Wooden Balau Deck built in Cotswold Downs, Hillcrest

This wooden balau deck built in Cotswold Downs in July 2019 was built primarily to cover the JoJo tanks which were being housed below. There were various challenges in getting the beam across the span around the pipes that led into the tanks but with a few tricks we managed to hang a beam from above rather than secure it from below.

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The balustrade was built using balau and marine grade stainless steel wire rope which always works best when you don’t want the view to be obscured when in a sitting position.

There are a few strict rules at Cotswold Downs in Hillcrest with regard to the maximum height of the deck so we had to stagger it and create a split level deck. This resulted in some benches with removable lids for storage and a small flight of stairs to access the lower section.

For a free no obligation quote please contact me Garrick Dunstan on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden balau deck built in Hillcrest

This wooden balau deck was built in Hillcrest. It was built on top of existing slasto. When building on top of a previously laid substrate one can build directly on top of it rather than removing the paving or slasto. It helps with water flow below the deck keeping it drier and thus preventing premature rotting due to excess moisture for prolonged periods of time below the deck.

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When building on a substrate like this that has a fall, the width of the joists need to be wedge shaped to accommodate the fall. The pieces of treated timber therefore need to be cut and treated again with an end sealer. We use Kugard which protects any cut ends of timber.

Other than that the deck was a straight forward build. There are various other articles on this site that explain the process we use and the measures we take to make sure the deck lasts longer. Please feel free to browse the site.

For a quote on your timber deck please call me, Garrick Dunstan, on 082 496 544 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Deck Built in Padfield Park, Pinetown

Wooden Deck Built in Padfield Park, Pinetown

 

Wooden Deck Pinetown

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This wooden deck was built in Doone Village Retirement Village in Padfield Park, Pinetown.

We used an H3 and H4 CCA Treated substructure with 19 x 68mm balau deck boards. The balustrade was balau pots and capping with marine grade wire rope. It is always better to use wire rope when you don’t want the view to be impeded when sitting on the deck as it is less obtrusive than balau. It isn’t however as safe, as small kids can pull the wire rope open to an opening greater than 100mm. So it should be avoided on decks that are fairly high. The wire rope we use is a 4mm marine grade wire rope with swages. The 4mm is the only one that won’t tarnish.

We used bidim below as the section near the house is low level and one can’t get below to weed or cut any grass that grows below the deck.

We left this one without any decking oil so that it can grey naturally which reduces maintenance cost going forward.

For a no obligation quote please use the contact us form below or call me Garrick Dunstan, on 082 496 5444

Wooden Deck Gillitts – July 2019

The pics here are of a wooden deck we have just completed in Gillitts. The client wanted an old deck removed, dumped and a new one built with slight changes. It was built in the normal way using an H3 CCA treated substructure and balau deck boards of 19 x 68mm which is the most affordable way to build a wooden deck that will last. The H3 CCA treated pine has a minimum life span of 50 years outdoors in the rain and the balau, being balau, will give one many years of use. The balustrades are all full balau in a vertical picket style and the stairs are open risers in balau. These were slightly wider than normal so as to tie into the posts of the balustrade on the deck.

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Screw holes were filled with epoxy to stop water ingress and sanded flat and the deck was oiled.

There are many other articles on this site that will give you the pros and cons of the different materials that we use. Please feel free to browse.

For a free no obligation quote please use the contact form below or you can call me Garrick Dunstan on 082 496 5444.

Deck refurbishment in Kloof

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This was an old deck in Kloof that we refurbished recently. It had balau deck boards on top of a balau structure. Of the 11 joists that made up the structure only 2 were still in a fair condition. The rest had rotted and we needed to replace them. Please see this article on the pros and cons of using balau as a structure. https://blog.thewoodjoint.co.za/2015/06/21/balau-vs-cca-treated-substructure-in-your-wooden-deck-durban-and-cape-town/

The deck was fairly old (20 years plus). 20 years ago most deck builders used balau as a structure. Over time they have come to realise that a chemically treated pine structure will out last a balau structure because it is chemically treated and therefore it’s behaviour is known. The process of pressure treating is safe and arguably does no more damage to the environment than cutting the purpose grown tree down in the first place.

We ended up lifting all these deck boards, numbering them and replacing them in their same position so that we could use the same screw holes. Rather than sliding new joists in below the deck boards.

The deck boards themselves where quite mottled with black algae but the wood itself was still ok so we pressure cleaned the deck and then oiled it with a penetrating oil. In some pics you can see the difference between coats of oil.  The balustrade is all new as the old balustrade had rotted away beyond repair and had been removed by the client.

For a free no obligation quote on your new deck build or deck refurbishment please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Deck Hillcrest February 2019

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This client in Hillcrest had this irregular shaped “dead space” that she wanted to deck. Because it doesn’t get much sun, it is always wet and muddy. So we decked it in balau deck boards. The contrast between white paving and wooden decking works very well and the actual shape of the deck makes it what it is. In designing an outside area, one should try to use different materials that compliment each other. Too much wood or too much grass doesn’t work. But a bit of wood, grass and paving works very well and compliments each other.

The challenges were in getting the top of the deck flush with the top of the paving because the corners of the paving are rounded over so unfortunately we had to leave a small space between the board and the top of paving. Although the board is butted up tight against the paving because of the round over a small gap is created. It didn’t however look bad at all and works well. It wasn’t practical to chamfer the end of the deck board as it would have resulted in a very thin sliver that would cause problems down the line.

We decided on leaving the far end straight rather than trying to follow the curve of the rock wall. The gap was then taken up with loose stones flush with the top of the deck.

Another happy client adding to the 99.5% happy rate of our clients.

For a free no obligation quote on your decking, and other timber requirements please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below. We work throughout KZN and have four crews of skilled deck builders with multiple vans to get the done quickly, accurately and to your satisfaction.

Wooden Deck in Scottburgh, South Coast KZN

This was a wooden deck built in balau for a client who had opened a Bed and Breakfast on the coast. As you can see form the pics the wooden deck was built in the front of the property overlooking the sea. There were of course strict time lines in which we had to complete this wooden deck as they had already made confirmed bookings. With these job which are a fair distance from home we normally rent accommodation and pay the builders a live out allowance for food etc. It inevitably pushes the cost of the build up slightly which is unavoidable.

There are some before and after pics in this article. We had to excavate the soil below. It is always best to leave a fair amount of space below the bottom of the structure and the bottom of the deck boards to allow sufficient airflow for water evaporation. If the deck structure is touching the ground then one would need to use H4 CCA Treated timber which has a minimum life span of 20 years in constant contact with wet soil as per SAWPA (South African Wood Preservers Association). H3 CCA Treated pine as a structure which is NOT in constant contact with wet soil has a minimum life span of 50 years if correctly installed. So it makes sense to keep the structure to H3 for cost purposes, and expected minimum life span, but keep it well clear of any soil. By allowing air to flow freely between the structure and the ground keeps everything relatively dry below and the deck structure will last a lot longer. Continual dampness below speeds up rot and premature failure. In this instance we excavated to at least 300mm below the structure.

There was a pool that had been installed prior to our build by Clear Blue Pools – Gary Botha (071 679 1013) and we worked closely with the pool builder so that the concrete ring beam of the pool was set down 60mm from the desired deck height (top of deck). This allows us a 40mm batten on top of the concrete ring beam and a 19mm deck board. 40mm is the minimum we like to allow for this purpose, again to allow for sufficient air flow to keep things dry between the deck surface and the ring beam. These cleats or battens are fixed directly to the concrete ring beam and the rest of the joists which are suspended above soil become a 38 x 114 to give it lateral strength.

The rest of the deck was pretty much the same then as the other decks we’ve built using 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards, counter sunk screw holes filled with clear epoxy and saw dust mixture, sanded flat and oiled using a decking oil.

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

Balau Wooden Deck, Kloof Durban

 

Here’s a straight forward wooden balau deck we built in Kloof, Durban in October 2018. There were a few angles that had to be cut precisely to finish it neatly but other than that the deck was straight forward to build.

We used an H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine substructure. Because the pine is S5 (Industrial SABS approved grade) it is strong enough to be used as a structure for various building purposes. It is also relatively inexpensive in comparison to other hardwoods that could be used as decking structure. Being S5 it contains a certain amount of knots per square metre and is therefore SABS approved as structural timber. Timber with more knots per square metre is normally used as knotty pine ceiling boards where there is very little structural pressures on the timber. Timber with less knots per square metre is referred to as semi clears or S7 grade. S7 becomes quite expensive and is used as deck boards at times to eliminate knots failing on the deck surface. However because one would need to use twice as much wood (38mm thick) when using pine deck boards, the cost is the same as using a 19mm x 68mm balau deck board at half the quantity of wood. As such we use 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards as the surface for most of our wooden decks in Durban. The balau is far more stable being twice as dense and hard with a regular straight grain and as such these balau deck boards don’t twist, cup or bow as easily as pine. With the pine being H3 CCA treated it has a life span of at least 50 years outdoors in the rain and weather.

We added a small flight of open riser steps to this deck to gain access to the garden. These are done in full solid balau using 30mm stock. Normally the stringers are 30 x 215 and the treads are made of multiple pieces of 30 x 102 with cleats fixed to the stringers and the treads are fixed to the cleats. They don’t work that well in pine as the pine becomes very visible throughout and one ends up cladding it anyway which brings the cost back to the same as solid balau. The alternative to open risers steps is to do closed risers where box type steps are made of pine structure and then clad resulting in the riser being closed.

The screw holes of all our decks are counter sunk with a Kalgard decking screw and filled with a clear epoxy and saw dust mixture to match the colour of the wood and then ground flat and sanded smooth prior to oiling the deck. You’ll find other articles on this site where we discuss the pros and cons of using oil vs other finishes available on the market and leaving the deck to naturally grey and weather. If you use the search bar at the bottom right and search for maintenance you’ll find a complete article on deck maintenance.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck in Durban and surrounding areas, please use the contact us form below or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

Balau pool deck and walkway – Kloof, Durban

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We engaged with Masslandscapes, a landscaper and garden designer (082 468 3759) on this balau pool deck project in Kloof, Durban to provide a solution for the client who wanted an area alongside their pool that they could utilise more. Before the project started there was the standard paved area of about 1m alongside the pool which was bordered by grass of about 1m and then a flower bed, before dropping down a small bank to the rest of the garden. The client wanted to increase the size of usable area alongside the pool.

Initial designs were to have a very similar layout as per the pics above with a semi-circle sort of node protruding over the bank to gain height and create a look out area overlooking the Kloof Gorge. This proved to be out of budget and would probably have resulted in doubling up sitting area as there was already a large tiled verandah extending out from the living area doors. The final design was settled on which is what you see in the pics.

We needed to excavate some of the garden down and move this top soil for use in another area of the garden. It is always recommended that sufficient space be left below the deck and below the bottom of the lower most bearer or joist to allow enough air flow to dissipate and evaporate any water that settles below the deck. Too often I have seen deck boards rotting prematurely due to insufficient space being left below. Water gets trapped below and the underside of the deck and structure remains damp. I normally recommend at least 150mm below the lowest point of the structure. Once we had enough space below we installed our structure using H3 CCA treated pine. Please see here for an article on the use of CCA Treated pine as structures for decks and balau as deck boards. All cut ends of treated pine, as a matter of course, are re treated with an approved end sealer. When a CCA treated piece of pine is cut it exposes a section that is not treated and can accelerate rot.

Post to ground are set in concrete and installed at the correct distance on the bearers to stop any bounce in the bearer and to provide enough support to prevent the bearer breaking. There are guidelines supplied by engineers for distances that these supports need to be installed. These posts need to be H4 CCA treated pine as they are in constant contact with wet soil.

A lot of this job involved lining up existing paving, pool copings, patio etc. to the deck so the lines were seamless and everything ties in neatly. A walkway, as can be seen from the pics, was created to run alongside the existing raised patio for access to the rest of the garden.

In finishing our decks we fill the screw holes with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust to match the colour as closely as possible and then grind and sand it flat. Standard wood filler doesn’t quite do the trick and fails with exposure to weather. The filling of screw holes is a very important aspect of deck building. It prevents water sitting in the counter sunk screw hole which would then travel up the end grain of the balau and cause early rotting of the balau deck boards. We use a clear epoxy so that we can match the colour to the deck boards. Off the shelf epoxies are either grey or white in colour and don’t take the saw dust that well to match the colour. Also these epoxies dry very hard. It is better to use an epoxy that is semi pliable when dry. Through seasons of dry and wet, hot and cold, the inside diameter of the counter sunk screw hole will vary ever so slightly. If the epoxy has dried too hard it will cause it to pop out leaving a weak spot on the balau deck board. During maintenance intervals these should be checked and replaced if they have in fact popped.

The deck was oiled using a zero wax content product. The beauty of oil is that it soaks into the wood and therefore cannot peel and flake. A peeling deck is an expensive deck to maintain because you would need to sand off the coating completely to avoid a patchy finish when re-applying the coating. Whereas an oil simply degrades due to exposure to UV over time. A pressure wash and re-oil is all you need to do at maintenance intervals which is relatively inexpensive and easy to do as opposed to sanding the deck again. The oil also allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through resulting in a more natural wood looking product. Coatings give them the effect of a painted deck especially over time when layer after layer has been applied.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber balau decking, walkways, pergolas and other outdoor timber products, please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below. We operate throughout KZN.

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.