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 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Balau Cladding or Screening

Balau cladding or screening

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Balau cladding or screeningZ

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Balau cladding or screening of brick walls is quite popular and attractive. It takes an otherwise boring brick, plaster or concrete look and transforms it into a beautiful wooden clad structure. It can of course be clad balau or any other timber, but balau being the most popular outdoor timber for cladding of brick walls. Pine is a lot cheaper buy nowhere near as durable and will warp, cup, twist and bow a lot quicker than balau. Balau is very stable and the deck boards will remain flat for a lot longer.
We use either the standard deck boards of 19 x 68mm or we can use a 19 x 90mm board. The 19 x 90mm board is however more expensive per square metre than the narrower boards.

What works quite well too when cladding brick walls with timber is to have differing widths of boards. So one might start with a 19 x 68 board, and then install a 19 x 90mm board and then a 19 x 30mm board.

When cladding brick walls with timber it is best to keep the gaps to about 5mm. Normally with screens we leave a 20mm gap, so that you can still see through the screen if you walk right up to it, but with cladding there is nothing really to see on the other side. So keep the gaps to 5mm to have a nice tight compact finish.

This was a job we did in Westville for a corporate client who was renovating their reception area. It was initially a brick portico sort of structure that had small blue mosaic tiles stuck to it. The blue mosaic tiles were painted black prior to us cladding so that they would not be visible between the gaps. We simply installed cleats of 19 x 68 deck boards in balau on to the tiles which had been painted black and then on top of that we installed the cladding. We had to be careful not to protrude the cladding more than about 45mm from the wall as it would have caused the main door to snag on the cladding.  On the corners we mitred the edges at 45° to give it a nice neat finish.

There was an access control system that we needed to work around. The company installing it came to site on the same day that we clad that area and we worked with them to cut out the necessary areas so that the various control panels could be installed neatly on our timber cladding.

The job was finished with closing the screw holes with epoxy, sanding smooth and sealing using Timberlife Satin Wood 28 Base, an oil based deep penetrating timber preservative that repels water. Because it is oil it can never peel or flake making future maintenance easy and inexpensive. You simply clean the timber and apply more oil.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber cladding requirements, wooden sun decks, pergolas and other outdoor wooden construction, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Lutyens Bench – Outdoor Garden Furniture

Outdoor garden furniture

Pictured is a bench with a curved centre backrest. The benches we now make have a straight piece as the centre back rest. The curved top backrest remains as pictured.

This was a lovely job to have received. A client found me on the internet and came across some of the outdoor furniture I was making. Before I started building wooden decks I made furniture, largely outdoor picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and the like. I think I’ve mentioned it before in this blog, but it is difficult to make a decent living making furniture in South Africa. The imports that exist nowadays are so cheap and unfortunately people almost always look at price before quality.

Nevertheless, I was approached by this client and commissioned to make this bench. Lutyens Bench is a bench that was designed and first built prior to 1913 by the Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (the Dutch name is pronounced “Lut-chins”). They have since become very popular and are very distinctive in their design as can be seen.

The client brought me the plans which he had ordered online and they had been delivered to him in full size of scale 1:1. All of the pieces came as templates and they were cut out and the pieces of MDF then cut from them. I made a few templates for the curved pieces from supawood or MDF. MDF is easy to shape as it is relatively soft and can be worked quite easily. Once I had a template I rough cut my balau slightly larger than it needed to be and then clamped the templates to the work piece and ran a flush trim router bit over it. The flush trim router bit contains a bearing at the bottom which is in line with the cutting edge. So the bearing runs along the template beneath and the cutting edge cuts the work piece above to the same shape as the template. Multiple pieces can then be cut to the exact same shape.

Outdoor garden furniture

Pictured is a bench with a curved centre backrest. The benches we now make have a straight piece as the centre back rest. The curved top backrest remains as pictured.

Once I had all my pieces cut I used a domino machine from Festool. The plans indicated dowel joints but after buying my Domino Machine years ago I don’t use anything else. A Domino Machine works in a similar way to a biscuit jointer but it cuts a long straight hole rather than the traditional round hole that the biscuit jointer cuts. A Domino made from birch is then inserted into the hole and it produces a mortise and tenon joint that is both strong an easy to cut. The birch expands slightly with the moisture of the glue so the domino fits tightly in the hole. They have grooves to allow the excess glue to squeeze out and are slightly shorter than the hole to allow them to be inserted completely. A very clever machine from Festool I must say and I am surprised that other manufacturers haven’t copied it.

The pieces went together quite well but I did battle on a few of them where I couldn’t use the Domino machine so had to use epoxy as my glue and a nail gun to hold then in place. I bumped into the client years later and the bench was still in one piece so my method must have worked.

Outdoor garden furniture

Pictured is a bench with a curved centre backrest. The benches we now make have a straight piece as the centre back rest. The curved top backrest remains as pictured.

I finished it with an outdoor timber preservative. I chose balau as my timber because it was to live outdoors and the balau holds up very well to the weather in Africa. The client had built the area you see in the picture especially for this bench. It took me a while to leave after delivering it because it all seemed to fit so perfectly together in the setting they had chosen in the garden.

For a free no obligation quote on outdoor furniture or any other timber work that you require please complete the form below and I will get in touch with you.  Or you can call us on 031 – 762 1795.