Wooden balau Deck Built in Umkomaas – KZN South Coast

This wooden deck built in Umkomaas on the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal turned into a very nice job with many extras and a happy client who paid timeously. What a pleasure.

We removed and dumped an existing pine deck that had started to show signs of failure in the deck boards themselves. The structure was still ok as it had been built using H3 CCA Treated pine which is suitable for outdoors for a minimum of 50 years as per www.sawpa.co.za. It was the deck boards that had started to rot at the screw hole due to water sitting in the screw hole for long periods of time. It is very important to firstly close that screw hole at the time of building the deck and then to maintain them going forward to stop any water getting into the screw hole. Water will travel very quickly along the end grain of wood and this screw hole provides an ideal point of entry for water. They are simply filled with a clear epoxy mixed with saw dust to match the colour and then sanded flat before sealing or oiling the deck.

Once we had a clear slate we built a new deck using balau deck boards. We changed the design a few times as we built to accommodate the clients requirements. We tried to create a deck that would flow nicely from one level to the other. The top deck was built flush with the house and then we built steps at a 45 degree angle to gain access to the lower deck around the pool which extended along the front of the lower level sliding doors.

We included a curved front on the upper deck to break the straight lines and then clad that fascia as it was very visible when driving up the driveway. We normally include two deck boards as a fascia to the front edge of a deck to hide the structure below and finish it off neatly. In this instance we added four deck boards on the curve because the driveway is a lot lower then the deck and when driving up the driveway the underside of the deck was the first thing you see when entering the property. The client may still need to add planters with some plants in to completely cover that structure but the 4 deck boards give it a nice broad fascia which hides a lot of the structure.

The stairs were challenging. Originally they were to be curved risers and treads which would have meant either cutting deck boards at an angle and laying them straight or trying to bend the deck boards. The risers would have been easy enough by bending a deck board around the arc, but the treads would have been a bit more difficult because it would have meant bending the board through its width (not thickness). The centre of the circle, was off set to the corner of the deck or the top of the stairs and the centre of the circle occurred in the pool. So all in all not an easy task. Because the arc itself was quite gentle you would not have really noticed that it was curved so we opted for a straight edge to our risers and treads. Much easier and less problems going forward with deck boards trying to return to their original straight position. Often less is more.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden deck, pergola, stairs and other timber works please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Stainless Steel Wire Rope Balustrades, Durban

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Below is an article on wire rope balustrades to refresh the methods of installing them, display some pictures and highlight some pros and cons of this type of balustrade.

Wire rope balustrades are normally installed when one wants to avoid limiting the view as much as possible whilst still providing a barrier at the end of a deck. As opposed to solid timber balustrades which obstruct the view when in a seated position. A wire rope balustrade limits this as the cables are only 4mm thick.

On a standard 1m high compliant balustrade one would use 8 strands resulting in 9 gaps of 107mm each after taking into account that the capping is 30mm thick. Although the wire rope is tensioned on either end it is not tensioned to guitar string tension and can therefore be pulled open to create a bigger opening than 107mm. Care should therefore be taken when installing these wire rope balustrades if the property owner has small kids. They are not the safest and the height of the deck off the ground should be taken into account when choosing this style of balustrade.

As mentioned above the wire rope has a 4mm diameter. It consists of 19 smaller strands making up one larger strand (1 x19). The other type of wire rope is a 5mm wire rope. This is a 7 x 19. So it has 7 x 19 strands that make one 5mm strand. At The Wood Joint we use only the 4mm (1 x 19) wire rope as this is marine grade stainless steel and won’t tarnish as easily as the 5mm wire rope.

The 4mm rope doesn’t bend as easily as the 5mm rope so it cannot be used in conjunction with turn buckles where the rope needs to bend around the buckle 180º. Instead we make use of a swage and button head system where the wire rope is crimped into a swage on one end and a button head, which is sunk into the timber upright, on the other end. They are much neater than turn buckles but it does result in terminating the strands at a 90º corner and starting a new strand for the next run. As such, posts need to be doubled up so that a new button head can be installed where a swage terminates on the previous run. The end result is a slightly more expensive balustrade but one that won’t tarnish as easily and one that has a much neater appearance.

Care must be taken to cut the wire rope at the right length so as to have enough rope to insert it into the swage but not too much so that it can’t be tensioned properly. Once it is cut and crimped it can’t be re-cut or “uncrimped”.

The swage and button heads should be crimped towards the beginning and crimped twice to avoid failure later on. They can be finished off neatly with a stainless steel dome nut.

We are both suppliers and installers of wire rope balustrades. We own a crimping tool designed for 4mm wire rope which is also available for hire. Call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below for pricing and availability.

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.

Balustrades on Wooden Deck, Durban

There are a number of different types of wooden balustrades one can have built for your wooden deck. We offer this product in both Durban and Cape Town. I will run through a few options in this article and will mention the pros and cons of each one.

There is a slide show above which shows the different options. I do not have fancy names for them such as Colonial, or Mediterranean. I call them simply what they are.

The vertical picket wooden balustrades are probably the only ones that are compliant in terms of building regulations as none of the gaps are larger than 100mm. They are generally made from 60 x 60 balau upright posts attached to the fascia beam or first or last joist in a wooden deck. We use the 60 x 60 upright post on the corners and in the middle of a long run. All other intermediary posts are 30 x 60 balau. There is a top rail and a bottom rail onto which the vertical pickets are attached. Rails are generally 30 x 40 and pickets are 20 x 30 balau. The bottom rail is set at 100mm off the deck surface and the top rail can be set either 100mm below the capping, or directly beneath the capping. The capping is generally made from a 30 x 102 balau giving it ample width to place a glass or lean comfortably on it. The capping is then routed to give the corners a rounded edge. The distance between upright posts is determined by the total length of the wooden balustrade resulting in equal spaces between uprights. Pickets too are set at equal spaces between uprights. This is the most affordable design of balustrade as it is fairly simple to construct.

The Criss Cross design can come in two main designs. A simple criss cross between uprights with a capping on top or a criss cross between uprights with a box in the middle of the criss cross. The two pieces of timber that are used for the criss cross are normally notched half way through each piece at an angle so that they fit snugly into each other instead of lapping over each other. The box is also set inside the two criss cross pieces so that the whole balustrade is in line rather than pieces over lapping each other. This design can be expensive as the method to construct is time-consuming and the pieces of timber are generally larger than the vertical picket design. It can also be changed to result in many different patterns.

The wire rope design is particularity useful when you don’t want to obscure the view when seated. A balustrade at 1m high will block the view in a seated position for most average height people. The wire rope is 4mm in diameter so it is less visible than say a 30mm piece of timber. The posts are generally also 60 x 60 and 30 x 60 uprights with a capping of 30 x 102 balau on top. The wire rope is set at 100mm intervals but can be opened wider as they are not tensioned to guitar string tension. As such they are not suitable if you have small kids and anything over 1m from the deck to ground level. The swages, turn buckles and wire rope are all marine grade stainless steel.

For a free no obligation quote on your timber balustrade requirements please call us 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.

Timber Sundecks in Durban

Wooden decks Durban

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“Summertime ….. And The Livin’ is Easy “… Or it CAN be !! …Yes, with the South African summer right on the doorstep now, what’s the best Christmas present you could give to your family (and yourself)? (This one won’t fit into a Christmas stocking however …)

Ponder and Dream of how ‘lekker’ it would be to have a good quality sundeck in our sunny climate, leading off your lounge, and onto your pool or into your garden… and yes, in South Africa a sundeck is as important as your lounge, or more so because of our outdoor lifestyle.

Who to get to build it?
The benefits of having it professionally installed versus a ‘fly by night builder’, or tackling this mammoth task yourself; the importance of the maintenance of your valued product and the importance of what wood type to use in its construction are all considerations to take into account when planning to invest in this forever “best thing I ever did” choice. Make it your Christmas gift to the whole family, all in one!

Wooden decks Durban

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Materials used in the construction include the following. All are good quality materials, able to weather the weather (pun intended) if properly maintained. An example:

• Balau (an imported hardwood from Indonesia, extremely dense, contains toxins that prevent termite damage and resins which repel water to prevent rot).
• Kalgard screws (similar to epoxy coating where the coating on the screw is baked on
• Stainless Steel Screws
• Epoxy to fill screw holes where the screw has been counter sunk to prevent water getting in the little hole which slows down rot
• Timber preservative rather than varnish (varnish sits on top and cracks and flakes from the UV in the sun’s rays, whereas timber preservative soaks into the wood nourishing it thereby preventing flaking and peeling of varnish.)
The Wood Joint pays special attention to detail in all products and places great importance on durability and longevity in their products by applying sound techniques and slightly over engineering most products.

Wooden decks Durban

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They pride themselves in their quality workmanship and use only top quality timber sourced from reputable suppliers.

A sundeck is a valuable addition to any home and will not only provide many years of enjoyment, but will also enhance the value of your property.

With the correct care, maintenance costs can be kept to a minimum and the life span of your deck increased.

The Wood Joint will assist you in a design that will be cost effective and will best suit your needs taking into account the existing structure that is in place.

With years of experience in the deck building industry, The Wood Joint can advise, design, maintain and erect your deck in the most cost effective and structurally best methods.

Other Products, Other Timbers …
“We have listed the three most commonly used timbers to construct decks which have been selected due to their structural strength, longevity and cost effectiveness. There are however other timbers that can be used and these can be discussed individually.”
The Wood Joint (www.thewoodjoint.co.za) from my experience and that of many is dependable, reliable, knowledgeable and professional … View their website to see the quality and standard of their Sundecks and a wider portfolio of other specialities their experience encompasses:

• Sundecks
• Balustrades
• Pergolas
• Walkways
• Garden Bridges
• Pool Decks
• Screens (vertically installed to provide privacy)
• Cladding (on walls mainly for aesthetic purposes)
Wood
Balau

The most commonly used, and most cost effective timber, is Balau which is sourced from south East Asia. It is a yellow – brown to dark brown timber with a fine texture and interlocked grain and is extremely durable under tropical conditions.

It is a fairly heavy timber weighing between 800 kgs and 1, 000 kgs per cubic metre when dry.

It can be sealed or left unsealed. Unsealed it weathers to a grey colour. It can also be stained easily using a variety of tints to change the colour.

Garapa

Garapa is also a popular decking material as it is hard, heavy, tough and strong and is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insect attack. Found most commonly in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Eastern Peru.

It normally weighs between 800 kgs and 960 kgs per cubic metre when dry. A fine grained timber varying in colour from yellowish to yellow – brown / yellow – pink.

It is, to a degree, scratch resistant reducing sanding during scheduled maintenance.

Massaranduba

Sourced form the West Indies and Central and South America, this timber is suitable for decks due to its hardness.

It is extremely heavy weighing in at about 1, 050 kgs per cubic metre when dry.

The texture is fine and uniform. The grain is usually straight but sometimes interlocked.

The heartwood is light red to rose red.

Keruing

Keruing is naturally found in South East Asia.

The timbers vary in colour from pinkish-brown to dark brown and look rather characterless. Grain is straight or shallowly interlocked and the texture is moderately coarse and even. All of the species contain oleo-resins and many of them will exude it onto surfaces during drying or when exposed to heat or sunshine when in use.

The weight is variable too but is generally within the range 720 to 800 kg/m3 when dried.

It is moderately durable.

For free quotes and more information on The Wood Joint’s various wooden products contact us on 082 496 5444 or complete the form below.

 

Wire Rope Balustrades

A turnbuckle

Wire rope balustrades are quite common nowadays especially if a modern and sophisticated look is required.

There are two types of wire rope balustrades available.  The first is a 5mm stainless steel cable or rope attached to the uprights of the balustrade which should be balau of about 60mm x 60mm.  This is attached using a turnbuckle as depicted in the image and can be tightened as time goes by and the wire rope stretches slightly.  The tension of this rope should be taught but not too tight.  This 5mm cable or rope can normally turn corners and hence less turnbuckles are required per length of wire rope.

The second method, and my preferred one, is a 4mm marine grade stainless steel wire rope with button heads on either end.  The 4mm wire rope is normally of a higher grade than the 5mm rope and tends to tarnish less over time.  I have found the 5mm rope to often contain one rogue strand which will tarnish and spoil the look of your balustrade.  This method requires button heads on either end but the 4mm rope normally cannot turn corners and more button heads are therefore required.  Each length of rope should run in one continuous straight run and a new length started once a corner is encountered.  A hole is simply drilled into the balau uprights, the button head inserted and the wire rope threaded through and crimped.  It too can then be tightened and again it should be taught rather than too tight.

Care should be taken to drill level holes that are equidistant as the slightest difference will be noticeable.  Particular care should also be taken when drilling holes on uprights that are on diagonal stairs.  A trick is to snap a chalk line the total length of the required wire rope and then drill the balau upright from both ends with the holes meeting in the middle.  One cannot see any kink in the wire rope inside the timber but it is more noticeable where it enters and exits the balau upright.

It is normally better to install the wire rope balustrade after the balau has been sealed or coated as this will eliminate the chance of accidentally coating or sealing the button heads or turnbuckles.

Both methods require a crimping tool to crimp the button heads or turnbuckles on either end.  This can be purchased often at a considerable price or one can be made using a large bolt cutter and adapting the head.  However, only attempt making one yourself if you have the skills and the correct tools, as the correct crimping is vital to ensure that the wire rope does not pull out of the button head or turnbuckle, resulting in a fresh length of wire rope having to be used.

The capping on top depends on choice but I have mostly used a 30 x 102 balau capping which is fastened using kalgard screws to the top of the uprights.  Again use as long a length as possible in any one straight run and if a join is necessary ensure that a 45° angle is cut to reduce lifting on the join.