Deck refurbishment in Kloof

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This was an old deck in Kloof that we refurbished recently. It had balau deck boards on top of a balau structure. Of the 11 joists that made up the structure only 2 were still in a fair condition. The rest had rotted and we needed to replace them. Please see this article on the pros and cons of using balau as a structure. https://blog.thewoodjoint.co.za/2015/06/21/balau-vs-cca-treated-substructure-in-your-wooden-deck-durban-and-cape-town/

The deck was fairly old (20 years plus). 20 years ago most deck builders used balau as a structure. Over time they have come to realise that a chemically treated pine structure will out last a balau structure because it is chemically treated and therefore it’s behaviour is known. The process of pressure treating is safe and arguably does no more damage to the environment than cutting the purpose grown tree down in the first place.

We ended up lifting all these deck boards, numbering them and replacing them in their same position so that we could use the same screw holes. Rather than sliding new joists in below the deck boards.

The deck boards themselves where quite mottled with black algae but the wood itself was still ok so we pressure cleaned the deck and then oiled it with a penetrating oil. In some pics you can see the difference between coats of oil.  The balustrade is all new as the old balustrade had rotted away beyond repair and had been removed by the client.

For a free no obligation quote on your new deck build or deck refurbishment please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

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. https://blog.thewoodjoint.co.za/2015/06/21/balau-vs-cca-treated-substructure-in-your-wooden-deck-durban-and-cape-town/.

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 Hillcrest February 2019

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This client in Hillcrest had this irregular shaped “dead space” that she wanted to deck. Because it doesn’t get much sun, it is always wet and muddy. So we decked it in balau deck boards. The contrast between white paving and wooden decking works very well and the actual shape of the deck makes it what it is. In designing an outside area, one should try to use different materials that compliment each other. Too much wood or too much grass doesn’t work. But a bit of wood, grass and paving works very well and compliments each other.

The challenges were in getting the top of the deck flush with the top of the paving because the corners of the paving are rounded over so unfortunately we had to leave a small space between the board and the top of paving. Although the board is butted up tight against the paving because of the round over a small gap is created. It didn’t however look bad at all and works well. It wasn’t practical to chamfer the end of the deck board as it would have resulted in a very thin sliver that would cause problems down the line.

We decided on leaving the far end straight rather than trying to follow the curve of the rock wall. The gap was then taken up with loose stones flush with the top of the deck.

Another happy client adding to the 99.5% happy rate of our clients.

For a free no obligation quote on your decking, and other timber requirements please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below. We work throughout KZN and have four crews of skilled deck builders with multiple vans to get the done quickly, accurately and to your satisfaction.

Wooden Decking in Ballito and Umhlanga

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It would seem that most timber decking is taking place in Umhlanga and Ballito in the greater Durban area in 2019. Most other areas have quietened off considerably and I can only assume it is uncertainty in the market. Being officially in recession still, elections looming in May 2019, a new president, load shedding and recent talk of expropriation without compensation has “spooked’ the market somewhat and resulted in cash being held back. This coupled with the broken state of affairs in South Africa for the last 10 years under our previous leadership has led to the market being severely depressed.

Nonetheless we put our heads down and soldier on.

An important factor to consider in times of low cash flow and a depressed market is that everyone starts doing what they normally don’t do at very competitive rates. It’s natural. In other words a person who normally specialises in timber decking in Durban might start doing roofs and general building. Although they may be capable of doing the job they don’t specialise in it and as a result the consumer receives a service or product that doesn’t quite match the quality of a specialist. The same applies for other industries or niche markets in some industries. A roofing contractor or general builder suddenly starts looking for work in other fields such as wooden decking instead of subbing those out to the specialists. Often this takes place at reduced rates in order to secure the work or they are not completely familiar with costings. The looser in these circumstances is often the consumer. All consumers look for the best deal and when faced with various “cheap” quotes and only a few correctly priced quotes, the job is often awarded to someone who is not a specialist and has under quoted the job. See this article on a similar topic https://blog.thewoodjoint.co.za/2018/01/31/cheap-wooden-deck-builders-and-deck-building-companies-in-durban/

The advice? Make sure you are dealing with a specialist wooden deck builder when building a wooden deck and make sure you are dealing with a specialist plumber when getting your plumbing sorted. This way you can compare quotes based on the same or similar service. I recently went head to head with another contractor who quoted half my rate on a balustrade. I know what it costs to buy the balau needed for the balustrade and at those rates he was making a margin of about 5%. Really???

Take a spin through our website for various articles, pics and discussion around wooden decking in Durban.

Use the contact us form below to get in touch with us for a free no obligation quote or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

The above pics are pics of a job we’ve just completed in Maritzburg.  Taken in the rain as work in progress

Wooden Deck in Scottburgh, South Coast KZN

This was a wooden deck built in balau for a client who had opened a Bed and Breakfast on the coast. As you can see form the pics the wooden deck was built in the front of the property overlooking the sea. There were of course strict time lines in which we had to complete this wooden deck as they had already made confirmed bookings. With these job which are a fair distance from home we normally rent accommodation and pay the builders a live out allowance for food etc. It inevitably pushes the cost of the build up slightly which is unavoidable.

There are some before and after pics in this article. We had to excavate the soil below. It is always best to leave a fair amount of space below the bottom of the structure and the bottom of the deck boards to allow sufficient airflow for water evaporation. If the deck structure is touching the ground then one would need to use H4 CCA Treated timber which has a minimum life span of 20 years in constant contact with wet soil as per SAWPA (South African Wood Preservers Association). H3 CCA Treated pine as a structure which is NOT in constant contact with wet soil has a minimum life span of 50 years if correctly installed. So it makes sense to keep the structure to H3 for cost purposes, and expected minimum life span, but keep it well clear of any soil. By allowing air to flow freely between the structure and the ground keeps everything relatively dry below and the deck structure will last a lot longer. Continual dampness below speeds up rot and premature failure. In this instance we excavated to at least 300mm below the structure.

There was a pool that had been installed prior to our build by Clear Blue Pools – Gary Botha (071 679 1013) and we worked closely with the pool builder so that the concrete ring beam of the pool was set down 60mm from the desired deck height (top of deck). This allows us a 40mm batten on top of the concrete ring beam and a 19mm deck board. 40mm is the minimum we like to allow for this purpose, again to allow for sufficient air flow to keep things dry between the deck surface and the ring beam. These cleats or battens are fixed directly to the concrete ring beam and the rest of the joists which are suspended above soil become a 38 x 114 to give it lateral strength.

The rest of the deck was pretty much the same then as the other decks we’ve built using 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards, counter sunk screw holes filled with clear epoxy and saw dust mixture, sanded flat and oiled using a decking oil.

For a free no obligation quote on your deck please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Balau Wooden Deck, Kloof Durban

 

Here’s a straight forward wooden balau deck we built in Kloof, Durban in October 2018. There were a few angles that had to be cut precisely to finish it neatly but other than that the deck was straight forward to build.

We used an H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine substructure. Because the pine is S5 (Industrial SABS approved grade) it is strong enough to be used as a structure for various building purposes. It is also relatively inexpensive in comparison to other hardwoods that could be used as decking structure. Being S5 it contains a certain amount of knots per square metre and is therefore SABS approved as structural timber. Timber with more knots per square metre is normally used as knotty pine ceiling boards where there is very little structural pressures on the timber. Timber with less knots per square metre is referred to as semi clears or S7 grade. S7 becomes quite expensive and is used as deck boards at times to eliminate knots failing on the deck surface. However because one would need to use twice as much wood (38mm thick) when using pine deck boards, the cost is the same as using a 19mm x 68mm balau deck board at half the quantity of wood. As such we use 19 x 68mm yellow balau deck boards as the surface for most of our wooden decks in Durban. The balau is far more stable being twice as dense and hard with a regular straight grain and as such these balau deck boards don’t twist, cup or bow as easily as pine. With the pine being H3 CCA treated it has a life span of at least 50 years outdoors in the rain and weather.

We added a small flight of open riser steps to this deck to gain access to the garden. These are done in full solid balau using 30mm stock. Normally the stringers are 30 x 215 and the treads are made of multiple pieces of 30 x 102 with cleats fixed to the stringers and the treads are fixed to the cleats. They don’t work that well in pine as the pine becomes very visible throughout and one ends up cladding it anyway which brings the cost back to the same as solid balau. The alternative to open risers steps is to do closed risers where box type steps are made of pine structure and then clad resulting in the riser being closed.

The screw holes of all our decks are counter sunk with a Kalgard decking screw and filled with a clear epoxy and saw dust mixture to match the colour of the wood and then ground flat and sanded smooth prior to oiling the deck. You’ll find other articles on this site where we discuss the pros and cons of using oil vs other finishes available on the market and leaving the deck to naturally grey and weather. If you use the search bar at the bottom right and search for maintenance you’ll find a complete article on deck maintenance.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck in Durban and surrounding areas, please use the contact us form below or you can call us on 082 496 5444.

Balau wooden screens installed in Umhlanga Durban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a no obligation quote on your timber decking, screens, pergolas etc. please contact us on 082 496 5444 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 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Wooden Balau Decking Companies in Durban

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Here’s a wooden deck we at The Wood Joint built in Durban recently. The Wood Joint is a wooden decking company situated in Durban and servicing most of KZN. It was a low-level wooden deck basically at ground level joining the pool to the patio and semi surrounds. The site was situated in la Lucia Durban.

When building a wooden deck that will join a verandah to a pool, one needs to be careful to set the height of the pool correctly. The height to the verandah is of course pretty much set based on what the threshold of the sliding doors are. So working from a datum line of the top of the tiles of the verandah one would set the top of the concrete ring beam of the pool down 70mm from the required height of the deck. This will allow for a substructure of 50mm and a deck board thickness of 20mm (19mm in fact but to keep things simple rounded to 20mm). A 50mm batten fixed to the top of the concrete ring beam of the pool will give sufficient space to allow water to evaporate properly, keeping below the deck as dry as possible, and enough structure to create a positive fixing of deck board to bearer. The distance created between top of deck and pool should be minimal. It is not advisable to go much higher than 70mm because it creates a very big “climb” out the pool (from water level to top of deck).

In this deck pictured you will see we ran the deck boards perpendicular to the verandah and pool side. Using this method it is not that important if the side of the pool is parallel to the verandah as the length of the deck boards can be varied quite easily without noticing any difference in length. On the other hand when the deck boards are run parallel to the pool side and verandah one needs to be careful to get the two as perfectly parallel as possible. Any difference will be visible because a deck board will need to be cut in a wedge shape to complete the space. If the difference is not that great then one can “fan” the deck boards to take up the difference in space by making one end’s gaps slightly bigger than the other end. So on one end a 6mm gap can be left and on the other a 4mm gap (normally 5mm throughout). This gains 1mm per deck board run. After 20 deck boards one can adjust for a 20mm difference in spacing. Another “trick” when running boards parallel to the pool side and verandah is to try to end on a full board rather than a half board. Again space between boards can be adjusted either up or down to try to end on a full board. It is much neater and won’t cause as many problems going forward. From the pics you’ll see we ended the deck on a half board which in this case was unavoidable because of the configuration of paving and deck.

You’ll see from the pics that the garden is mostly left for landscaping until after the deck has been built. Trying to build a deck with newly laid grass and not damaging it is near impossible. Always get you building work done before landscaping.

For a free no obligation quote on your decking requirements in Durban please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

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Hardwood flooring has become ever popular in many countries. In South Africa, home owners are opting for these in preference to the old style parquet and the laminated style of flooring. Hardwood floors go hand-in-hand with luxury, and offer timeless beauty and are low on maintenance. Home owners looking for a classic look might like to consider engineered hardwood flooring. These points should be taken into account, or kept in mind when weighing up the pros and cons of hardwood flooring.

Unlike conventional hardwood, which comes from its raw state and into your home, engineered hardwood is a more complex product which consists of layers. The outermost appearance layer is a hardwood veneer, a thin slice of wood of whatever wood type you prefer. The inner layers are made of plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. These core layers give the product more stability than regular hardwood, while the outer veneer surface gives the floor its aesthetics, its beauty, and, of course, its authenticity.

Engineered hardwood is different to a hardwood laminated ‘wood’ because the surface is made of real wood. While laminated flooring has a core of high density fiberboard, its surface is basically a picture of wood. Laminate is less expensive than engineered and solid hardwood, but has a different look, feel and even sound when walking on it, due to its make up.

Pros:

  • Engineered hardwood flooring is designed to reduce moisture associated with conventional hardwood.
  • The layers block moisture and provide added stability to your floor.
  • This is a low maintenance option because of the fact that Engineered Flooring will not swell or warp.
  • Choosing engineered flooring is considered more environmentally-friendly than traditional hardwood for various reasons.
  • Veneer is sliced very carefully and precisely – it is not cut with a saw. This process produces no sawdust, which means that the entire tree can be used. The sawdust which we know amounts to a significant pile when making hardwood boards is wasted wood.
  • Hardwood trees grow a lot more slowly than the trees used to construct engineered flooring cores. More surface area is produced making veneer, therefore installing traditional hardwood uses many times the amount of slow-growing tree. This makes the replenishing time much longer.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Cons

  • There are very few disadvantages to this type of hardwood flooring but it is neither a foolproof project and not necessarily the right floor for every application.

Comparable to solid hardwood in terms of cost: –

Engineered floors are still considerably more expensive than laminated floors, tile or carpet. They are, however much more hardy, are low maintenance and will wear a lot better.

That said, one should also take into account the biggest concern as a homeowner … that being avoiding shoddy or inferior engineered work and products, merely because of cost.

Veneers that are too thin will prevent sanding and refinishing opportunities that may double the lifetime of the floor.

Some veneers are so thin and poorly made that they can prematurely warp or fade.

Core layers should still be made from high-quality wood. Some manufacturers try to cut corners by using fiberboard or oriented strand board which might well compromise the stability of your floor and could result in an inferior flooring product.

Your Home is your Castle … quality surpasses cutting corners

It is, without exception, easier to install engineered flooring and the handy man homeowner is often encouraged to install his or her own engineered floors. It is never-the-less, a major project with big financial implications, therefore, I suggest you weigh up carefully, the virtue of employing an experienced craftsman to do the job (who will also guarantee his finished product, surely?) and doing the work yourself …and without wanting to reduce your skill-ability, don’t be too over zealous about your own home improvement skills just to get the job done cheaper! Even for the majority of homeowners who hire a flooring contractor for the job, you’ll save a hefty sum on installation, which is important given that most engineered flooring is more expensive than solid wood.

The cost of high-quality engineered floors (thick veneers) will depend on various issues, the obvious one being the type of wood you choose. In South Africa, imported Indonesian Balau is readily available, is solid, a hard wood and also hard-wearing, able to withstand much more than a softer local wood might be. It lands at quite a reasonable price and is of a superior quality. It is, for example largely used for outdoor decking. Solid wood flooring may be cheaper overall, however it will still take longer to install.

For a free no obligation quote on your solid hardwood engineered flooring please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.