It’s easy to see when wood porch columns begin to fail because they are in our sightline, and the majority of the time the rot begins at the bottom of the column. The sooner you tackle column problems the more likely it can be successfully repaired.
Wood columns on older homes typically fail because the posts are improperly anchored to the porch. Old building codes did not consider the water management needs of a column. The simple science is that wood sitting directly on concrete or brick will absorb water or moisture, which then wicks upward through the column.
A properly installed column is set on aluminum – or other type of metal – base to keep it separate from concrete. This connector is then covered with a wide array of architectural elements. The photo above shows the proper way to set a wood post, and the photo below shows the finish treatment, a combination of a cultured stone base with wood columns.
The base of a wood column can be repaired when caught in time. The rotten part can be cut off and replaced with a new piece (wood or synthetic) that is blended with the existing column or disguised with a new base cover.
Be sure that the water issues that caused the rot are addressed while repairing the column, and that the porch structure is properly supported while working on a load-bearing column.
If the column is too damaged to be safely or affordably repaired, there are non-wood column options such as pre-cast concrete, vinyl or fiberglass. These are decay-resistant and require little maintenance. As long as water is properly diverted from the porch, wood columns remain a great choice.
For wood column inspection, repair or replacement in Metro St. Louis, work with the experts at Mosby Building Arts. Solving and repairing water problems is their specialty. To get started, call the Mosby office at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.