7 Steps to Repairing Rotting Trim

Shannon Lee

Rotted trim can happen to any home, no matter the age. All it takes is the proper balance of moisture and warmth trapped against wood, and even the sturdiest lumber can fall victim to the elements. Rot damage to trim should be repaired promptly, before the situation gets even worse.

Repairing Rot Damage the Easy Way

These seven easy step-by-step instructions can help you stop the water damage in its tracks:

  1. Find the rot. Inspect your house with a simple screwdriver in hand. Look at windowsills, joints, and end grain. Push your screwdriver against the wood--if it sinks in, you've got rot that needs to be removed. Cracked or blistering paint, discoloration, and the presence of algae are all other telltale signs of water damage.
  2. Pull it out. Using a sharp-edged tool, dig out the area that has rotted. Cut away a section of the old wood to prepare for the replacement. If you are using a Dutchman repair, make sure the cuts are smooth and straight, to allow for very tight joints.
  3. Prepare the piece. Choose a piece of wood that fits perfectly into the area you just removed. A very tight fit is important to prevent further water damage in the joint. Make sure the piece fits well by testing it several times.
  4. Prepare the glue. Because polyurethane glue reacts with water to form a tighter seal, dampen the clean surfaces before applying the glue. Always follow the directions on the label.
  5. Set the patch. Drill pilot holes into the piece of replacement wood, then attach it to the area with long screws that you have driven to just below the surface of the wood. Be careful not to disturb the glue as you do this! It can be very difficult to remove from tools or your skin.
  6. Sand down the glue. As the glue cures, it foams up, filling in all the cracks and joints. But it can also seep out around the repaired area. When it does, use sandpaper to sand it down level with the wood. For significant areas of glue foaming, use a chisel or block plane to remove the excess.
  7. Finish up. Cover the screw heads with putty for a uniform finish, and then repaint the wood to match the surrounding area. And that's it! If you take your time with the job, no one will ever notice the rot damage repair and you have the peace of mind of stopping water damage in its tracks.


About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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