The Rot Doctor


Subject: Porch pillars
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004


I have a dozen or so 5" square column sitting on metal stand-offs that hold up my large Victorian porch. Overall, they are in good condition, but the bottom couple of inches of each column tends to be punky and have some gaps where wood has rotted out.

We are currently replacing the porch flooring and would like to stabilize and fill the bottoms of the columns as well. We can jack up the columns a 1/2" or so, but removing them is out of the question, nor do we want to completely remove the stand-offs, part which are spiked into the base of the columns.

My question is: What is the most straight-forward way to get a wood stabilizer to wick up into the base when the base is in an inverted position? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Dan L.


If the wood is reasonably dry, I would just make a reservoir and keep it filled for 1-2 hours. For example, you could wrap the base in a sheet of clear plastic, and then keep the bottom 2 inches filled with CPES. Tape the plastic tightly in most places, but leave a corner of the plastic a little loose to form a funnel. Depending on how soft the wood is, the CPES will absorb quickly or slowly, but as long as you keep the bottom 2 inches wet with CPES, the wood will absorb all that it needs to in order to saturate the soft wood.

Alternatively you could slip a shallow plastic tray under the column base and keep it wedged up against the wood. In either case, make sure that you use a type of plastic that won't be attacked by the solvents in the CPES. For plastic sheeting, I like to use the plastic painter's drop cloth rolls. If you can find a roll of aluminum sheet that is wide enough to cover the bottom and sides in one sheet, you can make a tray out of a couple of layers of this as well.

I would let this first application dry for a couple of days, then apply at least one surface coat of CPES to the bottom and 2" of the sides to seal the wood completely. Two seal coats would be better if the wood is soft.

Let me know if you have further questions.