Tips to en­sure you’re not floored while treat­ing a balau deck

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

presents or, more specif­i­cally, as pack­ing around cray­fish to be ex­ported.

I wish I could pub­lish some pho­tos as the ma­chines in use were man­u­fac­tured in the late 1940s and had been moved around the coun­try be­fore be­ing re­fur­bished and put into use some 15 years ago near Clan­william.

Don’t be em­bar­rassed to have a good scratch around dumps or scrap yards, you will be amazed by how much good, work­able ma­te­rial is thrown away. Lo­cal friends here are about to em­bark on an aquaponics project us­ing sal­vaged ma­te­ri­als.

There are just 15 work­ing days left be­fore the builders’ hol­i­days. En­sure that you have done all your plan­ning and that there are no last­minute hitches. Clients and con­trac­tors should be com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other on a daily ba­sis.

Eden asks: “I have a balau deck that was var­nished in er­ror. Ap­par­ently this wood should just be oiled. Now some of the var­nish is chip­ping off and it looks ter­ri­ble. The deck has grooves so is not smooth.

“Should I be try­ing to get all the var­nish off and what would be the best way to do it? The deck is quite large (over 20m2). What oil should I use on it af­ter­wards?”

Strip­ping tim­ber is never an easy task, and the fact that you have grooved deck­ing planks is go­ing to make it even more dif­fi­cult. I hope you have lots of pa­tience and el­bow grease. You are go­ing to need a wire brush and steel wool.

Start by brush­ing or scrub­bing with steel wool, but use no wa­ter or paint re­mover at this stage, first get rid of all the loose flakes. You can then de­cide to let it weather fur­ther or at­tack it with the ap­pro­pri­ate paint strip­per. As it is balau, it is fine to leave it un­treated for a fairly long time. Once you start us­ing a paint strip­per you will al­ways end up with a bit of a gooey mess, which will clog the brush or steel wool. Us­ing a me­chan­i­cal sander will dam­age the grooves, so I would pre­fer to let it weather and keep slowly chip­ping away with a dry process.

For the fu­ture, re­mem­ber balau does not ac­cept treat­ment well, and many peo­ple are happy just to let it weather and live with the grey colour which even­tu­ally forms. If you do want to change the ap­pear­ance, use an oil-based prod­uct that will soak into the wood. Thin the first coats down to en­sure max­i­mum pen­e­tra­tion. Consult your lo­cal hard­ware store for the cor­rect prod­uct – there are far too many for me to make a rec­om­men­da­tion.

Here’s another brain­teaser from Tony, who is ren­o­vat­ing his home in Wellington. I’m a bit wor­ried that with the time I take to an­swer all his ques­tions the project will never be fin­ished. I do how­ever think he de­serves The Ques­tioner of the Year award.

“I’m con­sid­er­ing ex­tend­ing my con­crete deck with 4 000mm long/1200mm wide/150mm thick pre­cast Hol­lo­core con­crete slabs. The ex­ten­sion slabs will be sup­ported at all ends by load-bear­ing brick (10mm cav­ity) walls.

“My builder men­tioned that there has to be a slip joint be­tween con­crete slab and sup­port wall(s). The con­trac­tor ad­vises the slip joint is merely two sep­a­rate pieces of reg­u­lar Masonite hard­board. Surely this can­not be but should be a spe­cial type of ma­te­rial?

“The sup­plier/man­u­fac­turer of the pre­cast con­crete slabs ad­vises no slip joint is needed. The slab gets placed raw on to raw brick wall(s). With no grout­ing be­tween slab and sup­port wall(s) there is a de­fault slip joint ef­fect?

“Please ad­vise which is the cor­rect slip joint method.”

Masonite is of­ten used as a bond breaker to form a slip joint, so no prob­lem with the type of ma­te­rial. As to whether a slip joint is es­sen­tial, in my opin­ion it is al­ways best to form a joint where dif­fer­ent types of ma­te­ri­als touch, as there will al­ways be dif­fer­en­tial move­ment, which will even­tu­ally form a crack, so it is best to con­trol where the crack is go­ing to oc­cur.

This is prob­a­bly less nec­es­sary where pre­cast pan­els are used as a large amount of wet con­crete will not be set­tling on to the brick­work be­low.

Re­mem­ber, if you are go­ing to be fix­ing over a “move­ment” joint, only se­cure the cover strip on one side of the joint, so that the cover does not try to move in two di­rec­tions. Sim­i­larly, if you are plas­ter­ing over a joint be­tween two dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als, re­mem­ber to cut through the plas­ter at the join and form a “V” joint, once again con­trol­ling the line of crack­ing.

● Keep your ques­tions or com­ments com­ing to don@ma­cal­is­ter.co.za or SMS only to 082 446 3859

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