Wooden Deck Built with Guarantee in Durban

Wooden deck guarantee

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As mentioned in some of my other articles we started offering supplier guarantees on our H3 CCA Treated pine substructures. These guarantees can run for up to 50 years from the date of installation. They are guaranteed by the manufacturer of the chemicals used in the treatment process and are underwritten by one of the large insurance companies. Provided certain building techniques are adhered to and the company treating the timber has treated it correctly, the manufacturer of the chemicals is willing to guarantee the timber against various forms of rot and various types of insect infestation for up to 50 years.

One of the conditions is that the end-user, being you the client, needs to register the build with the manufacturer within 60 days of completion of the build. The registering of the build needs to be done in a certain format and details such as when the timber was purchased, where it was purchased from, ERF number etc. needs to be submitted to them together with proof, in the form of photographs, of the building methods we used whilst building the wooden deck.

We need to treat the cut ends of the timber with an approved end sealer, we need to ensure that we are using H3 for timber above ground and H4 for timber in ground or in constant contact with wet soil and we have to show that we have planted our posts according to the recommended method.

Wooden deck guarantee

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We at The Wood Joint offer to facilitate this process for you, for a small admin fee, so that you may activate the guarantee with them. We take pictures of what we are doing to prove that we have used end sealer and adhered to their criteria. Once the build is finished we compile the report that will be sent to them, by you, to register the build and activate you guarantee. We can also assist in submitting it on your behalf.

In the pictures alongside you can see the end sealer we are using which is a diluted version of the same chemical that is used in the treatment process. This applies to all cut ends and drilled holes. The greenish colour is due to the copper in the solution which prevents algae growing on the timber which can cause rot.

We also take pictures of us planting the posts or poles so that it is clear we have planted them correctly. When one plants a post, it should always be placed on top of soil and then concrete placed around the post. If you wish to place it on top of concrete than that concrete should be allowed to set completely before placing the post and setting it in concrete. This is to allow any water that does get into the post to escape through the bottom of the post. If a post is set on top of wet concrete it will slow the escape of water through the pole and this will speed up the rotting process from within the posts. I’m sure you’ve seen some gum poles that have rotted from the inside out. This is because they have probably been set on top of wet concrete.

Wooden deck guarantee

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We also take pictures of the red SABS / SANS stamps on the timber so that it can be proved that the correct Hazard Level was used for the correct application, H3 for above ground and H4 for in the ground.

Both SABS and the company manufacturing the chemicals regularly, and unannounced, check on them and run test to ensure that their timber is being treated correctly. Pine cannot be treated in the same chamber as saligna (poles) for instance as the absorption rates of each timber are different. The timber needs to be treated at a certain pressure and the solution needs to be of a certain strength to arrive at the different H levels. This is tested by coring a section of the timber out, after treatment, and measuring the amount of timber the chemical has penetrated. They also use a dye to determine if the solution was of the correct strength. So it is important that this CCA treated timber is purchased from a reputable supplier.

Over and above this info we need to report on where the timber was purchased, when it was purchased, who treated it and so on. With all this information on hand, you the client, can register your build with the manufacturer and be rest assured that you substructure is safe for 50 years.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden decking needs, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use Wooden deck guarantee

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Sealing a Wooden Sundeck by The Wood Joint – Durban

Sealing a wooden sundeck can be a time-consuming task. One needs to ensure that the sealer gets in between the gap on the deckboards so as to seal both edges of each deckboard. Balustrades can also be very time-consuming as there are many corners and tight gaps to get in to.

We use Timberlife Satin Wood Base 28 which is oil based and very viscous. It has zero wax content so that nothing dries on the surface of the timber making future maintenance easy and very cost-effective. You simply clean and re-apply. No more sanding.

One way is to paint it on using a brush. Another is to use a sponge to rub it on. And yet another is to spray it on. Each method of application has its pros and cons. I’ll list each one here: –

Brushing it on

  • Very time-consuming
  • The brush tends to flick the sealer because it so viscous so when brushing up towards the wall one needs to ensure it doesn’t flick on the wall
  • Fairly accurate as you can get the sealer where you want it

Sponging it on

  • Quite messy so wear gloves
  • No flicking but lots of dripping as the sponge gets squeezed. Use plastic beneath if you don’t want it to spoil the paving, but it is ok if it lands on the deck as you will sponge that too pretty soon
  • Fairly accurate and much quicker than brushing
  • You may need to touch up with a brush in the corners
  • Can’t get successfully into the gaps between deckboards
  • You can use a sponge roller for the surface

Spraying

  • Very messy so mask the walls or use a piece of cardboard to protect the wall. Have thinners or turps on hand to clean it off the wall quickly if it gets on the wall. If the wall is PVA, be very careful, but it cleans off quite easily from acrylic paints and windows
  • Watch the wind, it can cause havoc
  • Penetrates everywhere
  • Use a garden sprayer on the finest setting it has

So there are many ways to seal your wooden deck if using a viscous sealer such as Timber Life Satin Wood Base 28 or Woodoc Deck Dressing. Use a combination of them and you will have your deck sealed in no time. Be careful of spraying though. Use lots of plastic, watch the pool, watch the wind. But even with these few pitfalls, it is much, much faster than brushing. Watch the video above of us spraying a deck. For a free no obligation quote, call us on 082 496 5444 or use the form below.

Reducing rot in wooden sun decks

preventing rot in wooden decks

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This article will focus solely on reducing rot in wooden sun decks rather than a specific article on a job we have completed.
One of the first questions that are asked when planning to build a wooden deck is that of maintenance. Being wood, the deck will always be susceptible to rot and insect infestation, but with the proper care this can be reduced to the absolute minimum and can compare favourably, if not better, to using other materials such as composites, concrete and tiles. Let’s face it when it comes to aesthetics and warmth wood is best, but often people opt for other materials simply because there is a belief that they are easier to maintain and will cost less in the long run.

Rot is caused by a break down in the fibres of the wood. A breakdown in the fibres of the wood is caused by algae being allowed to grow on the timber which in turn is caused by water. Water therefore does not directly cause rot. A piece of wood can live in water all its life and not rot, but if it is not cared for properly then it will cause algae to grow and ultimately rot. CCA Treated timber of course eliminates this because it contains copper which prevents algae from growing. However it is only possible to CCA treat certain timbers such as pine and to a degree Saligna because of the differing densities of the woods. Pine is soft and balau is hard. CCA treatment is done through pressure treating (vacuum) and it is therefore impossible to CCA treat balau as it is too hard for the solution to penetrate the timber.

preventing rot in wooden decks

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So how does one reduce the chances of balau rotting? Well first of all balau is naturally resistant to rot because it is twice as dense and twice as hard as pine for instance so the water doesn’t penetrate it as easily. Also it contains natural oils and resins which repel water. So it will rot, but it will take longer than other timbers.

A piece of wood, any wood, takes in water largely through the end grain. Very little water is absorbed through the face or side grain. Think of it as a bunch of straws. When the straws get wet on the ends they can take up water, but they can’t take up water through the sides.

So the important areas of your deckboard is of course the ends, or end grain. Where a deck board is cut, there is not much that can be done to stop water ingression except to seal it with a suitable water-repellent sealer after or during installation. When a deckboard comes from the timber yard it is often closed off on the ends with wax. However that board needs to be cut in order to fit into the deck so one end will always be wax free. Also it is not advisable to leave that wax on. In the hot sun the wax starts to melt and leaves unsightly marks on the joins. So it is best to cut the wax off before installation. That leaves two ends exposed which now need to be sealed off as best as possible using sealer. Apply it liberally to the ends and make sure they are re-sealed during maintenance intervals.

The other area that is vulnerable is where the screw hole is drilled through the deckboard to attach to the joist. This leaves a hole where water can penetrate the end grain on two sides. What compounds this problem is that the screw is normally counter sunk which allows water to collect in the hole and be absorbed up and down the end grain. Some deck builders use a stop bit to insert the screw whereby the screw head stops at the surface of the deck. I don’t however use this method for two reasons. Firstly the screw is now not tight up against the bottom of the counter sunk hole so the board may work itself loose over the years. Secondly, there is still a small gap around the screw head for water to get into and move along the end grain. And trust me water will find that hole. You will often see deckboards that have started rotting at the screw holes. Now you know why.

Instead I counter sink the screw hole about 5mm, insert the screw and tighten it until it is tight right up against the bottom of the hole leaving the screw head counter sunk a few millimetres. I then take a clear epoxy, mixed with the sawdust of the same timber to match the colour, and force it into the hole leaving it slightly proud. Try and use a very fine saw dust. It makes mixing the epoxy much easier and it goes in the hole better. Once it is dry, I use a grinder with sanding pad to flat it and then I use a rotex sander to remove the scratch marks left by the grinder. Now it is ready to be sealed and good luck to any water that thinks it can get in there. The epoxy is the only filler that will last. Wood filler will pop out in a few months’ time. Use a clear epoxy as the saw dust will match the colour of the deck. White or grey epoxy will leave a white or grey mark on the surface.

It takes more effort and takes longer to do it this way, but my crew has it done to a T now. And the net effect is a better built deck that will last longer and will cost less to maintain. So there you have it, the warmth of wood without the hassle and without having to settle for alternative materials.

For a free, no obligation quote or for some advice please feel free to contact us on 082 496 5444 or complete the form below and I will contact you. Please also feel free to leave comments below.

Deck Maintenance and Deck Sealing

deck maintenance

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I was prompted to write an article on deck maintenance and deck sealing this week as we had a small quiet patch and as a “filler in” we sanded and sealed a picnic table, repaired a broken ball and claw foot and a leather couch and this reminded me to write this article.

Deck maintenance and deck sealing is always a question asked when quoting on new decks. Clients want to know that if they invest this kind of money in their property, will it be expensive to maintain in subsequent years. The simple answer is no, but if not correctly sealed in the beginning, then it can become an expensive and time-consuming task each time it needs to be maintained. The question is also sometimes asked when choosing between timber or composites.

There are many ways to seal a deck. “Finishing” is the correct term for it and this term also applies to all other timber products. Varnish, polyurethane, oil, sealer, paint etc. are all products used to “finish” a project. When it comes to decks there are certain products to stay well clear of. Because a deck lives outside in the hot African sun, any finish that dries on the surface of the timber will result in problems once it starts to degrade. All finishes will degrade and it is therefore very important to stay away from those that dry on the surface. It is common sense that anything that has dried on the surface will have the tendency to lift, either by cracking, flaking or peeling. When it comes time to maintain the deck, one will either have to sand it all off, or lightly sand it and re coat it with the same or similar product that was used in the beginning and live with a patchy finish. Therefore varnish is a big no-no. Polyurethane, although very durable and hard will also crack and flake and is better left for the purpose it was intended, indoor finishing on cupboard tops etc.

So that leaves us with those finishes that soak into the wood, nourishing them and when they degrade will not peel or flake because they have not dried on the surface. Simple hey? Not so. There are products which contain higher wax contents than others and although still classed a timber sealer, tend to soak in and leave a waxy film on the surface. This waxy film (or coating for want of a better word) will also tend to go blotchy once the sun does it work on it and will therefore also require some degree of sanding. Before we carry on, it is virtually impossible to sand the entire coating off. The electric sanders do not reach all corners, especially on a balustrade. The belt sander, rotex sander and any other sander will be too wide for the deckboard. Because there is a gap between boards, to allow water to drain away from the deck, the surface of the deck is not perfectly flat. So one will need to tilt the sander left and right as they sand down the length of the deckboard in order to remove the whole coating. Try it, it will cure you of varnish for outdoor products. The corners where the machines cannot reach will need to be sanded by hand and your labour bill will be more than erecting a new deck. I tried in my early days and learnt the hard way.

Oils can be used with some success. Raw linseed oil will take weeks to dry as it is raw and completely natural and therefore needs to soak in completely before you can walk on it. Also when the sun bakes down on the deck it will start to get soft and can become very hot to walk on. Boiled Linseed Oil will dry quicker as it contains additives that help the drying process but will still take a few days to dry. In the meantime the dog will run on the deck and leave muddy footprints that will dry into the surface. Again a lesson I learnt when experimenting with my own deck. Boiled Linseed Oil is not really boiled, it just means it has additives to help it dry faster than raw Linseed Oil. So for all intents and purposes it is a sealer. Danish oil will work well. I have not finished a deck in Danish Oil, but have used it quite successfully on outdoor furniture.

So now that we’ve eliminated the definite no no’s, we are left with timber preservatives or penetrating finishes. These are very viscous, almost as viscous as water. They are easy and quick to apply, no runs, no streaks and they go on quickly as they soak right into the wood. Seeing as they soak right in, they cannot flake or peel as there is no coating that has dried on the surface. We use a product manufactured by Timberlife called Satinwood 28 Base. This is a product designed for woods of low porosity. They also manufacture one for woods of high porosity. Don’t get them mixed up or the sealer will disappear right through your pine deck in a day or two or sit like a coating on your balau deck.

At least 2 coats are necessary on the first application and because the deck is new, one will need to reseal it about 3 to 4 months later. After the first year this maintenance interval will increase to every 6 months and the older the deck gets the longer the maintenance interval will become. The deck will slowly become saturated (well almost) with the sealer and it will last longer. It comes in clear and one can add a tint of your choice. They recommend that you use at least the lightest tint as the tint contains stabilisers which slow down the degradation process due to UV in the sun’s rays.

Even though it will need to be done every 3 to 4 months in the first year, the process is simple. Wash the deck and reseal. No need to call in the professionals and pay their rates. No need to sand and no paint stripper required. DIY it on a Saturday or Sunday or get your domestic helper to do it.

Timberlife also supply a product called Ultra Care Gold. This has a higher wax content as mentioned above and is not suitable for horizontal deck surfaces but works very well on the vertical posts of balustrades. They also sell Deckwash which is used to wash the deck on a monthly basis and again nourishes it and leaves it looking new for longer. It is inexpensive and well worth using. Simply mop it on and mop it off.

So in short stay away from finishes that dry on the surface. Stick with those that penetrate the timber and nourish it.  In the case of a deck that has been coated with a coating that has dried on the surface one can either lightly sand and re-seal with the same coating or if budget allows one can remove the coating, by using paint stripper and a high pressure cleaner. Stick to a maximum of 150 bar pressure otherwise the timber can be damaged. I’ve successfully removed coatings on decks with this technique. It is messy, uses a fair amount of water and a considerable amount of paint stripper. Depending on the thickness of the coating, one might need to apply the paint stripper more than once and blast it off with the high pressure cleaner.

High pressure cleaning can also be used to clean the deck before resealing it with Satin Wood 28 Base, but is often not necessary. I say not often necessary if you catch it before the balau starts to “grey”. Balau will tend to turn a grey colour if left unsealed or if the sealer that is there reaches a point where it is almost completely degraded due to the sun’s UV. If this occurs and the deck is then resealed, it will go very dark, regardless of what tint you use. The grey colour is in fact a thin layer of black algae. You will find that it is quite slippery when wet. This black algae needs to be removed first before resealing. Again Timberlife, and Woodoc, and some other manufacturers supply a product that will remove a lot of this by bleaching it. Timbrite is the one I use and it can be scrubbed on with a brush and then hosed off. It won’t take all of it away, so high pressure cleaning is a quicker way of getting rid of it. I would suggest scrubbing Timbrite on with a brush, then high pressure cleaning it off with 150 bars of pressure. This will renew the wood back to almost its original colour.

Leaving a balau deck unsealed will not necessarily speed up the rotting process. Balau is extremely durable as it contains natural resins and oils which repel water and the toxins in it discourage insects. So sealed or unsealed it will still last for years. Some prefer it unsealed to give it the natural grey look, but take note that if you then decide to seal it, clean it first as described above.

All the above also applies to outdoor furniture or any other timber that is in direct contact with the sun’s rays, especially those that are in the horizontal plane as they are getting more direct sunlight than the vertical pieces.

Timberlife are of course not the only ones who sell these products. They can be commonly found in hardware stores (Dulux, Woodoc and Plascon), but buying from the manufacturer is of course cheaper, but a bit more effort is required than popping in to your local hardware store.  All of them do pretty much the same job.

Good luck and remember that a deck is a living thing, nourish it, feed it and it will reward you.  If you’re feeling lazy, not interested in DIY or simply don’t have the time complete this form and I will submit a quote to maintain your timber deck.  Or you can reach us 082 496 5444.