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How to repair a rotted porch post.
DIY tips for the family home handyman

Front Porch Post Fix-up
By: Ben Spofford, Housecalls Home Services
May 21, 2011
Front porch
Porch post with water-dmamged area removed
Deteriorated wood post damaged by moisture
Porch post water damaged and in need of repair
Porch post repaired and painted
Porch post damaged by moisture
Porch post damaged by moisture and ants
Finished repair of wood porch post.
Porch post painted and repaired
How to Repair Rotted Porch Post
DIY Difficulty (1 easy-10 difficult)  8
Time to completion: 4 hours
Material cost: $ 40
Hire a Pro  $ 250-325.

Deterioration is a common problem for a home with posts or columns. The
cause is usually due to moisture. Moisture encourages decay, pest
infiltration, black mold and rot.

The problem is a serious one by itself and more so if the damaged post is
structural, that is, if it supports a load. In that event before a post can be cut
down for repairs the structure above it needs temporary support. The repair
on this page does not take into account a significant structural load. The
removed without additional shoring.

Before attempting this kind of repair it is recommended to consult a
contractor or structural engineer/architect to determine the load, if any.
Failure to identify a structural support can cause considerable damage and
personal injury if handled improperly.  
The post pictured here is made of wood. In this case the material is pine. The base of the post sits on a plastic spacer. The plastic spacer
is used to prevent the wood from "wicking." Wicking is a term used to describe how a material draws up moisture- just as a candle draws
up melted tallow/wax.

The first order of business is to identify why moisture is present, and to prevent it in the future. As mentioned above there is a plastic barrier
shows is a downspout. The downspout was clogged with debris. Rainwater would eventually work its way out of the seam and directly on to
the base of the post. This home is on northeast Ohio where rainfall is abundant. The post is mostly shaded and does not receive adequate
sunlight to dry the affected area. Hence, over a period of a few years the wetness of the area had softened the wood and eventually a colony
of ants found the conditions ideal.
Note the complete rotted area of the post. This kind of damage can occur in a single year. The post was hollow and upon removal a
colony of ants housed with the hollows of the post scattered in all directions. It is primarily the ants that had contributed to the state of
decay. The horizontal rails were not affected and only had to be re-connected later.

The cut should be made up to a dry, unaffected area as high on the post as necessary. The cut was made with a reciprocating saw. A
square cut  is essential to achieve a clean finished look for the new joint.
Note how the wood is separated from the concrete with an 1 1/2" plastic spacer, the spacer is the big black square shaped object.  
The plastic spacer was in perfect condition and placed back in operation. The sides of the post were constructed one at a time. The
wood block on the plastic spacer is employed as a backer to secure the new  post sides.

On the photo to the right is the completed carpentry. The joints were covered with a wood putty and allowed to dry. The area is then
sanded and putty re-applied as needed. The repaired area is first sanded with a heavier grit, say a 120 and followed up with 180
sandpaper.
The gutters and downspout were cleared of debris. The downspout  seam was caulked with 100% silicone- this is used to
prevent the rain water from spilling on the post.

To prevent wicking and to encourage residual moisture some space to dry the trim at the base is held above the concrete
approximately  3/8". Before attaching the final assembly the  new pieces of pine are "back-primed." The proper technique is to  
prime and paint on all sides-including bottoms and cut ends. This is an important step as it acts as a moisture barrier. A good
quality latex primer and exterior paint was matched at a local paint store.

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Welcome to our website.

The diy pages to the family
home handyman and the
weekend warrior.

This project is "How to
Repair a Rotted Porch Post."
It is a bit tricky because of the
skills involved. First is to
identify why the post rotted in
the first place. Sometimes it
is a constant trickle of water
over time or it can be a
sudden inundation as it is in
this post. The water was
leaking from a clog in the
downspout. The water
escaped at a joint in the
downspout. The rotted post
was right there adjacent to
the downspout and sucked
up the water like a thirsty
camel. The water was
intermittent but never
completely dried out from the
heavily shaded porch. It
didn't take the ants very long
to join in the hospitable
environment.

The skill level for this project
is rated 8 because of the
various skills involved. It  
takes a bit of skill to match
the pieces, sand to
perfection and then match
the texture and color of the
existing paint. Maybe you are
not as fussy as I am but to
keep the customers calling I
have to do the best job
possible.

The tools needed are basic
hand tools --very sharp hand
saw, cordless drill, sanding
block, reciprocating saw,
adhesive (carpenter glue),
and non-corrosive screws
--deck screws work great.

This is a project with wood
and in the home building
trade commonly referred to
as finish carpentry --which is
my favorite trade. It is the one
I learned when hired as a
carpenter helper in 1977.

In the meantime if you have a
question visit the
blog and let
me know what you think.

People ask me how I got
started in construction. Years
ago in my teens I built an
outdoor shed and was
hooked. Sheds today have
incredible architecture, fun to
build and a test of your
ability. They are fun for the
kids and offer plenty of dry
storage.                                      
for one of my favorite
catalogs on shed building. If
you are starting out as a
hobbyist,  home handyman
or perhaps a career in the
trades an outdoor backyard
project is a great start. It is
an excellent opportunity to
practice cuts, measuring,
layout, and paint or stain the
finish product.

On the other hand if you are
skilled and love to work with
wood there are many
worthwhile and useful  
projects that can be
completed in a weekend. In
our family many of these
completed projects are given
away as gifts for family and
friends.


has many projects to test
your skills --some easy and
others very challenging.

Wether you build a new
handrail, an outdoor diy
shed, or a fine piece of
woodwork let me know. I will
feature it on our website.

Good Luck!
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