Balau Wooden Deck, Kloof Durban

 

Here’s a straight forward wooden balau deck we built in Kloof, Durban in October 2018. There were a few angles that had to be cut precisely to finish it neatly but other than that the deck was straight forward to build.

We used an H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine substructure. Because the pine is S5 (Industrial SABS approved grade) it is strong enough to be used as a structure for various building purposes. It is also relatively inexpensive in comparison to other hardwoods that could be used as decking structure. Being S5 it contains a certain amount of knots per square metre and is therefore SABS approved as structural timber. Timber with more knots per square metre is normally used as knotty pine ceiling boards where there is very little structural pressures on the timber. Timber with less knots per square metre is referred to as semi clears or S7 grade. S7 becomes quite expensive and is used as deck boards at times to eliminate knots failing on the deck surface. However because one would need to use twice as much wood (38mm thick) when using pine deck boards, the cost is the same as using a 19mm x 68mm balau deck board at half the quantity of wood. As such we use 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards as the surface for most of our wooden decks in Durban. The balau is far more stable being twice as dense and hard with a regular straight grain and as such these balau deck boards don’t twist, cup or bow as easily as pine. With the pine being H3 CCA treated it has a life span of at least 50 years outdoors in the rain and weather.

We added a small flight of open riser steps to this deck to gain access to the garden. These are done in full solid balau using 30mm stock. Normally the stringers are 30 x 215 and the treads are made of multiple pieces of 30 x 102 with cleats fixed to the stringers and the treads are fixed to the cleats. They don’t work that well in pine as the pine becomes very visible throughout and one ends up cladding it anyway which brings the cost back to the same as solid balau. The alternative to open risers steps is to do closed risers where box type steps are made of pine structure and then clad resulting in the riser being closed.

The screw holes of all our decks are counter sunk with a Kalgard decking screw and filled with a clear epoxy and saw dust mixture to match the colour of the wood and then ground flat and sanded smooth prior to oiling the deck. You’ll find other articles on this site where we discuss the pros and cons of using oil vs other finishes available on the market and leaving the deck to naturally grey and weather. If you use the search bar at the bottom right and search for maintenance you’ll find a complete article on deck maintenance.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck in Durban and surrounding areas, please use the contact us form below or you can call us on 031 – 762 1795.

Balau Timber Pool Deck, La Lucia, Durban

Here’s a wooden pool deck we built in La Lucia, Durban recently. In the gallery above you can see pics of the old deck and then pics of the new deck. The old wooden pool deck had started to rot at critical points. The reason for rot in many wooden decks is that the screw holes are not plugged, water gets in and travels up the end grain of the wood resulting in rot at the screw holes. Water travels more easily along the end grain of wood than the side or face grain. So it is important to seal the end grain as far as possible to prevent this. In the case of the end of deck boards the water never really gets trapped so it can drain away quickly enough to prevent rot. However in the case of a screw holes water collects in the screw hole and then has enough time to be absorbed by the end grain before it evaporates. As a standard procedure we fill counter sunk screw holes with epoxy to prevent this from happening.

The epoxy we use is clear so that saw dust can be mixed with it to match the colour as closely as possible. It is also slightly pliable. In hot and cold weather, wood expands and contracts, as does most materials. If you consider a screw hole. The sides of the screw hole will expand thereby closing the screw hole or making it smaller. Whatever is in the screw hole, as a plug, will also expand. So if the screw hole is getting smaller and the plug is getting bigger it makes sense that whatever is in there will likely try to “pop” out. Using a slightly pliable epoxy can reduce the chance of this plug popping out. Hence the reason for not using solid wood plugs cut with a plug cutter. The epoxy should be pliable enough to take up the expansion of the screw hole but hard enough not to degrade due to weather conditions.

We used 90mm balau deck boards on this deck. They are slightly more expensive but some clients prefer them to the standard 68mm boards. Being a wider board one needs to secure them on both shoulders on each joist rather than just a single screw in the middle of the boards, as is the case with a 68mm board.

The job took a bit longer than I would have liked because the substrate that we were building on top of, paving and concrete in this case, were quite uneven so we had to shim and trim joists to get the top of our joists level, flat and at the desired height to be flush with the inside of the house. The jacuzzi cladding was also quite tricky because we had to build a removable structure so that one can access the front of and below the jacuzzi. One side of the jacuzzi step is also wider than the other one so the corner required some fancy carpentry work in order to get the boards to line up and match. I’m glad I took so many pics of the deck before we removed it so that we could copy it exactly.

There were also some wedges that we had to cut along the front edge as the tiles and existing patio were not square to the wall we were building our wooden deck up against. Whenever the existing buildings are not square there is always some sacrifice one needs to make and the trick is to get it least visible to the eye. In this case the client wanted the wedges rather than cutting the tiles or bringing the front of the deck past the line of existing buildings.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden pool deck, or other balau timber construction, please call us on 031 – 762 1795, or use the contact form below and one of our representatives will get in touch with you.

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.