Archive for the ‘Timber Structural / Construction / Other’ Category

Transporting Tasmanian timber

There is not a person around during this day and age who has not read about or considered the environment and the sustainability of specific actions.  These issues are incredibly hot topics for our generation and are starting to make huge impacts on the way that we think and of course what we shop for.  It is now not all about the bottom line and how cheaply products can be made, delivered and purchased.  As consumers it appears more and more we are prepared to pay more in order to ensure that we are receiving a level of satisfaction that we each, in our own small way, are supporting a better future for our children.

One area this debate is turning into action is within the construction industry.  Companies around the world who produce building materials are looking for ways to recycle, reuse and renew, in addition to reducing their carbon footprint.  This industry has a huge impact with the choices it makes, from the manufacture of the materials, to their treatment using chemicals and power, right through to their transportation and storage.

Sustainable forests are the future.

One of the main materials used for building has been timber.  Timber is a natural resource and is renewable, however the demand for timber has lead to a number of areas being logged to extinction.  This has not only caused the habitat destruction to millions of animals, but is threatening to send other animals into extinction and having a detrimental impact on the ozone.  As a result of this the industry for a time looked to other materials such as concrete, steel and plastic, however they too have an impact which for steel in particular is considered now to be higher than that of wood.

Both industries are still working hard to improve the ‘greenness’ of their offerings, and it is leading to some exciting new directions.  Steel producers have greatly curbed the amount of emissions and timber companies are selecting their timbers more carefully and taking a larger role in ensuring their sustainability. Certainly the planting of more timber has a direct effect on improving our environment.

But that all stated it is hard to compare the two side by side and determine which is better collectively, steel or timber on the environment, they are both needed in construction and will both be continued to be used.  Some timber companies are not so reputable, yet some steel companies are investing millions into their solutions, or vice versa.  It is therefore important in your choice of product to make it count by choosing products which are actively seeking to be sustainable and to promote the environment.  Be proactive, there are good and bad on both sides.

For building your deck at home, we love the look of natural timber, it is beautiful and sustainable, and if you look after it, it can last you a good 30+ years.

For all your timber construction needs, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural and Construction.

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Photo from timber for bush fire prone areas report (click on image for link). Photo by Paul Harr (architect) extracted from report

If you live in a part of Australia that is subject to the threat of bush fires, then using timber that resists fire is of extreme importance.  So today we thought we would explore which timbers are best for this purpose.

Basically all houses that are built in bushfire areas (as determined by the applicable State Government) are subject to Australian Standard AS3959 and covers “the most effective means for addressing the threat to houses” as a result of fire and related heat, sparks etc.  Houses are then categorised as to their level of risk.  If you live in such an area it is wise to pick up a copy.

Now it is necessary to silence the rumblings which suggest that having a deck in a bush fire prone is the most likely thing to cause the property to be vulnerable to a bushfire.  It is not true, the single biggest danger actually comes from a failure to adequately clear vegetation from around the home.  All homes in such areas should have a moat of non vegetated land.  If you have a deck then your land moat should extend around it.

This information is backed up by a report by Warrington Fire Research Australia, which confirms the CSIRO’s earlier findings that even where houses are made of wood or have external wooden features like a deck, that the destruction was not caused by the timber igniting, but rather from ember entry into the house.  The summary is that houses tend to burn from the inside to the out, using household furnishings as their main fuel.

All that said, there are still ways to ensure that the timbers you use are the best for your area.  There are seven high-density native hardwood timbers which have significant natural fire resistance.  These timbers are classified as fire retarding by the AS3959 so can be used without treatment in bush fire areas:

  • Blackbutt
  • Kwila (Merbau)
  • Red Iron Bark
  • Red River Gum
  • Sivertop Ash
  • Spotted Gum
  • Turpentine

These timbers are fairly readily available and you can find them also in the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Decking, Cladding and Fencing Section along with in the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural, Construction and Other section.

Blackbutt wood from Timeless WA Hardwoods

If you have already built your deck and are in a bush fire prone area to a category 3 level you can use a product called Firetard120, which is a fire retardant for timber.  It has been tested by the CSIRO and approved up to this level.  Using an alternative treatment like this can be a less expensive option for some, and also allows a wider range of timbers to be used.  For example if you have your heart set on a particular type of timber, treating it with this product, which dries clear, will assist in making your timber fire resistant.

Of course you do not have to be in a fire prone area to want to treat your external timber decks and other structure.  That is why such products are great.

For more information, about Building with timber in fire prone areas and use of Fire Resistant Technology, click on these two links.

Spotted Gum Deck from Bransons Building Materials

If you decide to build your own deck sometime this spring one of the first questions that will leap to mind will be what is the best Australian decking timber to use?  There are so many different types around, so how do you select something that will both look good and be durable in your area?  Well today we are going to look at hardwood decking timbers and what is available.

Knowing and considering your climate and the conditions your deck will endure is so important because as a natural product timber is susceptible to its environment.  If you live in a dry area and your decking will potentially be exposed for many hours to harsh direct sunlight it will require a different type of timber than if you are up in the snowy mountains.  The other thing to consider is whether the area is subject to pests, for example if you have had termites previously, planning on a termite resistant timber will be essential.  All in all though if you keep in mind that Australian timber is best suited to Australian conditions you will be on the right track.

Why hardwood?

Hardwood timber represents the strongest and most durable timber for deck building, but you will find that as such it is more expensive than softwood.  Hardwoods are generally more resilient to pests and are reacher in colour.  Timber is ranked on its strength and durability, the scale runs from 1 (highest) to 4 (lowest).  All timbers used for decking should be at least a level 1 or 2.

The timbers most commonly available in Australia are:

  • Bartu & Merbau – These two types of timber are from Asia, but have been included because they are favoured by many Australians as the choice of timber decking.  They are both of class 2 durability and are usually cheaper than the Australian natural timbers.
  • Blackbutt – Is great to use in areas that are in a Bush Fire classified area because they have a natural fire resistance.  Blackbutt has a durability class of 2 and is Brown in appearance
  • Ironbark – Ironbark is stronger than Blackbutt (durability class 1) and can be purchased in a red colour or grey colour.
  • Jarrah – Has a durability rating of 2 and has a beautiful deep crimson shade to it.
  • River Red Gum – Durability of 2 and is a pale cherry red colour
  • Spotted Gum – Is great to use in areas that are in a Bush Fire classified area because they have a natural fire resistance.  Like the Blackbutt it also has a durability of 2 and is Brown in colour, though you can get some fantastic variation in Spotted Gum.
  • Stringy Bark – Comes in a three key colours, Yellow Stringy Bark, White Stringy Bark and Red Stringy Bark.  All have a durability rating of 3, except the Red Stringy Bark which is currently at 2, though may be likely to move to a 3 soon.  Because it has a lower durability ask an expert in your area to confirm whether it is a suitable timber species for your deck in your area.
  • Tallow wood – Has a durability of 1 and is yellowish in color.

Australian Hardwoods - image from Aus Timber Supplies

Find your hardwood timber at DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural, or for more information on selecting timber for Australian decking see the Deckwood Selection Guide published by Outdoor Structures and more information on the durability ratings of timber can be located at Wood Solutions – Timber – Natural Durability Ratings.

Engineered Timber from Timber Engineered Structures.

What is it?

Well it is hard to say quickly many times in a row, but more than this Engineered Timber may be the way forward for the majority of Australia’s buildings.

But back to what is Engineered Timber and it is a term that covers a wide range of timbers that have been enhanced in order to tailor their suitability for specific uses, particularly for use in structural situations.  The timber is a composite of wood and wood fibre with adhesives and other materials which improves the durability and strength of the piece.

What can it be used for?

This type of timber can be used for all sorts of purposes and can be made into a number of different shapes and sizes.  The Structural Timber however is mostly sold in the form of a beam and is perfect for all structural home building, especially for decking where you may want a natural look rather than trying to blend steel and wood together.

Curved timber design by Timber Engineered Structures

This type of engineered timber can even be used to create curved timber designs such as this one here.  This image is taken from the Timber Engineered Structures Website and shows just how much this type of timber can achieve.

Why use it?

Even if you do decide to use timber over steel, why would you choose Engineered Structural Timber over a natural hardwood?  Well the answer is quite simply because it is made from well managed, environmentally friendly plantation timber.  Many of the providers also limit their plantations to Australia and New Zealand, meaning the money and control of those plantations remains here.

Both steel and natural timber levy a cost on our natural habitat, whether it is by cutting down rainforest timber that will take decades to reestablish itself or by using steel which may cause the emission of toxic gasses into the atmosphere.  Although  steel companies are rapidly improving the level of emissions and their recycling schemes, engineered timber is still the more eco-friendly option.

Who supplies Engineered Timber?

There are a number of manufacturers and suppliers of sustainable engineered structural timber around.  The DIY Bargain Bin Structural Timber section is a good place to start your search with many suppliers listing their stock with us.

Alternatively see these websites for more details:

Attached Carport by Extreme How-To. For the designs to this carport see the list of carport designs below.

So we have gone through the initial questions of design and you should now have spoken to the council and be ready to prepare formal plans if required.  But before we get down to choosing a plan in order for you to build the carport yourself, lets recap on our checklist.

Checklist:

  1. Decide your preference for a freestanding or connected carport
  2. Have a decent picture in your mind about how you want your carport to look, how high it will be and how long, is it single or double, etc.
  3. Measure and confirm where it will go and that it fits.  Also measure the distances to the nearest boundaries or other structures.
  4. Talk to your neighbours and get their confirmation that they do not mind your new structure.
  5. Speak to your council and get information including any restrictions with your building and what you need to supply to the council if you  do need to apply for council approval.
  6. Select your design and modify it to suit your look.
  7. Choose your materials ensuring these are in line with council requirements.  Go for durable material that suits the environment you live in.
  8. Draw up your plans showing both the design and measurements and note on the plans your materials.  Your diagrams will need to be quite detailed.
  9. Apply for approval.
  10. Invite your mates over and have a ‘build a carport’ weekend!

In Building a Carport Part 1 we looked at items 1-3 on the checklist above and in Building a Carport Part 2 we reviewed 4 and 5.  Now we will look at the remaining points.

Choosing a design

So you know roughly how you want your carport to look, so now it is just a matter of finding a design to match.  We have scoured the internet and bring you some of the best designs around:

  • How to build a wood-free carport – this carport is described by eHow as moderately easy to build but lacks pictures and diagrams to assist.
  • Free standing carport plans and construction details – I really like these plans from BuildEazy as they go into much more detail and include images of what you need to do.  You will find this is a single carport with only a slight sloping roof.  Be aware that some councils will require more of a slope.  Note that this carport design comes in imperial and metric versions.
  • Two car garage with either a frame or post construction – These are great detailed plans of a two car garage.  You will find them on this site under number 5929 and 5930.  It would be quite easy to adapt these plans to your own carport because they are so well done.
  • A shade cloth carport – A different idea altogether from DIY Site these are plans for how to construct a carport using shade cloth.
  • Attached Carport – This design from Extreme How-To shows with plenty of instruction, diagrams and photos how to build an attached carport.

Shade cloth carport from the DIY Site. For instructions on how to build this carport, see the link above.

Choosing your materials

Most of these designs clearly list the materials that you will need in order to make the carport.  The next step is to choose what timber and what screws you should use.  If you are not used to building such structures it may be worth talking to your local hardware store.  Seek out the appropriate expert to guide you as to what you need to consider when purchasing, but some of the items you might want to consider are whether there are issues with termites, longevity of the material (weather resistant such as treated wood and galvanised steel).  Check out the DIY Bargain Bin for all your requirements as you can save a lot of money buying from one of our suppliers than purchasing direct from another timber supplier.

Draw up your plans

It is now time to draw up your formal plans. Remember at this stage you should already be fairly comfortable with what the council will and will not allow.  If you are not able to draw up the plans to the level of detail you may wish to hire an expert to do these for you.  An example of how your plans must look is shown in the image below which was taken from Whitehorse Council’s (VIC) website.

Sample plans for a carport sourced from Whitehorse Council's website.

Check with your council on the exact information they want to see and what scale the diagrams should be.

You are now ready to apply for approval.  Once received you are ready to go ahead with construction of your carport.


3D Playground designed by Billy Robb for DIY Life

That is right Billy Robb has come up with five easy playground ideas and structures which you could create at home for less than $100, probably even cheaper if you source the materials from the DIY Bargain Bin.

These structures are fantastic and would be a lot of fun to put together and go to show that you don’t need to have expensive swing sets to create a bit of fun in your garden.  The one thing that all kids seem to possess in huge quantities is imagination.  At this young age they are not constrained in any way and are free to dream that anything and everything is possible.  Structures like the lava walk and the sand pit can entertain boys and girls for many hours.

The Lava Walk, photo by Billy Robb for DIY Life

There are five structures which Billy Robb has put together in a 3D tool, but you can separate and move them around to suit your needs.  If you do not have a girl, maybe the monkey bar may not be necessary, but if you have two girls maybe two of different heights will give them both something to play on.

However you mix and match them, these playground ideas are a winner for any home.  Check out the full series of photos and construction tips at DIY Life.

For all your materials, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural, Construction section, or for a pre built Play Ground, see the DIY Bargain Bin Play Equipment.

So you have decided to build yourself a new deck and quickly want to get up to speed on everything that you need to know in order to create something fantastic?  Doing your research is important, but you don’t want to spend all your spare time looking up facts and information that may or may not be useful.  So today we want to help you, here is 40 minutes of video from two providers, watch these and much of your research should be done.

1. The Home Hardware Australia How to Build a Deck video Part 1 and Part 2 at a little over 11 minutes is time well worth spending.  Start the Part 1 video at about the 1.30 minute mark to skip the ads and the self promotion.  The second video starts straight up where the first video stops with no extra ads.

2. Lowes have a fantastic six part series on Deck Building.  Each part is between 4-5.5 minutes long and is much more comprehensive than the Home Hardware video.  The full series will take just under half an hour to view and includes Part 1 Designing a Deck, Part 2 Deck Layouts and Plans , Part 3 Setting the Posts and Footings, Part 4 – Framing and Decking, Part 5 – Building Deck Stairs, Part 6 -Finishing the Deck.

From here you have a basic understanding of what is involved, it is now a matter of making your own plans and then working out what additional information you need and go find it.  Remember in Australia you may have to submit your plans to council for approval before you commence building.

Check out the DIY Bargain Bin first for all your decking needs, we have a great range of Timber Decking, Structural decking and every other bit of hardware that you need to make your timber deck a reality at a fraction of the price.