Bowens - The Builders Choice

Building Advice
Jeff Harvey

Prevention is better than Cure

Over nearly 20 years of troubleshooting for Bowens, I have come to recognise those products that repeatedly required inspections. Accordingly, I call these my notorious products and list them below.

However, before doing so, one thing has become abundantly clear from these inspections. The product had already been installed and in many cases, expensive remedial repairs were required with the potential for disputes.

The other thing that usually happens is the client initially believes the timber has caused the problem. Well let me say with complete confidence, again from experience, it is not usually the fault of the timber. Particularly in this day of age where most products are produced under strict quality control.

“It is not usually the fault of the timber.”

Again, from experience, nine times out of ten, the following caused the problem;

  • The wrong product used was not fit for purpose, or
  • Inappropriate installation practice was employed.

As a result, we have installation guidelines for my notorious products below;

  • Flooring
  • Decking
  • Cladding
  • Baltic Weatherboards
  • Treated Pine Sleepers

It is company policy these guidelines are issued to the client and this can be done;

  • At the initial point of sale.
  • The guidelines are delivered to site with the goods.

All the above is of a negative or reactive nature. I would much rather offer something positive or proactive so you, our clients, don’t fall into the situations outlined above.

Accordingly, a checklist I use to help identify a fit for purpose product for situations where I am asked for advice are:

  • Establish the use.
  • Is it used externally or internally?
  • If externally, will it be used ‘in ground’ contact such as a Post, or ‘above ground’ such as a Veranda beam. Our source of reference for Timber Durability is the Australian Standard AS 5604 – 2005. For example, the Standard rates Cypress Pine only class 2 in-ground, but class 1 above ground.
  • All building permits will specify a bush fire rating. Establish that rating.
  • Are there Structural Grading considerations?
  • Understanding the various treated pine hazard levels that range from H1 through to H6 is also important to consider. For example, posts in-ground that are considered structurally non critical like a pergola post is level H4, whereas a structurally critical product like a house stump requires an H5 level. Products used externally in above-ground situations such as cladding or fascia require a hazard level of H3.
  • Large sections post and beams may require a degree of dryness for stability, so the use of a recycled product is appropriate here.
  • Be aware of tannins leaching from some species like Merbau that may stain surrounding areas such as concrete and pavers.
  • Timber coatings are today becoming more relevant particularly to minimise moisture loss/gain to reduce board movement. Receive your decking & cladding pre-coated on all sides prior to installing.
  • Choose the right timber specie, hardness may be a factor in selecting flooring.
  • There are products available that are pre-primed, saving painting costs.
  • Appropriate products to use in wet areas.
  • There may be other products not listed above we may be able to offer advice as well.

I suggest you submit the product you wish to use using the above criteria to your Bowens account manager for confirmation of that product or let him/her suggest a more cost-effective product.

However, we offer any advice as a matter of goodwill, particularly to avoid post-installation problems. Always follow relevant building regulations and practices, we strongly suggest you do your own due diligence to confirm that advice.

For more information on installation guidelines, click here.

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