by Boral Masonry

With its natural appeal and durable properties, timber continues to be an attractive home design solution, particularly for verandah and deck construction.  Homeowners in bushfire prone areas must be extra vigilant about protecting their properties from fire and according to Boral Timber there are decking timbers available which are classified as fire resistant*.

“Anyone constructing a deck in a bushfire zone must ensure they comply with the requirements of the Australian Standard (AS3959 -2009) Building in Bushfire Prone Areas. When selecting a timber species, Blackbutt is a good choice as it has naturally fire resistant properties which means it is suitable for use in bushfire prone areas up to Bushfire Attack Level 29 as set out under AS3959,” said Clinton Skeoch, Market Development Manager with Boral Timber.

There are many steps that can be taken to protect existing verandahs before and during the fire season to reduce the impact of direct flames and wind driven embers.  To minimise the risk to property during a bushfire, Dominic Adshead, GHD Senior Consultant (Bushfire Management) advises homeowners, builders and landscaping professionals to consider a number of landscaping and year round maintenance measures.

“Homeowners should carefully consider landscaping around their decks and verandahs. In the event of fire, shrubs planted adjacent to a house or structure can act as a 'ladder fuel' which can allow a ground fire to travel up into the shrub and then into the wall or roof of the house or structure.  It’s important to cut back or remove shrubs, particularly those next to windows,” said Adshead.

Top tips:

  • Keep verandahs well maintained by sealing timber with a non-combustible seal
  • 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 2mm openings)
  • Check that decking is spaced at around 0 - 5mm; gaps of 5 - 10mm have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to ember attack**
  • Remove leaves and twigs from the roof and gutters
  • Enclose the subfloor of the verandah using mesh or bushfire resisting timbers*; Boral Timber recommends species such as Blackbutt and Spotted Gum
  • Flammable shrubs and woodchips, that in the event of a bushfire will become fuel, should not be used for landscaping immediately adjacent to the deck; decorative stones and more fire resistant plant species could be substituted
  • If you live near bushland, prepare a bushfire plan
  • If in any doubt contact your local fire authority for more information.

With their high density, toughness and durability Australian hardwood species are recommended for the building of decks, verandahs and other exterior home improvements.  Boral has achieved Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) chain of custody certification (AS 4707-2006) for its timber products. This means that timber used to produce Boral Timber's hardwood flooring, decking and structural timber has been sourced from certified, legal and sustainably managed resources.  The Australian Forestry Standard Scheme also has mutual recognition by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Scheme (PEFC) - the world's largest forest management certifier.

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