Cheap Wooden Deck Builders in Durban

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I was prompted to write this article on cheap wooden deck builders in Durban for various reasons and to highlight some of the dangers of using the cheapest wooden deck builder that you can find. Being South African we all should know the Afrikaans saying “goedkoop is deurkoop”. Or loosely translated to English “you get what you pay for”. There is no exception in the wooden deck building industry.

One should consider that in order to offer a certain level of service a wooden deck builder needs to charge a certain rate. If that rate is relatively low, in comparison to other quotes, then certain sacrifices need to be made either in terms of the quality of materials that are used, the time it takes to do the job to save on labour costs, the quality of labour used to perform the task or the end profit to the contractor. Or a combination of the above. It also makes sense that it will never ONLY be the profit that is sacrificed when rates are lowered. It will be a combination of all of the components, probably skewed away from profit. On the other hand if rates are extremely high the quality of materials and labour can only reach a maximum level (i.e. the best) and any extra money becomes mere profit to the company.

Reliability of contractors using vehicles that may break down should also be taken into account. If margins are small there is often not enough profit to do the maintenance on vehicles, plant or tools that is required and down time can occur that delays the job being completed on time, or at all. Small labour forces may also be used that are often shared amongst several jobs, again resulting in down time and delays in project deadlines. Furthermore unskilled labour forces may be used directly affecting the quality of workmanship and the life span of the end product.

Of equal concern is the tendency of a contractor to use sub standard materials to save on cost wherever possible. In the wooden deck building industry there are various standards of materials. For instance you get red and yellow balau. Red is cheaper but is inferior and will not last as long. Screws can either be Kalgard decking screws with a life span of 25 years or the normal screws one can buy from the hardware with a life span outdoors of approximately 5 years. It is only in 5 years time that you may realise you have made a costly mistake by choosing the cheapest contractor. Or by pushing prices down to a point where a contractor who normally performs a quality job is forced to cut costs and use sub standard materials.

I am often asked to provide a discounted rate. I have no problem offering better rates based on volume as volume enables me to do the job more efficiently. I have done my costings properly and through a combination of accurate calculations and experience have found a point at which I need to set my rates in order to be able to afford quality materials, skilled reliable labour and maintenance of vehicles, plant and tools in order to build a wooden deck the best way it can be built.

We don’t drive the latest Ford Rangers at The Wood Joint. We run a fleet of 4 vehicles ranging from 10-year-old Isuzus with over 400, 000kms on the clock, serviced and maintained regularly so that they are reliable to newer similar vehicles. As such our rates have been set in order to provide the correct materials, skilled reliable labour and reliable vehicles.

I have a list of sub contractors that I can provide you with who will do the job cheaper than me. I can provide a list of suppliers who will supply cheaper materials. I can also show you a list of jobs where third-party sub contractors have taken short cuts in their pursuit of money due to low rates and jobs that have had the wrong materials used and are now prematurely failing.

At The Wood Joint we use only the correct materials, our own permanently employed crews of skilled deck builders each with his own set of tools and reliable vehicles to get them to work on time. We do not, any longer, use third-party subcontractors. We’ve learnt the hard way. Hopefully we can save you the expensive learning process too through this article. We are not the cheapest, we are not the most expensive either, we are correctly priced to offer the standards of quality and service that you expect.

To read more on balau and it’s characteristics please Balau Sundecks

For a free no obligation quote on wooden decking, pergolas, screens, cladding, pergolas and balustrades please call us on 031 – 762 1795 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 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 Pergolas

Wooden Decks Durban and Cape Town

Deck and pergola

A wooden pergola is a structure above that is designed using timber beams, purlins and slats. It is largely decorative as it does not prevent rain and provides limited shade depending on how many slats are installed.

They are sometimes referred to as Sun Screens and can be built in such a way as to offer shade at certain times of the day by adding more or less slats to the top. There are a multitude of designs and they are only limited by ones imagination, and of course budget.

They can be attached to the main building and then supported by posts on the front edge or they can be free-standing with posts to ground. One can install roof sheeting above to keep the rain out, but often it is better to consider an aluminium awning for this application due to cost. A balau pergola is not the cheapest method, but does add a nice appealing underside to your covering.

Wooden pergolas can also be installed using thatching laths to give them a more rustic look and feel.

Should you require a quote on a pergola or any other timber construction for your home, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below.

Galvanised Steel and Balau Pergola, Durban

Here’s a steel and timber pergola we installed shortly before shut down in 2015 in Gateway Umhlanga Rocks Durban. It was for a new building called 1 on Lunar neat Gateway Hospital.

Due to the size of the pergola and the distance the beams needed to span between supports, we needed to include steel as the largest solid timber piece one can purchase is a 50 x 228 which needs to be supported every 3m odd to stop it sagging in the middle. Thicker wider pieces are available in laminated pine or saligna. To span over 6m one would need to laminate to 114 x 400 at a cost of more than a steel I Beam.

The steel was fabricated as per a drawing supplied by the client. Because we were directly on the coast, we hot dip galvanised the steel and then installed it. It isn’t sufficient to electroplate and powder coat when one is this close to the coast. Once installed it was painted to match the charcoal grey colour of the rest of the steel on the building. Galvanised steel needs to be acid washed in order to remove the residue left after the galvanising process, dried thoroughly, then primed with a galvanising primer and then two coats of Velvaglo enamel. It will require periodic maintenance by re-coating it.

The timber was cut to size and slotted in and attached to pre drilled and pre fixed tags on the main I beams. By pre drilling the holes for fixing eliminates drilling once galvanising has been done and thereby breaking the galvanising.

The timber was left to grey naturally rather than sealing it with an oil. This won’t shorten the life span of the balau as balau contains natural resins and oils which protect it from both rot and insect infestation. Oiling it merely makes it look different. Some people prefer the oiled looked some prefer the natural grey / silver look. Leaving it to grey naturally also eliminates any maintenance issues going forward. If anything one would just pressure wash it from time to time.

For a free no obligation quote contact us on 031 – 762 1795, or you can use the contact us form below. We can assist with all your outdoor wooden requirements as well as solid wooden floors.

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.

Wooden Decking Companies in Durban

wooden decking companies durban

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There are many wooden decking companies in Durban that one can choose from when planning to install a wooden deck. Some are reputable companies and some are not, as in any industry.

Besides comparing price one should always compare services to make sure you are comparing like quotes. Some wooden decking companies in Durban for instance will offer to build you wooden deck as well as seal it and other will only quote to build it. Some will offer to fill the screw holes with epoxy to stop water getting in them which will cause rot and others won’t. It is these small things that one needs to ask about and make sure that the service being received from one wooden decking company in Durban is the same as the other that you are comparing to.

Our service at The Wood Joint, includes the following: –

Building the deck with quality yellow balau. We generally build our substructure out of H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine. This is not only due to a cost factor but also because the pine is correctly treated to H3 CCA level which has a life span of at least 50 years exposed to the elements. You can expect to pay about 40% more if you chose a balau substructure. H3 CCA Treated pine is guaranteed for 50 years if used in the correct application and installed correctly.  It will therefore outlast balau as a substructure because the balau is not, and cannot be, pressure treated. I have often seen balau joists rotting from the top where the water gets trapped between the joist and the deck board. We always use balau deck boards as balau behaves better than pine on horizontal surfaces. Balau is a lot more stable and the pine tends to cup and warp over time with the constant hot and cold, expansion and contraction and occasional wetting.

wooden decking companies durban

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Our balustrades and stairs are all made from balau, unless otherwise specified, because if one uses pine as a balustrade, the pickets and cross supports need to be almost twice as thick as balau so they tend to look a bit too chunky. Balustrades do not work well in pine because of the knots found in pine which weaken the timber.

We use a kalgard decking screw which is guaranteed for 25 years by the manufacturer against rust. The screws are counter sunk and the counter sunk hole is filled with epoxy and saw dust so as to match the colour as closely as possible. Filling the screw hole stops water sitting in that hole and travelling up the deck board along the grain. Exposure to water for too long will speed up the rot process. So we fill it, sand it flat, and seal the deck using an oil based sealer which contains no wax. This makes it easy and therefore inexpensive to maintain your deck going forward. I have done a few refurbishment jobs where the decking company has not filled these holes and on the older decks, the deck boards have started to rot there. These are all standard services we offer which are normally included in the price we quote. So when comparing our quotes to others, please check what value added services they are offering you.

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

Wooden Balau Deck Built in Malvern, Durban

Wooden balau deck built in Malvern, DurbanWe incorporated a pergola style roof covering into this wooden balau deck we built in Malvern, Durban.

We started with our deck in a normal joist and beam system, but installed our main beam of 50 x 228 on the front in line with the joists rather than slotting it in underneath. This was simply because we didn’t have much space below the deck to slot it in. On the front edge it was fine to use a 50 x 228 beam, but midway across the deck we couldn’t use a 50 x 228 and had to secure each joist to the ground with a small post. It wasn’t a problem though because we were placing it directly on top of the slasto substrate. So there were no holes to be dug and filled with concrete.

We then attached two 76 x 76 pine posts, which can also be replaced with balau 90 x 90, to give us some posts to work from for our pergola. Our pergola was built using a 50 x 228 beam on the front, but this could have also have been replaced with a 38 x 152 as there is no real weight on top of the pergola. You do get some wind loading from beneath in pergolas with fixed roof sheeting, but not much weight from the top. We only used two posts as our main beam on the front was long enough to span across the 5.2m of the front of the deck. Adding extra posts in between clutters up the front of the deck.

Wooden balau deck built in Malvern, DurbanWe added 50 x 76 purlins and covered that with clear polycarbonate roof sheeting. This allowed the light to still get in but it will be protected from rain. This roof sheeting is however not that attractive from beneath so we clad the underside with thatching laths with no gap between them. I’ve tried building one of these before with a laths gap between laths, but it doesn’t work as you can then see the roof sheeting clearly. Because the laths are not a regular uniform thickness all the way along, you still do get some gaps, even if placing them side by side, which allows light through but takes away the view from beneath of the roof sheeting.

We added a step on the front, as the top of the deck was more than 200mm off the ground on the front so this made for easy access to the garden from the deck.

In the pics alongside you can see the roof sheeting on before we placed our thatching laths on. We’ve also previously used a translucent bronze roof sheeting which works very well to cut the glare from the sun. The polycarbonate roof sheeting is far better than fibre glass roof sheeting, albeit more expensive, as it doesn’t contain strands as the fibre glass sheeting does.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck, pergola or any other outdoor wooden construction, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden balau deck built in Malvern, Durban

Wooden Pergola Built in La Lucia, Durban

Wooden Pergola Durban

Wooden pergola with thatching laths

This was an interesting wooden pergola we built in Durban. Most often pergolas are built using planed all round pieces (PAR) in the traditional pergola design which is vertical posts to support the structure and horizontal purlins of varying width and thickness to cover the top. Wooden pergolas don’t really offer any functional benefit as the rain still comes through and it offers limited sun protection depending on the density of the purlins above. This one however offered both protection from rain and sun yet still allowed light to come through.

We built a structure using H3 CCA Pine which is guaranteed for 50 years against rot and insect infestation. On top of this we placed polycarbonate roof sheeting which we got from Modek. We used their bronze translucent one so that it breaks the sun yet still allows light through and of course offers protection from rain. It is best to use custom-made lengths so as to avoid any joins which would need to be waterproofed. It is not sufficient to overlap them in the direction of the fall. Because the angle or pitch of the roof sheeting is relatively gradual, the wind can blow the water backwards, up hill and through the joins. So it must be waterproofed to avoid any leaks. It is therefore much better to use one full length, the same length as the structure itself.

Once our roof sheeting was on we installed thatching laths beneath with no gaps between them. These laths vary in diameter from 20mm to 35mm. So one needs to install them head to toe to limit the size of the gaps between them. This way they become quite dense so that one can’t see the structure or roof sheeting from beneath, but they still allow enough light through. In other jobs we have installed them with as little as half a laths diameter gap, but that still allows quite of lot of visible roof sheeting from beneath. It is therefore better to stack them tightly up against each other.

After these we clad the sides to cover or hide the pine we used with balau deck boards. The balau is a much better looking wood in terms of grain, colour and the straightness of each board. Balau is very stable and will tend to warp or cup less than pine over the years. So the appearance of the structure will remain flat and square a lot longer than pine.

Wooden Pergola Durban

Wooden pergola with thatching laths

The final product was a rustic looking pergola which offered protection from sun and rain yet still allowed natural light through. The client later installed a sound system and lights beneath. They had a pizza oven installed and a gas braai with a bar area which made for a very nice outdoors entertainment area which was protected from the elements.

For a free no obligation quote on pergolas or other decking needs as well as floors or laminates please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or you can use the form below to e-mail me.

Wooden Screens, Pergolas, Decks and Gates Durban

Driveway gate clad in balau

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Wooden gates Durban

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Wooden Screens Durban

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Wooden balustrades and pergolas Durban

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We were asked to quote on wooden screens, wooden pergolas, wooden decks and wooden gates on a new build in Prestondale, an area north of Umhlanga, at a development called Izinga Ridge. We originally quoted in about June 2013 and the work was awarded to us for s start date of about 1 November 2013. The job consisted of various screens between brick columns on the boundary wall, a pergola on an open balcony on the first floor, external and internal balustrades, garden gates, a driveway gate and a pool deck.

All the timber we used was balau hardwood with the exception of the substructure of the pool deck which was H3 and H4 CCA treated pine. In other articles you can read about how we have managed to keep our prices down by using this as a substructure whilst still being able to offer up to a 50 year guarantee on this treated timber.

Most of the screens were pretty straight forward with balau cleats on the wall and then clad using a non reeded 19 x 68 deck board. We used non reeded so that both sides would look the same, but we did battle to find non reeded boards as most of the deck boards available are already reeded, or grooved on one side. There were two screens that proved a little more difficult as the wall we were attaching them to was angled. So the boards had to be cut at that angle and secured to each other whilst still remaining level and the join remaining plumb.

The external balustrades were different to our normal vertical picket style balustrades as the client requested horizontal slats instead. Again we used non reeded deck boards for this with a normal post system. On each post we attached vertical cleats to accept the horizontal deck boards or slats. They were installed in line, or on top of the concrete slab, rather than being attached to the front of the concrete slab. The tiles had already gone down so we had to drill through the tiles without cracking them. We installed an “ankle” on the middle post to provide support which is attached to the vertical post and is then shaped to fit around the slab to attach again to the vertical of the concrete slab. This, in effect, allows the post to be attached to the outside but still allows the balustrade to sit on top of the slab. It is much neater but does require a bit more thought and re-enforcing.

Wooden decks durban

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The pool deck was relatively simple as it was a low-level deck around the pool with a simple frame system using 38 x 114 joists and beams. Extra posts had to be concreted in as it wasn’t high enough to slot an under beam, or main beam, of 50 x 228 in.

The driveway gate was fun. We had the steel made up in a design that would work well by cladding it with wood. We had to source long enough non reeded boards to run the full width of 4m. One cannot join boards in this type of gate unless there is a centre steel vertical support which would spoil the look of the gate a bit. We had run out of standard non reeded boards and so had all suppliers so we sourced a 20 x 140 board and ripped it in half, length ways, to arrive at two boards of 20 x 68.

Wooden balustrades Durban

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The pictures alongside show some work in progress and some completed work. It was an interesting but challenging job as there were many contractors on site all trying to work, and finish, before the handover of the house. The worst part of the job was fighting traffic from north Umhlanga to the freeway in both the morning and afternoon.

For a free, no obligation, quote on wooden decks, pergolas, garden gates, balustrades and all other outdoor timber work, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or complete the form below.