Balau pool deck and walkway – Kloof, Durban

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We engaged with Masslandscapes, a landscaper and garden designer (082 468 3759) on this balau pool deck project in Kloof, Durban to provide a solution for the client who wanted an area alongside their pool that they could utilise more. Before the project started there was the standard paved area of about 1m alongside the pool which was bordered by grass of about 1m and then a flower bed, before dropping down a small bank to the rest of the garden. The client wanted to increase the size of usable area alongside the pool.

Initial designs were to have a very similar layout as per the pics above with a semi-circle sort of node protruding over the bank to gain height and create a look out area overlooking the Kloof Gorge. This proved to be out of budget and would probably have resulted in doubling up sitting area as there was already a large tiled verandah extending out from the living area doors. The final design was settled on which is what you see in the pics.

We needed to excavate some of the garden down and move this top soil for use in another area of the garden. It is always recommended that sufficient space be left below the deck and below the bottom of the lower most bearer or joist to allow enough air flow to dissipate and evaporate any water that settles below the deck. Too often I have seen deck boards rotting prematurely due to insufficient space being left below. Water gets trapped below and the underside of the deck and structure remains damp. I normally recommend at least 150mm below the lowest point of the structure. Once we had enough space below we installed our structure using H3 CCA treated pine. Please see here for an article on the use of CCA Treated pine as structures for decks and balau as deck boards. All cut ends of treated pine, as a matter of course, are re treated with an approved end sealer. When a CCA treated piece of pine is cut it exposes a section that is not treated and can accelerate rot.

Post to ground are set in concrete and installed at the correct distance on the bearers to stop any bounce in the bearer and to provide enough support to prevent the bearer breaking. There are guidelines supplied by engineers for distances that these supports need to be installed. These posts need to be H4 CCA treated pine as they are in constant contact with wet soil.

A lot of this job involved lining up existing paving, pool copings, patio etc. to the deck so the lines were seamless and everything ties in neatly. A walkway, as can be seen from the pics, was created to run alongside the existing raised patio for access to the rest of the garden.

In finishing our decks we fill the screw holes with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust to match the colour as closely as possible and then grind and sand it flat. Standard wood filler doesn’t quite do the trick and fails with exposure to weather. The filling of screw holes is a very important aspect of deck building. It prevents water sitting in the counter sunk screw hole which would then travel up the end grain of the balau and cause early rotting of the balau deck boards. We use a clear epoxy so that we can match the colour to the deck boards. Off the shelf epoxies are either grey or white in colour and don’t take the saw dust that well to match the colour. Also these epoxies dry very hard. It is better to use an epoxy that is semi pliable when dry. Through seasons of dry and wet, hot and cold, the inside diameter of the counter sunk screw hole will vary ever so slightly. If the epoxy has dried too hard it will cause it to pop out leaving a weak spot on the balau deck board. During maintenance intervals these should be checked and replaced if they have in fact popped.

The deck was oiled using a zero wax content product. The beauty of oil is that it soaks into the wood and therefore cannot peel and flake. A peeling deck is an expensive deck to maintain because you would need to sand off the coating completely to avoid a patchy finish when re-applying the coating. Whereas an oil simply degrades due to exposure to UV over time. A pressure wash and re-oil is all you need to do at maintenance intervals which is relatively inexpensive and easy to do as opposed to sanding the deck again. The oil also allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through resulting in a more natural wood looking product. Coatings give them the effect of a painted deck especially over time when layer after layer has been applied.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber balau decking, walkways, pergolas and other outdoor timber products, please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below. We operate throughout KZN.

Wooden Balau Walkway Umhlanga, Durban

Wooden Balau WalkwayThis wooden balau walkway, or bridge, leading to the beach, needed to be replaced as the old one, although it was nearly 20 years old, had started sinking on one side. It had been built on beach sand so the concrete that had been used to set the upright posts had sunk over time into the soft sand. This problem also occurs on decks that are built on the bluff as the Bluff is essentially one big sand dune, so many parts of it are soft enough to allow a post to sink over time.Wooden Balau Walkway

We overcame this problem by making use of a floating foundation. It is often used in building houses where the soil is very soft. Instead of throwing a concrete foundation beneath the walls and bringing the bricks up and then throwing a slab, the entire foundation is a concrete slab on top of which the bricks are laid. The result being that it creates a much larger foot print in the sand and is of course more difficult to sink than if it was a column of concrete.

This method solved the problem of the posts sinking, but created another problem in that there was no lateral support for our posts which would have resulted in them falling over. This was overcome by throwing a “pad” on every second post and every other post was set 600mm in the ground in concrete. So one post stopped it from sinking and the other gave it lateral support and stopped it from falling over.

The floating “pads” were 600mm x 600mm and 150mm thick with mesh in between to stop the concrete from cracking with the weight of the deck.Wooden Balau Walkway

The pics alongside show the “pad” that the upright posts sits on top of and a post that has been buried in the ground 600mm.

Once our structure was up we installed our joists and decked it using balau deck boards. The width was 1.5m so we installed 4 joists to give us joist centres of 500mm. This is about the maximum one can span a 19mm deck board without it bowing from the weight of a person. Anything bigger than 500mm will result in the deck surface being springy. One should aim for between 450mm and 500mm. This of course applies to a 19mm balau deck board. If another timber is being used, or the board is anything but 19mm thick, then this will vary.Wooden Balau Walkway

We used the uprights, which were 100 / 125, H4 CCA treated gum poles, as our uprights for our balustrade too so as to ensure that they were sturdy. Because our gum poles were between 100mm and 125mm in diameter, we had to use a 38 x 152 H3 CCA Treated pine capping; otherwise the capping would have been narrower than the upright which would have looked odd. We then installed droppers as our pickets and secured these through the top of the capping and from underneath the deck boards.

Our stairs leading from the last section of walkway to the beach were made using H3 CCA treated pine stringers and treads and we then clad the treads with balau to match the walkway surface.

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