Balau Timber Deck – Westville

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Here’s some before pics and some after pics of a deck in Westville that had rotted and was removed and replaced.

The original deck had been built using H2 CCA Treated pine as a structure and what looked like balau deck boards and H2 CCA treated timber was used in the balustrade. See here for an article on the correct Hazard Classification for using treated pine in outdoor projects.

It is vitally important to use at least H3 CCA treated pine in any outdoor application where occasional wetting occurs. H2 CCA pine is designed for roofs and will rot outdoors. H3 is designed for outdoors and will last at least 50 years outdoors in the rain provided it has a chance to dry out after it rains.

The balau deck boards on this deck run in the opposite direction to the way we normally build them. In other words they run the width rather than the length. The reason for this was that we needed to follow the curve of the existing paving and running the deck boards the length would have resulted in long thin slivers of deck boards to get the curve. Running them the width meant we could cut the end of the deck board to follow the curve. A much neater job at the end of the day and less chance of splintering.

Because of the way the deck boards run it results in short main beams and longer joists as can be seen from the front view of the deck. The mean beams always run in the same direction as the deck boards with joists on top of beams running perpendicular to deck boards. The ends of these main beams of 228mm can look unsightly and can be clad to cover the pine. In this instance though the client opted not to clad them as there is unfortunately an additional cost and the front of this deck is not really seen unless one is standing in the garden on the lower level. We did clad the sides though as these are very visible. This we did at no extra cost. You know, “going the extra mile” and all.

The balustrade is full balau this time around and should outlast at least me. Maybe not my kids, as all wood will rot in time. The balau just takes a lot longer to rot which makes it the ideal outdoor timber to be used in timber decks and balustrades.

The deck was oiled as opposed to being coated which retains the natural look and feel of the wood and is easy to maintain going forward as you simply clean it and put more oil on it.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber decking, balustrade, pergola, screens and other outdoor work, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below. We also supply install in door wooden floors.

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 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.

Wooden Balau Deck Built Waterfall, Durban July 2018

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This wooden deck we built in Waterfall, Durban was part of a new build at Focus on Ithemba along Blessing Ninela Road, Waterfall. They were building a new boardroom and office complex and part of the design was a wooden exterior deck.

The job was referred to us by Mass Landscapes, Miles Steenhuysen, who was contracted to do the landscaping. His details can be found here.

In consultation with Miles and the project manager we designed the deck so as to flow around this office complex comfortably and aesthetically and within budget.

The structure of the deck was the standard H3 and H4 CCA treated pine. H3 and H4 CCA treated pine is suitable for outdoors decks. H3 has a life span of a minimum of 50 years and correctly treated H4 pine can live in the ground in constant contact with wet soil for a minimum of 20 years. These are guidelines provided by The full document can be found here.

We used 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards as the surface. There is a difference between red and yellow balau. The red balau, which is a bit cheaper in South Africa, is a lot more porous and less dense than the yellow balau and as a result will absorb and retain water more easily than yellow balau and will therefore probably rot more quickly. We use only yellow balau which is the most cost-effective hardwood for decking in South Africa. It is not correct to assume that treated pine is cheaper than balau deck boards. Please see here for an article on the difference between balau and pine in decking.

The building we were attaching this deck to was not completely square with itself as it was an old building that had been extended. As such one needs to be very careful when building wooden decks against walls that aren’t square or straight. At some point there will need to be a correction to eliminate the problem and it needs to occur where it is less visible. Either the deck can be built square to itself but it will highlight the errors on the building or the deck needs to be built off square to take up any difference between the building and the deck in a place where it is less visible and can be concealed.

Screw holes we filled with epoxy and sanded flat. The epoxy used was a clear epoxy which was mixed with saw dust to match the colour. The epoxy in the screw holes prevents water sitting in the counter sunk screw hole and being absorbed up the end grain which would cause rot to set in more quickly. The deck can be oiled after sanding or left to grey naturally.

For a free no obligation quote on timber decking and related construction, we can be contacted on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Decks and Balau Deck Boards for Sale Durban

Besides offering a full wooden deck building service in Durban of supply and install, we also sell balau deck boards to end users for use in wooden decks in Durban and KZN.  Please use the contact us form below to enquire about deck building services or read on for more info on sale of deck boards and decking materials.

Because we secure our balau deck boards in bulk we are able to offer these deck boards to the wooden deck builder or end-user at a highly competitive price and more competitively than your popular outlets in Durban.

We stock largely 19mm x 68mm and 19mm x 90mm wooden balau deck boards but other sizes and species are also available, on request. We stock a range of lengths from 2.4m to 4.8m. Please check with us what we have in stock before ordering and provide us with the rough dimensions of your wooden deck so we can select the correct lengths for you to minimize waste. If for instance you are building a wooden deck measuring 4.8m then you would opt for 2.4m deck boards and space your joists with centres of 400mm or 480mm (but not 450mm or 500mm) as these are all factors of 2.4m. On the other hand if your wooden deck measured 5.4m long then you would opt for 2.7m deck boards and space your joists with centres of 450mm or 540mm being a factor of 2.7m. This way the off cut at the end of each deck board is minimized and a saving can be obtained. I will gladly help you plan your substructure and deck boards so as to build a structurally sound deck and minimize waste. Contact me below with the size of your deck and the height above ground.

There are mainly two different types of balau that can be purchased, red and yellow balau. In my experience the yellow balau is harder and therefore more durable. The red balau I have bought in the past seems to be more porous and will therefore absorb more water and rot more quickly. Although balau is very hard, contains natural oils and resins and repels water naturally all wood will eventually rot. The aim is to choose a decking timber that will outlast other timbers but is still affordable and easy on your pocket. We stock only yellow balau.

We sell mainly reeded deck boards. These are the deck boards with grooves on one side. The grooves are not there for anti-slip as is commonly thought. They are in fact there to be placed down against the joist. The reason is to allow any trapped water to dissipate quickly. By keeping the water away from the gap between the deck board and the joist will reduce rot to a degree and result in your wooden deck lasting longer.  It is not absolutely essential but does help to some degree.  Also by having the grooves up you cannot epoxy the screw holes closed, because you can’t sand it off due to the grooves, thus allowing more water to pool in the counter sunk screw hole causing accelerated rot. Grooves up also traps dirt and grime which actually causes the deck surface to become more slippery than a smooth surface. So always grooves down.

We are able to deliver in the greater Durban area. Please enquire about delivery charge.

To contact us for a full wooden deck building service in Durban, or to order deck boards and other timber decking materials, you can call us on 082 496 5444 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 082 496 5444 or you can use the contact us form below.

Wooden Deck, Umhlanga, Durban

Here’s a wooden decking project we completed in Hawaan Forest Estate, Umhlanga, Durban. There were two houses right next door to each other so it was a bit easier on the pocket when it came to travel to site. The whole job was quite big too, in excess of 200 square metres of coverage, so it was worth the travel from Home Base in Waterfall, Hillcrest.

House 1 consisted of a fairly large deck of about 80 square metres. It was an interesting deck to build in that it was built flush with the tiled covered patio, extending to the pool, with steps as wide as the deck leading into the garden. It incorporated a fire pit with step benches on three sides set slightly away from the pool. The front of the steps were clad so that beneath the deck was not visible. We met our deck boards at a 45 degree angle on the vertical cladding.

There were various smaller decks around the front of the house and the courtyard consisted of a steel frame and steel gate clad in balau deck boards. There was an interesting deck on the first floor of about 7 square metres that is accessed through a door on to the roof top. It is bordered by three sides of planter boxes surrounded by balau.

The garage doors were 6m wide and 2.7m high. The frame was made of steel and deck boards were used to clad it. It resulted in it being quite heavy but complimented the front of the house by following through with the wood cladding design so typical of Hawaan Forest Estate homes.

Along the front of the first floor are steel sliding screens of 14m x 3.1m high. The decks and courtyard screens were all done in 19 x 68mm balau reeded deck boards whilst the sliding screens on the first floor were done in 19 x 30 balau slat. In order to get a 19 x 30 slat we ripped a normal 19 x 68 deck board in half to 30mm wide. These were then attached to the steel with a 20mm screw from behind so that no screw holes are visible from the front.

Most deck boards are reeded on one side which allows water to dissipate more easily between the deck board and joist, so we had to source non reeded deck boards for this application. If it had been reeded the grooved side would have been visible from either the inside or the outside. Non reeded deck boards are not that common, but they are available, and it is cheaper to rip deck boards to 19 x 30 than to buy 20 x 30mm slats.

House 2 had a much smaller pool deck of about 25 square metres. It was fairly intricate though in that the deck had to be tucked underneath the wall on one side and beneath the tiles of the pool fascia. The patio above the pool had a fall to it to allow water to run off, so the edge of the deck could not be level, otherwise it would have resulted in a stepped join between the wooden deck and the patio. There are also a few smaller decks surrounding this house and it too has a 13m long by 3.1m high sliding screen system in steel with balau 19 x 30 slats.

I will update these pics above once other contractors have completed their areas of work to give you a good idea of what is possible in timber decking and screening.

For a quote, and design, of your wooden decking and screening requirements, please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Pool Deck Built in Westville, Durban

Pool deck built Westville Durban

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Balau Deck board

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50 degrees

Here was a nice size wooden sun deck, or pool deck, we built of approximately 60m². I say a nice size because at that size one can reduce the costs slightly, pass a saving on to the client, and make a little bit more money on the job.

Wooden deck with jacuzzi cladding Durban

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This wooden sun deck was built around the pool as you can see from the pics alongside. It also extended to the far end of the house and was enclosed by a balustrade on two sides with two gates leading to the garden. Access to the deck was from two bedrooms on one end in front of the pool and from the lounge on the other end. The level of the floors, in the rooms, near the pool, were not the same level as the level of the lounge floor so we were left with a choice to either step the deck or have a small step up to the lounge. We chose to create a small step up to the lounge because having a step in the middle of your wooden pool deck is only going to lead to someone tripping and hurting themselves.

In this article I want to write about the different ways of laying the boards when it comes to pool decks or any other deck where the boards can possibly run in both directions. If a deck needs to be built with deck boards all running the same way it is relatively easy to install them in that the ends do not need to match up. The problem one can have in trying to match up ends of deck boards is that if they are not cut at precisely 45° then the length of the cut ends will differ. I’ve drawn a sketch alongside to illustrate this.

It is highly unlikely that any pool will be perfectly square. When installing the wooden pool deck it may be necessary to cut one end at say 44° and the matching board that runs at right angles to it, at 46°. The two ends will not be of equal length and will therefore not match up flush with each other. The problem is compounded with each deck board that is added. Let’s assume that the one cut end is 2mm longer than the other. After installing 15 deck boards (or one metre) the boards will have shifted by 30mm (15 x 2mm). This will be unsightly. The problem is also compounded by the variance from 45° which results in the difference in lengths of cut ends being greater.
There is a way to overcome this problem and that is to install a joiner between the cut ends as the sketch alongside illustrates. The other way is to run the deck boards all in the same direction (i.e. not all parallel to the edge of all sides of the pool, but rather all parallel to each other).

Pool deck built Westville Durban

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Another advantage though of running the deck board’s parallel to all edges of the pool, with corner joins, is that you will have face grain facing the pool and not end grain. Water is absorbed largely through the end grain of wood and if this end grain is facing the pool, then it stands to reason that the deck boards on this side of the pool will be exposed to more water and will tend to rot more quickly than those with face grain facing the water. Even though we use balau for our deck boards, which is rot resistant, all wood will rot and by employing methods that will inhibit rot, makes good sense. Having said all that, it is easy and cheap to replace deck boards and if a deck board with end grain facing the pool gives you 15 years life, the cost vs. preference is not that great.

For a free no obligation quote on your pool or sun deck, or any other outdoor timber construction, please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

CCA Treated Substructures in Wooden Sundecks – Durban

Wooden sundecks Durban North

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As I’ve mentioned in previous articles we use a H3 CCA treated pine substructure which the suppliers offer a 50 year guarantee on. In order to activate that guarantee we need to adhere to best practices and there are a few things that we need to do, and document by way of pics. 

Although all decks we build are built according to best practices, when applying for a guarantee we need to document it. So if you require a guarantee please let us know beforehand so we can collect all the documents we need to process it. These include charge sheets and retention records from the treatment plant to ensure that the chemicals used in the treatment process penetrated the timber properly. The charge sheets also document all sorts of things such as how much solution was added to the chamber, how much wood was in the chamber and how much solution much was left over. From this one can work out what the penetration was and can be verified through the retention records.

When the wood is treated it is placed in a chamber and all the air is sucked out to create a vacuum. Solution is then added to the chamber which now takes up the void or vacuum and the solution is sucked into the timber. They call this pressure treatment.

Wooden decks Durban

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CCA is an abbreviation for Chromated Copper Arsenate. The copper stops fungus growing on the wood, which in turn causes the fibres of the wood to break down and rot. The arsenate stops insects from eating it and the chrome binds the two so that they don’t leach out of the wood. There are different hazard classes of CCA treated timber. For a full explanation you can visit (South African Wood Preservers Association).

Once this pine has been treated it can now get wet without the fear of it rotting because the fungus cannot grow. It is not water that causes rot, but rather fungus. The water allows the fungus to grow which breaks down the fibres of the wood which causes rot. So now your wood can get wet without rotting.

When the wood is treated, this CCA solution they use penetrates the timber based on the pressure they use and the time it remains in the chamber. The longer the time, the greater the pressure and the stronger the solution, the higher the hazard class and more resistant it is to rot and insect infestation. So timber being used outdoors subject to weathering (rain and sun) needs to be of a higher Hazard Class than timber being used in your roof where it is protected from rain to a large degree.

The depth of the penetration is subject to the density of the timber (pine vs. saligna or gum), and the time in the chamber. These retention records mentioned above are obtained from coring a section of the timber on each batch to ensure that the solution penetrated the timber properly. The charge sheets will outline how long the timber was in the chamber, the strength of the solution etc.

Wooden deck guarantee

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So once all these documents have been collated, one can apply for a guarantee from the suppliers of the solution used in the treatment process.

One last criterion is that where we cut a piece of timber we need to treat the end grain with an end sealer approved by the supplier. This is because the solution used in the treatment process does not penetrate all the way through the timber. Depending on the density of the wood it will penetrate about 16mm into the timber. With pine, as opposed to saligna, it will obviously penetrate further as the timber is softer. Timber such as balau cannot be successfully treated as it is too dense. However it rarely needs to be treated as it is naturally resistant to insect infestation and rot due to the resins and oils naturally found in the wood.

By following the manufacturers and SAWPA’s guidelines one can successfully use treated pine as suitable outdoor timber for decking.

The pictures alongside show where we have used an approved end sealer to treat the timber on all cut ends.

For a free no obligation quote on your decking and other outdoor requirements please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.

Timber Decks Durban – Umhlanga

Timber decks Durban

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This existing timber deck in Umhlanga Durban had reached a point of no return and our recommendation to the client was that we remove it and replace it. It’s never a good thing to hear that you must throw it away and buy a new one because it can’t be fixed, but often wooden decks are not built as they should be built and they therefore do not last as long as they should.

From the picture alongside you can see the damage done to the posts at ground level as a result of insects. Given another year or so and those posts would have failed and although the deck might not have come falling down, it would have become unsafe and a danger to those trying to enjoy it.  See far below for pics of the finished product.

The existing deck had been built out of pine and I can only think that the wrong H class was used. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, pine used for decking purposes needs to be CCA treated to at least an H3 level and any pieces in direct contact with the ground should be treated to H4 level. You can read up more on the H levels here In a nutshell though, off the shelf H2 treated timber will not last. And don’t be fooled by the timber yard telling you they will “double dip” it. The pressure between H2 and H3 treated timber is different, so doubling dipping H2 will not make H3, it will make H2 + H2 and it WILL rot. On the other hand if the correct H level is used the suppliers will offer up to a 50 years guarantee on this timber against rot and insect infestation. Who’s building a deck that will still be around in 50 years?

We first removed the existing deck boards so that the joists were exposed. We removed all joists but left the main beam on the front edge so that we could use it as our guide to installing the new beam. We used the existing posts as temporary posts to build our substructure, then installed our new beam and dropped posts to ground from there. We then removed the old beam and old posts and were left with a new timber deck substructure in pretty much the same place as the old one. It made our life easier and took a lot less time.

There was a gate we built and installed along the one side. We used stainless steel hinges on it. I’ve found that stainless steel hinges with bearings in the spine are not that costly. In fact a lot less expensive than brass and, in my opinion, a lot more durable. The solid brass can sometimes be a bit soft whereas stainless steel is a lot harder. This is especially the case when talking about screws. Brass screws tend to sheer of quite easily under pressure.

Timber decks Durban

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It was a nice job to kick the year off with as it was relatively simple. The only hurdle was trying to build 3m in the air on a very steep slope. We used extension ladders but still it makes it difficult and a bit slower because someone has to hold the ladder and keep moving it when screwing down pickets on the balustrade which is time consuming.

For a free, no obligation quote on your timber decking and other outdoor timber construction needs in Durban please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.

Timber decks Durban

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Timber decks Durban

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Timber decks Durban

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