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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to protect my fencing from strong winds?

Well, I hate to admit it but not a lot. A lot of standard, budget construction fence panels are 'closed boarded', meaning there is no way for the wind pass through and so act as a wind break.

Most of the European panels such as the Omega Lattice Top and the Square Top Horizontal are alternately boarded on both sides to allow the wind to pass through. If your fence is a rail and pail construction, again with gaps between the boards, wind will most likely pass through causing little or no damage.

If your fence is fairly new it has a better chance of surviving the harsh weather. Rotting posts and panels, skew-whiff posts, exposed concrete at the base of the post are all signs it could be ready to go.

All in all it's a suck it and see situation. Fingers crossed! :-) If it does fall over, please contact us as we should be able to help.

What's the difference between a toboggan and a sledge?

Well, really a toboggan is a simple sledge. It is believed it’s origins are as a traditional form of transport used by the Innu and Cree of northern Canada. These days it’s used on snow to carry one or more people (not always children!) down a hill or other slope for fun. Designs vary from simple, traditional models to modern engineering marvels .   A toboggan differs from sleighs and sledges as it has no runners or skis underneath. The bottom of a toboggan rides directly on the snow. In countries that bare used to winter snow some parks include designated toboggan hills where ordinary sleds are not allowed. Some may also have toboggan runs similar to bobsleigh courses.   A traditional toboggan is made of wood slats bent forward at the front to form a sideways 'J' shape. A rope is run through the front of the sled in a loop to provide basic steering. The rider at the front places their feet in the loop and sits on the flat bed whilst other riders sit behind and grasp the waist of the person in front.   Modern recreational toboggans are typically manufactured from wood, aluminum or plastic. Larger, more rugged models are made for commercial or rescue use.  

"The Mountaineer [Innu] method is the only one adapted for the interior parts of the country: their sleds are made of two thin boards of birch; each about six inches broad, a quarter of an inch thick, and six feet long: these are fastened parallel to each other by slight battens, sewed on with thongs of deer-skin; and the foremost end is curved up to rise over the inequalities of the snow. Each individual who is able to walk is furnished with one of these; but those for the children are proportionately less. On them they stow all their goods, and also their infants; which they bundle up very warm in deer-skins. The two ends of a leather thong are tied to the corners of the sled; the bight or double part of which is placed against the breast, and in that manner it is drawn along. The men go first, relieving each other in the lead by turns; the women follow next, and the children, according to their strength, bring up the rear; and, as they all walk in rackets (snowshoes), the third or fourth person finds an excellent path to walk on, let the snow be ever so light" (Townsend 1911).

Is it true that if I clear the pavement outside my house and someone slips I could be responsible?

There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. Follow the snow code when clearing snow and ice safely.

The Snow Code

If you clear snow and ice yourself, be careful - don’t make the pathways more dangerous by causing them to refreeze. But don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured.

Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice below to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.

Clear the snow or ice early in the day

It’s easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight.

Use salt or sand - not water

If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible and very slippery. You can prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work. Don’t use the salt found in salting bins - this will be needed to keep the roads clear.

Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage.

If you don’t have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These won’t stop the path icing over as well as salt, but will provide good grip under foot.

Take care where you move the snow

When you’re shovelling snow, take care where you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains. Make sure you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides.

Offer to clear your neighbours’ paths

If your neighbour will have difficulty getting in and out of their home, offer to clear snow and ice around their property as well. Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, contact your local council.

Prevent slips

Pay extra attention to clear snow and ice from steps and steep pathways - you might need to use more salt on these areas.

How long should my decking last?

Timber decking is highly durable because our slow grown softwood timber is pressure-treated for outdoor use. Modern preservative treatments mean that the timber, if maintained, should be structurally sound for around 25 years. However, to keep it looking good over such a time, it will need periodic cleaning and any finishes will need to be occasionally refreshed.

Does decking need planning permission?

Timber decking differs from a conventional patio, most significantly due to elevation and general height of construction. For all but the most simple, low level deck, it would be worth checking with your local planning department that permission isn’t required.

As well as contacting your local planning authority, it would be worth having a chat with your neighbours about your plans. Neighbour objections are the most common reason for planning being refused or for enforcement notices after completion. Local authorities can insist that structures are dismantled and removed where consent should have been obtained.

This is a guide to when planning would be required (but is not a definitive list):

  • Where the deck is situated within 20 metres of a highway
  • Where the deck platform is more than 300mm (1ft) from the ground
  • If the structure would affect the amenity value or privacy of neighbouring properties
  • If the deck is attached to a listed building or situated in a conservation area or National Park

Building regulations

Building regulations should be assumed to apply to every structure that requires planning permission.

In addition to the situations set out above, other restrictions have been known to apply, including limitations to the overall deck area in relation to the existing property or garden area and the constraints of established building lines. For example, in England (after 1 October 2008), surfaces, including decking, are not permitted to cover more than 50% of a property's garden.

Should treated timber vary in colour from one piece to another?

Freshly treated timber will have variations in colour. This is due to the relative proportions of heartwood and sapwood in a pack. Sapwood is more permeable and so takes up more preservative. This results in an initial variation of colour from green (sapwood) to beige (heartwood). Once built and exposed to the elements, the initial strength of colour fades to a warm, honey brown and in the long term will become a natural silver/grey.

Timber is a natural product and variations in character should be expected. Occasionally timber containing high or mobile resin levels can give a blue colouration at the time of treatment. This will fade to rapidly into the overall natural green/beige colour.

Can I build my own decking, or do I need professional help?

Of course it is possible for the DIY-er to tackle decking, although a fair degree of competence is required. If you are at all unsure it would be worth speaking to a decking contractor. There are a number of our customers that build decking and if you would like their contact details they are on our website or give us a call and we’ll put you in touch. (Farmac Building Supplies doesn’t take responsibility for any contracts entered into between yourself and any of our customers. We only supply customer telephone numbers as a courtesy to them and yourself. No guarantee is implied or given)

How much should I expect to pay for a deck?

The price of a timber deck can vary enormously depending on the size and design etc. Give us a call and we'll try to give you an idea on cost.

Will I damage the environment by having timber decking?

Not at all! The redwood timber used in our decking comes from responsible producers who insist on proper management of their resources. This involves the conservation of forests through the use of sustainable forest management techniques and renewal through re-planting schemes.

Timber is the only mainstream construction material that originates from a renewable resource and, as a result of the policies mentioned above the amount of productive forest in Europe (from where most decking timber comes) is increasing every year.

What maintenance does my timber decking need?

A simple programme of routine care and maintenance will really enhance the long-term appearance and durability of your deck. All decks will benefit from a regular sweep with a good stiff broom and it would be a good idea to wash your deck down with a pressure washer a couple of times a year.  The aim of this is to remove dirt, dead leaves and any surface growths. This will also help to reduce slipperiness.

Unless they are stained, timber decks will gradually fade to a pleasant silver/grey colour although the preservatives used to pre-treat deck timbers and protect them slows this process down. As the timbers weather, small splits are likely to appear on the surface of the boards. These are due to the wetting and drying process of the timber and will have no structural effect whatsoever.

Application of surface coatings and specialist deck finishes will reduce the uptake of moisture and slow the process of swelling and shrinkage. Any product should be used strictly in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.