Wooden Deck Waterfall September 2018

Wooden Deck Durban Waterfall

The video here shows the deck we built from the neighbours yard with the mist rolling down the hill in the early morning. Besides being an incredible sight to see one can see how this garden lends itself to a wooden deck.

The deck was built square off the house towards the boundary fence which over looks The Valley of a Thousand Hills near the Hillcrest area. On either side at the back of the deck there are stairs that lead back to each side of the house. The deck totalled about 80 to 90 square metres.

It was built the standard way we build with a treated pine sub structure and 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards. There is a difference between red and yellow balau deck boards. We stock only yellow balau deck boards and use only yellow balau in the building of our decks. The wooden balustrade was our standard vertical picket style balustrade, which is the safest at heights like these, as there are no gaps that exceed 100mm and is therefore compliant in terms of SANS building regulations. The balustrade is at a height of 1.0m. Once you start going higher than about 2 stories it is advisable to build the balustrade at 1.2m for safety reasons.

Stairs can either be built as open risers or closed risers. As open risers one can see through them whereas closed risers the underside of the deck is not visible. From a cost point of view they are the same so the choice would be made on whether or not you want to look below at the structure or not.

All our decks are finished by filling the counter sunk screw holes with a clear epoxy and saw dust mixture and then sanding flat before oiling with a decking oil. There is an option to leave the deck unoiled and to allow it to weather naturally and turn a grey colour.

In the still pic one can how effective lighting is below the capping to illuminate the deck yet not shine in your eyes. These are easy to install in that they are glued below the capping. They are LED lights so very little power is used to illuminate the deck surface.

For a no obligation quote on your sun deck, pool deck, timber balustrades and other timber related outdoor or indoor construction, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact form below.

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 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Balau Stairs built in Blythdale Beach

Wooden Balau Stairs Durban

 

Towards the close of 2017 we built these wooden balau stairs in Blythdale Beach, KZN. The original treads had been made of 19 x 68mm balau deck boards. Because the spacing between the stringers was 1m the stairs were very springy and were bouncing. The general rule is that a 19mm thick piece of balau can be spanned a maximum of 500mm before it needs to be supported by a bearer of sorts. In the case of open riser stairs this is often not possible because one would need a third stringer that would need to be notched to accommodate the tread. As such when we build stairs using balau that are normally 1m wide we increase the thickness of the balau to 30mm which stops any bounce. 40mm can also be used but is really just a waste of wood and therefore money.

The original balau stair treads were installed in 1997. The way the treads had been made up was to attach a cleat to the underside of each tread at the ends. The cleat was screwed from below to the treads (deck boards) and then the whole tread in its complete form was fixed to the steel cleats which were welded to the steel stringers. A bolt had been used to secure them from the top through all the timber and steel with a nut below. Water had therefore been able to penetrate the balau from the top where the bolt hole had been drilled and this, over a 20 year period of time had caused the balau to rot at the bolt hole. Then rest of the treads were in perfect condition with no rot whatsoever, 20 years down the line. Not all balau behaves that way. The balau that was used was obviously of very good quality. Nowadays the quality varies a bit more but balau still remains the most cost-effective hardwood for outdoor applications, be it decking, pergolas or screens.

To avoid the same fate of rotting at the bolt hole we fixed the entire tread in its made up form from below with a stainless steel coach screw instead of a nut and bolt all the way through the timber. As such the only way water can penetrate the timber now is from below which is highly unlikely. Water can still get trapped between the timber cleat and the timber treads but with no end grain to penetrate it should give us more than 20 years of life. 99% of water ingress is absorbed through the end grain of wood and not the face grain. By drilling holes, especially from the top, one exposes a section of end grain and water sits in the hole and gets absorbed. As a precautionary measure when we build sun decks and have to drill from the top to fix our board to the bearer we fill the screw hole with epoxy to keep the water out. There are other hidden fixing methods but I am yet to find one that works the way it was intended to. Deck boards screwed from the top through the face and filled with epoxy remains the strongest and long lasting method. But it is vital to check the epoxy plugs at maintenance intervals and replace if necessary. In the case of these stairs drilling from below into a 30mm piece of balau was ample fixing strength and reduces water ingress.

These balau stair treads we pre -oiled before installation which made it quicker and easier to get them installed.

For a free no obligation quote on timber decking, stairs, pergolas, balustrade and any other outdoor timber project, please contact us on 031- 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Deck and Stairs Built in Umhlanga, Durban

This wooden deck we built for a client in Umhlanga, Durban was a suspended wooden deck about 2.8m off the ground. The idea was to make use of the flat concrete roof as a deck because the views from up there are of Durban Anchorage where ships anchor before proceeding to Durban port.  The views also extend all the way down the Golden Mile of Durban.

We didn’t want too many posts going to ground as the area beneath the wooden deck is still used as an outside patio. So we built our substructure using H4 CCA Treated pine in a 50 x 228 size rather than the normal 38 x 114. This way we could span our wooden joists of the deck across a longer distance without the need to support them below with another beam, and therefore posts. We attached the one end of the row of joists with a T joint to another 50 x 228 beams which carried the one side. The other side of each joist was hung in a custom-made galvanised steel joist hanger. The result was that our entire substructure was in one plane rather than having the joists sitting on top of a beam. It allowed us to keep the ceiling height of the deck higher, without having to increase the height of the top of the deck surface. These pine wooden joists were later sanded and sealed to make them look closer to the balau we installed on top of the pine.

The wire rope balustrade was fairly straight forward and we extended it past the deck on to the concrete slab flat roof.

The challenges in this wooden deck came in building the stairs. We had a fixed height to work with and a limited lateral distance in which we had fit all of our treads and risers whilst still keeping our risers and treads compliant. To add to this we had a window we had to pass to get down quick enough in our stair case in order to miss the window, plaster band and plumbing on the side of the house. The only way possible was to split the staircase into three flights with two landings where the flights turned at 90 degrees. We also had to split each landing into three windings in order to gain an extra two risers per landing in order to finish the stairs where they needed to finish. We adjusted the tread depth to shorten our treads and therefore total lateral distance to basically “sqwish” then all in. Normally we use 3 pieces of 30 x 102 balau for treads with two 5mm gaps between boards resulting a tread width of 316mm. We ripped the middle 30 x 102 to 50mm to reduce this lateral distance whilst still remaining compliant at 264mm but gaining some lateral distance in order to squeeze them all in. We finished it off with balau deck board cladding in order to cover all the pine structure. The job took time but it was well worth the wait. Stairs that look nice, work nicely and remain compliant.

It was all finished with an oil based sealer which penetrates the wood rather than drying on the surface.

Contact us for quotes on your wooden decking, stairs, balustrade and other outdoor timber construction. You can call us on 031 – 762 1795 or you can use the contact us form below.

Balau Timber Stairs Built in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban

These balau timber stairs that we built in Umhlanga are actually temporary stairs which will be removed at some point. They were built in order to gain access up the bank to a converted container that has been placed at the top. It is for a new development at Umhlanga Ridge and the converted container will be used as a sales office to sell the units. Their life span will depend on how long it takes to sell all the units after which the container and stairs will be removed.

We nevertheless used balau as we needed to create a very upmarket feel as this development is targeted at the high-end market.

Initially we were going to build a platform or landing at the bottom, one at the top and one mid way to break the stairs into two flights. However the total distance did not require that and we settled for a landing at the top and one at the bottom. Normally if the flight of stairs is quite long one needs to split them into two flights with a landing mid way. This is to be compliant with National Building Regulations. It is stipulated for safety reasons because a very long flight of stairs becomes dangerous if not split into two flights.

It is a bit more difficult to build two flights with a landing mid way because one needs to first build your top and bottom landings and then work out exactly at what height the middle landing needs to be. This is so that the two flights can be of equal distance and the risers of the first flight can be equal to the risers of the second flight. If the middle landing is not placed exactly in the middle of the total height, the risers of one flight will need to be different to that of the other flight in order to close the gap between landings. It can also result in a different number of risers.

We used balau stingers, cleats and treads. We left the risers open and installed a balustrade down both sides of the stairs for obvious reasons. The balustrade was also full balau and installed in a vertical picket style with a 102mm capping on top.

The stairs were 1m wide which allows for two people to occasionally walk up and down at the same time. I say occasionally because if it was a busy stair case and people were walking both up and down at the same time regularly then one would need to make the stairs 1.5m wide with a balustrade down both sides. There are other building regulations that stipulate when a hand rail is needed in the middle of the stairs case once it reaches a certain width.

For a free no obligation quote on wooden stairs, decks, balustrades and other outdoor timber construction please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Pool Deck Building in Summerveld, Durban

We built this wooden pool deck in Summerveld, Durban in July 2015. There were various challenges in this wooden pool deck build which tested our skills somewhat.

Firstly the ground in Summerveld is very rocky, in fact in some areas it is just one large rock, and when digging you are actually making a small hole in a large piece of rock. There were 21 holes in total on this wooden pool deck so digging was slow and costly.

From the pics you can also see that the edge rim of the pool is a rock feature so it is not level or flat and we had to try to get our deck height to a comfortable level for access from the rock rim of the pool on to the wooden pool deck. We also had to then try to conceal the gap between rock and deck as far as possible and as neatly as possible. In some areas it took a full deck board as a fascia and in other areas it was tapered down to a half width deck board.

We ran deck boards perpendicular to the pool to avoid having long thin slivers of deck board on the pool side. When we started out the deck was planned to be half the finished size. As it took shape it was decided to extend it to its final measurements which was a double-edged sword for us as we had to dig even more holes through the rock but it increased our surface area and therefore our earnings. So we put on our big boy pants and carried on. The ends result was that the deck now extends past the front of the house so that when you are standing on the front you can see all the way along the front of the house.

A pool pump cover was added, a full balustrade around the whole deck and we clad the open vertical gaps so that one cannot see below the deck.

In one of the pics above you can see how we have returned the balustrade at 90 degrees on the first corner. This is to give the long run of balustrade perpendicular to it more strength. Long straight runs of balustrade can often become quite “wobbly” and this corner gives it good strength.

We opened a gap in the existing post and rail fence and built stairs from the garden at house level to the pool with a hinged gate and latch. Because of the angle of the stairs, and to prevent digging too deep into the ground at the top of the stairs, we built a small landing.

A short free-standing balustrade was added along the electric fence to provide some protection from the electric fence when accessing the lower garden on the right hand side of the deck.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden pool deck or other outdoor timber structures please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Decking Companies in Durban

wooden decking companies durban

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There are many wooden decking companies in Durban that one can choose from when planning to install a wooden deck. Some are reputable companies and some are not, as in any industry.

Besides comparing price one should always compare services to make sure you are comparing like quotes. Some wooden decking companies in Durban for instance will offer to build you wooden deck as well as seal it and other will only quote to build it. Some will offer to fill the screw holes with epoxy to stop water getting in them which will cause rot and others won’t. It is these small things that one needs to ask about and make sure that the service being received from one wooden decking company in Durban is the same as the other that you are comparing to.

Our service at The Wood Joint, includes the following: –

Building the deck with quality yellow balau. We generally build our substructure out of H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine. This is not only due to a cost factor but also because the pine is correctly treated to H3 CCA level which has a life span of at least 50 years exposed to the elements. You can expect to pay about 40% more if you chose a balau substructure. H3 CCA Treated pine is guaranteed for 50 years if used in the correct application and installed correctly.  It will therefore outlast balau as a substructure because the balau is not, and cannot be, pressure treated. I have often seen balau joists rotting from the top where the water gets trapped between the joist and the deck board. We always use balau deck boards as balau behaves better than pine on horizontal surfaces. Balau is a lot more stable and the pine tends to cup and warp over time with the constant hot and cold, expansion and contraction and occasional wetting.

wooden decking companies durban

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Our balustrades and stairs are all made from balau, unless otherwise specified, because if one uses pine as a balustrade, the pickets and cross supports need to be almost twice as thick as balau so they tend to look a bit too chunky. Balustrades do not work well in pine because of the knots found in pine which weaken the timber.

We use a kalgard decking screw which is guaranteed for 25 years by the manufacturer against rust. The screws are counter sunk and the counter sunk hole is filled with epoxy and saw dust so as to match the colour as closely as possible. Filling the screw hole stops water sitting in that hole and travelling up the deck board along the grain. Exposure to water for too long will speed up the rot process. So we fill it, sand it flat, and seal the deck using an oil based sealer which contains no wax. This makes it easy and therefore inexpensive to maintain your deck going forward. I have done a few refurbishment jobs where the decking company has not filled these holes and on the older decks, the deck boards have started to rot there. These are all standard services we offer which are normally included in the price we quote. So when comparing our quotes to others, please check what value added services they are offering you.

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

Wooden Decks Durban – Verulam

Wooden decks Durban

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We recently had a good run of building wooden decks in Durban. With the arrival of summer and Christmas, wooden decks in Durban become a very popular item for consumers to spend their hard-earned cash. Despite trying to get jobs confirmed earlier on in the year, most of our work was confirmed in November and hence we have been running 2 to 3 sites simultaneously. It’s no easy task with the size of our current crew, but we were lucky enough to have most of them take place north of Durban in Durban North, Umhlanga and this one in Verulam. We rented an old beach cottage near Ballito and stayed there with our full crew for 3 weeks so that we didn’t need to fight traffic in the mornings or afternoons and drop and pick up staff in various different areas. However the traffic in Umhlanga and that whole north of Durban area is beyond ridiculous so it still took us hours to get “home” each day. This coupled with the fact that we had a lot of work to get through, made for very early starts and very late finishes.

Wooden decks Durban

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Wooden decks Durban

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The pics alongside are work in progress pic and I will update then once we have sanded and sealed the deck.

This job in Verulam was at a complex and this part of the complex consisted of 6 units. We built 3 wooden deck sections, each of about 45m². There was a wooden balustrade on the front of it and on the two ends or sides. The drop down from the first section of wooden deck was about 450mm so we created a step along the entire width of the deck with closed risers. For these closed riser steps we use a mini substructure and then deck it using the standard 19 x 68 balau deck boards. It then becomes a sort of bench as well as a step down.

Wooden decks Durban

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The step down from the second wooden deck section to the third was about 1, 100mm so we had to build some wooden stairs with open risers of standard width of 1m and clad the section were there were no stairs. We also clad behind the stairs in order to block of the underneath of the deck completely. These wooden stairs were the straight forward design with stringers on either side, and treads placed inside of the stringers using cleats on each side. Hence the risers are open which is why we clad behind it to block off the underneath of the second section. We used 30mm x 102mm stock to build the stairs as there is no support beneath them over the 1m span. Using 30 x 102 stock with no gaps, as opposed to 30 x 140 stock, results in a tread of 306mm compared to 285 (140 + 140 + 5mm gap). So they are slightly wider (by 21mm) but still very comfortable. Also we get to use our 1m off cuts from the capping on the balustrade thereby reducing our cost which we can pass on to our clients through our reduced selling price.

It was a fairly straightforward build but did take a bit longer than other jobs as the front of the wooden deck was directly in line with where the bank below suddenly dropped off. So it was difficult to work at head height on a very steep slope. Ladders had to be tied off to the posts to climb them and so on.

Wooden decks Durban

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For a free, no obligation quote, on your wooden deck, pergola, walkways, stairs and other outdoor and indoor timber construction please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

Stairs and Balustrade – Durban North – July 2011

Wooden stairs

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This wooden stair job started off as just a few stairs to gain access to the granny flat from the other side of the garden and then progressed into a small balustrade on either side too. The client originally had a fence there of CCA pine slats which we had to remove and then build our stairs. She wanted to then put some sort of fence on either side to keep dogs out and originally we were going to re-use some of the CCA pine slats. After speaking to her we agreed that a balau balustrade at the same height as the stairs would finish it off more neatly and add more value to her property.

The stairs were fairly simple and we used two stringers on each side of 30 x 228 balau. We then attached cleats at the required height for each tread. For the cleats we used 30 x 40 balau and for the treads we used 30 x 140 and doubled them up to get a tread of 285 wide with a 5mm gap in between each board. This type of stairs can only really be about 1m wide before you need to increase the thickness of your timber to 40mm. If the timber is too thin and the steps are too wide then the tread will bend each time someone walks on it. If you want to make your stairs wider than 1m then you must use a 40mm thick piece of balau. If you are using pine then this thickness needs to be increased even more because pine is so much softer than balau.

I prefer to use a different system when building wide stairs. One can add an extra stringer in the middle to give it support. However the stringers on the end have the cleats attached to the inside of them. The stringer in the middle cannot have the cleat attached to the inside as the stringer itself will protrude above the level of the tread. So you will need to cut recesses out of the middle stringer so that the tread can sit on a flat surface.

Wooden stairs

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The other alternative to this is to build a structure underneath each tread on which deck boards are attached. This method is common in building stairs with closed risers. The above method and the one we used on this build is common for stairs with open risers.

We had a challenge on this job in that the wall that we were going to attach to wasn’t straight and looked as if it had been moving over the years. So instead of attaching to the wall we sunk some posts in the ground and concreted them in. This way the wall can continue to move without pushing or pulling our stairs over.

We filled our holes with epoxy and saw dust mixture to get a colour match and sealed it this time using Timberlife Ultra Care Gold. The Ultra Care Gold has a higher wax content and is suitable for vertical pieces of timber where the sun’s rays are not as direct as the horizontal pieces.

I went back to this client’s house to repair a broken fence and our stairs and balustrade are still as good as they were when we built them. They need to be re-sealed again but otherwise the balau has held up well.

For a free no obligation quote on your outdoor timber construction please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below to submit your enquiry.  If it’s just advice you are after, leave a comment in the comments section and I will try to assist you.

 

Wooden Deck Built in Toti at a Guest House

Wooden deck builder Durban

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This was one of my first wooden decks in Durban that I undertook. The Guest House we built it for had just opened up the side of the dining room on the first floor with sliding doors and now wanted to extend the area by adding a deck of about 14m². It is always important to first break through the wall and install the sliding doors and then build the wooden deck. This way the deck builder can get the surface of the deck flush with the entrance to the room. I have built one deck before where the client insisted that I build the deck first and then they were going to break through. Although we did our best to measure where the inside floor was, there may still have been a small step up or down once they had broken through. On this build though it was done the right way around and the deck was flush with the floor inside the dining room.

The deck was a normal cleat, beam and joist system where we secured a cleat to the wall with sleeve anchors, installed vertical posts and attached a beam to that and then ran joists between the cleat and beam with a small canter lever. We had to try to set our posts as far out as possible so as to create enough space under the deck that could be used.

Wooden deck builder Durban

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The balustrade was a normal picket style one. These are the safest and really the only one that is completely compliant with building regulations. Building regulations state that there should be no opening that is larger than 100mm. With all other balustrades there are some spaces that become greater than 100mm. Besides being non-compliant they are not that safe especially for small children. With the pickets running in a vertical direction it is more difficult for children, or adults, to climb up on the balustrade and fall over. The other designs offer more horizontal pieces that people can use to climb up on.

The stairs we built here joined the deck to the pool area which was about half a floor up from ground level. There were separate concrete stairs running from ground level to the pool area but the new wooden stairs we built could now be used to access the pool area, and the rest of the outside area, from the dining room. Because there was no way of supporting the stringer mid-way we had to ensure that we had the correct width of stringer so that it would not break over time. Most of the strength in a piece of wood is in the width and not the thickness as the downward force is exerted on the width.

Wooden deck builder Durban

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We finished up by filling our holes with epoxy and sawdust and sealing with a Timberlife Satin Wood Base 28 Mahogany tint. In our decks we counter sink the screws which leave a small screw hole that water can get into. It is important to fill these so that no water can get in. If water does get in it can travel down the end grain and will cause the wood to rot much quicker at the point of the screw hole. Water travels through wood along the end grain rather than being absorbed from the face or side grain. Wood filler is also not suitable as it will pop over time due to the weather. Clear epoxy works well mixed with a little saw dust to match the colour. Once it’s dry, use a grinder with a sanding pad to flat it and then sand the grind marks off before finishing.

For a free no obligation quote on your deck or for some advice, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or complete the form below.