With their high density, toughness and durability Australian hardwood species are recommended for the building of decks, verandahs and other exterior home improvements. Boral Timber advises that there are decking timbers available which are classified as fire resistant. Blackbutt is a good choice as it has naturally fire resistant properties. 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.
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. 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 via the shrub onto the wall or roof of the house. It’s important to cut back or remove shrubs, particularly those next to windows. Other 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 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 vulnerable to ember attack;
- enclose the subfloor of the verandah using mesh or bushfire resistant timbers, such as Blackbutt or Spotted Gum.
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