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Photo: nathansnostalgia, Flickr

Got a wood fence that's flaking or peeling apart? You might have a case of wood rot.

Wood, particularly if it's untreated, can easily succumb to rot once it comes in contact with moisture. Rotted wood in and around the house is commonly thought to be beyond repair, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it's a pretty painless DIY job. With a bit of epoxy , wood hardener and know-how, rotted areas of wood on decks, fences, doorways, and windows can be healthy again!

Need help diagnosing wood rot? Test the wood by tapping it with a dull knife. If it feels very soft or crumbles, it's rotted. As long as the area of rot is less than fifty percent of the total area of the wood, follow these steps to restore your wood to its former glory:

1. Use a screwdriver (flat head is best) and chisel to remove all rotted wood. This part is relatively easy, as the rotted wood will crumble into pieces. Because the liquid epoxy will soak into areas that can be saved, there's no reason to put a lot of effort into carving and digging to get at every last bit of rot.

2. Drill small holes (a honeycomb pattern works best) at an angle to help the epoxy penetrate throughout the decayed area.

3. Apply a liberal amount of wood hardener onto the area using a disposable brush or spray bottle. Let the hardener saturate and allow to cure/dry.

4. Mix the two-part epoxy on a piece of scrap wood and apply into the excavated area. Epoxy dries fast, so apply and fill quickly.

5. Let dry and sand the area to match the shape of the original wood.

Of course, you'll want to preserve your wood to prevent future damage. A few tips:
  • Use naturally decay-resistant or treated lumber for decks and other outdoor structures. Never allow untreated lumber posts or lumber to rest directly on concrete.
  • Inspect for peeling paint or other paint failures, especially near joints.
  • Seal cracks with caulk. If possible, use screws to close any open miter joints.
  • Sand any bare wood and apply wood preservative before you apply a primer. Caulk joints after priming and before the top coating.


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