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How to Fix Columns and Posts on a Deck, Porch, or Roof

Peeling paint at the base of a porch column or deck post often indicates that the base has been and still is wet. You can find out how bad the problem is by peeling back a little more of the paint — you have to repaint the column anyway. Now push a screwdriver into the wood. If it feels soft and spongy, it’s rotted. Repair it before it gets worse.

You can remove the bad wood, seal the solid wood behind it, and camouflage the repair if the damage hasn’t penetrated too far. If it has, then you have to replace the column or post. You need a chisel, wood preservative, large nails, a hammer, and concrete or several graduated sizes of flat boards that can be fashioned into a decorative base. Of course, you have to repeat the repair several times so that all the columns or posts look the same.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Draw a line around the column about 2 inches above the rotted area and install a temporary brace under the deck, porch, or roof.

    Repeat this procedure so that all the columns look exactly the same and have the same dimensions. Measure precisely.

  2. Using a chisel and hammer or a Saws-All, chip out the damaged wood below that mark.

    Take out as much as necessary.

  3. Use a brush or spray bottle to coat preservative on the exposed bare wood.

    Get one that retards moisture, as well as termites and fungi. Work it into all the cracks and corners to prevent future rotting.

  4. Construct a wood form around the column and fill it with concrete.

    For a more decorative base, stack several graduated pieces of lumber or figure out your own design by combining a couple of these ideas and coming up with something unique.

  5. Fasten the base to the column.

    If you’re using a wood base, angle long nails through the column and into the base. If using a concrete base, drill a hole into the concrete and put a cement anchor in it. If the base is metal, finish it off with a piece of wood on top and anchor it with nails.

If you put in wood or concrete bases, slope the top slightly and round off the edges so water flows off the base instead of pooling. If you choose wood, alternate the grain as you stack each piece.

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