How to Fix Rotted Wood in Your Home
Rotted wood doesn’t look good and can lead to a variety of problems.
While the process of wood decaying is great in nature, it’s a big problem for our homes. Thankfully there are a variety of products available to help repair or replace the rotted wood.
Wood does not like water. When you have a situation where wood becomes damp enough to have 20% water, you get wood rot. This water might be caused by standing water or water repeatedly hitting the area so it cannot dry out. Not only does it look nasty but the structural stability that we depend on to keep walls up is compromised.
Modern building materials work hard to keep everything dry. Homeowners typically do not have wood rot randomly in homes. But anywhere wood could come in contact with water has the potential to turn into a problem.
- Exterior windows: Either casings, ledges, sills, or around the outside are prone to water damage. Water hits this area all the time and the wood can either break down or the sealants around the windows could wear out over time.
- Exterior doors: Same issues as windows but you also have water coming in as people enter and exit, as well as foot traffic wearing down flooring.
- Decks: Many decks are now made from composite materials which looks like wood but is more plastic and certainly more weather resistant than wood. But older Philadelphia homes have their share of wood decks that wear out over time or might even have some moisture trapped underneath.
- Basements: Again, our older homes have basements with lots of humidity and possible water drainage issues.
- Roof areas: Missing shingles leads to water heading underneath and damaging support beams or other framing elements.
Below are some recommendations to help you learn how to fix rotted wood:
Patching or Replacing Rotted Wood
When it comes to repairing wood rot, you can either repair the wood by applying a strengthening or filler to the damaged wood or remove the rotted wood and completely replace it. How do you decide?
Consider the following when deciding to repair wood rot:
- How large is the rotted area? If it’s a small area, repairing might be easier.
- Is it historical? When you have historical elements, either in style or building materials, it might be better to take the time to repair and make sure the historical significance is not lost.
- How hard is it to replace? Window sills are something that is typically easier to repair than replace. They are more difficult to remove and reaching the area to repair is often fairly simple.
When should you replace the wood:
- Is it structurally important? Repairing wood is not going to give the same strength as a new piece of wood. Replace that wood if it is any way important to the structure.
- What will it look like after? If the repair cannot be covered up, then it should be replaced. For example, a beautiful stained piece of wood might be better off completely being replaced because you would see that patching under the stain.
- Is the wood replaceable? Headers, footers or other building materials are easily replaced with lumber yard wood. Replacing the damage with a 1 foot 2×4 is a fairly straight forward project. Trying to match a specialty wood might be harder.
How to Fix Rotted Wood
This project can be completed over a few days. You’ll need to gather your tools, pick up a few supplies, and remember that allowing things to dry is very important.
1. Allow Wood to Dry
Before you start this project, make sure the damaged section is dry. If it is outside and gets rained on, cover it with plastic for a while. Make sure you leave some room for the air to move around instead of placing the plastic directly on the wood.
2. Get Rid of the Rotted Wood
Using a screwdriver or other tool, dig out the rotted wood. After you think you’re done, give it some additional time to dry and check to make sure you got it all out.
3. Apply Filler and Let Dry
There are a few choices available to you when filling in this area, wood filler or an epoxy. Take the time to read the directions because they require different supplies but both will provide you a nice finish. Allow plenty of time for products to cure. Take a look to make sure you don’t need to apply a second coat.
4. Smooth Filler to Finish
The filler won’t dry completely smooth so you’ll need to sand it out a bit. Starting with an #80 grit sandpaper will do your heavy lifting. Then switch to a #120 for a smoother, more finished look. Remove dust from sanding before applying finishing products.
5. Paint or Stain
Now you are ready to make it looking like new! If you are painting, make sure you have appropriate paint, such as exterior or interior. You can prime the area first if you’d like. If you are staining, you probably need 2 coats but make sure you lightly sand between coats with perhaps a #400 piece of sandpaper. Either way, take the time to finish strong after all that work.
Contact the professionals at Heiler Painting to see how we can assist with your rotted wood issues
Does this sound like too much? Do you have the time to handle this project? Would you rather a professional get it done? Heiler Painting knows how to fix rotted wood or wood siding inside or outside of your home.
Whether you need our light carpentry services for this job or our expert painting crew, we’d love to help you make your home beautiful.