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Question DetailsAsked on 6/14/2014

Cracked porch pillar

Hello experts, please see the pics I attached. This is one pillar in my front porch. Seven yer old house. There is a crack on this pillar. I am not sure what the best approach is to get it fixed. Wood filler? The wood seems to be still solid.

Thanks so much.

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4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Looks like probably a normal crack for larger structural lumber, or maybe a delaminating laminated beam. I do not see any sign of offset or bowing, so I do not think this is due to excessive loading or a "failure" as such.

I would use an injectible bonding (or reconstruction) epoxy filler glue (not just a filler - a filler glue) even though it is messy in vertical cracks - using very small pilot holes in narrower portionof crack and needle injector to get as far into crack as possible. Might use some #12 screws or lag bolts across the crack (clearance size pilot hole in first side before crack so pulls crack together when tightened during gluing) in the lower square portion. Do from both sides (wait for first side to cure) if crack goes through visibly, even if not open on second side - use pilot holes for injector. Then after several days curing Kilz prime (to prevent glue from discoloring paint) and 2 coats finish paint - might not hurt to repaint entire post (or all) in high-quality opil based exterior paint to prevent water intrusion and moisture changes, which might have caused or contributed to this. It is likely the glue, whether you use a resin or epoxy or urethane type, will get out of the crack enough to mess up the surrounding surface, so touch sanding and priming and repainting should be considered a given, not something tht has to be done because of messy contractor. There are special glues designed for repairing cracked laminated beams - this is probably what you want to use, though high-strength builders adhesives would probably work OK too. Use a water-resistant brand - waterproof better. Most contractors will not take the time to do this meticulously - so I would recommend making it a DIY job if you are up to it and not afraid of a bit of ladder work.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Answered 5 years ago by shiyang100


Hello LCD. Thanks for your answer. It is one side only at this time. You mentioned special glues for cracked laminated beams, do you have any brand in mind?


Answered 5 years ago by shiyang100


Looked through my supplies for brandnames - sorry I did - where did I come up with all these tubes of epoxy - both new and partly used ??? Though it is used in a LOT of different repair and crack sealing applications, and to super-adhere weatherstripping. And of course, comes time to use about half will be hardened up with age.

Some names I have used with success listed below - you will have to see what is locally available (many available from Amazon also but some not shippable to Hawaii or Alaska or the island possessions because those go by air). You will also have to look at cost - prices vary WIDELY on these in differnt markets, even in differnet thypes of stores in same town - may be 4-5 tyimes as expensive in auto or hardware store as at home improvement store, for instance. Commonly available at some box stores, hardware stores, home improvement centers, some of them also in auto supply stores, occasionally grocery and all-in-one stores but those tend to be the cheapest lower grade products as a rule.

You will also have to look at the type of material - I have included pastes (which would be applied by jamming it into crack with putty knife for deeper parts, then putty knife spread in the more surface and larger width of crack like you would putty a window or put drywall compound into a crack. Others are 30 second to 3 minute cure time liquids or semi-liquids, others are longer cure time (several minutes to hours) full liquids which penetrate better but are messier to use on vertical cracks. You will have to decide which you want to use - might be an injection type pass for the deeper part of crack, then a paste on second pass (another day) to do the wider crack areas. Liquidy stuff you can also tape opver the crack a few inches at a time (starting at bottom) as you work your way up, injecting at the top of the tape down into the crack behind it, so it does not run out and down the post. Experiment with that - some epoxies melt right through some tapes, especially duct tape which can actually catch fire from chemical reaction. I have found electrical tape also softens badly and melts commonly - best bet is a wide strip of true paper masking tape- - the kind that actually sticks tightly, not the easy-peel type. And remember - any epoxy that get on the outside, plus the tape marks, will have to be filed and sanded off to reestablish round profile, then primer and painted. Primer/paint will generally NOT stick to the stray epoxy, so have paper towels in your pocket to wipe up drips - and be sure to cover the deck around the post with LOTS of paper and sheet plastic because epoxy leaks through TERRIBLY - scrap wood is much better, but with whatever watch about stepping in it. If I am getting serious about epoxy with a larger job, I would a diaper or cone of shame (for you dog lovers) with wadded old towel at the bottom, around the bottom o the work area to contain drips and keep me from stepping in them. Oh - and with wiping up drips - do NOT put back in pocket after wiping - toss in a receptacle off the deck - could get embarrasing when it comes time to take work clothes off if they are stuck to you. And do NOT try to peel off fingers or hand/arm if you get some on you as will rip skin right off - use designated solvent (commonly laquer thinner/fingernail polish or acetone) - be sure to get what you need when you buy product. Might also assume putty knife will need cleaning off several times, and will probably be a writeoff after job - so get cheap plastic handled one for this job.

Bear in mind when buying you may need several packages if smaller quantity, but shelf life when opened is VERY short - commonly you have to use up entire tube at one time (5-10 minutes) if self-mixing double-barreled feeding into nozzle type (easiest to use though) - other types where you hand mix 2 components on a scrap pie pan or such whatever you squeeze out you have to use immediately, and unused portion in opened tubes commonly last only a month or less, so basically what you open assume you have to use on this job or some other household fix same dahy - so don't buy extra - safer to have to go back later to get another to finish the job if needed.

Also - pay close attention on moisture - most will NOT work well on wet wood, so you may have to wait till after several drying days.

Work from bottom up.

Brands: - a couple are just trade names and they have several different types of products in their line from injectable liquids (which obviously get deeper into crack) to pastes to putties.

My top four, in order:

3M Scotch-Weld DP100 Plus Epoxy Adhesive

J-B Weld 8251 WoodWeld Quick Setting Wood Epoxy Adhesive

PC Products Super Epoxy Adhesive Paste

Elmers E761L Damaged Wood Repair System

Other in my bins/toolbox with good prior success, in no particular order:

Abatron epoxy systems (more for professionals and larger size containers)

West epoxy systems - also more professional size containers

Restore-It / Rot Doctor (same product from Smith & Co in pacific northwest but different name on east coast/midwest than west coast

PC-Woody Wood-Fil Paste

CPES Clear Epoxy Penetrting Sealer (very liquidy)

Concresive Liquid LPL Epoxy (good for this use but specially good for concrete cracks on steps and stoops and interior floors - too pricey for most driveway crack use)

All in all, I think epoxy should solve your problem. If you really want to get carried away, you can drill holes through for hardwood dowels (probably 1/2-3/4" - never more than 1/3 of diameter) and epoxy them in to prevent further cracking, but that would probably be overkill.

Oh - and as previously stated - assume you will have enough sanded area along the crack that you will probably want to repaint the entire column. Then of course the other columns to match - then the porch trim and underside of course - then the rest of the house to match that ... there goes you summer fishing trips or golf or boating or whatever.

Oh - and roughen up epoxy on the surface of the crack with say around 40-80 grit sandpaper, and use oil based or enamel primer - not latex or latex acrylic - won't stick worth beans.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Couple of after-thoughts when I looked at your pictures again after my last comment about glues posted and I was proofing it:

1) Be sure to use a razor blade or utility knife to trim back the paint and such that is overlapping the edge some places, especially at bottom - so you do not interfere with the epoxy by shoving paint flakes into the crack. Don't bevel the outer edge of the crack - just trim away at crack edge any paint overlapping the crack edges.

2) Looks to me like the top half or so you are going to have to use a fluid epoxy to be able to get any in - maybe drill 1/8" to 1/4" or so holes to fit injection tube into the crack to enable getting the gllue injector tube at least near the center of the post so the glue get to the interior of the crack. Bottom half of post maybe injected glue at the center of the post every 4-6 inches or so along crack probably, depending on "runniness" (good technical term, huh - but easier to understand that "viscosity") of the glue. Wider part at bottom you could finish off with paste/putty type epoxy if runny stuff starts getting out of hand.

3) One other thing on the runny stuff getting out of hand which you might want to consider - a pro would likely putty the entire crack right off to fill in the surface of it and contain the liquid epoxy - then go along from bottom to top (to avoid trapping air bubbles) and drill holes every 4 inches or so into the crack to use as injection points from bottom to top. That way you avoid using tape and don't have to worry so much about leaking epoxy all over the post or deck, and can also pressure it up in the crack a bit because it will have only one way to move - into the crack until it fills up to next hole. Use bits of tape to seal each hole as you move up if epoxy is slow-setting and really fluid and trying to run out holes after filling, so you don't have to wait for one injection to set before doing next one. Drill all holes before starting injection gluing so glue tube does not have to sit while you drill nect hole - may plug up in tube, so try to do all fluid epoxy injection all at one time - bang bang bang.

4) Oh - especially if tube is not teflon - don't hold the tube in the hole after glue starts coming back out or you may glue it in. Have scrap of lintless fabric like jean or shirt material handy to wipe glue off tube as needed.

5) latex or rubber gloves good idea to prevent gluing your fingers together - not quite as fast on skin as superglue, but let me tell you that you do not want to glue your hand closed by accident - a putty knife and I were shall we say close buddies for a couple of hours one time because I was working at a distance from the solvent. And keep off skin as much as possible - some people are skin contact allergic to epoxies or the solvent needed to remove them - I have never seen severe reactions but have seen some nasty red rashes and exfoliating skin like a really bad sunburn, and of course like every thing else in the world I am sure California says the components and solvent are potentially cancer causing, though personally I would not worry with only a few minutes exposure. DO wear face shield or goggles and liong sleeves - not just glasses as chemicals can splash around them, and getting in eyes or eye lashes is a REAL emergency - 911 type, because you can't put the solvent in your eyes to remove it. Read safety instructions first.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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