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Preserving a Jarrah deck

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Budding Contributor

Preserving a Jarrah deck

Hi all... As said earlier I designed and built a house with a large deck area then moved in 20 years ago. We designed our dream house in the late 80’s, then 1994 bought a property in the NSW Northern Rivers, rehashed original design to include veranda decks around 40% so we could drink in the magnificent views to the border ranges. The house was built by me as owner/builder with contract labour and we took occupancy in 1999. All as designed. Double brick cavity walls to the N and W with timber decking to the NE and E and plain timber boarding to the South. Great.

 

Being from WA we learned to love WA Jarrah. DYK they even used it to build and repair ships.  So when we built the house we ordered Jarrah decking from the local merchant. No problem we were told. It arrived fully wrapped to protect it from the weather. Six months later we laid the deck.  Great. We were surprised at the colour variations but didn’t query it. Roll forward ten years… deck boards splitting, some boards showing rot but not all.  We went back to the suppliers. 

 

Years later I discovered when recoating the deck that I did not have WA Jarrah, just "mixed red hardwoods".  The deck area is not entirely under cover in all areas; one section is heavily exposed to full sun plus the onslaught of heavy weather. Some time back when investigating why some boards seemed not to last, I discovered that a large portion of the boards laid were imported Jarra (note the spelling) from South America.

 

We had received mixed red hardwoods. No wonder there was such a colour variation. The mix we were assured was created around Jarra. Oh yeah. Note the spelling; no ‘H’. Imported from Brazil. Given the mix of species there was an obvious lack compatibility with the deck weatherproofing treatment especially for the Brazilian crap.

So obviously I looked for new suppliers. All east states suppliers without exception said WA Jarrah was exhausted and no longer available. I said bulldust. So I started contacting Jarrah timber mills in our old stomping ground around Pemberton.  Yep… still available. Ordered sufficient to relay the main deck area. It arrived no problem plastic wrapped again. Yep. This time we unwrapped it. All real Jarrah. No knots all straight grained and consistent across every board. We then stacked the jarrah on concrete blocks under the house set well back from weather so that it all could dry out uniformly. Now its all perfect, stable and ready to lay. One characteristic of Jarrah is that it remains stable and equally workable no matter how old it is. Some of the outer boards exposed to light have greyed a little however its all dry and straight. Beautiful.

 

Plan is now to rip the old boards off, cover the bearers with today’s Malthoid equivalent, Camo hidden screw in covered areas and SS bugle head screws in exposed areas.  Sand the lot for uniformity, replace handrails and balustrades with laminated Jarrah boards, seal it all then enjoy the views at our feet and far away all over again.

 

Now the original deck is truly unsafe to toddlers (grandkids) and I am preparing to replace the deck however I am looking for recommendations in regard to what preservation treatment to adopt, both before laying and after.

 

Now Bunnings, east coast version has an issue. Would you believe it we have Jarrah round tables and stools on our deck bought from Bunnings in Midland way back in the ‘80’s. And they were only ever coated (oiled) once.  

 

So it’s become clearly evident now that none of the east coast advisors know a thing about WA Jarrah. All they seem to know is that Jarrah is a colour that comes in a can and is used on lots of timbers to, guess what, make the crappy Jarra or Merbeau etc., look like Jarrah.

 

So how do I get a reputable reference to a product that best suits optimising the natural weather resistance of WA Jarrah while retaining its natural colour and not adding to it.  All key to regaining our dream house before I croak.

 

Anyone got any ideas/suggestions?

 

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Hi @Taken4ride

Welcome to Workshop. Sorry for the delayed response, I had a short break over the last week.

 

I've moved your reply to a new standalone discussion as it should get more attention. Let me also tag some helpful members who might have experience with Jarrah and be happy to help. @ProjectPete@Adam_W@Yorky88@Brad.   

BTW, the site automatically saves any half-finished posts. Just go to your My Profile page by clicking on the icon next to your username on the top right corner of any page. Towards the bottom of your My Profile page you can find a list of any draft posts and go back to finishing them.

 

Thanks,

 

Jason

 

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Valued Contributor

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Hi @Taken4ride , sounds like an awesome deck!
To protect and enhance the natural colour you only ever want to use a clear or natural 'oil'. I say 'oil' as some are water-based these days which obviously means they aren't a true oil but they do work like one.
I'll admit to having no direct experience with real jarrah (apart from walking through a jarrah forest in WA years back...) but any oil will need to be reapplied occasionally depending on the situation (weather exposure etc.)

Basically you want to look for a premium quality clear or natural oil (un-tinted) that is suitable for decking.
I've been using Intergrain products on timber around here & I'm pretty happy with them, these are penetrative oils so the timber really soaks it up. They have a decking specific range too but that appears to be more of a surface coat than penetrating, I haven't tried that.
Hope this helps.

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Trusted Contributor

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

+1 to using an oil based finish. Intergrain, British Paints and Cabots all have oils. Feast Watson has a wet look product, jury is out on if I would use it. Enrich is an oil and at $23 for 4 litres I may test it out. I would avoid the products that have a surface film as recoating would most likely involve sanding back.
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Former Workshop member
Not applicable

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Absolutely +1 to the natural penetrating oils. +1 also don't do surface film, you'll regret it forever... plus real jarrah doesn't need it. I made a gate from jarrah - I think we used tung oil, but many years ago now. The new owners said it was still perfect about six years on. I believe they recoated in oil once a year just 'because'. I love real jarrah - was gonna do a picket fence on the same property, but the wood started to disappear - this was back in NSW, and I couldn't get a reliable supply, so that idea went out the window.
Oh that colour! Oh that feel! Oh the many blunted saw blades!
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Budding Contributor

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Hi Jason, Thanks for the guidance.. and contacts.. much appreciated.

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Budding Contributor

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Thanks Adam, much appreciated. Haven't used Intergrain yet but am aware of it.  I'll be going to Bunnings later in the week so I'll see if I can find an amenable well trained youngster that's learnt with his fingers in the good oil. Cheers.

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Budding Contributor

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Thanks Brad, Oils aint Oils as they used to say and yes, I have a bias toward oils.  We used Tongue Oil on all our mixed Aussie hardwood flooring and it is still absolutely great. Whole house has been done twice with it.. Sadly, sometimes you buy a reputable product just because of the brand name and get shagged.  I have been dealing with and buying timber and paint from Bunnings now for over 40 years originally at their Midland branch in WA and they were consistently very good.  Sadly as business ventures grow they do lose a bit of their originality and knowledge.

Bunnings tried out a venture in the UK but that didn't work simple due trying to apply an Aussie knowledge base in a different market pool. More recently Lowes out of the US tried the same thing by applying their US experience here via the Masters debacle. Whenever a business builds their ultimate objective into their business name without a basis in history they're bound to fail. Hence my wariness about imports and my search for real "on the job" experience. Sadly, oil with the name Enrich suggests someone has plans not to be poorly. Similar prognosis to Masters I say, But I do totally agree with your sentiments about surface coat colouring gunk that just provides a skin and no treatment to any depth. Good luck with your test. Love to hear how it goes a few years down the track.

 

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Budding Contributor

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

Bang on Jan-Jan... U hit the nail on the head. If you really want to, for the cost of a internet search focused on WA saw mills and a couple of phone calls you'll find a supplier. I am really somewhat disillusioned that Bunnings (being a WA company after all) doesn't offer a connection to supply specialist products via their special orders desk if only just to increase saw blade sales. : ).

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Former Workshop member
Not applicable

Re: Preserving a Jarrah deck

@Taken4ride 
Yeah, I wish I'd known back then... would have just rung the saw mill, lol. Didn't think of it, and the net wasn't everywhere then.

Sadly I have no use for large amounts now - moved back to the burbs! I just use a little here and there... 

I would have to agree - hardware stores aren't what they used to be and now pretty much have everything for the weekend warrior, and precious little real hardware.

Wish I had 5c each time I've walked into ANY big box hardware and they've no clue what I'm asking for. I wanted a dapping/doming block - have to get one online from a jewellers or somewhere here for $$$$, as opposed to $10 at home hardware in the US. Apparently I'm the only person in Aus that wants one. And that's a pretty basic item, just like you'd think jarrah would be here... Stepped drill bits was another one - everywhere now, but about 5 years after I wanted one :wink:

Not the employees fault, but when you set out to convince people you have 'everything', it makes me more than a little irritated, lol.

I'd be rich as Croesus by now, if I had that 5c return on my frustration I was talking about.

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