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Feature: Ex terior Flooring & Paving

SAWLFA on decking FLOORS spoke to both Peter Geyer, executive committee member of SAWLFA and recognised expert on laminate floorcoverings, and Steven Suntup, vicechairman of SAWLFA and Geyer’s opposite number on natural wood floors, to get the lowdown on what credibility the Southern African Wood & Laminate Flooring Association places on the use of these products in exterior applications.


irstly, Peter Geyer states emphatically that laminate floorcoverings should never be used for outdoor applications, and should

also never be considered for floors in high-moisture/humidity areas such as saunas. This is not the case with wood, however, where it provides a luxurious and sophisticated feel when used in a properly designed outdoor deck or patio. Steven Suntup says, “Wood has been used successfully outdoors for thousands of years, but it is only wood and it can rot. Some timbers are better outdoors than others because they have natural oils which make them very resistant to adverse weather conditions and can last for up to 40 years with no treatment – for example IPE, also known as Brazilian Walnut. On the other side of the coin are timbers like Pine which, without treatment, can rot in three years.” “Rot is not the only problem with timber used outdoors; there is also fungal and insect attack and again there are many timbers that are naturally resistant to these, or alternately one can buy pressure treated timbers that will fight off rot, insect and fungal attack. Therefore, when one is going to use timber outdoors it pays to do a bit of research regarding the best timber to use for the application,” says Steven. In drier areas like Johannesburg, in the winter timber outdoors needs to be well selected for this climate and may need added treatment – as opposed to humid areas where the timber is staying constantly moist. “These days the grey look is in, especially in outdoor decking. All timber left untreated will go grey and this is more successfully achieved on the coast due to the higher humidity, whereas

dry, paint on a fresh coat of decking oil; do this twice or three times

in Johannesburg if the timber isn’t treated the owner may find the

a year and the good looks and performance of the wood will be

deck really drying out in winter and starting to crack. Timber out-


side can last a lifetime if well maintained but remember that our

bers that can last outdoors. Generally it is the African and Brazilian

it could take a hammering,” he says.

timbers that do the job and, even though there are new synthetics

“In my view, there is still nothing better than a wooden deck – but nothing worse that a neglected wooden deck. These days, decks are oiled and not varnished, which makes them easier to maintain and


“Again I must mention that for decking one must select good tim-

African sun is a killer and if wood is not covered or well maintained

generally oiling is only required twice a year.” All one needs to do is scrub and wash the deck down and, when

F LO O R S S e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 0

on the market, there is nothing to beat the look of wood,” Steven concludes. Anyone wishing to know more about SAWLFA or the uses of both wood and laminate flooring should telephone 011 455 2822 or visit the website

FLOORS in Africa Journal 6'2010  

Africa's leading flooring magazine

FLOORS in Africa Journal 6'2010  

Africa's leading flooring magazine