Porch Repair in Lehigh Valley: Everything You Need to Know About Wood Rot

One of the very first things visitors see when they approach your home is your front porch. It does a lot to improve your curb appeal and set the tone for your entire property—and when it's in poor condition, that tone is more of a sour note.

Most porches are constructed with timber, and why not? It's beautiful, durable, strong, and has a natural charm. It really only has one weakness, but it's a big one: wood rot. When it comes to porch repair, rot is probably the biggest issue for Lehigh Valley homeowners, and that makes sense when you consider that our annual rainfall is much higher than the national average.

Rotten timber doesn't just look unsightly, it can cause dangerous hazards for your friends and family to dodge. The earlier you can catch it, the better. It can move from the porch to your house if it’s neglected, causing even more serious, costly damage. But what are the warning signs, and how can you keep your porch safe? We'll cover what you need to know to find rot on your porch, and the signs that it's crying out for help from the service professionals at Mr. Handyman of Easton, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Allentown, and the Lehigh Valley.

What Is Wood Rot?

Basically, it is decay caused by wood-eating fungi that requires timber to have a moisture content of 20% or higher to begin growing. That's why porches, decks, gazebos, playhouses, and other outdoor wooden structures are so susceptible to rot, especially in our climate. Timber that is protected from the weather can last well over a century if it remains dry.

What Does It Look Like?

  • Discolored patches that appear lighter or darker than the rest of the material — or have a white, yellow, or purplish hue

  • Texture changes where the timber appears spongy, stringy, or webbed with cracks

  • Timber breaking into cube-shaped chunks (this is called cubical fracture) or crumbling into "sawdust"

  • In very advanced cases, there may be mushrooms sprouting from the timber

5 Signs You Need Porch Repair

Wondering if your house has an issue with wood rot, and how it can be repaired? It is sometimes possible to carry out minor repairs with epoxy filler if there's only a small patch of decay or it would be prohibitively difficult to remove the affected wood, but the best repair solution for wood rot is to replace the affected timber.

1. Rotten Boards

If you try to avoid walking around on your porch for fear of stepping on a weak, crumbling patch, you're dealing with rotten deck boards. Your handyman can remove the affected boards, replace them with new, pressure-treated lumber, and then apply paint or wood stain and sealant for a water-resistant finish.

2. Loose Railings

Grab on to your railings and give them a firm shake. They shouldn't move at all, but if they do, the likely culprit is wood rot. Even if your porch is low to the ground, a rotten railing can cause injury if someone leans against it and it can't support their weight.

In this case, we recommend PVC railing replacement, in which the whole thing—rails, balusters, and spindles—is replaced with PVC alternatives that can't be attacked by wood rot. They come in a wide variety of looks and can mimic traditional wooden styles, so it doesn't have to be a dramatic visual change. PVC will hold up longer and better than timber.

3. Damaged Stairs

If your steps dip down when you step on them, or make a noise like they're being tortured, it's time for stair replacement. Our carpenters will remove old, rotted stairs, build a firm, safe set of steps, and then refinish them to match the rest of the porch. We can also install stair treads to help keep your feet where they're supposed to be on rainy or snowy days.

4. Crumbling Posts

When you're looking around for signs of rot, it's important to check underneath your porch and take a good look at the posts. Landscaping changes or just shifting soil over time can create drainage issues that cause water to pool around posts. This is a huge problem because decaying posts jeopardize the structural integrity of the entire structure. It's better to know about it sooner rather than later so you can get help from the pros to chase out the rot.

5. Peeling Paint or Stain

Loose, peeling paint or stain isn't exactly a sign of wood rot, but it means your timber is vulnerable to moisture. Decay won't be far behind. We can use a pressure washer to remove loose paint and prime surfaces, then add a fresh coat of paint and follow it up with sealant to keep rot away.

Tips for Preventing Wood Rot on Your Porch

Want to know how to prevent rot from attacking? Here are some ways to help protect your porch and keep it sound for years to come.

  • Check it out: Once or twice a year, take the time to do a proper inspection and check the entire structure carefully for any signs of rot.

  • Trim back leaves and branches: Keep moisture-laden leaves away from the porch by trimming trees and bushes so they're at least a couple of feet away.

  • Switch it up: Move patio furniture and patio fixtures such as planters around once in a while so they can't trap moisture against the porch timbers.

  • Avoid rugs: Avoid using water-attracting mats and rugs. If you must have them, plastic is a better choice than natural fibers.

Rely on Mr. Handyman for Professional Porch Repair in the Lehigh Valley

Have you found signs of rot and want to get your porch in excellent condition? You can count on the experienced pros at Mr. Handyman of Easton, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Allentown, and the Lehigh Valley to get the job done correctly and efficiently!

Give us a call today at 610-463-1667 or request service online to find out what we can do for you and your home.