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 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Balau Decking Companies in Durban

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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 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden balau Deck Built in Umkomaas – KZN South Coast

This wooden deck built in Umkomaas on the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal turned into a very nice job with many extras and a happy client who paid timeously. What a pleasure.

We removed and dumped an existing pine deck that had started to show signs of failure in the deck boards themselves. The structure was still ok as it had been built using H3 CCA Treated pine which is suitable for outdoors for a minimum of 50 years as per www.sawpa.co.za. It was the deck boards that had started to rot at the screw hole due to water sitting in the screw hole for long periods of time. It is very important to firstly close that screw hole at the time of building the deck and then to maintain them going forward to stop any water getting into the screw hole. Water will travel very quickly along the end grain of wood and this screw hole provides an ideal point of entry for water. They are simply filled with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust to match the colour and then sanded flat before sealing or oiling the deck.

Once we had a clear slate we built a new deck using balau deck boards. We changed the design a few times as we built to accommodate the clients requirements. We tried to create a deck that would flow nicely from one level to the other. The top deck was built flush with the house and then we built steps at a 45 degree angle to gain access to the lower deck around the pool which extended along the front of the lower level sliding doors.

We included a curved front on the upper deck to break the straight lines and then clad that fascia as it was very visible when driving up the driveway. We normally include two deck boards as a fascia to the front edge of a deck to hide the structure below and finish it off neatly. In this instance we added four deck boards on the curve because the driveway is a lot lower then the deck and when driving up the driveway the underside of the deck was the first thing you see when entering the property. The client may still need to add planters with some plants in to completely cover that structure but the 4 deck boards give it a nice broad fascia which hides a lot of the structure.

The stairs were challenging. Originally they were to be curved risers and treads which would have meant either cutting deck boards at an angle and laying them straight or trying to bend the deck boards. The risers would have been easy enough by bending a deck board around the arc, but the treads would have been a bit more difficult because it would have meant bending the board through its width (not thickness). The centre of the circle, was off set to the corner of the deck or the top of the stairs and the centre of the circle occurred in the pool. So all in all not an easy task. Because the arc itself was quite gentle you would not have really noticed that it was curved so we opted for a straight edge to our risers and treads. Much easier and less problems going forward with deck boards trying to return to their original straight position. Often less is more.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck, pergola, stairs and other timber works please call 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.

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 082 496 5444 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

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Contact us if you’re planning on doing any wooden balustrade work on 082 496 5444 or use the form provided below.

Wooden Fencing in Durban

Wooden fencing can come in many different designs and they are limited only by ones imagination.  All our timber is sourced from companies who adhere to renewable forestry practices.  There are a few designs or types of wooden fencing that we install mentioned below.  However we can custom design wooden fences for you using best building practices and aesthetically pleasing ideas.

POST AND RAIL FENCING

Post and Rail Fencing Durban

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Post and Rail Fencing is quite common and often found in areas where horses are kept. It has become more popular in recent times in suburban areas where some sort of fence needs to be in place without obscuring the view. They don’t provide much boundary protection as they are not that high, and therefore are more popular where the fence doesn’t need to protect the boundary.
They can be covered with weldmesh to provide more of a barrier. On their own they have large openings that people and small animals can climb through but they prevent larger animals from moving through such as horses. They are often installed in gardens of secure estates where the main purpose is not to keep people out. They come in various heights from 900mm to 1.8m.

The posts and rails are normally all H4 CCA Treated so are able to live in the ground in constant contact with wet soil without rotting for up to 30 years. The best timber to use here is pine sourced from the Cape as they have fewer tendencies to split. Because the post or rail is machined from a single log, they are naturally more prone to splitting, but if sourced from the Cape, then the splitting is limited.

Picket Fencing Durban

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PICKET FENCING

Picket fencing is a natural alternative to other materials that can be used to provide a barrier at boundaries of properties to keep both humans and small animals in or out. They can be installed as a solid fence (i.e. no gaps between pickets) or they can be installed with a slat’s width between pickets.

The pickets are normally 22mm x 72mm and are installed using gum poles set every 2m or so with rails on top and bottom to which the pickets are attached. The tops can be square or they can be shaped into sharp pickets. Again these wooden fences can vary in height limited only by the length of slats available.

The gum poles are normally H4 CCA treated gum and the slats and rails are normally H3 CCA treated pine. Hence they can last for 30 to 50 years without rotting.

DROPPER FENCING

This type of wooden fencing is similar to picket fencing in that it is installed using gum poles of H4 CCA Treated Gum, rails and pickets, or droppers. The main difference being of course that this fence is made entirely from round poles and not machined timber. All of it is gum so they are a bit stronger and the chance of a dropper splitting is less than the chance of a slat breaking.

Again the tops of each dropper can be left square or they can be machined to spikes, thus providing some security for would be intruders and also varying the visual appeal of them.

WELD MESH

Weldmesh fencing Durban

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A weldmesh fence is one of the cheapest form of fencing. It is installed using gum poles and stays on either end with intermediate posts every 2m or so. The height can vary depending on your requirements. Straining wire is then pulled taut between the main posts and weldmesh is bound on to that. Various heights are available and various grades of weld mesh are available. The actual wire that the weld mesh is made from varies in gauge and the rectangles that this wire forms can vary in length and width. All poles used are H4 CCA treated gum poles.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden fencing requirements please give us a call on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Indoor Wooden Balau Pool Deck Built in Estcourt

Here’s an indoor wooden balau pool deck we built in Estcourt KZN recently.  The client had been doing some renovations on his house and had enclosed the pool with brick walls and windows resulting in an indoor pool.  He wanted a wooden deck around it to finish it off nicely.

Careful consideration was needed to ensure that any water from the pool could quickly drain away so as not to remain wet beneath the deck boards for too long.  Of course with an outdoor deck any rain water or pool water evaporates quite quickly and isn’t of that much concern.  Being indoors however this water can get trapped below the deck for some time resulting in premature failure of the timber.  Although the timber is H3 CCA treated, and as such can live outdoors with periodic wetting, it cannot remain wet constantly.  H4 CCA Treated timber is more suitable for damp conditions such as constant contact with wet soil.  But a fair amount of water on an ongoing basis is not a good idea.

In this instance the builder had done a great job in creating a small fall on all four sides of the pool so that any water dripping or splashing on the deck would fall back into the pool rather than sit below the deck.

The job was relatively easy as there was very little difference in distance between the walls and the sides of the pool.  If the wall is not parallel to the pool then it will result in a wedged shaped deck board either up against the wall or the pool.  To counter this one must “fan” the deck boards by making the gaps on one side 1mm smaller than the gaps on the other side effectively gaining 1mm per deck board.  After 20 deck boards you will gain 20mm to make up any difference.

In fibre glass pools one might also find that the edges of the pool are not straight.  Run a fish line along it to see if it bulges in or out and find the straightest side to start your decking.  If it does bulge then you will need to overlap your deck board on the pool side slightly to cover that and keep the deck boards straight.

A simple single deck board as a fascia board on the inside of the pool finished it off nicely.  It was oiled with a deck oil and this deck will require very little maintenance or re-oiling as it is indoors and won’t get any sun.

Call us on 082 496 5444 for a free quote on your decking requirements.  We also supply and install balustrades, pergolas, walkways, bridges, jacuzzi cladding and pool pump covers.

Wooden Deck and Stairs Built in Umhlanga, Durban

This wooden deck we built for a client in Umhlanga, Durban was a suspended wooden deck about 2.8m off the ground. The idea was to make use of the flat concrete roof as a deck because the views from up there are of Durban Anchorage where ships anchor before proceeding to Durban port.  The views also extend all the way down the Golden Mile of Durban.

We didn’t want too many posts going to ground as the area beneath the wooden deck is still used as an outside patio. So we built our substructure using H4 CCA Treated pine in a 50 x 228 size rather than the normal 38 x 114. This way we could span our wooden joists of the deck across a longer distance without the need to support them below with another beam, and therefore posts. We attached the one end of the row of joists with a T joint to another 50 x 228 beams which carried the one side. The other side of each joist was hung in a custom-made galvanised steel joist hanger. The result was that our entire substructure was in one plane rather than having the joists sitting on top of a beam. It allowed us to keep the ceiling height of the deck higher, without having to increase the height of the top of the deck surface. These pine wooden joists were later sanded and sealed to make them look closer to the balau we installed on top of the pine.

The wire rope balustrade was fairly straight forward and we extended it past the deck on to the concrete slab flat roof.

The challenges in this wooden deck came in building the stairs. We had a fixed height to work with and a limited lateral distance in which we had fit all of our treads and risers whilst still keeping our risers and treads compliant. To add to this we had a window we had to pass to get down quick enough in our stair case in order to miss the window, plaster band and plumbing on the side of the house. The only way possible was to split the staircase into three flights with two landings where the flights turned at 90 degrees. We also had to split each landing into three windings in order to gain an extra two risers per landing in order to finish the stairs where they needed to finish. We adjusted the tread depth to shorten our treads and therefore total lateral distance to basically “sqwish” then all in. Normally we use 3 pieces of 30 x 102 balau for treads with two 5mm gaps between boards resulting a tread width of 316mm. We ripped the middle 30 x 102 to 50mm to reduce this lateral distance whilst still remaining compliant at 264mm but gaining some lateral distance in order to squeeze them all in. We finished it off with balau deck board cladding in order to cover all the pine structure. The job took time but it was well worth the wait. Stairs that look nice, work nicely and remain compliant.

It was all finished with an oil based sealer which penetrates the wood rather than drying on the surface.

Contact us for quotes on your wooden decking, stairs, balustrade and other outdoor timber construction. You can call us on 082 496 5444 or you can use the contact us form below.

Timber Suppliers in Durban

As a spin-off of our deck building activities in Durban we started buying and selling decking timber. We found that due to the volume of timber we purchase we can secure it at a better rate and therefore provide it to the end-user, or contractor, at competitive rates.

We carry the most common decking timber sizes and species of timber. A brief outline of our stock follows.

H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine which is normally used for substructures. The most common sizes here are 38 x 114 used as joists and 50 x 228 used as beams. We stock them in various lengths to suit your needs. We also stock a 76 x 76 H4 CCA Treated pine square post. Other sizes are available with short lead times.

H3 treated timber is suitable for use outdoors where it is exposed to the elements and is subjected to occasional wetting (i.e. it gets wet, but has time to dry). Timber that is in constant contact with wet soil needs to be H4 CCA Treated. Timber living in fresh water is H5 treated and salt water requires H6 treatment.

We carry both 19 x 68mm and 19 x 90mm reeded (grooved) yellow balau deck boards. Again we stock various lengths to suit your needs from 2.4m to 4.2m lengths. They are all sourced from either Indonesia or Malaysia and are either MTCC (Malaysian Timber Certification Council) certified or PEFC Certified. (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

We also stock a range of structural balau ranging from 30 x 40 to larger 30 x 102mm and 30 x 215mm pieces. Although we don’t carry larger pieces, they can be sourced relatively quickly.

Other decking products such as Massaranduba and Garappa are also available with relatively short lead times.

Decking screws, sealing agents and other timber decking supplies are also available to provide a one stop shop for all your decking requirements.

We will also assist in the design of your deck, if required, and we can assist in calculating quantities in order to limit waste.

For a quote on all your decking timber requirements please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.