Wooden Balau Decking Companies in Durban

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Here’s a wooden deck we at The Wood Joint built in Durban recently. The Wood Joint is a wooden decking company situated in Durban and servicing most of KZN. It was a low-level wooden deck basically at ground level joining the pool to the patio and semi surrounds. The site was situated in la Lucia Durban.

When building a wooden deck that will join a verandah to a pool, one needs to be careful to set the height of the pool correctly. The height to the verandah is of course pretty much set based on what the threshold of the sliding doors are. So working from a datum line of the top of the tiles of the verandah one would set the top of the concrete ring beam of the pool down 70mm from the required height of the deck. This will allow for a substructure of 50mm and a deck board thickness of 20mm (19mm in fact but to keep things simple rounded to 20mm). A 50mm batten fixed to the top of the concrete ring beam of the pool will give sufficient space to allow water to evaporate properly, keeping below the deck as dry as possible, and enough structure to create a positive fixing of deck board to bearer. The distance created between top of deck and pool should be minimal. It is not advisable to go much higher than 70mm because it creates a very big “climb” out the pool (from water level to top of deck).

In this deck pictured you will see we ran the deck boards perpendicular to the verandah and pool side. Using this method it is not that important if the side of the pool is parallel to the verandah as the length of the deck boards can be varied quite easily without noticing any difference in length. On the other hand when the deck boards are run parallel to the pool side and verandah one needs to be careful to get the two as perfectly parallel as possible. Any difference will be visible because a deck board will need to be cut in a wedge shape to complete the space. If the difference is not that great then one can “fan” the deck boards to take up the difference in space by making one end’s gaps slightly bigger than the other end. So on one end a 6mm gap can be left and on the other a 4mm gap (normally 5mm throughout). This gains 1mm per deck board run. After 20 deck boards one can adjust for a 20mm difference in spacing. Another “trick” when running boards parallel to the pool side and verandah is to try to end on a full board rather than a half board. Again space between boards can be adjusted either up or down to try to end on a full board. It is much neater and won’t cause as many problems going forward. From the pics you’ll see we ended the deck on a half board which in this case was unavoidable because of the configuration of paving and deck.

You’ll see from the pics that the garden is mostly left for landscaping until after the deck has been built. Trying to build a deck with newly laid grass and not damaging it is near impossible. Always get you building work done before landscaping.

For a free no obligation quote on your decking requirements in Durban please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Composite Deck Boards vs Hardwood Balau Decking

I’ve often been asked to quote, on or at least comment on, composite decking. Firstly we need to have a look at what composite deck boards are.

Composite deck boards are generally made from plastic and saw dust which can be anything from saw dust, wood chips to wood fibre pieces or bamboo. They can be either be new or recycled materials. One method of manufacturing composite deck boards is by extrusion. That is the materials are mixed together and forced through an opening to create a relatively consistent size and shape. Compression moulding is the other method used and consists of taking the combined liquid materials and compressing them under high pressure and heat into a mould to create the deck board.

Composite boards cannot be used as structural material as they do not have the required structural properties of, for instance, S5 SABS approved structural or industrial grade treated pine, or balau for that matter. As such the substructure of a deck still needs to be built using H3 CCA Treated pine. If the argument is that composite decks will last longer than solid timber, then half that argument is invalid because the structure is not made from composite materials. It is only the deck boards that are from composite materials and cannot “rot” in the traditional sense. However composites can fail if the process they underwent was not sound. There are various failures that can occur. A search on Google for “composite fails” will return many ways these boards can fail from a sub standard manufacturing process to fading in extreme direct sunlight, to warping, cupping or twisting due to heat from the harsh African sun.

Sustainability and “eco friendly” is often used as an argument in favour of composites. The balau and pine we use in decks is from sustainable forestry and is certified as such when imported or harvested locally. Producing composites also requires a lot of heat which is obtained from which source? So although composites can be made from recycled materials, one also needs to factor in the carbon foot print of making them, even though it is probably less than the carbon foot print of harvesting solid timber. Composites therefore do not carry a zero carbon foot print.

From a cost point of view composites are generally more expensive than balau. As with anything, you can get cheap or expensive and the risks of buying cheap composites speaks for itself. Some composites can be up to 4 times the price per square metre of balau. A cheap composite will tend to fail quicker as opposed to a more expensive one. If the cost of these boards is up to 4 times the price of balau then it stands to reason that  ALL the balau can be replaced up to 4 times before the cost becomes the same. It is highly unlikely that you will need to replace your deck surface four times in the life of the deck. What will commonly occur in a balau deck surface is that some boards will fail before others. Any failure of balau deck boards is normally long-term in any event. Deck boards are relatively easy to replace and relatively inexpensive. It is the structure that is expensive to replace and normally results in the whole deck having to be replaced. If our structures are both CCA treated pine in both types of deck, then the greater risk lies in the structure, not the boards.

The fixing system generally used to fix these boards to the pine substructure is a hidden screw of sorts and again there are various products available each one with it’s own advantages and disadvantages. A plastic clip is often used which is slotted into a groove routed along the edge of the board and then fixed to the bearer. Two boards often share a single clip which is then concealed below the deck board. So no screw holes through the face of the board. With the screw head being so small they can fail in that the screw can be screwed too far through the plastic clip. The clip itself is plastic and at certain temperatures will fail. The clip can only be guaranteed against failure below certain temperatures. In my opinion nothing replaces a Kalgard coated decking screw counter sunk through the face of a solid timber board to limit failure. In a balau deck, screw holes are filled with a clear epoxy and saw dust mixture so are not as visible as one would think once filled and sanded flat.

Scratches and fading in composites should be taken into account. A lot of manufacturers of composites guarantee a maximum percentage fade rate. How does one measure 10% fade? If a composite deck fades or gets scratched it can’t be sanded to remove these.

Maintenance of the deck is often used as an argument for using composites over balau. Water is largely drawn into wood through the end grain and not the face or side grain. Being balau it is naturally resistant to water ingression. If you take a 20 year old piece of good quality yellow balau and cross-cut it, you will most often find that no water has been absorbed through the board. Balau deck boards can be left un-oiled which will result in a grey appearance. Oiling or not oiling a deck won’t increase or decrease the life span of the deck by any material length of time. If oiled, maintenance is simple. Oil can be sprayed, brushed, wiped, sponged or even dipped. And oil won’t peel and flake. Coatings will. So it is quick and easy to maintain. If left un-oiled a pressure clean every 6 to 12 months is sufficient to keep your deck looking good.

Based on the above I am more concerned about the structure of a deck than the surface one uses. Structures are costly to replace. Deck boards are not. The above arguments for composites do not, in my opinion, warrant using them as opposed to balau.

We will however install a composite deck for you if you so wish, but I am not convinced that you will achieve the desired result by switching from solid timber to composites.

For a quote on your deck and other timber related structure please contact us using the contact us form below or call us on 031 – 762 1795.

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

Wooden Balau Pergola Built in Plantations – Durban

This wooden balau pergola was built at Plantations in August 2016. We had custom-made galvanised steel base plates made up in order to secure the uprights to the existing paving. Because the uprights had to be installed on the edge of the paving we couldn’t dig and bury the post so we installed them into these base plates which were then fixed to the paving using sleeve anchors.

When designing a base plate for this application it is important to make the tube that will carry the upright post long enough in order to give it lateral support to stop the structure “racking”. Also the actual base must be big enough to be sturdy, but small enough so as to still be neat and not get in the way. We used a 90 x 90mm balau upright. The back row of uprights were fixed to the outside of the wall surrounding the entertainment area.

On the top we installed 30 x 102 as purlins which were spaced at 600 centres. I’ve found that spacing a 30 x 102 at 600mm centres works best from a structural point of view and a cost point of view. Obviously the closer the purlins are spaced the more expensive the pergola will be and one must be careful not to space them too far apart as it affects the stability of the structure and the visual appearance.

On top of that we installed 30 x 40 balau battens running perpendicular to the purlins at 120mm centres resulting in a gap between battens of 90mm being 3 times that of the batten itself. This works well in order to give enough broken shade without creating a completely closed effect on top. It also helps on the pocket by using 30 x 40 as opposed to 30 x 60mm.

Because of the existing chimney on one side of the area we had to cut purlins beams and battens in order to finish it neatly around this chimney whilst still making sure that all ends were fixed. If the ends are left unsecured they tend to twist over time.

These balau pergolas can be left un-oiled or oiled. If left un-oiled then they will eventually turn a silvery grey colour. If oiled they will remain slightly darker. It is not advisable to coat them with any other product other than an oil as it will eventually peel and flake and maintenance then becomes difficult and expensive. They can be pressure washed to remove dirt and grime that settles over time.

For a quote on your wooden balau pergolas, deck, walkways, balustrades, stairs and other timber works, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Balustrades

Wooden Balustrades Durban and Cape Town

Balau Horizontal Balustrade

Wooden balustrades are necessary on all decks that are above 1m off the ground for safety reasons. Some people opt for them even if the deck is lower than 1m. They normally sit 1m above the deck surface but on decks which are higher than about 4m off the ground, it is recommended that one install a 1.2m high balustrade for safety reasons.

There are various designs from a standard vertical picket style balustrade to a criss cross pattern to diagonal slats and even deck boards installed horizontally. One should consider the reason for installing a wooden balustrade and then decide which one to opt for. For instance a vertical picket style is safe for high decks as they can’t be easily climbed and all gaps between pickets are less than 100mm so small children can’t fall through.

A criss cross balustrade has large openings and is not as safe.

Most balustrades have a capping on top of about 30mm x 100m allowing for a comfortable arm rest and a spot to place a drink.

Wooden Decks Durban and Cape Town

Click to enlarge

Contact us if you’re planning on doing any wooden balustrade work on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form provided below.

Wooden Bridges and Walkways

Wooden Decks Durban and Cape Town

Click to enlarge

Wooden bridges and walkways are popular in gardens that have small streams or where the garden necessitates a walkway in order to get from one place to another.

Instead of allowing a path to form from wear on the grass you can install a 1m or so wide walkway which is level and flat allowing you to move from one side to the other in comfort. They are often complimented by stairs or the occasional step up or down where the ground falls. They are often used to join one deck to another or a doorway to a deck.

Bridges can be spanned quite far without using supporting posts if balau is used. If posts are needed to support the bridge midway then H5 CCA treated posts can be used which can live in water for up to 30 years.

Please complete the form below if you require a quote and I will contact you or you can call on 031 – 762 1795.

Wooden Screens and In Fills

Wooden screens Durban and Cape Town

Click to enlarge

Screens can be used for a multitude of purposes from screening out the view of the neighbours to enclosing an air conditioner so that it is not visible. They are sometimes concreted into the ground and can vary in height. Sometimes they are attached to boundary walls or the main building and some contain gates and hinged or removable lids for access to air conditioners, pool pumps, koi pond pumps and so on.

In fills are similar to screens but are normally installed between two brick columns on a boundary wall to create the effect of brick work and timber.

Most often the slats are installed horizontally with a 20mm gap between boards. This allows you to still be able to see through but screens out the view of others on the outside. This gap can however be changed for different applications. Double sided screens are also available so that both the inside and outside look the same.

To request a quote or for some advice please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below to contact us.

Wooden Sun Decks Durban and Cape Town

Wooden decks Durban and Cape Town

Click to enlarge

A wooden sundeck is a valuable extension to your house in that it is relatively cost-effective whilst still increasing the living area and total coverage of your property. If properly installed and maintained it will give you many years of warmth and enjoyment and you will retain the value of it when ultimately selling your property. It is more cost-effective than brick, concrete or steel and with the trend moving towards sustainable and green building, a sun deck, sourced from sustainable forestry will retain its value for many years to come.

We generally use CCA treated pine in our substructures as it is a lot more cost-effective than using balau and we are still able to offer a 50 year supplier guarantee on the timber used in the substructure. This is provided we document the build with photos, retention records from the treatment plant, the date and invoices of when we bought the timber etc. As a rule we build in accordance with their criteria for the guarantee, but if a guarantee is required, we must be notified beforehand so that we can obtain these documents during our build. We use balau deck boards on the surface of the deck because they are infinitely more stable and do not warp or twist as much as balau. This is not as important in the substructure because it is largely covered from the sun and the pieces we use are a lot thicker so don’t warp or twist as much. Deck boards on the other hand take the full brunt of the sun and tend to warp more quickly. Also we source our balau at very competitive prices and can therefore build a deck at very competitive prices, even compared to using pine deck boards. Pine deck boards are much softer so one has to use twice as much wood negating the cost saving by using a cheaper timber. The structural pieces in balau are more expensive per cubic metre than pine so using a CCA treated substructure reduces the cost which we pass on to the client.

We use kalgard screws which are guaranteed by the supplier against rust for 25 years, we counter sink them and close the holes using an epoxy and saw dust mixture to match the colour, thus eliminating water ingression through the screw holes thereby reducing rot at the screw hole. They are sanded flat and we seal our decks using an oil based sealer which penetrates the timber rather than leaving a coating or film on the surface. Maintenance is therefore easy and inexpensive. You simply wipe clean the timber, clean any greasy marks off with turps and re-apply using brush, sponge, cloth or spray.

For some expert advice or a quote, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or complete the contact us form below.

Wooden Floors and Laminates

Solid Wooden flooring Durban and Cape Town

Click to enlarge

We specialise in Solid Wooden Flooring, Laminates, Parquet flooring, Dustless Floor sanding and Sealing and repairs to wooden floors.

Wooden floors exist in many different forms from Swiss Parquet, Parquet, Sprung or Suspended Floors or wooden floors that are adhered to the substrate. They come in many different types of wood and each one has its own unique characteristics and pro and cons. From the menu bar on the right you can navigate to the different types and read up and view pics of the different styles. Alternatively you can use the search bar above to the right to search for something more specific. There are articles on this site of jobs we have completed with pics and the various challenges we overcame in the installation.

Solid wooden floors were very popular in years gone by and in about the ‘70s were all covered up with carpets and other types of flooring. They are making a strong come back now and are very popular due to their warmth, charm and the ability to maintain them relatively easily and cost effectively. Take a look under your carpets and you may find some very nice teak flooring that can be restored back to its original beauty at a relatively low-cost.

For a free, no obligation quote, on all your wooden floor requirements please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Parquet Flooring Installer Durban and Cape Town

Parquet flooring Installer Durban and Cape Town

Parquet flooring was very popular many years ago but a lot of it was covered up with carpets back in the 70’s. It seems crazy now that one could cover the parquet flooring with carpets, but that was the thing of the day and fashions come and go. I’ve recently refurbished several parquet floors by sanding them down and re-sealing them after old carpets have been lifted and they still hold their charm.

There are various types of parquet floor one can get using different wood that gives a slightly different grain, colour and texture. Of course you should always purchase your parquet flooring from a reputable supplier to ensure that you are getting top quality. Your floor will need to last many years and you don’t want to spend the money on installing it only to have to re-do the work later. Also as timber ages it naturally darkens so to try to match the colour of timber with new pieces is very difficult.

Parquet flooring comes in tiles which are made up of the small strips you see. So they are not all laid individually but rather as a sort of tile which is about 300mm x 300mm squares. It makes it much easier to lay and will result in a better finished product because of course there is less room for error in laying them. They are glued down to the floor using a suitable adhesive. Again the floor needs to be completely flat in order to achieve a good quality result. If the floor is not flat, screed it first to remove low and high spots first and then lay your floor.

The individual strips are normally laid perpendicular to each other to give it effect but some very interesting patterns can be found such as herringbone, triangles and inserts are also possible. Parquet flooring is very versatile and you can lay the tiles in just about any pattern you wish and the choices are limited only by your imagination.

For the budget concerned folk out there an alternative to buying new parquet flooring is to use second-hand parquet flooring. I have seen many houses have their old parquet flooring ripped out and discarded. This timber is still sound as most of the older houses used good quality teak in their floors. With a little cleaning and sanding those parquet floor tiles can be made to look like new. Don’t discount the value of second-hand tiles.

To finish the floor, you should sand it using the floor sander, fill any gaps with a suitable gap filler, sand again and then move up to finer grits remembering to sand into the corners with a smaller rotex style sander. A good quality polyurethane should be used either in mineral based or water based. Water based is of course more easily applied, less messy and one can apply multiple coats in the same day as it dries very quickly. Remember to sand lightly with a fine grit paper between coats to get rid of the hairs which stand up after applying coats. This will result in a smooth finish. The polyurethane comes in either high gloss, matt or satin. The choice is yours.

For a free no obligation quote or advice on your parquet flooring please complete the form below or call us on 031 – 762 1795.