How to Save Rotting Wood

Use wood filler to correct the problem before the damage becomes severe.

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Weathered Wooden Red Door

To repair wood that's started to rot because of frequent exposure to water, remove the rotten section and fill the hole with wood filler. And to keep from repairing the same wood over and over, try to reduce the amount of water that comes into contact with it.

Here's how to fix rotting wood:

Materials and Tools:

flat-head screwdriver
wood chisels
hammer
wax paper
sandpaper
drill with driver bits
paintbrush
disposable mixing tray
flexible putty knives and plastic spreaders
2-part wood-patching compound
wood hardener
2-inch all-purpose screws
rags
safety glasses
rubber gloves

Steps:

1. Use a screwdriver or chisel to dig out the rotten material and expose the solid wood beneath. Hire a professional to repair damage to structural (load-bearing) wood.

2. Thoroughly coat the exposed wood with wood hardener. This will help protect the wood against future deterioration. Some wood hardeners are both toxic and flammable -- be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

3. Drive several screws into the damaged area to support the patching compound. The screws should be about an inch from each other, with the heads about ¼-inch below the undamaged wood surface.

4. Mix the patching compound to the consistency of peanut butter. When it's ready, it will dry within about 5 to 15 minutes.

5. Fill the damaged area with patching compound. Use enough compound to overfill the hole, and then smooth the area to reduce the amount of sanding you'll need to do later. In some situations, you can create a form to hold the compound in place as it dries. Just place a piece of wax paper over the compound and then clamp a flat board over it.

6. After the compound dries, sand it smooth. Then prime and paint the compound and replace any damaged trim.

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