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 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 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden balau deck built in Malvern, Durban

Wooden Pergola La Lucia – Durban

Wooden Pergola Durban

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Wooden Pergola, Durban

This pergola was built for a client of mine in La Lucia, Durban. They were on of my first clients and have since continued to come back to me for other work ranging from sundecks to doors, bars etc. Their pergola is still in good condition and we have since been back to install corrugated roof sheeting on top to block the rain out but still allow light through. We used a translucent bronze roof sheeting from Safintra.

The pergola was drawn by a draftsman and we quoted based on that. With all due respect to engineers, draftsmen and architects, they do tend to over spec when it comes to using balau. Perhaps it is building regulations that force them to spec it the way they do. Balau is twice as dense as SA Pine, twice as heavy and far stronger. I have seen a deck 3.5m in the air being held up with 60 x 60 posts which had been joined with a half check in the middle. Although I wouldn’t build like that, it bears testimony to the strength of balau and its stability. That deck was at least 15 years old and the posts were still straight and had not bowed under the weight of the deck.

Wooden Pergola Durban

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Nevertheless we built according to the spec and used two 40 x 140 pieces of balau as the posts with a spacer in between. So we had a split post which measured a total of 120 x 140 with a gap in between. These were secured to pre fabricated galvanised steel feet that kept the wood of the ground and were secured to the concrete patio using sleeve anchors.

From there we built a structure up to the desired height and built it around an existing braai chimney. It was secured to the chimney on both sides to give the effect of the joists or rafters moving through the brick work of the chimney. There was an angled front to it and we fixed a fascia beam to that front edge.

The top was clad with thatching laths to give it a rustic look and feel. It kept the sun out and provided the shade they wanted, but the rain obviously still came through.  Bolts were used to secure the posts together through the spacers.

2 years later they asked me to come back and place bronze translucent roof sheeting on the top and clad the sides using the same thatching laths. Now it keeps the sun out and the rain but still retains its rustic look and feel.

Wooden Pergola Durban

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The roof was completed easily enough by attaching some rafters and purlins at the correct spacing and then attaching the roof sheets using self-drilling Tek roofing screws. The front end of the roof sheeting had to be cut as the front edge of the pergola was angled. Cutting plastic roof sheeting can be tricky as it tends to burn and melt with the heat generated from the angle grinder disk. It was therefore better to use a non-abrasive disk like the steel disks normally used to cut concrete or stone. The fiber disk was too abrasive and melted the sheeting wherever it touched it.

Please feel free to give us a call for quotes on wooden pergolas, sun decks and other timber related construction by completing this simple form.  Or you can get us on 082 496 5444.