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What is your typical recommendation for addressing spot rot in door jambs, window sills, casings etc. ?

The only treatment that I know is any good is CPES Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer from www.rotdoctor.com. I've used that product many times. It's great stuff but since it's not availible off the shelf at HD nobody knows about it.

If you don't treat the fungal infection the usual process of digging out the soft decayed wood and patching will usually fail. With CPES no digging is needed. Just get the paint off and saturate the area with the product. There are several disadvantages. First it takes several days to cure and 2nd is you just can't run down to the hardware store and get some. At least in these parts.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

What is your typical recommendation for addressing spot rot in door jambs, window sills, casings etc. ?

I recommend removing and replacing the wood. The only time I'd recommend CPES is on a historic house where the rotting part has some sort of value. Most of what I see is easier and cheaper to rip out and repalce than to repair with epoxy.

The only treatment that I know is any good is CPES Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer from www.rotdoctor.com. I've used that product many times. It's great stuff but since it's not availible off the shelf at HD nobody knows about it.

If you don't treat the fungal infection the usual process of digging out the soft decayed wood and patching will usually fail. With CPES no digging is needed. Just get the paint off and saturate the area with the product. There are several disadvantages. First it takes several days to cure and 2nd is you just can't run down to the hardware store and get some. At least in these parts.

Chris, Oregon

I'm very familiar with CPES having personally used gallons of it in the past. I don't know who the Rot Doctor is, though. I used to get mine from Steve Smith, the man who invented it in the early '70s. I met him once and he took me on a tour of his research/manufacturing facility. The man is a tad strange, but he's a chemistry genius. He makes several products that are very useful for house restorers. Check out his web site at http://www.smithandcompany.org/

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim isn't Steve Smith down in California? When did you take your tour? Do you order directly from the factory?

Many times trim and casings etc. are rotting cause they were never sealed on all sides, ends and edges. Do you ever get into recommending that the replacement wood is sealed/primed on all 6 sides before installation? Most of what I see I imagine would have never rotted if it had just been primed on all six sides.

Do you ever specify the wood to be Cedar for example I have seen them replace Cedar with Pine?

Also, will you except a repair where someone has dug out a portion of the decay and replaced it with exterior patching compound? What about when they just cut off the bottom of the door jamb and throw in a piece?

Chris, Oregon

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I always recommend replacement of the wood. I add another line that says the replaced wood needs to be properly primed, painted and sealed to reduce the need to do this repair in the future. Many door jambs, casing and trim replacements that I see are done with treated wood.

Patching compounds like Bondo, IMO are a temporary repair. Unless all of the rot/fungi is removed and killed it will keep rotting under the patch. Also most patches look like crap unless a great amount of time is spent blending and sanding. I do not recommend a patch, I only recommend the replacement of the wood.

I have a can of CPES from Formby's, I purchased it at Lowe's. I used it in the repair of an antique chest that had some dry rot. Worked wonders and made the wood so hard I could hardly get a staple into it when I was recovering the interior of the chest with fabric.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Jim isn't Steve Smith down in California? When did you take your tour? Do you order directly from the factory?

I don't know where he is now, but he used to be in Richmond, CA near where I used to live. I was looking for a way to repair my redwood gutters at the time. Everyone I talked to told me to go visit Steve Smith. He had a big warehouse on Channel Ave where he, literally, stirred up his concoctions in big vats. He showed me around and explained his inventions with the enthusiasm of a small child. He had CPES, an epoxy filler material, several varnish replacements, several urethanes and a really cool rubber compound. He was like the Willy Wonka of the coatings world.

Many times trim and casings etc. are rotting cause they were never sealed on all sides, ends and edges. Do you ever get into recommending that the replacement wood is sealed/primed on all 6 sides before installation? Most of what I see I imagine would have never rotted if it had just been primed on all six sides.

Do you ever specify the wood to be Cedar for example I have seen them replace Cedar with Pine?

Sealing helps and, of course, it should all be painted on all six sides before installation. But the real problem is that we've moved from using cedar to using a product that the lumber yards call SPF (spruce/pine/fir), sometimes just called "whitewood." I started seeing it everywhere about 8-10 years ago. The stuff has absolutely no resistance to rot. Twenty years ago, no one would've dreamt of using this stuff. Now it's ubiquitous. We're all fooling ourselves if we think that, just because this stuff arrives on the jobsite pre-primed, it won't rot.

Lately, I've noticed that some of the builders are getting away from SPF trim and moving back to cedar or forward to Harditrim Azek.

Also, will you except a repair where someone has dug out a portion of the decay and replaced it with exterior patching compound?

I would accept it if it were done properly -- with all the rot removed. But that's never an issue, because no one ever seems to do it properly. I stick my knife into the wood just above the repair and it slips in like butter. I take a picture of this and tell them to replace the entire piece of wood.

What about when they just cut off the bottom of the door jamb and throw in a piece?

Again, if all the rot is gone and the patch is neat, it's fine with me. But that's almost never the case.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I've used epoxy to repair both structural white oak and non structural teak, in a couple of sailboats with good results. Teak, redwood, Cedar are all pains in the butt because the are "oily", but long lasting repairs can be made.

The trick I was shown to strengthen structural white oak frames was to remove as much rot as possible, very difficult at times because there is little room to work, and then inject penetrating epoxy completely around the damage, even drilling very small holes up to several inches into good wood in which to inject, sometimes, thinned epoxy, this helps to eliminate the seam between the repair and good wood.

For the portions of the wood that have been removed don't just fill the area with epoxy, use a filler like silica micro spheres, or others which can form a patch strong enough to drill and tap, or make the patch similar in flexibility to the wood, sometimes it may help to wipe or inject a thinner like acetone, MEK, Toluene, or xylene and let it evaporate a couple of times before applying the patch or filler. A hint use a forced air respirator when using these thinners in an enclosed area, the voice of experience.

Epoxy repairs work, but like everything else they only work as well as the quality of work put into doing the job. I'd only use them in a house in situations where the effort and expense of replacing the wood would be prohibitive and not involve a structural member.

Just thinking about this makes me remember how much I love Wooden Boats, experience though has taught me to love other peoples wooden boats and to enjoy the benefits of fiberglass.

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Hi Lewis,

Yeah, that's what they do with the Abatron process, drill little holes into the healty wood around the soft areas, gouge out most of the soft area and then, once the wood hardner has set up, use a two-part epoxy to fill the cavity and the tiny holes used to inject the hardener. Just about ten minutes before the epoxy reaches final set, you take a surform file, shape it very quickly to almost the finished dimension, and then let it harden. Lastly, after it's hardened, you sand it with gradually finer sandpapers until you've got it to the final surface height and finish you want and then you paint it.

They've been using the stuff at Colonial Williamsburg to fight rot for years. It sounds like a lot of work but when you do it a couple of times there's really nothing to it. Back in 2001, I restored the rotted out ends of some rafter tails under the eaves of a bungalow here. I checked out the repairs last year and they were doing fine. If I didn't know that they'd been repaired, I wouldn't have even been able to tell. It was a whole lot faster than trying to get a perfect and strong scarf joint while working from the top of that ladder and I didn't have to tear into anything.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Lewis Capaul

. . . Just thinking about this makes me remember how much I love Wooden Boats, experience though has taught me to love other peoples wooden boats and to enjoy the benefits of fiberglass.

A wise man.

Almost 20 years ago, I spent a month in the wood shop of the Hunter's Point shipyard. (I didn't work on the boats, my carpentry crew & I were guests there, working on our own project.) It was a large, well-lit, beautifully mainatained shop but very little happened there. They kept a master carpenter and two journeymen full time but they had almost nothing to do other than maintain the equipment. Even at that time, almost nothing on naval vessels was made out of wood.

While I was there, two orders came in for these guys. The first was a teak handrail. The ship normally used fiberglass handrails, but they wanted a wood one for formal occasions -- for instance when an admiral visited. All three guys worked on this handrail for two days. Since there were no specs aside from "one handrail, 12' long, teak" they split the thing from teak, turned it and hand-carved the ends.

The second job was for an aged South African vessel that came into the shipyard with a worn-out lignum vitae propeller-shaft bearing. The master carpenter was the only one who knew how to layout a new one. I think it took them about a week to manufacture and install the new bearing.

After that, they went back to oiling the wood working equipment.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 6 years later...

From Jim Katen:

I'm very familiar with CPES having personally used gallons of it in the past. I don't know who the Rot Doctor is, though. I used to get mine from Steve Smith, the man who invented it in the early '70s. I met him once and he took me on a tour of his research/manufacturing facility. The man is a tad strange, but he's a chemistry genius.

Again:

I don't know where he is now, but he used to be in Richmond, CA near where I used to live. I was looking for a way to repair my redwood gutters at the time. Everyone I talked to told me to go visit Steve Smith. He had a big warehouse on Channel Ave where he, literally, stirred up his concoctions in big vats. He showed me around and explained his inventions with the enthusiasm of a small child. He had CPES, an epoxy filler material, several varnish replacements, several urethanes and a really cool rubber compound. He was like the Willy Wonka of the coatings world.

Hi, there! I'm Steve Smith, still alive-and-well at Smith & Company in Richmond Ca. I package CPES for the Rot Doctor under license, as well as sell it factory-direct (just to clarify). You can find my CPES and Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (both ©) on the Internet; this is not an advertisement. Rather, the above thread was brought to my attention by my new UK distributor; I did not know this forum existed, and I'd like to clarify and fill in some pieces.

I admire everything said about me and about what folks are doing with the technology of wood restoration.

I admit to being a tad strange, although I always thought of myself as more than a tad so.

The the Willy Wonka of the coatings world, yes, I suppose so; I accept.

Drop by if you are in the Factory neighborhood; directions are on the website.

Best regards

Steve Smith

ps

Now that I have joined, if anyone has a technical question about the technology of wood restoration (which I modestly lay claim to inventing in 1972 and establishing the Science thereof circa 1985) questions may be asked and I will do my best to answer them. To repeat, I am not here to advertise; I am here to offer technical support in this field.

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Hi Steve, I'm glad that you discovered us. I've enjoyed using your products over the years.

I do happen to have a question.

In the past, I've used CPES as a "primer" for latex paint. I've found that if I apply the CPES one day and apply the latex the next, it helps the paint to form a particularly strong bond to the wood. I'm wondering how CPES would work with weathered wood - redwood and cedar - where the surfaces have been exposed to years of sunlight and the lignin is broken down on the outer surface. My plan is to pressure-wash the wood, allow it to thoroughly dry, apply the CPES, and follow with latex paint.

Any advice?

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It works just great for that use, as it glues the loose surface fibers down and into the bulk of the wood. You can see a lot of pictures of impregnation into sound and lightly rotted wood at www.woodrestoration.com.

Incidentally, Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer and its acronym CPES, are both copyrights/trademarks of mine, representing *my* product. Please use caution in judging similar-named products by what-I-say about MY product, for I see nowadays a number of such that call themselves some kind of "penetrating" product, and even my trademark CPES is becoming to be used in a generic way. Please do not use my names to refer to other competing or similar products.

I can tell you what mine does and does not do. and how to best use MY product, and maybe clarify some information about some others.

As an adhesion-promoting primer for latex paint, a couple days should be allowed for the solvents to evaporate back out of the wood to avoid occasional solvent-vapor-blistering of the latex topcoat; that applies to any solvent-borne undercoat.

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