Balau wooden screens installed in Umhlanga Durban

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We installed these balau wooden screens in Umhlanga in Durban in early 2018. The brief was to provide some privacy to the upstairs verandah. There was originally a glass balustrade on this verandah and being at the end of a cul-de-sac this property’s verandah was very visible to vehicles and people driving or walking to the end of this cul-de-sac.

We removed the glass balustrade to make way for the wooden balau privacy screens. A balau structure was first installed fixing 40 x 60 vertical posts to the top side of the lower slab and the underside of the top slab to provide a frame on to which we screwed our horizontal balau slats.

When installing screens it is quite common to use different sized slats as we did here. Balau deck boards normally come in two different sizes being 19 x 68mm and 19 x 90mm. 19mm is sufficient thickness for screens and then one can mix the width by using a 68mm board and then a 90mm board. One can also rip a 68mm in half leaving 30mm and use that as well to create a visually appealing screen with differing widths of boards.

Gaps between these boards should ideally be 19mm to allow for wind loading. Obviously the closer the boards the less wind can penetrate the screen thereby increasing the wind loading on the screen. A gap bigger than 19mm results in too large a gap and privacy is sacrificed.

Sufficient vertical supports should be provided for stability and integrity and they should be close enough together so that the boards don’t bow between supports. Balau can normally be spanned about 600mm to 1m between supports to sufficiently pull each board straight to reduce bowing. At times a “strap” can be installed behind the boards to pull them all straight.

It is often a lot cheaper, and just as effective, to use a correctly treated pine structure to fix these boards to. However with a 19mm gap and visibility of the structure as well as visibility from behind, we prefer to use a balau structure. In this instance we used a 40 x 60 balau solid piece from top to bottom which worked well.

These screens can be oiled or left to grey naturally. Either way the life span of the wood is not increased that much be oiling them as balau contains natural toxins which limit insect infestation and oils and resins which repel water and limit rot. If they are to be sealed then an oil is the right way to go. Any other coating that dries on the surface of the wood will eventually peel and flake which will be costly to remove and re-coat.

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

Balau Cladding or Screening

Balau cladding or screening

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Balau cladding or screeningZ

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Balau cladding or screening of brick walls is quite popular and attractive. It takes an otherwise boring brick, plaster or concrete look and transforms it into a beautiful wooden clad structure. It can of course be clad balau or any other timber, but balau being the most popular outdoor timber for cladding of brick walls. Pine is a lot cheaper buy nowhere near as durable and will warp, cup, twist and bow a lot quicker than balau. Balau is very stable and the deck boards will remain flat for a lot longer.
We use either the standard deck boards of 19 x 68mm or we can use a 19 x 90mm board. The 19 x 90mm board is however more expensive per square metre than the narrower boards.

What works quite well too when cladding brick walls with timber is to have differing widths of boards. So one might start with a 19 x 68 board, and then install a 19 x 90mm board and then a 19 x 30mm board.

When cladding brick walls with timber it is best to keep the gaps to about 5mm. Normally with screens we leave a 20mm gap, so that you can still see through the screen if you walk right up to it, but with cladding there is nothing really to see on the other side. So keep the gaps to 5mm to have a nice tight compact finish.

This was a job we did in Westville for a corporate client who was renovating their reception area. It was initially a brick portico sort of structure that had small blue mosaic tiles stuck to it. The blue mosaic tiles were painted black prior to us cladding so that they would not be visible between the gaps. We simply installed cleats of 19 x 68 deck boards in balau on to the tiles which had been painted black and then on top of that we installed the cladding. We had to be careful not to protrude the cladding more than about 45mm from the wall as it would have caused the main door to snag on the cladding.  On the corners we mitred the edges at 45° to give it a nice neat finish.

There was an access control system that we needed to work around. The company installing it came to site on the same day that we clad that area and we worked with them to cut out the necessary areas so that the various control panels could be installed neatly on our timber cladding.

The job was finished with closing the screw holes with epoxy, sanding smooth and sealing using Timberlife Satin Wood 28 Base, an oil based deep penetrating timber preservative that repels water. Because it is oil it can never peel or flake making future maintenance easy and inexpensive. You simply clean the timber and apply more oil.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber cladding requirements, wooden sun decks, pergolas and other outdoor wooden construction, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.