Adecked terrace on the beach connects nearby holiday homes with a large communal grass reserve and offers sweeping views of the ocean. The deck sees heavy traffic in summer, serving as both a pathway to the beach and a vantage point to view the shoreline. The decking is north facing so it gets all day sun as well as a full range of weather conditions. When it came time to replace the 20-year-old Merbau (known locally as Kwila) decking, there were several challenges to overcome. First, the client specified wide board decking with minimal bleeding of tannins that could handle the exposed coastal weather conditions. The decking also needed to emulate the winding, curving angles and turns of the old deck and take curved stairs and edges into account.
Kanda (Beilschmiedia spp.) checked all the boxes and was chosen for the application. The project used Hermpac 140 x 21 Watershed profile, which has a slight curve on the face that allows water to run off the edges, coated in Wood-X clear base oil to help minimize the uptake and release of moisture.
The Kanda wood was sourced from an FSC certified forest concession managed by Interholco in the Republic of Congo. FSC is a certification framework based on environmental, social, economical principles and criteria, with an overall vision of providing current forest product needs without compromising forest health for future generations.
“Kanda was an ideal solution both because of the product itself and company features,” explains Steve Carter, Hermpac sales and marketing manager. “Kanda’s natural timber color and grain are attractive; it is easy to work with and install; and allows for good length spread. Since it is not too heavy, it holds its shape well and could be configured to the existing angles of the deck.”
SPOTLIGHT ON: KANDA
SPECIES: Beilschmiedia spp.
ORIGIN: Central and West Africa
COMMON APPLICATIONS: Decking, siding, interior joinery, veneer, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, turnings, and paneling.
CHARACTERISTICS / APPEARANCE: Heartwood is pinkish-brown to reddish brown, with a clearly demarcated sapwood. It has a medium to coarse texture, with a straight grain absent of interlocking. Kanda is known for its durability and stability, with little movement in service. Kanda can be used in a range of applications and is lighter in weight than many other tropical hardwoods, making it easy to handle, drill, and screw.
JANKA HARDNESS SCALE: 1,160 lbf
COMMENTS: The World Wildlife Federation’s Guide to Lesser-Known Species lists Kanda as a viable alternative for genuine mahogany. Kanda has a manageable weight among tropical decking woods, making for a greater ease in installation. Care must be taken not to over drill.
In addition, the Kanda was FSC® certified, class 2 durable, and relatively stable. The fact that it didn’t bleed or leach tannins onto the pavers at the bottom of the decking stairs was another plus. The decking was installed using 65mm stainless steel decking screws with a 4mm gap between boards to allow for air flow.
Various decking timbers were considered for the Langs Beach application but were ruled out due to the extreme curvature of the deck or other specific drawbacks, according to Carter. Merbau, for example, is very stable but it bleeds its tannins profusely. Vitex, another popular decking material in New Zealand, has a beautiful color tone and is reasonably stable but is available only in short lengths.
Interholco offers a variety of sustainable African hardwoods, promoting wood construction as a tool to address climate change and increase social justice. Kanda is being promoted in the Congo Basin due to its availability and potential to supplement other more well-known species and thereby strengthen the business case of sustainable forest management in Africa.
Langs Beach residents agree the deck has only gotten better with age. Decking timber in New Zealand is generally left to go silver grey, and some species can turn dark grey or take on an inconsistent grey/brown tone over time. The Kanda has aged to a beautiful driftwood silver grey, and the deck has become a welcoming focal point for area homeowners, neighbors and visitors.