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Cedar Slat Screen Fence Project in London

Cedar Screen Fencing in London installed by Oilcanfinish Landscaping

This Canadian Western Red Cedar Slat Screen Fence project began once the clients completed the house extension and inside works with bifold doors leading onto their new porcelain patio and raised wraparound beds. The only item left to finish the view was the slat panel fencing on either side. This modern landscaping fencing project was a good example of how to finish the back drop of a typical london garden. The garden benefits from a brick feature wall at the rear of the property.

We built a Frame which is attached to the concrete posts, and installed slat fencing on both sides to complete the finished look inside and out.

The materials selected for this bespoke slat fence installation was Canadian Western Red Cedar. This softwood has natural colour variations of reds, oranges, and browns which soften the square appearance of these types of gardens and also blend naturally into the environment the way one solid colour never can achieve. 

Properly installed and maintained, Canadian Western Red Cedar is one of the few softwoods which has a usable life of over 50 years. It will naturally turn silver over time unless oiled regularly. To achieve this type on lifespan stainless steel screws and nails must be used and the wood must be kept clear of topsoil and have clear air flow around all pieces.

If you are looking for a slat fence appearance but the cost of cedar doesnt fit your budget, good alternatives to Cedar are Siberian Larch slats or Redwood slats for your Slat Screen Fence project. If using Redwood we recommend painting them a solid colour to provide them with protection from the elements. Larch and Redwood will not last as long as Cedar, however it is reasonable to expect them to last 20 years for Larch and 15 Years for Redwood if installed and maintained correctly. 

Note the Planed Redwood we use to achieve 15 Years comes from 2 specific suppliers who have a proprietary wood treatment process achieving Use Class 4 wood protection. Standard Redwood treated to Use Class 3 will last a maximum of 7-10 years installed outside if Pressure Treated, 4-7 years if Dip Treated.

Champion Timber supplied the Canadian Western Red Cedar materials for this project: https://www.championtimber.com/

Looking for other Fencing options? Visit https://oilcanfinish.com/modern-landscaping-kingston-upon-thames/services/fence-contractor-in-kingston-and-wimbledon/

Garden Building Fire Safety and Cladding Fire Ratings

Installation Process of Fibre Cementboard Cladding

Choose your Garden Building cladding very carefully. It is tempting to select something just for its wonderful appearance, however the cladding selection greatly impacts the fire safety of the building. In this article we will provide an outline of what to look for when selecting your cladding for your Garden Building.

British Standard 476: Fire Tests on Building Materials and Structures

Construction products have one of the following 3 labels. The three labels relate to a products mandatory reaction to fire classification in the UK. This can be achieved through the National classes, using the BS 476 suite of tests resulting in one of the following 3 labels:

  • A1 / non-combustible
  • A2 / of limited-combustibility
  • B-F / combustible

BS EN 13501-1: Fire Classification of Construction Products

BS EN 13501-1 is the standard fire classification assigned to construction products that enable products to be CE Marked, as required by The Construction Products Regulation (EU) No 305/2011

To CE Mark products, they must be classed through the Euroclass system. The Euroclass system has 7 levels/ratings. This is the first measurement of BS EN 13501-1 classification:

  • A1 – Non-combustible
  • A2 – Limited combustibility
  • B – Combustable
  • C – Minor contribution to fire
  • D – Medium contribution to fire
  • E – High contribution to fire
  • F – Easily Flamable

The second measurement of BS EN 13501-1 classification is smoke emission during combustion:

  • S1 Quantity/speed of emission absent or weak
  • S2 Quantity/speed of emission of average intensity
  • S3 Quantity/speed of emission of high intensity

The third measurement of BS EN 13501-1 classification is the level of production of flaming droplets/particles during combustion:

  • D0 No dripping
  • D1 Low dripping
  • D2 High dripping

So, now we have our definitions, let’s look at how this applies in a practical application for your project. When you select any construction products, look for the 6 digit code which should be alongside the classification EN 13501. Note you may also wish to look into EN 12467 to check durability and strength classifications at the same time.

Choose Cladding with a Euroclass Fire Rating

  • As a homeowner, the safest method of cladding selection is do not use products which do not have a Euroclass fire rating, specifically for cladding. These cladding products have not been submitted for approval for a reason. It may be because they are not required for approval across multiple geographic regions which use the Euroclass system, however there is no shartage of options for products which do have a rating. We would not recommend products which do not have a clear Euroclass rating, regardless of the manufacturers reasoning for not getting their products tested.
  • Products should be clearly CE Marked, have the classification EN 13501, and have a 6 digit code which includes all 3 ratings.
  • In most cases you will need to find the Declaration of Performance or Product Data Sheet on the manufacturers website as most retailers do not display this information on their websites.

For example, we had a recent project including a Garden Building where the fire rating was classed from day 1 as important to both us and the end customer (and their children most importantly). We used Cedral Weatherboard Fibre Cement Cladding which is rated A2-s1, d0. To break that down that is:

  • A2 – Limited combustibility
  • s1 – Quantity/speed of smoke emission absent or weak
  • d0 – No dripping of flaming droplets during combustion

Building regulations and fire proof materials for Garden Buildings:

The text below is directly taken from the UK government Planning Portal. One key element to note is at the very bottom in bold. if you are building your garden building within 1 mt of your property boundary your garden building must be constructed substantially of non-combustible materials. If you don’t, you can be asked to amend it, or remove it, at your expense. Best to do it properly the first time.

From the Planning Portal:

If you want to put up small detached buildings such as a garden shed or summerhouse in your garden, building regulations will not normally apply if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and contains NO sleeping accommodation.

If the floor area of the building is between 15 square metres and 30 square metres, you will not normally be required to apply for building regulations approval providing that the building contains NO sleeping accommodation and is either at least one metre from any boundary or it is constructed substantially of non-combustible materials.

This section provides you with general information to help you comply with the Building Regulations when constructing a new outbuilding within the boundaries of an existing property, such as:

  • garage or carport
  • summerhouse or shed
  • greenhouse

Building a new garage attached to an existing home would normally need building regulations approval.

Building a new attached carport (open on at least two sides) would not normally require building regulations approval if it is less than 30 square metres in floor area.

Building a detached garage of less than 30 square metres floor area would not normally need building regulations approval if:

  • the floor area of the detached garage is less than 15 square metres.
  • the floor area of the garage is between 15 square metres and 30 square metres, provided the garage is at least one metre from any boundary, or it is constructed substantially of non-combustible materials.

How to choose the correct screws for decking and outdoor projects

choose the correct screws for decking Oilcanfinish Landscapin

What the homeowner wants to see is a perfect installation, not rust lines and stains formed shortly after installation. How to choose the correct screws for decking and oiutdoor projects is crucial planning information to ensure your project doesnt suffer from damage to wood and steel, Rust dripping onto paving resulting in staining, and fixing failure potentially resulting in permanent damage to the structure which was just installed.

As a consumer, one of the main issues is a lack of information of which product to use combined with a lack of clarity on product packaging regarding levels of corrosion resistance, suitable installation use, and usable life.

Issues using incorrect fixings

Corredere (latin) Corrosion, for Fixings the oxidisation of iron causes rusting.

These are the 4 main types you will need to be aware of when planning your garden construction, whether it is a Garden Building, Decking, Pergola, Fencing, Seating or Garden Furniture, or whatever else it is you are building.

  1. Armosperic Corrosion, the main causes are when the iron in metal is exposed to too much moisture (water) or oxygen Metal corrodes when it reacts with another substance such as oxygen, hydrogen, an electrical current or even dirt and bacteria.
  2. Chemical (Dry) Corrosion occurs on a location where a given metal is under stress or isolated from air circulation. It occurs whenever a gas or liquid chemically attacks an exposed surface, often a metal, and is accelerated by warm temperatures and by acids and salts. This includes Galvanic (Bimettalic) Corrosion, when 2 dissimilar metals are immersed in conductive solution together. Avoid by separating materials, use the same materials, coating both materials, installing a sacrificial anode.
  3. Contact corrosion, metals of different types are in contact with eachother (A2 and Galvanised for example)
  4. Extranneous Rust comes when objects that rust coming into contact with stainless steel. This includes using tools which have previously been used with Carbon Steel which are then used on stainless steel leaving some carbon behind (such as Impact Driver Bits), sparks when using an angle grinder, or water containing rust dripping onto stainless steel.

So, what products are out there? Which products should you buy?

Stainless Steel A2 and A4

  • A2 304 Stainless Steel – interior and exterior uses, kitchens and bathrooms, humid areas, high chrome content
  • A4 316 Stainless Steel, marine grade, – interior and exterior use near salt water in coastal areas, high chrome content
  • Recommendation: There are very situations where A4 is required, unless you live near the sea (or near a chemical factory)

Hot Dipped Galvanised vs Electroplated Galvanised

  • Galvanised via Hot Dipped treatment (zinc with galvanised coating) exterior use
  • Galvanised via electeoplating (bright, shiny, zinc yellow passivated) bad for Redwoods, Spruce, Treated Timber leaving black marks around screw head leading to rust. These are recommended for interior use, not in bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Recommendation: Do not use Electroplated screws for exterior installations. They will rust very quickly.

Ruspert/Silverised vs Painted/Plastic Coated

  • Ruspert (trademarked brand), Silverised exterior use
  • Painted or Plastic Coated Carbon Steel (!) Carbon steel does not have enough chromium to form a chromium oxide layer. This allows oxygen to bond with the iron in carbon, resulting in iron oxide, or rust. 
    • The impact driver bit you use to install them will scratch off the exterior paint or plastic coating and the carbon will be exposed seconds after install them… Just don’t use them. 
    • You will find boxes of 2500 Coated Carbon Steel Decking Screws for £20.00, keep shopping. Note this is a popular screw choice due to its price, it results in lower decking installation quotes. The rust formed on these screws will increase the breakdown of the wood at the cut ends, we see this weekly. Generally the screws are Green or Brown. When removed the entire thread is covered in rust which destroyed the wood around it, specifically Redwood Decking.
  • Recommendation: For tasks such as wood to wood structural fixings look for treatments such as Ruspert, Silverised, C2 (Timco), or Wirox (Spax).

Applications & Head Types: Choosing the correct screws for decking and outdoor projects

Here are the screws we use for Cladding & Fencing & Decking projects:

  • Nails
    • Cladding & Slat Fencing – Lost head nails
    • Featheredge Fencing – Clipped head or Round head nails
      • The issue with lost head is also its advantage. Lost heads are tapped down so they are almost invisible while clipped or round head have a small round circle which is visible. The round head pulls the cladding towards the support batten, the lost head does not. Style-wise the increased demand for hidden fixings does slightly reduce the force holding the cladding in place
    • Nail Shank – ring shank for added holding ability, less nail movement
    • Nail Material – stainless steel or hot dipped galvanised, we use stainless steel wherever possible
  • Screws
    • Cladding – Spax Stainless Steel Fassade installed with a Wera Stainless Steel driver bit
    • Fencing – Jacksons Fencing Screws for Timber Fencing
    • Decking projects – Trex Decking and Millboard decking have their own screws which we use. We also use these screws for Hardwood Decking Projects

Here are the screws we use for Structural Projects such as Pergolas, Carports, Decking Projects:

This is where load bearing is the most important aspect for safety and durability reasons. We use Spax High Force Washer Head or TIMco A4 Stainless Index Screws depending on how exposed the screw head will be to water (TIMco A4 for high, direct exposure, Spax for indirect exposure). We find the Spax screws visibly pull the materials together.

Installation Notes

  • SS is Non-hardened so easier to strip the heads, go slow, do it once, then leave it. Especially with Pan Head screws.  Removing and reinstalling the screws is a mistake.
  • Don’t use impact drivers unless on very low vibration settings with brand new, clean bits which are made of the same materials being installed. High vibration tools make small cuts in the  protective coating on the screw or bolt right at the head which is especially damaging on applications which are horizontal (decking) where the screw head will “catch and hold” water.
  • Extranneous Rust – We use Stainless Steel driver bits to prevent extranneous rust getting onto our Screws. This is when a small amount of rust on the bit gets onto the screw when installed. It also comes from wrenches, pliers, sockets, and spanners. Use stainless tools for stainless fixings.

Other Treatments to be aware of:

Re-galvanising Spray 

If you are cutting galvanised brackets, door latches, etc… First remember this gives off poisonous fumes so wear the correct mask, do it outdoors, and use a hand saw vs an angle grinder or cut off saw. Second, file down the burrs and then respray the cut end with re-galvanising spray. You can get this is a small spray can from most tool and material suppliers, I got mine from Screwfix. Watch your overspray and let it dry before installing.

Lithium Grease

Spraying exterior metal with a Lithium Grease, such as WD-40 White Lithium Grease will not only keep moving parts lubricated but also protect it against rust. Handy for garden tools as well. Again, a small spray can with nozzle from Screwfix will last you a long time.

Powdercoating

This is something you cant do at home. Powdercoating is a method of painting which results in a consistent, strong, protective finish to metal. You often find this used as a finish for Car Parts  or in our case, Exterior Brackets for Fencing, Pergolas, Sleeper Beds and it provides an additional layer of protection to the Galvanised product underneath. You can find specialist companies which will Powder Coat your steel products. Powdercoating is not an alternative to galvanising, but an enhancement to it.

Painting

There are several paints which are specifically designed for steel. Zinnser, Andura, and Hammerite being some examples. Automotive and Marine Grade paints are ideal. These do not last as long as they used to, probably with the removal of hardful ingredients we used to all ignore. Ensure what you are painting is as clean as it can be, free of any flakes or peeling. Use a sander/polisher to fully clean out any pitted areas and paint your object in a clean dry area free from dust. Remember the work area has to remain clean, dry, and free of dust until the paint has set. Car Bodyshops used to spray water on the floor prior to painting to keep dust down, not sure if they still do, but thats what I do.

Resources and Links

British Stainless Steel Association https://bssa.org.uk/

Exterior Screws, Bolts, and Nails

Spax https://www.spax.com/uk/

Timco https://timco.co.uk/

Jacksons Fencing https://www.jacksons-fencing.co.uk/

Stainless Steel Tools & Exterior Brackets

Wera https://www-de.wera.de/en/

S3i https://www.s3i.co.uk/

Simpson Strong Tie https://www.strongtie.co.uk/

Yellow Balau Hardwood Decking Project

We had already installed Jacksons Fencing Venetian Hit and Miss Fencing for our clients and they had a rotted softwood deck which was dangerous. They had a lower level slate patio at the end of the decking so a straightforward decking replacement with some serious upgrades were in order. Hardwood Deck Builder’s do not install the same way Softwood is installed. More care and detail is required to make the most of your investment in quality decking,

The clients decided on a double picture frame layout with one wide step across the entire width.

Designing Deck Frames to avoid Wood Rot

The frame was build with Use Class 4 treated softwood timber, with Walther Strong Decking Tape to protext the top of the timber. The decking tape resolves a typical weakpoint on softwood decking frames. Water drips down from the decking and sits in the shade, on the joists between the decking boards. This moisture build up in a shaded area leads to moss and algea growth and is the first point of deterioration on a deck frame. So we taped it, so the water sits on the decking tape, then evaporates naturally without sitting on the timber at all. The tape is designed to seal around the screws to prevent moisture getting in through those holes.

The bearers under the timber frame was a combination of aluminium and composite bearers and posts. There is no wood in contact with the ground as this is another weak point in the majority of decking installations. The wood in contact with the ground gets dirty and wet. This leads to wood rot which travels upo the supports to the decking itself.. Without any wood in contact with the ground this does not occur.

For screws we used Stainless Steel decking screws, all with a corresponding pilot hole drilled to avoid the wood splitting or cracking.

Quality Garden Decking lasts longer and looks superior

Whereas budget garden decking lasts a very short amount of time and looks inferior. Unlodess you have firm plans to replace the decking area in the next 10 years, choose your materials carefully and remember replacing the decking twice over 20 years means paying for waste removal twice and installation twice as well as the material cost.

In the end, this decking frame will last 25 Years without maintenance. The Yellow Balau Decking Boards will last in excess of 40 years provided they are oiled to prevent the wood cracking. Yellow Balau is naturally resistant to wood rot and wood boring insects, as are most hardwoods, so that will not be an issue.

The investment in quality materials and planning is a larger upfront cost, however almost any softwood decking would need to be replaced 2-3 times to last as long, and no softwood decking will ever look as good as this does.

Yellow Balau Decking from Champion Timber

Decking Frame Composite and Aluminium Bearers from Millboard

Jacksons Fencing Replacement Project in Surbiton

Jacksons Fencing Approved Installer

This project was a straight forward fencing replacement project in Surbiton. The old fence was removed and we installed a new property boundary fence along one side of the large garden. The new fence selected was Jacksons Fencing Chilham Fence Panels, alomng with Jacksons Fencing posts, gravel boards, and capping rails. The clients decided to go for 1.8 metres in height, so 1.65 metre Chilham fence Panels and 14cm Gravel Boards.

The biggest advantage of Jacksons Fencing Chilham Fence Panels is they look the exact same on both sides, so neighbors will like them as well as there is no bad side to them. They are based on a classic board and batten design however with Jacksons planed and chamfered timber they have a modern twist to the traditional fencing design.

Jacksons Fencing come with a 25 year guarantee making it a safe investment compared to other options. The cost of replacing fence panels and/or posts two or three times over 25 years includes the cost of materials, but also the cost of multiple waste removals, the labour to install the fencing multiple times, and you also have the advantage of looking at a beautiful handmade fence. Over a 15-25 year length of time, no other fencing product will have the same return on investment.

This fencing project had 1 elevation change, from the decking down to the lower grass area which makes up the bulk of the garden. The clients preference was no visible partial fence panels so we stepped the full panel out from the patio, which also provides more privacy on the upper patio area. The fence then drops down after it extended out past the raised patio by 1 metres. This required reinforcing the triple gravel boards to ensure they stay in position and do not twist and separate over time.

Oilcanfinish Landscaping are Jacksons Fencing Approved Installers. Visit Jacksons Fencing website to explore the full range: https://www.jacksons-fencing.co.uk/

How to repair a damaged garden lawn

How to repair a damaged garden lawn

There are three things a healthy lawn needs: Sunlight, Water, and Oxygen.

Repairing a damaged garden lawn sounds simple, however nature regularly introduces new obstacles to achieving the perfect lawn so it requires regular work.

You may notice it is extremely soggy after a rainfall, or extremely hard when there is no rain. Watering during dry periods will hide the issues for a while, but your lawn should be on a regular maintenance schedule just like any other living thing needs to be. Applying a 4 in 1 mixture to kill off moss and weeds every spring will help hold off some issues for awhile, however that is treating the symptoms versus dealing with the problems.

Not all issues are on the ground. Make sure you look up too as it may be a tree is above you. What type of tree it is makes a difference. Deciduous trees block sunlight and drink a lot of water as well as dropping their leaves in the autumn leading to thatch build up if not raked up. Coniferous trees drop their needles, which are acidic, and change the soil composition when the needles sit on the ground. Walk through a forest and take a good look at the big bare circle under a coniferous tree as almost nothing can grow in that acidic soil mixture caused by those needles. You will find it very difficult to grow grass anywhere under or near a coniferous tree and even if you cut down the tree you will need to gradually change the soil composition where the needles used to be. Get professionals in if this is the issue you are dealing with, both for the tree removal, and the lawn preparation.

Here is how I take care of my lawn. This short list of lawn care techniques were picked up over the 15 years I spent working on golf courses where the quality of our lawns was make or break for our business.

Scarify

This is the process of removing debris from a lawn. Leaves, dead grass clippings, and dead moss can build up on your lawn. This layer prevents the water and oxygen from getting through to the roots of your grass.

This can be done with a machine which has small thin blades which cut through the thatch, which is the debris build up, and ideally collects it. Your lawn will look awful immediately after a scarification, but it will come back much stronger in a couple weeks. Don’t do it the day before a garden party! You can buy these machines, search for a Lawn Scarifier with a collector bin. You can also hire more robust scarifiers.

This can also be done with a scarifier rake. The incisions won’t be as deep as a machine, however it is a more cost effective way to do it. I picked up a scarifier rake from my local garden centre for £40.00.

Time Required: 90-120 minutes for a lawn between 50-75 SqMs with a machine

Frequency: twice per year (spring and autumn)

Aerate

This is completely different from Scarifying. Unfortunately when you google lawn aeration you often get scarifiers as the search results and it is not the same thing. Aerating is the process of using small (10mm to 20mm steel tines) which punch holes into the lawn. This breaks up soil compaction, softening the lawn, and allows water and oxygen to easily flow through the lawn improving root systems and water drainage.

This is best done with a machine, which can be hired in. Purchasing lawn aerators is extremely expensive so unless you plan to use it every few weeks, which you should not do, hire one in. If using a machine you have the option of solid tines or hollow tines. If you are doing this manually your only option is solid tines.

Hollow tine aeration: There is no really good reason not to use hollow tines if hiring in a machine. Hollow tines actually remove small tubes of soil, or cores, which can then be rakes up. If using hollow tines I do recommend topdressing at the same time.

Solid tine aeration: This is, as it sounds, a row of solid spikes which you poke into the ground. You can hire a machine for this or there are manual systems such as spikes on shoes, rows of spikes attached to a long handle, and some more advanced hand held aerators. I personally stay away from the shoe-version, however note any aeration is better than no aeration.

There is one additional method of aeration which is ideal for rocky areas which I have not mentioned, this is hydro-aeration. This is the process of firing water jets into the soil to break up compaction. The advantage of hydro aeration is the extremely rapid recovery time of the grass, which is generally just a few days. It is not very popular as hiring in the equipment and operators is an expensive process and there are a limited number of companies which do this type of work, almost none which work regularly with residential customers.

Time Required: 8 Hours for 1 person for a lawn between 50-75 SqMs with a machine (half to aerate the lawn, half to clean up the area)

Frequency: once per year, in spring, is enough for a residential garden

Topdressing

This is the process of adding a thin layer of sand and or a sand/loam mix over the surface of your lawn. This is the most effective way to kill moss. Other benefits of topdressing is that is helps level your lawn as the sand will naturally fill in small pockets which have been created over the years. It also helps break up clay.

I strongly recommend topdressing after aerating, this is how it is done at golf courses. Use horticultural sand and a soft rake or, use a firm smooth edge, like the flat back side of a lawnscaping rake. Just brush the mixture around the soil ensure you are applying it evenly. Once you are done spreading it as evenly as you can with the back of a rake, go over it again with a broom.

Do not apply more than 0.5 to 1m3 of top-dressing for every 100 square metres. The sand will disappear after two weeks time.

Time Required: 8 Hours for 2 people for a lawn between 50-75 SqMs (one person levelling the sand, one person moving the sand from curb side to the garden)

Frequency: once per year is generally sufficient

Overseed

This is the process of adding additional seed to your lawn.

If you use a lawn fertilizer, weed and moss killer treatment such as a 4 in 1, wait 4 weeks after applying that to overseed your lawn.

Cut your lawn to approximately 25mm. The temperature needs to be about 13 degrees celsius for overseeding to germinate, and will take 7-21 days in that temperature, to grow. Keep the seeds wet during this period, water in the morning and early afternoon.

Time Required: 2 Hours for a lawn between 50-75 SqMs

Frequency: once or twice per year

Patch Repairs

For small bad patches of bare earth or rock hard sections that look like the surface of the moon, I recommend doing patch repairs. This is a good quick fix if most of the lawn is looking tip top.

Break up the lawn in the area, fully dig out any weeds or whatever it is which is growing in the area which is not grass. Often you will find one large weed has grown with wide leaves which have grown above the grass, killed the lawn in the surrounding area by stealing all the water and blocking the sunlight to the grass shoots. Dig the weed stems out fully, don’t just rip off the top (basically don’t be lazy).

Dig down to a depth of 30-40mm, remove the earth, there may be more weeds, rocks, toy cars, buried treasure, or large roots under the area you couldn’t see from the surface.

Most areas in the UK have fairly healthy soil conditions and a mix of 50% topsoil and 50% loam will be ideal. In some areas of heavy clay, such as where I live, I use 50% horticultural sand and 50% topsoil instead. Mix these in a small bucket with a hand rake. Once this is fully mixed, add in a suitable lawn seed into the mix for the sunlight conditions the area receives. Do these very gently, you do not want to break the seeds.

Now go around your garden and fill in all the potholes you created. Tamp down the areas gently. You want these potholes to be slightly proud of the ground around them as because you disturbed the ground it will compact back down again.

Water the patch daily, the best time is in the morning and the best way to do it is with a watering can or a very very light setting on a garden hose nozzle, you do not want to spray these areas with any pressure. Do not walk on the areas for 3-4 weeks. You should see the first shoots of grass in 7-14 days provided it is over 13 degrees celsius.

Horticultural Sand and Seeds, Scarifying Rakes, a 4 Prong Aerating Tool are all available from your local gardening centre. This work doesn’t need to be expensive.

In terms of what order to do the above,  If you apply a Spring 4 in 1 mixture of Fertilizer, Weed & Moss killer, you need to wait 4 weeks afterwards. Then Scarify, Aerate, Topdress then wait 2-3 weeks and overseed. Wait 3 weeks and from there onwards do Patch Repairs

It is very rewarding seeing the results, especially those first few shoots of grass. Remember to be patient and you won’t be damaging anything permanently, if if it doesn’t grow try to identify the reason why (sunlight, water, oxygen, ground temperature and soil composition are the usual reasons) you can do it all again.

Gardening requires patience, you will not change your lawn overnight and almost everything you do from the above list will take 2-3 weeks to see visible results.

Happy gardening folks, and remember if it all goes south in your garden and all the grass dies and you are down to bare earth, you don’t have to hire a turf cutter anymore as there is no turf to cut! You can just go straight to the rotivator phase of preparing the area for fresh lawn turf or seeding.

Please get in touch if you have any questions. Remember that not all of this advice will assist all gardens.

Looking for information on our Landscaping business, visit https://oilcanfinish.com

Kingston Upon Thames Jacksons Fencing Approved Installer

Oilcanfinish Landscaping is a Jacksons Fencing Approved Installer

Oilcanfinish Landscaping is a Jacksons Fencing Approved Installer. Jacksons Fencing produce premium quality fencing, decking, pergolas, sleepers, and landscaping materials for residential and commercial installations. They are based in the UK and were founded in 1947.

Jacksons Fencing timber comes with a 25 year guarantee against all wood-boring pests and all forms of wet and dry rot.

Jacksons Fencing includes a wide variety of styles to suit traditionalists and customers who prefer more modern, stylish designs. We recommend all customers take a good look through the Jacksons Fencing website here. If you prefer we can send you brochures and would be happy to discuss the different varieties of fencing available.









What are the best Wood types for Slatted Fencing and Cladding

Canadian Western Red Cedar Slatted Fencing

Whether you are in the initial stages of planning a modern slatted fence or choosing your cladding for a summerhouse, there is some research to be done beyond just how it will look. The main subject we are focusing on here is how long will the wood last and what are the best wood types for slatted fencing

There are a significant number of options to choose from when building a slatted fence or cladding a building. The information below is designed for slat fence planning but is equally relevant for cladding a summerhouse or garden building. Before you proceed or hire someone to install your fence you should consider the following: Height of the fence. Length of the fence. Gap size between slats, Width of the slats. Thickness of the slats. Do you want vertical battens to cover where the slats meet each other? Your installer will be able to advise you on all of these options, however you should do some research first to inform yourself as it is a significant investment in your property. The main consideration we are focusing on for these projects is what type of wood to use to get the most for your money.

The impact of wood selection on costs

The wood you select is the main variable in the cost of your fence or cladding. The labour costs does not change that much unless you decide to look at non-timber products, consider enhanced treatment options such as Shou Sugi Ban (charring the wood prior to installation), or using hardwoods which almost always require pilot holes to be drilled for each screw which means more time and labour. The general rule is that the longer the usable life of the wood, the more expensive the wood will be.

The first thing to be clear on is that cost savings in wood selection means a reduced life span of the installed structure, whether it is a fence, a summerhouse, or another garden structure such as a pergola.

When comparing price, compare apples with apples. Using wood with a shorter usable life such as 15 years softwood versus 50 years cedar or hardwood means paying for the entire project two or three times (labour for removal of old fencing, waste carrier costs, the materials and labour for your second and third fence installation). Choosing a 15 year life span wood does indeed mean over 45 years you will be paying for 3 installations of softwood versus 1 installation of cedar or hardwood. Comparing cedar with other softwoods may appear less expensive in the short term, but it is comparing apples with oranges

The main contributing factors of exterior timber failure are:

  1. Moisture
  2. Insect Attack
  3. Natural Durability of chosen timber
  4. Preservative treatment used

We are focusing on Natural Durability and Preservative treatments in this article. We will discuss Moisture and Insect attack elsewhere, however the long and short of those two items is 1. the drier you can keep your fence the longer it will last, specifically where it meets the ground and 2. the less debris, soil, and other rotting wood which is touching your fence, the less insects will be attacking your wood. 

British Standards Use Classes for Timber

Timber Use Classes – BS EN 335-1
UC 1 Internal, dry
UC 2 Internal, risk of wetting
UC 3 Outdoors, above ground
UC 4 Outdoors, Direct soil or fresh water contact
UC 5 Outdoors, Constant contact with the ground or water (underwater)

British Standards set out these Use Classes for timber. This gives a clear guideline on which timber should be used for the environment it will be installed in. For exterior fences and cladding, we are looking at Use Class 3 and 4. Use Class 4 timber is always more expensive than Use Class 3.

The treatment process (for Use Class 3 and 4) generally tints the wood to a light green or brown colour versus untreated timber (Use Class 1-2). Use Class 3 can include both Dip Treated or Pressure Treated. You will notice the price difference between Dip Treated and Pressure Treated if looking at Fence Panels as dip treated is less expensive as it has not penetrated the wood as deeply and acts as an exterior coating. Dip treated products will not last as long as pressure treated products. Pressure Treated wood means the wood has the treatment on and beneath the surface, however it does not go all the way through the wood.

If you are unsure if the timber you are considering is Use Class 3 or 4, ask your timber merchant. If you are not speaking to a dedicated timber merchant, you should be as they are specialists in this specific subject. Generally Use Class 4 is the highest class readily available and as it has an enhanced service life, and this is a unique selling feature which commands a higher price, it should be clearly marked on the merchants website or in store. If it is not marked, and no one can verify it is Use Class 4, consider it Use Class 3.

Use Class 5 is generally reserved for maritime applications such as Ship Building and Dock Pilings.

Varieties of Wood for Slatted Fencing and Cladding

Softwood timber is the entry level for exterior timber in terms of price. These include Spruce, Pine, or Redwood and, if treated correctly, will last between 8-15 years. Any timber installed outside must be pressure treated to a minimum of Use Class 3, and Use Class 4 if in direct contact with the ground. This can be extended by using timbers with enhanced pressure treatment, such as those used by Jackson’s Fencing in their fence panels, posts, and gravel boards. 

Larch, specifically Siberian Larch, is a good upgrade option which has properties which enhance it’s longevity over most Softwoods. Larch also has a more attractive colour palette and stains to nice shades of orange and brown. If choosing Larch, those produced in higher altitudes fare better than UK grown Larch. Larch is fairly consistent in terms of colour and has a service life of 50 years if treated correctly.

Canadian Western Red Cedar is the premium option for slat fencing. It’s longevity stems from Cedar’s natural resistances to fungus, wood boring insects, and rot. It is also more resistant to twisting. One other advantage of cedar is the slight variations of colours with oranges, reds, and browns giving a softer, more natural appearance. Cedar is capable of lasting over 50 years if treated correctly. The house I grew up in was clad in cedar 48 years ago with no signs of needing replacement.

Hardwood exterior timber, if treated correctly, will last over 50 years. Popular hardwoods for slatted fencing generally focus on tropical hardwoods and include Balau, Iroko, Red Grandis, Sapele, Teak, and Meranti. Hardwoods do require slightly more labour than softwoods on installation as pre drilling is always required for hardwoods to prevent the wood from splitting. Hardwoods have very strong natural immunity to rot and insect attacks, specifically tropical hardwoods. They also have the benefit of being less susceptible to warping or twisting, Any of these timbers will last over 50 years if treated correctly.

How should I treat softwood slat fencing? Oil, Paint, and Heat Treatments

Most slat fencing materials will turn silver in colour after 2-3 years of UV rays in sunlight. To retain the existing colour of a wood installed outside you would need to use a UV Resistant Oil which would most likely need to be applied every 12 months. Alternately, you can paint or stain your slat fence which will protect it for 5-10 years. Check the paint or stain manufacturers guidelines on painting and staining. They should have a data sheet available for download which will indicate how long the treatment should last, what temperature it should be applied in. Stick to their guidance, If the datasheet says it will last 10 years, this does not mean ignore your fence for 10 years, conditions vary depending on moisture, sunlight, plants, bird poop, frost, coniferous trees dropping their acidic needles on the timber annually, animals scratching the wood, resting things against the timber for years, too many factors to mention here. Keep it clean and remove these items as soon as possible. 

Our recommendation for staining is to always use a UV Resistant Oil Based product. Water based stains may flake over time requiring the entire surface to be sanded prior to retreatment, which is a tricky project for slat fencing due to the nooks and crannies to be sanded down. Oil based products are more likely to fade versus flaking.

If choosing Cedar or Hardwood, a clear Oil is highly recommended. If applied regularly, it will reduce colour fading. On colour fading, this occurs more rapidly in areas which receive higher UV light from the sun and/or areas which are highly exposed to wind. A good example of this is the top sections of a summerhouse which is located beside a fence. The lower sections of the summerhouse will receive less sunlight throughout the day due to the fence and also are more protected from wind which constantly dries out the wood meaning they will fade less. The areas above the fence receive more daylight and are less protected from the wind meaning they will fade more quickly.

One other option to consider for treatment is heat treatments. Charring the wood prior to installation using a torch is a process known as Shou Sugi Ban and gives the wood a waterproof seal and a blackened appearance. It still can and should be oiled afterwards and regularly to preserve the appearance. If considering this option, you should employ a professional installer. Gas torches used in this manner are extremely dangerous and it is possible to damage the materials, the surrounding area, or yourself and it is highly unlikely your insurance company will be sympathetic in paying for damages you may cause.

There is one other option if considering a heat treatment process for cladding is to purchase wood which has already been heat treated such as Thermowood or Iro Timber.

Get in touch!

See something you want more information on? Looking for a quote for your project? Send us an email to get the conversation started at enquiry@oilcanfinish.com

Looking for information on our Landscaping business visit oilcanfinish.com 

Durapost Trained Installer for Fencing

Durapost Trained Installer

Durapost Trained Installer for Fencing

We are pleased to advise Oilcanfinish Landscaping are Durapost Trained Installers on the Durapost Fencing System. This fencing system is based on Galvanised and Powder Coated steel fence posts and is an alternative option to timber and concrete posts.

One of the advantages of this fence system is appearance. These steel posts provide a very smooth clean vertical line to your fence giving it an upscale look versus traditional Slotted or Mortise Concrete Posts and a very different look in comparison to Timber Posts.

Another big advantage of this system is low maintenance. Besides ordering a matching touch up Paint Pen just in case you scratch your Posts, Capping Rail, or Post Caps, you won’t be doing any maintenance on these posts: no staining or painting every few years and no worrying about the damage caused by rot. The Gravel Boards are also made form a composite material, similar to modern decking, so no maintenance required there either.

Fence Post Longevity Comparison

  1. Concrete Posts +25 years
  2. Jacksons Fencing Timber Posts 25 Years
  3. Durapost Powder Coated, Galvanised Steel Posts 25 Years
  4. Other Timber Posts 7-15 Years (depending on pressure treating)

In terms of longevity, Concrete Posts will indeed last +25 years provided they do not get any large chips which expose the interior reinforcing steel which will then start to rust once exposed. Timber Posts have various lifespans depending on how they have been pressure treated. Jacksons Fencing Timber Slotted Fence Posts have a 25 year guarantee while most other Fence Posts vary between 7 to 15 years. Durapost have a 25 year guarantee on their Powder Coated posts if installed by a Trained Installer.

These Fence Posts come in multiple colours currently including:

  1. Anthracite
  2. Olive Grey
  3. Sepia Brown
  4. Galvanised Steel

Durapost have colour matching Capping Rails, Post Caps, composite Gravel Boards, and larger Gate Posts and U Channels to create your perfect Fence and Gate combination.

Birkdale Sales, the makers of Durapost, have just announced a new addition to the accessories and options which is a Post Cover Strip. This is designed to slide down and cover the side of the post which would have the visible screws connecting the post to the Fence Timber.

We have been using Birkdale Sales other products such as Gate Hinges, Latches and Locks for years with very positive feedback from our clients. We were very pleased to see this new addition to their range and if you are planning a new fence install you should definitely take a look. To send us an enquiry on your project go to Contact Us to book an appointment.

For more information or to take a closer look at Durapost Products and Accessories visit:  https://www.birkdalesales.com/durapost

Oilcanfinish Landscaping are based in Kingston Upon Thames. If you are not in Oilcanfinish Landscaping’s immediate region to get an Durapost installation quote from us, use the handy Durapost Find an Installer Tool on the website to find a local installer and also to find a local Stockist to take a closer look. All Installers listed have gone through the Durapost Trained Installer program. 

If you have your dimensions already you can plan your fence using the Durapost Fencebuilder Mobile Application or via their Website.