How to Ensure Your Timber Deck or Veranda Doesn't Become a Bushfire Risk
For many Australians, building a timber deck or veranda is a wonderful way to make the most of the great outdoors, especially in the warm months of the year. Timber offers a range of benefits, from lifelong durability to versatility in appearance and staining. It's also a wonderfully natural and environmentally friendly choice. But for homes located in bushfire prone areas around the country, timber can also pose a risk.
If you're set on utilising timber for your home and you live in a bushfire prone area, there are a few measures and precautions you can take to ensure your deck or veranda doesn't become a fire hazard.
1. Choose a Timber That's Naturally Fire Resistant
Many timbers are available on the market that are fire resistant or retardant. These include Blackbutt, Jarrah, Spotted Gum, Ironbark, Merbau, Red River Gum, Turpentine and Silver Top Ash. These can be used in the sub-floor of the deck and the deck itself.
You'll need to liaise with your builder or supplier to determine the type of timber and density you need based on your Australian Standard (AS3959) Bushfire Attack Level (BAL).
Note: Other elements that might also factor into your choice of timber include: the slope of your land, nearby homes/buildings and their materials, and trees, shrubs and vegetation in general surrounding your home.
2. Space It Right
Timber panels should be spaced with gaps of no more than 0-5mm apart to prevent embers coming through the gaps.
3. Utilise Ember Guards
For larger gaps that exist in your decking or veranda floor (i.e. those over 3mm), ember guards can be used. These are often mesh coverings with 2mm opening that can prevent embers from lodging in the deck and causing an ember attack. Smaller gaps should be filled in as well.
4. Seal and Treat the Timber
Depending on your Bushfire Attack Level and the type of timber you use, you may be required (or you may even choose to) seal your decking timber with a non-combustible product. Generally, if you use one of the above fire resistant timbers, you might not have to use a non-combustible seal.
5. Get Rid of Flammable Decorations & Debris
Flammable items in your garden (e.g. woodchips, shrubs) that are place near the deck or veranda can also be a fire hazard. Remove these wherever possible.
Similarly, leaves, twigs and other debris in the gutters and roofing in and around the deck or veranda can contribute to bushfire risk. Keep your gutters and roofs clean of debris as much as possible, especially when bushfire warnings are in place.