Can I Build a Timber Deck in a Bushfire Area?

Person reclining on couch located on a timber deck overlooking australian outback

There is no denying timber decking looks aesthetically pleasing on a country property surrounded by towering eucalypts. Nowhere do we feel the itch to enjoy the outdoors more than on a property hidden well and truly within the Aussie outback. But for some, the threat of a bushfire or ember attack will put them off ever building a deck to their home.

For those of you who live in a bushfire prone area, you can still enjoy the benefits of a timber deck – you simply need to know the risks, utilise fire resistant decking materials and follow The Australian Standards of Construction of Buildings in Bushfire-prone Areas.

The Standard is the best starting point for anyone living in a bushfire-prone area. It outlines what you need to think about before beginning any kind of construction on a property and sets the standards for building in bushfire areas to ensure your structure will be able to withstand a bushfire or ember attack. Improperly constructed timber decks can be both highly flammable and vulnerable which is why you should always consult experts before starting any project. It is crucial, when starting your journey, to always refer to the most recent Standard document as it is continuously updated to incorporate new advances in research and technology.

By taking the time to research and build in a way that protects your deck and home from attacks, you may not just be saving your home, but also you and your family’s lives.

Knowing Your Bushfire Threat

Bushfires are ingrained in the Australian way of life – in fact, many of us regard summer to be ‘The Bushfire Season’. We continue to live and work on the land regardless of the level of fire danger and whatever reason was given, whether it be due to our resilient nature, or love for the Australian landscape, enjoying and living in the great outdoors will always go hand in hand.

To know whether you can build a deck on your property, you first need to know your Bushfire Attack Level (BAL). Your BAL Rating level measures the severity of a building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact and is the basis for all future construction requirements. Your BAL in this instance also incorporates other measurements such as your property’s Fire Danger Index, the slope of the land, surrounding vegetation and what buildings are located nearby. If you are concerned your property may not meet the requirements for construction, or if you’re not sure how to determine the calculation yourself, you can speak with our team for further information and support.

Polished Timber Decking suitable for Bush fire prone areas.

The Basics for Building in Bushfire Prone Areas

Once you’ve calculated your BAL, you can begin choosing the correct materials and style of your deck.

At its core, it is important to ensure certain timbers are used which are naturally fire retardant – otherwise, in some cases, you can use fire retardant treatment. All other materials used should also be non-combustible or fire resistant.

The best way to avoid the worst outcome in a bushfire is to be prepared. Making sure your deck meets building standards in a bushfire prone area is one way to be prepared; landscaping your garden with bushfire resistance in mind also helps. Here is a list of other considerations for your deck:

  • Enclose the space below the deck using mesh or bushfire resistant timbers.
  • Utilise fire retardant decking materials.
  • Seal the timber with a non-combustible seal.
  • Avoid using flammable shrubs or wood chips for landscaping along the deck’s edge. Use instead decorative stones or more fire resistant plants.
  • Remove leaves and twigs from the roof and gutters.

As long as you adhere to the building standards for your area and follow it up with well-considered landscaping and garden maintenance, you can rest easy that you’ve done everything you can to prepare your home for a bushfire.

 

Ready to Renovate?

At Australian Outdoor Living, we want you to make the most of your timber deck. Check out our additional resources:

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About Alex Kuchel

This is Alex. Alex is the National Brand Manager at Australian Outdoor Living (AOL). By day, she’s a member of AOL’s marketing team. She helps to conjure up ideas on how best to promote Australian Outdoor Living and enjoys working with a pretty awesome team of clever cookies. By night (and weekends), she enjoys the company of her family and friends. She’s a big believer in sun shine and does her best to enjoy it with those she loves most.”