Balau Cladding on Ceiling – Umhlanga, Durban

Here’s some balau cladding work we did on the ceiling in the reception of a new office building in Umhlanga Rocks.

We used 19 x 30mm strips of balau which we ripped from a standard 19 x 68mm balau deck board. We started off with a treated pine frame or structure on to which we attached these balau strips. Being a ceiling it was important to ensure that our structure didn’t fail under the weight of the balau. Balau, being a very heavy and dense wood, can get quite heavy when suspended from a ceiling. Secure fixing points, and enough of them, are necessary to ensure it doesn’t fail.

It was very important to do this as neatly as possible as it is the reception area and as such is visible to all visitors as they enter the door. Care needs to be taken to ensure that gaps between boards are uniform and that the boards are parallel to each other. Also it is important to get the total structure to line up parallel with walls and corner of walls and slab above. It becomes unsightly when these don’t. At times the corners of walls may not be perfectly square and adjustments then need to be made so that the ends of the timber structure are at least parallel to the adjacent wall even if it means the structure itself isn’t square. Small adjustment can be made to the gaps between boards to compensate for this. 1mm on each end of a gap won’t be visible to the naked eye but will result in a 20mm “gain”, after 20 boards, on one side.

The ends of this suspended balau ceiling or bulk head needed to tie up with the boards to give it an appearance of being one solid, much wider piece of timber. It is often not possible to use a full-sized timber as it becomes too heavy on the structure, and the pocket. In these instances “build ups” are used to make it look like one solid wider piece of timber. The same principle is common in table tops where the top is only 22mm thick but is built up on the edges to give it the appearance of being 40mm thick. Care must be taken to do it neatly and it must be planned properly so that each piece fits into each other. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end only to find you are 20mm out and should have set your first piece 20mm closer in.

Screw holes were filled with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust and sanded flat.

This balau ceiling was left un-oiled to give it as much of a natural appearance as possible. It can be finished with an oil and the only product to use here is either Timberlife Satin Wood 28 Base or Woodoc Deck Dressing. This oil soaks into the timber. Most other products will dry on the surface and will eventually peel and flake.

For a quote on all of your balau timber works, decks, balustrades, walkways and stairs please use the contact form us below or contact us on 082 496 5444.

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 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Balau Screening in Cotswold Downs – June 2013

Balau or timber screening

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We were called upon to quote on some balau screening in the Hillcrest, Durban area at a new development called Cotswold Downs.

There were various aircons, heat pumps and gas bottles that needed to be clad or screened so as to conceal them.

We used balau 30 x 40 struts or cleats attached to the walls. In some instances we used hiltis as there was not much load on the cleat.   In other instances we used 10mm x 100mm sleeve anchors.  We built a frame using the 30 x 40 balau and then clad it using a standard deck board of 19 x 68 with a 19mm space between. The 19mm space is standard in screening or cladding as it provides enough coverage without being too tight in its appearance. A gap of 5mm, which is standard in building a deck, would be far too close and would give it an odd appearance.

Most of the structures we built here were simple enough with either two or three sides and a removable lid so that access could be gained to change gas bottles or service aircons. Some of them had to have fronts

Balau or timber screening

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that were removable as well as tops so that access could be gained from above or from the front. Some were removable lids and fronts and some were hinged. One needs to be careful which hinges you chose as they need to be strong enough and weather resistant. Solid brass hinges are expensive and with the weight of the balau can be problematic. Solid stainless hinges with bearings are best if the weight of the door is quite large. On the smaller door we used aluminium hinges as the door wasn’t too heavy and the aluminium will stand up the weather.

There were two doors we made which measured 2.5m high and 750mm wide each. That size door in balau is quite heavy and we used three galvanised strap hinges on either side. The only problem with strap hinges is that they need to be placed on the side of the door that opens, so they were visible on the outside. Some may say it adds character to the door, but sometimes you don’t want to see them. Being galvanised steel they are difficult to paint but can be painted with a Hammerite product specially designed for galvanised steel.  The only other alternative to these were to use the galvanised strap hinges that have a bent arm and slot into another piece attached to the frame. However these would have resulted in a large gap between the frame and the door or gate. Normal butt hinges wouldn’t have been strong enough to hold the door due to the sheer weight of them in balau.

Balau or timber screening

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When building this type of structure it is often easier to try to build the whole thing in situ. So a frame goes up first, then you set the braces at the back to the correct length and then start adding deckboards, leaving one side long which can be cut afterwards.  If it is quite large then the door needs to be built on the ground, leaving the ends long and hung, then cut in situ.

They are unlike a normal door in that they can’t be successfully planned to fit the frame because the end grain is on the side.

We finished them off by filling holes with epoxy, sanding flat and sealing with Timberlife Satin Wood Base 28 in a mahogany tint.

For a free no obligation quote or advice on your decking or screening requirements please complete the form below and I will contact you, or you can call us on 082 496 5444.