How to Repair Dry Rot in Wood

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

Ron:

You know sometimes it may just seem easier to replace something that’s a little tattered and worn.  Well me, I guess I’m just a restorer at heart.  I feel really good about giving new life to something that’s been around for a while.

Ron:

Well I’ve got a bit of a problem here, we’ve got some pretty serious rot.  So I going to go ahead and repair these.  This one is pretty deep, the damage goes fairly deeply in here and some of this wood in here is still on the soft side.  I’ve taken out a lot most of the crumbly stuff but I don t think I want to tear too much of it out there.  I'm going to do what’s called consolidate the wood that’s left right here.  And all that means is that I'm going to put some of this liquid, it’s not really an epoxy, but you can think of it as that.  Its water thin and it soaks into the wood, and it turns the soft partially decayed wood here hard again.  The consolidate will dry in about two hours.  Now, I’ll begin using small pieces of material to build a form around the damaged area.  This is just cardboard here, I’m going to spray some lubricant on the back and it’s just going to allow the filler to release from this.  I’m going to lay this right here.  I’m going to take some duct tape.  What I’m trying to do here is cover a couple of the sides  on this void so that the filler when I put it in just ooze out.  The filler I’ve chosen for this job – a poly resin – dries quickly and is extremely durable…especially outside.  It’s really a wonderful material for doing home repairs.  It’s relatively inexpensive and I like it because it’s not only easy to use  but it dries very fast.  Now this is the hardener.  The more of this I put in, the faster this is going to get hard.  Now just mix that right up and I'm  just going to start packing this in, now there’s a hole just up in here so I’m going to push that back up in the hole until that’s well filled.  That’s actually starting to harden already.  See how that’s, its hard to tell now, but another couple minutes, I can feel it.  It’s kind of like dried chewing gum.  See it’s getting a little bit rubbery.


Ron:

Now this has been about ten minutes.  As you can see, it’s hard but it’s still a little bit rubbery.  Now this is exactly where I want it to be here because when it’s in this stage I can clean up the excess really easily.  Yeah, see that popped off.  See that left us with a nice fill right in here, so there won’t be much clean up to do with that.  Then we’ll pop this one off too.  Let me give that a cut, take off the tape.  This is just a knife; you see how rubbery this is right now.  Now you can cut away all the excess. 

Ron:

I’m getting this at just the right time when it’s still rubbery, this stuff gets really hard.  Now I cut out some of this excess here, I just made a cut here.  I’m going to get in here and just follow this profile.  So I have a little more sanding to do on the top and back, but not much.  And this is ready for priming and painting.  

Ron:

Now this one I’m going to repair a little bit differently.  I could fill this up but I think because of the way this is all broken out here, I’d be better off replacing it with a piece of wood.  I’ll put that right on here.  Now what I’m doing here is I’m cutting a patch first.  Then I’m going to trace the outline of the patch onto the shutter and I’m actually going to cut this out. 

Ron:

My chisels could be a little sharper.  I could take a day off and just do chisel sharpening here.  I’m going to go ahead and glue this in now.  This is polyurethane glue, great stuff for outdoor use.  Since I have this wonderful tool, I’m going to use it.  This is a one handed face frame clamp.  Now it applies pressure right down here it kind of pinches, and at the same time it drives this screw down pushing that wedge down into the opening.  Well that patch turned out very nicely, I sanded it off flush here with the surface of the shutter.  Now all I’ve got to do is apply some paint and it will blend right in.  Well there’s the patch we made with the polyester resin.  It’s all been sanded smooth; now watch its just going to disappear as I lay the paint on here.  It’s just about good as new, or as I like to say good as old.

Ron:

Oh sure, I could have bought a new shutter, but you know there’s something that gives me satisfaction about restoring something old.  Maybe its character or patina or whatever you want to call it.  And in this case you would never know there was a problem up there.

Repair Dry-rotted Wood by Packing It with Polyester Resin Wood Filler or Patching It with a Wooden Block

Fix dry-rotted wood and make something old new again to preserve its character and save money. Restore the appearance of dry-rotted shutters, window frames and other non-weight bearing surfaces by patching with a wooden block or forming three-dimensional reconstructions with polyester resin wood filler. A utility knife, sandpaper and paint complete these DIY projects, but neatness counts!

Remove Crumbling Dry Rot and Apply Wood Hardener to Remainder
Step 1

Remove Crumbling Dry Rot and Apply Wood Hardener to Remainder

Remove crumbling wood and apply an epoxy-like wood hardener to consolidate the remaining affected area. Brush on the water-thinned wood hardener liberally so that it soaks into the rotted areas. Let it dry for about two hours.

Build a Form around the Damage to Shape Wood Filler
Step 2

Build a Form around the Damage to Shape Wood Filler

Build a form around the damaged area with pieces of wood/hardboard prior to packing the hole with wood filler. Spray lubricant on the form components to promote quick release from the wood filler. Tape or clamp the forms in place.

Remove the Forms and Shape the Hardened Wood Filler
Step 3

Remove the Forms and Shape the Hardened Wood Filler

Allow the wood filler to dry for 10 minutes until it is hard and rubbery. Detach the forms and remove excess material with a utility knife, wood file, and/or sand paper to shape and smooth the repair.

Repair Broken out Areas with a Wooden Block Patch
Step 4

Repair Broken out Areas with a Wooden Block Patch

Cut a slightly over-sized block to fit the damaged area, trace it and cut on the trace lines with a Japanese handsaw to remove the dry rotted edges. Use a chisel or other hand tool to fit corners.

Apply Glue and Clamp the Wooden Block Patch in Place
Step 5

Apply Glue and Clamp the Wooden Block Patch in Place

Glue the block into the shaped dry-rot damaged area with polyurethane glue. Position the block with a one-handed face-frame clamp to hold it horizontally and vertically until dry. Sand the block's surface flush with the surrounding area.

Paint the Sanded and Repaired Surface with Exterior Paint
Step 6

Paint the Sanded and Repaired Surface with Exterior Paint

Smooth the edges of the filled or block-patched repairs and other surface imperfections prior to applying two coats of good quality exterior paint. The paint will weatherproof and dress the repairs and extend the life of your repair project.