Be Careful When Building a Timber Deck in a Bushfire-Prone Area

Timber decking is one of the most popular home projects in the Brisbane area. For many of us, there is nothing like the feeling of sitting on your own timber deck, enjoying some BBQ and some cold beverages. However, if you live in a bushfire-prone area, you need to know how you can enjoy the benefits of a timber deck without creating a larger risk of your home burning down.

We don’t have to rehash the tragic bushfires that we have seen in the last seven years, but one good thing has come from them: the introduction of higher building standards in bushfire prone areas. These higher standards may not just save your home someday, but your life and your family’s as well.

We have provided a link to AS 3959* at the end of this piece. We recommend that you read it thoroughly before you begin any timber project. We know that bushfire season is almost over, but you need to pay attention whenever you build your timber deck.

Building a Timber Deck in a Bushfire-Prone Area

Know Your Bushfire Threat

If you live anywhere in Australia, you are familiar with bushfires. In some locales, summer is known as “bushfire season.” Climate change has produced even hotter, drier summers and the incidence of bushfires has increased.

Many bushfire-prone areas are still highly populated. It is ingrained in our nature to not run and hide. Even when an area is devastated by a bushfire, it is rebuilt, stronger than ever. Since we continue to live in these areas, regardless of danger, it is crucial that we know exactly what we can do to make our homes as safe and bushfire-resistant as possible.

The most important factor to know before building a timber deck is your Bushfire Attack Level (BAL). The BAL is a simple number, but a lot goes into determining it. It measures your home’s risk of exposure to direct flame contact, ember attack and radiant heat. Some of the factors that go into determining the BAL: your area’s Fire Danger Index, the amount of buildings nearby, the amount of vegetation nearby and even the slope of the land on your property.

Building Timber Decking in Bushfire-Prone Areas

Once you know your BAL, the “rules” are easy.

If your rating is BAL Low, you can proceed as normal with no special requirements.

If your property is rated BAL 12.5-40, You must use bushfire resistant or non-combustible materials and enclose the space below the deck as a defense against ember attacks.

If your property is rated BAL Flame Zone, you must use non-combustible materials and enclose the space below the deck. There can be no gaps in the decking. The deck should be framed with steel and have no exposed timbers. The sub-floor and decking boards should consist of dense timbers.

Some timbers are naturally resistant to bushfires. Our favourite is Merbau, but you can also use Blackbutt, Red Ironbark, Turpentine, Spotted Gum or Silvertop Ash. All other materials should be fire-resistant or non-combustible.

Be Prepared

We advocate using some safety procedures that can help lower your risk of bushfire damage in any area. The two best ways are to make sure your timber deck meets bushfire standards. Also, your garden should be landscaped in a way that it helps reduce your chance of bushfire damage. Here are a few other things you can do.

Make sure the gaps in your boards are between 0 and 5mm. Anything larger can open your home to ember attack. The spaces below your deck should be enclosed with bushfire-resistant timbers or mesh. When sealing timber, use a non-combustible seal.

Keep woodchips and flammable shrubs away from the edge of your timber deck. Fire-resistant plants and stones are great substitutes. Make sure leaves and twigs are removed from your gutters and roof.

Your local fire authority may have more suggestions.

For the Best Timber Decking Materials in Brisbane…

For the best timber decking materials and customer service in Brisbane, call Narangba Timbers today. Our customer service people are extremely knowledgeable. We have a display deck and a decking calculator to make your purchase easy and your timber decking project successful.

To learn more, call (07) 3888 1293 today.

*Australian Standards AS 3959: “Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.” http://www.as3959.com.au/

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