Balcony deck repair is a big deal and a major project, so choosing the right wood is crucial for longevity, performance and appearance. This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of various timber decking options to help you select the best materials for your balcony rebuild.
Speaking of materials for building decks, we have lots of useful articles about exactly that on the site:
- Pros and Cons of Merbau as a decking choice
- Can you install composite decking on top of the existing decking? In some situations, this may be an option instead of removing the old decking.
- An answer to the question of if Merbau decking shrinks.
Key Factors To Consider When Choosing Timber For A Balcony Rebuild
There are several key considerations when selecting decking timber:
Durability – The lifespan of the wood depends on hardness, density and natural resistance to rot and termites. Durable timbers withstand weathering and last longer.
Stability – Timber that resists cupping, swelling, shrinking and twisting performs better. Stable woods avoid bouncy floors and tripping hazards.
Slip resistance – Textured, grooved or brushed wood surfaces provide grip underfoot, especially when wet. This prevents slips and falls on balconies.
Cost – Rarer exotic hardwoods cost more than everyday softwoods. Find the right balance between budget and high-performing timber.
Appearance – Timber ranges from rustic brown hues through to contemporary pale tones. Match the visual style you want to achieve.
Eco-friendly options – Plantation pine, recycled plastic composite and sustainably harvested Spotted Gum are environmentally-friendly choices.
Hardwood vs Softwood – Which is Better for A Balcony Decking Replacement
Hardwoods like Spotted Gum and Ironbark have a higher density and natural durability. This makes them suitable for the demanding outdoor conditions balconies are exposed to. They resist swelling and last for decades with lower maintenance. Hardwoods cost more but provide excellent long-term value.
Softwoods like treated pine are cheaper and more readily available. But lower density means they are less hardy and weather-resistant. Softwoods require more frequent oiling, sealing and replacement. But with proper maintenance they can perform adequately on balconies at a lower upfront cost.
Top Options for Rebuilding a Balcony Deck
Here are five of the best timber species to consider when rebuilding balcony flooring in Australia:
1. Spotted Gum
Spotted Gum is one of the toughest native Australian hardwoods. Dense and naturally resistant to rot and termites, it lasts for 30-40 years outdoors. The strong wood minimizes bouncing and its natural oils provide some weather-resistance. Brushed Spotted Gum has slip-resistance. A durable classic Australian hardwood suitable for balconies.
Red Ironbark is slightly more affordable than Spotted Gum but shares similar durability and strength. The dense grain and natural termite/rot resistance allows decades of service life. When oiled regularly it withstands harsh weather exposure. AvoidGreen Ironbark which is less suitable. Red Ironbark offers excellent value for balcony rebuilds.
3. Modwood Composite
For a contemporary, low-maintenance option, Modwood Composite mixes recycled pine waste with recycled plastic. This makes is highly stable with no splintering, warping or rotting. It requires no oiling or sealing. Composite decking lasts 15-20 years and comes in a range of modern colors. Ideal for those wanting minimal upkeep.
4. Treated Pine
Treated Pine is the most affordable timber choice. It offers reasonable durability at a budget-friendly price point when properly preservative treated and maintained. H3 treated pine resists termites and H4 is suitable for outdoor balconies. Annual sealing/oiling maximizes lifespan. A cost-effective option for less critical balconies.
Blackbutt is a popular hardwood decking timber due to its appealing grain patterns. It shares similar density and durability to Spotted Gum. With a lighter color when freshly laid, it provides contemporary styling. The surface needs regular sealing but then it performs well even in coastal areas. A slightly more premium option.
Balcony Rebuild Cost Considerations
The cost of rebuilding your balcony can vary widely depending on the materials used and the size and scope of the project. Here are some key cost factors to keep in mind:
- Timber selection – Hardwoods like Spotted Gum are more expensive than softwoods like treated pine. But their extra durability offsets replacement costs.
- Composite vs timber – Composite decking involves a higher initial outlay but no ongoing treatment costs. Calculate total lifecycle costs.
- Demolition requirements – Removing old flooring, railings and posts adds demolition expenses. Minimal demo reduces costs.
- Access – Balconies higher up require scaffolding or machine access for delivery and construction, adding logistical costs.
- Size – Larger surface areas mean more materials and longer install time. Economies of scale make small balconies relatively pricier.
- Custom features – Tiered levels, planter boxes, benches and complex designs add intricacy pricing. Simpler is cheaper.
- Location – Construction costs in remote regional areas are typically higher than major cities due to transport.
- Quality materials – Top grade dense hardwoods are pricier but worth the investment long-term. Don’t compromise on structure.
- Construction method – Replacing like for like is simplest. Changing size, shape or materials increases complexity and costs.
A good builder can provide an itemized quote outlining all elements involved in your balcony rebuild and explain where savings can be made. Quality materials and proper prep work are wise investments for lasting performance.
Key Installation Factors to Maximize Durability
Proper installation is crucial to ensure your new balcony timber lasts. Here are key tips:
- Allow extra ventilation and airflow under the boards. Improve drainage and reduce moisture contact.
- Use corrosion-resistant fixings and fasteners suited to outside use. Galvanized nails are ideal.
- Follow manufacturer spacing and gap guidelines. Allow timber to expand and contract.
- Apply a finish like oil or sealer regularly, 1-2 times per year minimum.
- Inspect annually for faults and repair promptly. Early intervention prevents major damage.
- Consider timber look aluminium battens for lowest maintenance. Higher initial cost but exceptional longevity and performance.
What are the Benefits of Using Timber on Balconies?
Timber balcony decking offers multiple benefits:
- Natural warmth – Timber adds warmth and character compared to concrete or tiles
- Grip – Brushed or textured timber provides safe traction underfoot
- Insulation – Timber offers better sound and temperature insulation than other materials
- Comfort – The slight flex of timber feels more comfortable to stand on than hard surfaces
- Custom designs – Timber enables creative decking and privacy screen patterns
- Value adding – Quality timber boosts property resale value
Choosing durable, stable timbers ensures you enjoy these benefits for decades after your balcony rebuild.
Alternative Low-Maintenance Options to Timber
If you wish to avoid the regular maintenance timber requires, two alternatives to consider are:
Aluminum battens – Aluminum provides the look of timber with no oiling required. It won’t rot, warp or splinter. Aluminum battens outlast any wood, but lack the warmth and appeal.
Composite decking – As covered earlier, composite mixes recycled wood and plastic. It requires no ongoing treatment or sealing. But the surface gets hotter underfoot than natural timber.
These options remove maintenance needs in return for higher upfront cost and slightly different underfoot feel.
Key Things to Remember About Timber Selection
Here are key tips when selecting materials for your balcony rebuild:
- Hardwoods like Spotted Gum are worth the investment for their durability but require higher cost.
- Allow extra airflow under decking and use suitable outdoor fixings to maximize lifespan.
- Ensure timbers are properly seasoned and acclimatized before installation.
- Apply protective finishes regularly – don’t let the timber weather uncoated.
- Softwoods like treated pine can work if maintained diligently. Hardwoods need less care.
- Wide, solid boards feel more rigid underfoot than narrow planks.
- Utilize textured surfaces like wire-brushed timber for slip resistance.
- Dispose of any asbestos flooring safely before rebuilding.
Rebuilding your balcony with timber that balances aesthetics, performance and budget makes enjoying your outdoor space easy. Seek professional advice and don’t compromise on subframe structure. Invest now in durable timber for decades of structurally sound service life.
Here is a section on choosing the best balcony repair contractors:
Choosing the Best Balcony Repair Contractors
Choosing the right contractor is key to ensuring your balcony rebuild goes smoothly. Here’s what to look for:
- Experience – Seek specialists experienced in balcony construction using different materials like timber and composite decking.
- References – Ask potential contractors for referrals from past balcony rebuild clients. Contact referees to check quality of work.
- Reputation – Look for well-reviewed companies with a strong reputation for delivery, workmanship and service.
- Licensed – Verify all contractors are properly licensed, insured and operating legally. Don’t risk issues down the track.
- Local knowledge – Contractors familiar with local building codes and regulations have an advantage.
- Quality materials – They should recommend and source durable, compliant construction materials suited to your needs.
- Project management – Strong project oversight ensures the job stays on time, on budget and minimizes disruption.
- Warranties – Quality contractors will guarantee workmanship and materials for at least 5-10 years after project completion.
- Safety – Rigorous safety protocols, full insurance and containment ensure a safe worksite with no risks to the public.
Taking time to vet potential contractors thoroughly gives you confidence in the company undertaking your important balcony rebuild project. Prioritize specialists with strong references, local expertise and warranties for peace of mind.
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