Structural issues

Published on January 4th, 2014 | by Henri


Beam is rotting on exterior of house

Q.    I have a post-and-beam house built in 1980. The ends of the main beam extend outside the house and are exposed to the elements. These ends are flat on top and one of them is rotting from the top.

I am wondering what you might suggest I should do on this end (the rotting one) and to head off the possibility of rot on the other end. Thanks you in advance for your advice.

A.    The treatment of the rotten end on one beam depends on how advanced the rot is. If the rot is minor, you can gouge it out, pour a wood preservative in the gouge and, when the preservative has dried thoroughly, fill the gouge with an epoxy wood filler (buy in paint or hardware stores, or in home centers). If the rot is extensive, an experienced contractor should look at it and advise you on what to do.

To protect the beam ends, paint them and cover the exposed tops with metal. Have a contractor do so or, if you want to do the job yourself, you can buy coil aluminum in building supply stores. It is available in mill finish, or black or brown on one side and white on the other side.  Rent a metal break to bend the metal so it looks professional.

Be sure to caulk the joint of the beams where they project from the house and the metal. Do not use silicone as it will eventually peel off; use polyurethane caulking you can buy in specialty building products stores such as A.H. Harris.

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