course budget.
They can be attached to the main building and then supported by posts on the front edge or they can be free-standing with posts to ground. One can install roof sheeting above to keep the rain out, but often it is better to consider an aluminium awning for this application due to cost. A balau pergola is not the cheapest method, but does add a nice appealing underside to your covering.
Wooden pergolas can also be installed using thatching laths to give them a more rustic look and feel.
Should you require a quote on a pergola or any other timber construction for your home, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below.
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.
A wooden sundeck is a valuable extension to your house in that it is relatively cost-effective whilst still increasing the living area and total coverage of your property. If properly installed and maintained it will give you many years of warmth and enjoyment and you will retain the value of it when ultimately selling your property. It is more cost-effective than brick, concrete or steel and with the trend moving towards sustainable and green building, a sun deck, sourced from sustainable forestry will retain its value for many years to come.
We generally use CCA treated pine in our substructures as it is a lot more cost-effective than using balau and we are still able to offer a 50 year supplier guarantee on the timber used in the substructure. This is provided we document the build with photos, retention records from the treatment plant, the date and invoices of when we bought the timber etc. As a rule we build in accordance with their criteria for the guarantee, but if a guarantee is required, we must be notified beforehand so that we can obtain these documents during our build. We use balau deck boards on the surface of the deck because they are infinitely more stable and do not warp or twist as much as balau. This is not as important in the substructure because it is largely covered from the sun and the pieces we use are a lot thicker so don’t warp or twist as much. Deck boards on the other hand take the full brunt of the sun and tend to warp more quickly. Also we source our balau at very competitive prices and can therefore build a deck at very competitive prices, even compared to using pine deck boards. Pine deck boards are much softer so one has to use twice as much wood negating the cost saving by using a cheaper timber. The structural pieces in balau are more expensive per cubic metre than pine so using a CCA treated substructure reduces the cost which we pass on to the client.
We use kalgard screws which are guaranteed by the supplier against rust for 25 years, we counter sink them and close the holes using an epoxy and saw dust mixture to match the colour, thus eliminating water ingression through the screw holes thereby reducing rot at the screw hole. They are sanded flat and we seal our decks using an oil based sealer which penetrates the timber rather than leaving a coating or film on the surface. Maintenance is therefore easy and inexpensive. You simply wipe clean the timber, clean any greasy marks off with turps and re-apply using brush, sponge, cloth or spray.
For some expert advice or a quote, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or complete the contact us form below.