Welcome to The Wood Joint

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The Wood Joint specialises in the installation and construction of wooden decking, sundecks, balustrades, stairs and other  outdoor timber construction as well as outdoor wooden furniture.  Our Head Office is based in Durban and we have branches in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  We also specialize in all other wooden or timber construction including: –

  • Pergolas
  • Balustrades
  • Stairs
  • Walkways
  • Bridges
  • Jacuzzi Cladding
  • Screens and cladding and
  • Quality garden furniture

The Wood Joint pays special attention to detail in all products and focus on durability and longevity in our products by applying sound techniques and slightly over engineering most products. We pride ourselves in our quality workmanship and use only top quality timber sourced from reputable suppliers and sustainable sources. We offer a 3 year warranty on our workmanship.  Some of the timber comes with up to a 50 year guarantee from the supplier.This blog contains many articles on some of the jobs we have completed.  Each article carries pictures and discusses the methods we used  and how we overcame challenges on each one.  Use the search bar at the bottom of the page to search for specifics.

A wooden sun deck is a valuable addition to any home and will not only provide many years of enjoyment, but will also enhance the value of your property. With the correct care, maintenance costs can be kept to a minimum and the life span of your wooden deck increased. We will assist you in a design that will be cost-effective and will best suit your needs taking into account the existing structure that is in place. With years of experience in the wooden deck building industry, The Wood Joint can advise, design, maintain and erect your deck in the most cost-effective and structurally best methods.

 

Please click here to visit our main website or browse the articles and pictures.

Or for a free, no obligation quote, or just some advice, please call us on 082 496 5444.

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 Decking in Durban – What Timber to Use

Wooden decks Durban

A CCA treated pine substructure and balau deck boards

Wooden decking in Durban, or any other area in South Africa is a valuable, inexpensive way of creating extra outdoor space. The climate in South Africa lends itself to outdoor living and as such a wooden deck in Durban is almost essential. There are many articles on this blog on how to build a wooden deck, what methods we use in building etc. so please feel free to browse and find what you are looking for. In this article I will mention some of the types of wood we use in building our wooden decks and provide reasons why we choose those types of wood.

Our deck substructures are made from CCA treated pine. Pine is a locally grown timber, relatively fast growing and as such inexpensive. It is used widely in the building trade as structural timber. It does however need to be CCA treated in order to prevent rot and insect infestation. CCA treatment is available in various H levels or Hazard Classifications. H3 is what is typically used in wooden decking as it is suitable to live out doors with occasional wetting. H4 is what one uses for posts or beams that are in constant contact with wet soil. If you stick to these guidelines, as set out by The South African Wood Preservers Association, then you will get a minimum of 50 years life span from your H3 timber and 30 years from your H4 timber. Pine is also relatively cheaper than balau. Balau can be used as a substructure but it is about 4 to 5

Wooden decks Durban

A balau substructure

times the price of treated pine. Balau will rot quicker than correctly treated pine in a substructure, believe it or not.

The pine that needs to be used in the substructure needs to be at least S5 which is SABS structurally approved timber. What it means is that there is no more than a certain specified amount of knots per square metre of timber. Pine is very knotty and is split up into different S categories which all carry a different price tag.

Pine is however not my fist choice for deck boards. Firstly it costs pretty much the same as balau. The reason for this is that the grooves below are machined here in South Africa and it is S7 timber so virtually knot free and it therefore carries a higher price tag then S5 pine. Added to this is that you are using almost twice as much timber because it is less dense. Typically a pine deck board would be 32mm thick whereas a balau deck board would be 19mm thick. The cubic metre rate for balau deck boards is also about half the price of the structural balau. Pine also tends to, warp and crack more easily then balau when exposed to direct sunlight because it is less dense and expands and

Wooden decks Durban

Balau deck boards

contracts a lot more than balau. This is fine for a substructure which uses thicker pieces of wood and is protected from the sun, but doesn’t work well on deck boards.

Based on all the above, it makes financial sense, and structurally it is the best option, to use H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine as a substructure and balau deck boards.

There are other options for deck boards. Massaranduba and Garappa are both very good woods which will outlast balau, but cost about 20% more per square metre. They are mostly used in the Highveld and in areas of South Africa where they experience extreme temperatures between seasons. Because they are denser, more stable and less prone to cracking

Wooden decks Durban

Balau deck boards

and warping, they can withstand minus 10 in winter and plus 30 in summer. Durban however has a more stable climate with less extremes between seasons and as such balau is the most suitable choice for hardwood decks.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden sun deck in Durban please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

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Hardwood Flooring Companies in Durban

IMG-20140511-00288Hardwood flooring is becoming very popular again in modern-day home building. There is a separate article on this blog about the history of hardwood floors so I won’t write much about that here. This article is intended to share some info I have gained about hardwood floors and how to ensure that you make the right decisions when choosing your hardwood floor.

There are a number of hardwood flooring specialist companies in Durban to choose from when installing hardwood floors in your home. A few important points to consider when choosing a hardwood flooring company is their track record and their knowledge of wood, its characteristics and how it behaves.

There are broadly speaking two ways to install a hardwood floor. It will either be suspended on battens or joists, or be glued to the substrate which is normally concrete.

Suspended Floors vs. Glue Down Floor Boards

IMG-20140511-00284Suspended or sprung floors are exactly that. They are floor boards that are fixed to joists or battens with a cavity between the bottom of the floor board and the substrate. They are useful when there is no substrate or the substrate is below the desired height of the floor and filling with concrete is not an option due to cost. One can then simply run beams and joists, or battens if the height to be gained is not that great, at specified centres and then attach floor boards to the joists. The distance between joists will be determined by the type of wood being used as floor boards and its density and hardness. They will generally be between 400mm and 500mm. Anything less is a waste of wood and anything more may result in the floor boards being “spongy” and “bouncing” with slight movement up and down. Despite being annoying when walked on, this will also put strain on all joints and failure of the hardwood floor may be premature.

This substructure, or substrate, must be completely flat and level on the top in order to get a flat and level floor. Shimming and notching are practices used in suspended floors to achieve a flat and level substructure. Skimming or screeding may be necessary when making use of a glued down method. Either way that substrate or substructure MUST be completely flat and level otherwise you will have boards popping or unnecessary strain being placed on suspended boards resulting in nails pulling out or breaking. Once the substructure is completed and you are happy with it you can start installing floor boards.

IMG-20140511-00281If the concrete substrate is 20mm or so below the desired height of the top of the floor, then one has no option but to glue the wood down to the substrate. A batten is typically 25mm to 35mm thick and a floor board is typically about 20mm. So one would need at least 45mm between the desired top of floor height and substrate in order to make use of this method. Most older houses made use of suspended floors and the ground was typically 500mm to a metre below the floor and was sand. Columns were built up to support the beams and joists. In these older houses a suspended floor is the only option. In most modern-day homes the concrete substrate is set at about 20mm to 25mm below the door frames so that any floor can be utilised (i.e. wood or carpets). In these homes a glued down floor is the only option as the height of the substrate won’t allow for battens and floor boards as it will result in the top of the floor being higher than the door frames. It’s not impossible but also not preferable to have your floor 20mm or 30mm higher than your door frame.

One should be careful of glueing floor boards to a substrate that moves itself. If for instance the substrate is ply wood, installed on top of joists, then a suspended floor should be the method as the substrate will also be moving, thereby creating problems with the floor boards.

IMG-20140509-WA0001All wood “moves”, that is it expands and contracts with seasons and humidity. A suspended floor will allow the wood to move more freely as it is nailed down as opposed to being glued down. Being able to move a bit more freely will result in less boards splitting, popping or cracking over time. A suspended floor will have a hollow sound to it, which some people prefer while a glued down floor will have a more solid sound to it as it is glued directly to a concrete substrate.

Wood should always be allowed to acclimatise before being installed. This applies to both glued down and suspended methods. If we take teak for instance. It will originate probably in Zimbabwe, be machined there and exported to South Africa. It will arrive and will spend some time in Gauteng and then be shipped to Durban and then to its final destination. The changes in humidity and temperature between all these places affect the overall size of the wood. In more humid environments the wood will swell, expand slightly and in drier environments it will shrink, or contract slightly. It should be allowed to “rest” for at least two weeks, at its place of installation before being installed, to acclimatise to the local climatic conditions. Thin pieces of wood should also be placed between boards to allow for movement of air while it is acclimatizing.

The best time to install a floor is in the summer months. The wood would have (excuse the pun) swelled slightly due to heat and humidity (assuming of course the local conditions are more humid in summer than winter, such as Durban). The boards will be installed in this slightly swelled state and in winter they will contract slightly. If we do it the other way around, install in winter, then the wood will be contracted when being installed and will expand in summer and the boards will push up against each other, on the sides, and may pop. If winter is the only time one can install them, then allowance needs to be made for this and small gaps need to be left between boards to allow them to swell in summer. The size of the gap will depend on the type of timber being used. Harder woods will require less than softer woods as they will move less between seasons. When I say gaps I mean very slight gaps and I should rather refer to it as loosely laid as opposed to tightly laid.

Types of wood

There are various types of wood one can use for flooring. Some work better than others and the imported exotic hardwood such as Oak and Walnut are very expensive as opposed to locally grown timber such as pine or Saligna. Softer woods such as pine and Saligna (gum) can be used but will not be as durable as a hardwood such as teak or oak. They may split or crack sooner and will expand and contract more. Pine and Saligna work best being suspended rather than being glued down because they expand and contact more easily due to their lower density. Also the floors life span will be shorter because with every maintenance interval the soft wood will lose about 2mm from the surface when sanded. A hardwood such as teak will loose considerably less than that and as such its life span will be longer (i.e. it can be sanded many more times).

The different types of wood also vary in colour from dark to light and then some with varied colour like brown and white teak or Kiaat. Some of these variations in colour are due to heart wood and sap wood being present. Brown and white teak for instance is made up of heartwood and sap wood, heart wood being the timber close to the middle of the tree and sap wood being that close to the outside of the tree. Heart wood is by far the best as it is older and therefore harder and more resistant to attack by insects and rot. It is unavoidably more expensive.

Types of floor boards

There are various types of floor boards available on the market today. Most are tongue and grooved so that one side has a tongue and one side has a groove. When installing the tongue of one floor board is inserted into the groove of the board next to it to provide a tight fit and stop the boards from moving in a vertical direction against each other. The result being that your floor will remain flat for longer, if not forever. There are various different types of tongue and groove too which makes installation easier and results in less problems. Normally the tongue is slightly shorter than the groove to allow it to slide into the groove and not be prevented from being inserted all the way in so that the boards butt up flush with each other. Sometimes the tongue swells and the inside of the grooves swell, when moving into an area of more humidity, which makes it near impossible to get the tongue into the groove. A good floor board manufacturer will allow for this by making the tongue slightly thinner and shorter than the groove.

With locally grown timber such as pine or Saligna the boards come in longer lengths, typically 3m or so. With these longer boards they are normally only tongue and grooved on opposite sides along the length of the board. When installing, one will either cut the end of the board to reach a joist or batten, resulting in a small amount of waste or one will install an extra batten on that board only to support the end of the board. With imported timber such as teak, the boards will come in much shorter lengths as the longer stuff carries a premium price tag and is normally reserved for other uses. These are commonly known as maxi planks and vary in length from 450mm to 1m. If the same method as above was used one would be inserting extra battens all over the place which would not be feasible. So what the manufacturer does is to tongue and groove all four sides of the board. When the end of the board is reached there is no need to install an extra batten as the ends are tongue and grooved and fit snugly into each other without any vertical movement.

There are specialised tools for hardwood installation. We make use of an angled floor nailer. The nailer drives a nail at a 45° angle through the tongue and into the batten or joist. It also counter sinks it so that the nail does not impede the next board from butting up tight against the first one. The nail is now invisible and cannot be seen from the surface of the floor. The nail is also flat in that it is thinner than it is wide. This allows the nail to be driven through the timber between the grain on it’s thinner side so as not to split the tongue. It is hook shaped and ribbed so that it does not pull out over time.

I hope I have shed some light in the pros and cons of hardwood flooring and what to consider when installing hardwood floors and that you enjoy your hardwood floors for many years to come.

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