Balau wooden screens installed in Umhlanga Durban

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We installed these balau wooden screens in Umhlanga in Durban in early 2018. The brief was to provide some privacy to the upstairs verandah. There was originally a glass balustrade on this verandah and being at the end of a cul-de-sac this property’s verandah was very visible to vehicles and people driving or walking to the end of this cul-de-sac.

We removed the glass balustrade to make way for the wooden balau privacy screens. A balau structure was first installed fixing 40 x 60 vertical posts to the top side of the lower slab and the underside of the top slab to provide a frame on to which we screwed our horizontal balau slats.

When installing screens it is quite common to use different sized slats as we did here. Balau deck boards normally come in two different sizes being 19 x 68mm and 19 x 90mm. 19mm is sufficient thickness for screens and then one can mix the width by using a 68mm board and then a 90mm board. One can also rip a 68mm in half leaving 30mm and use that as well to create a visually appealing screen with differing widths of boards.

Gaps between these boards should ideally be 19mm to allow for wind loading. Obviously the closer the boards the less wind can penetrate the screen thereby increasing the wind loading on the screen. A gap bigger than 19mm results in too large a gap and privacy is sacrificed.

Sufficient vertical supports should be provided for stability and integrity and they should be close enough together so that the boards don’t bow between supports. Balau can normally be spanned about 600mm to 1m between supports to sufficiently pull each board straight to reduce bowing. At times a “strap” can be installed behind the boards to pull them all straight.

It is often a lot cheaper, and just as effective, to use a correctly treated pine structure to fix these boards to. However with a 19mm gap and visibility of the structure as well as visibility from behind, we prefer to use a balau structure. In this instance we used a 40 x 60 balau solid piece from top to bottom which worked well.

These screens can be oiled or left to grey naturally. Either way the life span of the wood is not increased that much be oiling them as balau contains natural toxins which limit insect infestation and oils and resins which repel water and limit rot. If they are to be sealed then an oil is the right way to go. Any other coating that dries on the surface of the wood will eventually peel and flake which will be costly to remove and re-coat.

For a no obligation quote on your timber decking, screens, pergolas etc. please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact form below.

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.

Timber Decking Companies Durban

 

We are a timber decking company based in Durban and specialise in the construction of timber sun deck, pergolas, walkways, stairs etc. We use primarily H3 and H4 CCA treated pine as our substructure and balau deck boards. Our balustrades and stairs are all made from balau unless otherwise specifically designed in pine. The H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine has a life span of between 30 and 50 years outdoors in the elements and although the balau is not pressure treated it will also last in excess of 30 years.

The timber deck we built in this article was in Plantations in Hillcrest and was a low-level pool deck. The pictures alongside show the different stages of construction and I will explain, in this article, the challenges we experienced with this one. All timber decks we build come with their own challenges and there are various techniques we use to overcome these challenges.
Our first challenge here was that the paving alongside the pool was not parallel to the house. There was a difference of about 80mm over a distance of about 3m. If we had simply placed our deck boards down with equal gaps between them we would have ended with a wedged shaped deck board with a measurement of zero on one side and 68mm on the other side which would be unsightly. In order to overcome this one needs to vary the gaps between deck boards.

In this instance we needed to gain 80mm over a distance of 3m. We needed to start with a gap of 4mm on one side of the run, and the gap needed to increase along the length of the deck board run to 6mm on the other side effectively giving us a gain of 2mm per board. Over a distance of 3m, a total of 40 deck boards, with a width of 68mm and a gap of approximately 5mm, will be needed. If we increase the gap on one side of the run to 6mm and reduce the gap on the other side of the run to 4mm, we gain 2mm per run of deck boards. 2mm x 40 deck boards gives us a
total of 80mm that we will gain thereby reducing the difference on either side to zero. In effect you are “fanning” the deck boards to close the difference created by the wall not being parallel to the house. Simple hey? Not always so. Because each run of deck boards is made up of about 3 or 4 separate pieces it can be tricky to keep the runs straight whilst still “stealing” millimetres. At the same time you need to try to end on a full deck board instead of having to rip one deck board to half the width to finish decking the area. We weren’t able to do this because we were running out of space to start increasing or decreasing the gaps to end on a full board. So instead we installed a 90mm deck board on the last run to close the 32mm gap we had left.

We built this timber deck in two sections and then filled the gaps in between. Some of it was on grass and some was on soil, so there was a mixture of posts in ground with concrete and posts on top of paving.

Another challenge here was that because we were building flush to the pool paving AND the floor inside we had to check that the height of the pool paving and the height of the floor inside were the same. They never are because the world is not flat. While I prefer building as flat, level and square as I can, sometimes one needs to build slightly off in order to line up with other substrates that are not perfect, and they never will be. One needs to be careful though that by building off square and level does not affect the total build or the visual appearance of the structure. If it will, then another plan needs to be made.

For a free no obligation quote on your sun deck and other outdoor related structure please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.