Timber decking in bushfire-prone areas
THE APPEAL of natural elements in home design is enduring and, according to Boral Timber, Australian timber remains one of the most desirable materials for domestic deck and verandah construction.
To minimise the risk to property during a bushfire, Boral Timber is reminding decking professionals to consider a number of design and landscaping rules and year-round maintenance measures. “New structures must comply with the requirements of the Australian Standard (AS3959 -2009) Building in Bushfire Prone Areas,” says Leon Travis from Boral Timber.
“In addition, check that decking is spaced at around zero to five millimetres, as larger gaps of five to 10 millimetres have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to ember attack*. Fill in small gaps around the deck structure where an ember might be able to lodge - larger openings can be fitted with ember guards, such as perforated mesh with two millimetre openings.
“Use mesh or bushfire resisting timbers to enclose the subfloor of the verandah. Blackbutt and Spotted Gum decking from Boral are suitable for use in bushfire prone areas up to BAL 29, as set out under Australian Standard AS3959,” says Travis.
As part of wider property protection measures, Travis also encourages contractors to discuss deck maintenance with their clients. “A few simple steps can help to protect an existing verandah before and during the fire season, such as trimming back or removing shrubs near an opening to the house, removing leaves and twigs from roofs and gutters, sealing verandah’s with a non-combustible seal, and substituting flammable woodchips and shrubs with decorative stones and more fire resistant plant species. If they are in any doubt, homeowners can contact the local fire authority for more information.”
Boral Timber recommends Australian hardwood species for the building of decks and a variety of other exterior home improvements, because of their high density, toughness and durability.
Derived from AS3959-2009 (Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas) - Clause 5.7.1