Engineered Hardwood Flooring

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Hardwood flooring has become ever popular in many countries. In South Africa, home owners are opting for these in preference to the old style parquet and the laminated style of flooring. Hardwood floors go hand-in-hand with luxury, and offer timeless beauty and are low on maintenance. Home owners looking for a classic look might like to consider engineered hardwood flooring. These points should be taken into account, or kept in mind when weighing up the pros and cons of hardwood flooring.

Unlike conventional hardwood, which comes from its raw state and into your home, engineered hardwood is a more complex product which consists of layers. The outermost appearance layer is a hardwood veneer, a thin slice of wood of whatever wood type you prefer. The inner layers are made of plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. These core layers give the product more stability than regular hardwood, while the outer veneer surface gives the floor its aesthetics, its beauty, and, of course, its authenticity.

Engineered hardwood is different to a hardwood laminated ‘wood’ because the surface is made of real wood. While laminated flooring has a core of high density fiberboard, its surface is basically a picture of wood. Laminate is less expensive than engineered and solid hardwood, but has a different look, feel and even sound when walking on it, due to its make up.

Pros:

  • Engineered hardwood flooring is designed to reduce moisture associated with conventional hardwood.
  • The layers block moisture and provide added stability to your floor.
  • This is a low maintenance option because of the fact that Engineered Flooring will not swell or warp.
  • Choosing engineered flooring is considered more environmentally-friendly than traditional hardwood for various reasons.
  • Veneer is sliced very carefully and precisely – it is not cut with a saw. This process produces no sawdust, which means that the entire tree can be used. The sawdust which we know amounts to a significant pile when making hardwood boards is wasted wood.
  • Hardwood trees grow a lot more slowly than the trees used to construct engineered flooring cores. More surface area is produced making veneer, therefore installing traditional hardwood uses many times the amount of slow-growing tree. This makes the replenishing time much longer.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Cons

  • There are very few disadvantages to this type of hardwood flooring but it is neither a foolproof project and not necessarily the right floor for every application.

Comparable to solid hardwood in terms of cost: –

Engineered floors are still considerably more expensive than laminated floors, tile or carpet. They are, however much more hardy, are low maintenance and will wear a lot better.

That said, one should also take into account the biggest concern as a homeowner … that being avoiding shoddy or inferior engineered work and products, merely because of cost.

Veneers that are too thin will prevent sanding and refinishing opportunities that may double the lifetime of the floor.

Some veneers are so thin and poorly made that they can prematurely warp or fade.

Core layers should still be made from high-quality wood. Some manufacturers try to cut corners by using fiberboard or oriented strand board which might well compromise the stability of your floor and could result in an inferior flooring product.

Your Home is your Castle … quality surpasses cutting corners

It is, without exception, easier to install engineered flooring and the handy man homeowner is often encouraged to install his or her own engineered floors. It is never-the-less, a major project with big financial implications, therefore, I suggest you weigh up carefully, the virtue of employing an experienced craftsman to do the job (who will also guarantee his finished product, surely?) and doing the work yourself …and without wanting to reduce your skill-ability, don’t be too over zealous about your own home improvement skills just to get the job done cheaper! Even for the majority of homeowners who hire a flooring contractor for the job, you’ll save a hefty sum on installation, which is important given that most engineered flooring is more expensive than solid wood.

The cost of high-quality engineered floors (thick veneers) will depend on various issues, the obvious one being the type of wood you choose. In South Africa, imported Indonesian Balau is readily available, is solid, a hard wood and also hard-wearing, able to withstand much more than a softer local wood might be. It lands at quite a reasonable price and is of a superior quality. It is, for example largely used for outdoor decking. Solid wood flooring may be cheaper overall, however it will still take longer to install.

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

Wooden Yellow Balau Deck – Kloof, Durban KZN

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 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

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 082 496 5444, or use the contact form below and one of our representatives will get in touch with you.

Wooden Pool Deck Built in Kloof, Durban

This wooden deck was a simple pool deck that we built in Kloof, Durban. The pool had originally been built at an angle to the house which limited the available space between the house and pool. The client wanted to create a wooden deck that was parallel to the house so that he could maximise the space between the edge of the pool and the house.

As result we needed to build part of the wooden deck over the pool and the trick was to support it sufficiently over about a 3.5m span so that it didn’t bounce or sag. We couldn’t of course put supports or posts into the pool so we increased the size of the beam running over the pool to a 50 x 152. We still had to trim the 152 down to about 140 as we needed to install this beam on top of the existing pool coping, on both sides, and we were limited by how high we could come up from that surface. In these instances one starts “stealing space”. A term we use at The Wood Joint for gaining every available millimetre possible in order to maximise structural strength.

We then clad the downpipes and support posts of the existing awning with deck boards to create two fairly large wooden posts and hide the PVC downpipes. This gave the effect of large wooden posts holding up the awning. The flower boxes were also clad to match the theme.

A small ledge of about 200mm wide was added along the wall running up to the pizza oven at bar height of about 1.2m from ground. A small cupboard was built in the recess that the builder had left on the right hand side of the braai in which glasses and other braai, or bar, utensils can be stored.

Stainless steel hinges were used aluminium knobs were fitted. We used a normal latch system on the inside so that when you close it, it locates behind, and out of sight. We included a single shelf for glasses. We tucked the deck underneath the braai area so that wood and charcoal can be stored there.

This deck was sanded and sealed with an oil based sealer. An oil based sealer is far superior to a water based sealer or mineral based sealer that dries on the surface. Oil cannot peel and flake. It simply disappears with exposure to UV so there is no need to sand the deck in the future.

We are available to quote on your decking needs. Please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.

Wooden Sun Decks and Wire Rope Balustrades

Wooden Balau Deck with Wire Rope BalustradeWooden deck with wire rope balustradeWooden deck with wire rope balustradeA wire rope balustrade on a wooden sun deck, as pictured in this article, has a few pros and cons to it which I will discuss below. I will also describe the method used to install wire rope balustrades and what to be careful of to ensure that the job runs smoothly. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, or don’t have the right tools or time, then scroll to the bottom and complete the contact us form below. I will contact you and we can take the task off your hands. Alternatively call us on 082 496 5444. We are Durban based.

Firstly one should choose the correct wire rope to use. We use the 4mm marine grade stainless steel wire rope with button heads. One can also get the 5mm wire rope but I have found that that often contains one rogue strand which will tarnish over time and spoil the look of your balustrade. The 4mm wire rope does not bend as easily as the others so where you get to a 90° bend you will need to terminate your wire rope with a button head and start again on the next run. The 4mm wire rope can bend around gentler curves quite easily. It is just the 90° bends that require a new run.

We start by installing our wooden, normally balau, uprights and these can be anything from a 30 x 60, 40 x 60 or 60 x 60. Obviously the 60 x 60 is better as it is more solid and stable, but it unavoidably carries a higher price tag. A 40 x 60 works very well, but the 30 x 60 can do the job just as well if installed properly. Now install your capping on the top to hold the whole lot together while you install your wire rope.

There are various methods of securing your wire rope. We use the button heads as opposed to turnbuckles. A hole is drilled, to a diameter slightly bigger than the button head, in the wooden upright and the wire rope is threaded through it so that the tag end is protruding to the outside of the balustrade. One side of the button head is then inserted over the wire rope and crimped using a special crimping tool. The crimping tool looks very similar to a large bolt cutter with a head that has been adapted to accept the button head and crimp it to the right size to hold the wire rope without damaging it.

Now cut a length of wire rope to slightly more than is required. Remember think twice, cut once as it is always easier to cut more off then to add more on once it has been cut too short. Now all your holes need to be drilled in all the other upright posts. Measure you spaces out accurately so that your wire rope will run parallel to the capping on the top and the wooden deck on the bottom. When drilling through a piece of wood it is easy to hold the drill slightly skew resulting in the drill bit exiting the wood at an angle which will result in the exit hole not being in the place it should be. So drill half way from one side and then drill from the other side to get your entry and exit holes perfectly lined up. It doesn’t matter if the middle of your hole is slightly skew because you can’t see it and it is not enough to impede the path of the wire rope. Thread the other un crimped end of the wire rope through all your holes in your uprights until you get to the end.

Wooden deck with wire rope balustradeNow take the other button head with the thread on it and measure, very carefully, where you need to cut your wire rope. You will need to cut it with a thin cutting disk on a baby grinder so as to get a nice clean-cut. If you cut it too long you won’t be able to tension it and too short, well start again from the beginning. So cut and check before crimping the other end. The second button head will be inserted through the hole from the back and the wire rope inserted into it from the front and crimped. Make sure you have your thread to its longest position so that you still have thread to use to tension it. Now tension it, but do not over tighten it. It is not a guitar string and only needs to be tight enough to be visibly straight. Over tightening it will result in the end wooden uprights bowing, or even failing.

Pros of Wire Rope Balustrades

• Does not interfere in your vision when seated and looking through the balustrade
• Adds a second material, other than timber, for a clean minimalist look and feel
• Marine grade stainless will last a life time

Cons of Wire Rope Balustrades

• Does not offer as much protection from objects or people falling through the strands as timber does
• If installed incorrectly can look terrible
• Can detract from the timber look and feel

Good luck in installing your wire rope balustrade. I hope this article has helped. If you’re not up to it, please complete the form below, or contact us on 082 496 5444 and we will gladly quote you to do the task for you. We are Durban based and work throughout KZN.

Balau Wooden Sundeck Built in Kloof, Durban

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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Here’s a balau wooden sundeck we’ve just built on Kloof, just inland of Durban.

We used a 19 x 90 balau deck board on this wooden sun deck at the client’s request. We normally use a 19 x 68 balau deck board as they are considerably less expensive per square metre than the 19 x 90 balau deck boards and we can pass that saving on to our clients. Granted it is quicker to install a deck board that is wider as you need less boards per square meter (in this instance 15 boards per square metre using a 68mm wide board and 11 using a 90mm board), but not by that much that it warrants paying 35% more for it. 90mm boards are about 35% more expensive per square metre than 68 mm boards.

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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When screwing down a 19 x 90 deck board I put two screws, per board, in each joist line, one in each shoulder. I have seen other deck builders putting one in

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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every alternate shoulder. It does work, but if you do get a board that is particularly prone to warping it will warp where the one screw has been left out. It is not a huge cost or effort to put a second screw on the opposite shoulder of each board at each joist line. Obviously the wider the board the more prone it will be to warping. Why they are more expensive I haven’t yet worked out because good balau is good balau is good balau. If the wider boards we taken from a different part of the tree, the heartwood vs. the sapwood, then I would understand the price difference, but they aren’t. It is a preference, at a price, that’s all.

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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We ran the deck boards all in the same direction on this wooden deck. With this deck we ran the deck boards parallel to the edge of the pool meeting each other at a 45° angle on the corners. It is far easier to run them all in the same direction as you will never get a problem of matching the cut ends. If one board is cut at 46° and one therefore at 44°, they will be of different lengths and will not match up. In this instance you need to install a barrier between then (one deck board’s width) to hide any difference in length between cut ends. But I’ll write another article about that later. Running them all the same way on both sides of the deck eliminates this problem.

You need to be careful though to start installing your deck boards in the middle of the deck and not on one end. If you start on one end, you may very well reach the 90° corner and find that you have to rip a deck board in half to cover your space. This is unsightly and will result in that deck board failing more quickly than the rest. So start in the middle and move outwards to both ends and end with a full deck board.

There was also some other work on this wooden deck build in that the client wanted a planter stand built so he could place potted plants in it and he wanted his Jacuzzi walls clad. We battled a bit with the Jacuzzi cladding as the original brick structure that was there was skew and we had to try to mitigate this by building up

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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our substructure to bring it back to square.

The cladded vertical posts you see in the pics alongside are 19 x 90 boards (x 3 of) around a 76mm steel awning post. We needed to build the steel awning post up to get to our 290mm and then attach it to the post. Although it looks very nice to have such bulky wooden posts, it does block the view slightly when sitting at the pool. Why 290mm when each board is 90mm (90mm x 3 = 270mm)? Because we set each corner chasing the other surface. And let’s just forget about the 5mm gap we had in between each board.

For a free no obligation quote for your wooden sundeck, pergola, walkway, screens or other timber construction please use the contact us form below or call us on 082 496 5444.