Wooden Deck Built in Hillcrest, Durban

Here’s video of a wooden deck we built recently in Hillcrest, Durban showing the different stages of the build.

Give us a call for a quote on your wooden sun deck, wooden pergolas, walkways, bridges, floors or fences on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.


Wooden Sun Decks and Wire Rope Balustrades

Wooden Balau Deck with Wire Rope BalustradeWooden deck with wire rope balustradeWooden deck with wire rope balustradeA wire rope balustrade on a wooden sun deck, as pictured in this article, has a few pros and cons to it which I will discuss below. I will also describe the method used to install wire rope balustrades and what to be careful of to ensure that the job runs smoothly. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, or don’t have the right tools or time, then scroll to the bottom and complete the contact us form below. I will contact you and we can take the task off your hands. Alternatively call us on 082 496 5444. We are Durban based.

Firstly one should choose the correct wire rope to use. We use the 4mm marine grade stainless steel wire rope with button heads. One can also get the 5mm wire rope but I have found that that often contains one rogue strand which will tarnish over time and spoil the look of your balustrade. The 4mm wire rope does not bend as easily as the others so where you get to a 90° bend you will need to terminate your wire rope with a button head and start again on the next run. The 4mm wire rope can bend around gentler curves quite easily. It is just the 90° bends that require a new run.

We start by installing our wooden, normally balau, uprights and these can be anything from a 30 x 60, 40 x 60 or 60 x 60. Obviously the 60 x 60 is better as it is more solid and stable, but it unavoidably carries a higher price tag. A 40 x 60 works very well, but the 30 x 60 can do the job just as well if installed properly. Now install your capping on the top to hold the whole lot together while you install your wire rope.

There are various methods of securing your wire rope. We use the button heads as opposed to turnbuckles. A hole is drilled, to a diameter slightly bigger than the button head, in the wooden upright and the wire rope is threaded through it so that the tag end is protruding to the outside of the balustrade. One side of the button head is then inserted over the wire rope and crimped using a special crimping tool. The crimping tool looks very similar to a large bolt cutter with a head that has been adapted to accept the button head and crimp it to the right size to hold the wire rope without damaging it.

Now cut a length of wire rope to slightly more than is required. Remember think twice, cut once as it is always easier to cut more off then to add more on once it has been cut too short. Now all your holes need to be drilled in all the other upright posts. Measure you spaces out accurately so that your wire rope will run parallel to the capping on the top and the wooden deck on the bottom. When drilling through a piece of wood it is easy to hold the drill slightly skew resulting in the drill bit exiting the wood at an angle which will result in the exit hole not being in the place it should be. So drill half way from one side and then drill from the other side to get your entry and exit holes perfectly lined up. It doesn’t matter if the middle of your hole is slightly skew because you can’t see it and it is not enough to impede the path of the wire rope. Thread the other un crimped end of the wire rope through all your holes in your uprights until you get to the end.

Wooden deck with wire rope balustradeNow take the other button head with the thread on it and measure, very carefully, where you need to cut your wire rope. You will need to cut it with a thin cutting disk on a baby grinder so as to get a nice clean-cut. If you cut it too long you won’t be able to tension it and too short, well start again from the beginning. So cut and check before crimping the other end. The second button head will be inserted through the hole from the back and the wire rope inserted into it from the front and crimped. Make sure you have your thread to its longest position so that you still have thread to use to tension it. Now tension it, but do not over tighten it. It is not a guitar string and only needs to be tight enough to be visibly straight. Over tightening it will result in the end wooden uprights bowing, or even failing.

Pros of Wire Rope Balustrades

• Does not interfere in your vision when seated and looking through the balustrade
• Adds a second material, other than timber, for a clean minimalist look and feel
• Marine grade stainless will last a life time

Cons of Wire Rope Balustrades

• Does not offer as much protection from objects or people falling through the strands as timber does
• If installed incorrectly can look terrible
• Can detract from the timber look and feel

Good luck in installing your wire rope balustrade. I hope this article has helped. If you’re not up to it, please complete the form below, or contact us on 082 496 5444 and we will gladly quote you to do the task for you. We are Durban based and work throughout KZN.

Laying Balau Deck Boards Down

This video shows how we have laid these deck boards without ending on a half deck board or a wedge-shaped deck board.

Most often two opposite walls will not be exactly the same length and they certainly won’t be designed to accommodate an exact amount of deck boards with a uniform gap. What can happen is that you start on one end and end up with a half deck board that has to be ripped length ways on the other end. This is both unsightly and can result in premature failure because the deck board may become too narrow to be secured properly.

If the two opposite walls are not the same length then the problem is compounded because not only will you end up with half a deck board, but you will end up with half a wedge-shaped deck board.

So we need to try to mitigate this problem by adjusting our gaps between deck boards either up or down, very slightly so as to be unnoticeable.
Normally the gap between deck boards is 5mm and we commonly use a 6 inch nail as a spacer. By increasing one end of the line of deck boards to 4mm and the other end to 6mm you can effectively gain, or lose 2mm per line of deck boards. In this video these boards were 90mm wide, so if on every line we gain 2mm, we will gain about 20mm for every 1m of deck boards installed. So after 4.5m you can gain a full deck boards width. On most decks this is sufficient to allow you to finish on full deck boards and to avoid having to cut a wedge-shaped deck board.

Watch the video and you will see how I panned around the little alcove that we had to deck into. We employed both methods here to end on a full deck board and to avoid a wedge-shaped deck board.

It is far easier when decking to the end of the deck as here you can continue with full deck boards until you reach the end, and then cut your joists off at the right length.
It makes for a much neater deck and less chance of failure.
Other videos are also available on the Videos Tab on the menu bar on the left. These show other techniques we employ in building wooden decks which can make the job a lot easier.

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

Substructure on Low Level Wooden Pool Deck


We are busy with a new wooden pool deck build in Hillcrest, Durban and I have taken a video to show how the substructure is built before the deck boards go down.
This is a low-level wooden pool deck that we are building which is only about 200mm off the ground. Because it is 200mm off the ground we can’t simply use 38 x 38 cleats as we have done in the past which are secured to the ground. We still need to use a joist of at least 114mm wide which is supported every 1.6m with a foot or post as there will be a void beneath the joist and the paved substrate. We have aimed to get our deck flush with the floor inside the house which is about 200mm above the paved area around the pool.

We built our substructure in a number of separate frames which are then lifted up into place on the wall side and secured using sleeve anchors. The opposite ends of each frame are then also lifted up to get the top of the joists level and flat and supported using a 76 x 76mm square post which rests on top of the paving. We will also remove some paving on every other post and sink that into the ground to ensure that the deck doesn’t sink over time if the paving sinks. The separate frames are then all attached to each other.

We have left our joists long to extend over the pool and now that the side of the frame is attached to the house we can work out exactly where we want our joists to end so as to get our fascia board on the inside of the pool completely flush with the vertical of the coping of the pool. This way we can slide our fascia down to cover the coping neatly. We can now trim our joists to the correct length and install another 38 x 114 joist running at right angles to the main joists. We could not make use of a beam and joist system here because we don’t have space beneath our joists to install a beam. We would need an extra 228mm to do this. So our frame is assembled in one single plane rather than having joists sitting on top of beams.

We’ll install some truss hangers where the joists meet the side beam which is attached to the wall. All that is holding those joists to this side frame now are two 60mm screws from behind so they need to be supported with a truss hanger to stop them ever dropping if the screws fail. Those screws are screwed into ends grain which is never that strong in terms of fixing.

The trick to this type of deck is to get the fascia frame around the pool to sit completely flush with the coping of the pool so that a fascia board (two deck boards) can be installed in the vertical plane to cover the fascia. Once that is all fixed in place and can’t move then we can deck.

Balau deck boards will be secured on top of our joists and we will start our deck boards on each side of the pool and deck towards the house and towards the grassed area. When decking towards the house we need to hope that the pool is parallel to the house and if not then we need to adjust our spaces between boards to accommodate any difference. So for instance if one side, between pool and house is 20mm shorter than the other, then we will need to increase the gaps between deck boards by 1mm for 20 boards to get the deck parallel to the house. If not we will end up with a wedged shape board as the last board which will be unsightly and will fail more easily. Also we need to try to end on a full board rather than a ripped half board as that too will be unsightly and may fail prematurely. Again we will adjust the gaps as we go to ensure we end on a full board. The gaps are normally 5mm, but we can adjust them to 4mm or 6mm without being noticed. Then we will “fill” the section between each long side of the pool and again we need to ensure that we don’t end on a half board, by adjusting our gap to 4mm or 6mm. The final result will be a deck with full deck boards and no wedges.
The grassed side is easy enough in that we can protrude over the end of the paving to end on a full board and terminate our deck there. On this end we will install a screen of 1.8m high the length of the deck. So we will tie our upright posts for the screen into the posts for our deck to secure the deck into the ground with concrete to prevent any slippage, and at the same time providing an upright of 1.8m for our screen.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden sundeck, pool deck, balustrades, screens, cladding, walkways etc. please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Balau Wooden Sundeck Built in Kloof, Durban

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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Here’s a balau wooden sundeck we’ve just built on Kloof, just inland of Durban.

We used a 19 x 90 balau deck board on this wooden sun deck at the client’s request. We normally use a 19 x 68 balau deck board as they are considerably less expensive per square metre than the 19 x 90 balau deck boards and we can pass that saving on to our clients. Granted it is quicker to install a deck board that is wider as you need less boards per square meter (in this instance 15 boards per square metre using a 68mm wide board and 11 using a 90mm board), but not by that much that it warrants paying 35% more for it. 90mm boards are about 35% more expensive per square metre than 68 mm boards.

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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When screwing down a 19 x 90 deck board I put two screws, per board, in each joist line, one in each shoulder. I have seen other deck builders putting one in

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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every alternate shoulder. It does work, but if you do get a board that is particularly prone to warping it will warp where the one screw has been left out. It is not a huge cost or effort to put a second screw on the opposite shoulder of each board at each joist line. Obviously the wider the board the more prone it will be to warping. Why they are more expensive I haven’t yet worked out because good balau is good balau is good balau. If the wider boards we taken from a different part of the tree, the heartwood vs. the sapwood, then I would understand the price difference, but they aren’t. It is a preference, at a price, that’s all.

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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We ran the deck boards all in the same direction on this wooden deck. With this deck we ran the deck boards parallel to the edge of the pool meeting each other at a 45° angle on the corners. It is far easier to run them all in the same direction as you will never get a problem of matching the cut ends. If one board is cut at 46° and one therefore at 44°, they will be of different lengths and will not match up. In this instance you need to install a barrier between then (one deck board’s width) to hide any difference in length between cut ends. But I’ll write another article about that later. Running them all the same way on both sides of the deck eliminates this problem.

You need to be careful though to start installing your deck boards in the middle of the deck and not on one end. If you start on one end, you may very well reach the 90° corner and find that you have to rip a deck board in half to cover your space. This is unsightly and will result in that deck board failing more quickly than the rest. So start in the middle and move outwards to both ends and end with a full deck board.

There was also some other work on this wooden deck build in that the client wanted a planter stand built so he could place potted plants in it and he wanted his Jacuzzi walls clad. We battled a bit with the Jacuzzi cladding as the original brick structure that was there was skew and we had to try to mitigate this by building up

Wooden Sun decks Durban

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our substructure to bring it back to square.

The cladded vertical posts you see in the pics alongside are 19 x 90 boards (x 3 of) around a 76mm steel awning post. We needed to build the steel awning post up to get to our 290mm and then attach it to the post. Although it looks very nice to have such bulky wooden posts, it does block the view slightly when sitting at the pool. Why 290mm when each board is 90mm (90mm x 3 = 270mm)? Because we set each corner chasing the other surface. And let’s just forget about the 5mm gap we had in between each board.

For a free no obligation quote for your wooden sundeck, pergola, walkway, screens or other timber construction please use the contact us form below or call us on 082 496 5444.