When it comes to inexpensive wood repair, durable epoxy can fix rotted wood and save you hundreds of dollars in replacement costs.
Photo: The leg joint of this carved wooden bench failed because of rot. Two applications of epoxy allowed the author to rebuild the joint. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Any piece of wood that traps moisture
is highly susceptible to rot. Fences
, decks, column bases, porch stairs, wooden planters
, outdoor furniture
, window casings and sills
are all common locations for wood rot. Replacing decayed wood on a large scale is an expensive and time-consuming process, especially if you have to disassemble the structure. But if the rot is not
too extensive, it can often be patched up with a mixture of wood flour (or sawdust) and two-part marine epoxy
. Marine epoxy is a resin and hardener combo.
To begin the restoration process, use a chisel or screwdriver to remove crumbling rot and debris from the area to be repaired. It is not necessary to remove semi-solid (or "punky") wood, as this can be treated.
After the rot has been removed, mix a suitable amount of epoxy per the manufacturer's directions. For safety, wear gloves when mixing and working with epoxy. Work outdoors if possible, or in a well-ventilated area.
APPLYING THE EPOXY
Mix the resin and hardener thoroughly for several minutes. Do not mix more epoxy than you can use during the setting time indicated by the manufacturer. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Many epoxies have two parts, resin and hardener, that must be mixed in a container just before application. When mixing epoxy
, it is important to use the proper ratio of resin to hardener. Make sure not to mix more than what can be used in a few minutes. Epoxy hardens quickly, and once it does you won't be able to use it anymore. Tip
: If you get epoxy on your skin, wash it immediately with vinegar, then use soap and water.
Once mixed, the epoxy will remain liquid for about 15 minutes. Quickly brush it onto the damaged area, soaking any places that are soft from the rot. Then stir wood flour
, sawdust or a filler recommended by the epoxy manufacturer into the remaining epoxy until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter.
The resin and hardener combines to form an epoxy mixture with the consistency of peanut butter. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Fill gaps with the epoxy paste using a putty knife
, or any tool that will allow you to shape the paste as required. If the gap is deeper than ¾ inch, fill it in with two or more applications of paste. Slightly overfill the final application and allow it to cure (but it will take a few days to fully harden).
SMOOTH AND FINISH SURFACE
An artist's palette knife is handy for shaping the filler. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
After an hour or two, you can further shape the patch and remove excess filler with conventional tools, such as a utility knife, wood file or sandpaper
After an hour or two, the epoxy will have hardened enough so it can be chiseled, sanded, drilled, routed or or planed. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Once the epoxy is cured (see left), it can be primed and painted to match adjacent surfaces.
While this is an inexpensive solution to wood rot, don't forget to identify and remedy the source of moisture that caused the rot in the first place
. It's usually due to improper drainage, inadequate ventilation, poor construction techniques, or a combination of all three.
Conceal a Nick in Wood Furniture
Wood Rot in Decks and Porches
The Wide World of Epoxy
(This Old House)
How To: Put a Stop to Squeaky Floors