Wood Rot Repair Tips to Restore Your Wichita Home’s Structural Integrity

A close look at the bottom of a white, wooden window frame that requires wood rot repairs.
As unsightly as it is, rotted wood is a common issue for Wichita homeowners. When rot develops and begins to spread in the boards of your deck, fascia, and siding, your home can quickly go from looking well cared for to old and decrepit. The longer you delay making an appointment for Wichita wood rot repair and rot is allowed to spread, the more your curb appeal will be negatively affected.

Wichita wood rot repair isn't just necessary for fixing this cosmetic issue but also for restoring the structural integrity of your home. Left unaddressed, decayed timber can pave the way for moisture damage that may cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, as well as become a safety hazard.

With the help of a Wichita handyman, you can stop rot in its tracks and avoid any repercussions it can have on your safety and bank account. By making the necessary repairs now, you will save yourself from costly repairs and headaches in the future. In this post, we'll go over some of the basics of what timber decay is and how it occurs, areas of your home where deterioration is likely to occur, and the best methods to use for wood rot repair.

What is Wood Rot?

When most homeowners hear that they have wood rot, their reaction typically ranges from concern to dread. While this is something homeowners want to avoid having to deal with when it comes to their homes, timber decay is actually a valuable and necessary natural process.

When a tree in a forest dies and falls down, it begins to decompose. Decomposition allows it to become a source of nutrients for other plant life, as well as provide shelter for organisms and animals. According to the National Wildlife Federation, dead trees actually provide a habitat for over 1,000 different species across the United States.

Rotten timber starts out as damp timber. Prolonged exposure to excessive moisture allows fungi to grow and thrive. To survive, fungi absorb nutrients within various substrates around them. It is currently estimated that there are somewhere between 2.2 and 3.8 million species of fungi—including over 50,000 different species of mushrooms. The type of rot that affects timber comes in a few broad categories:

  • Brown: Also known as dry rot fungi, this type consumes cellulose within the wood, leaving behind an organic substance called lignin. Lignin has a brown hue, which then gives the timber a darker brown appearance (hence the name). Weakened timber with this type of decay characteristically breaks down into cube-like chunks.
  • White: This fungi consumes the brown lignin in timber, leaving pale-toned cellulose behind. The material takes on a white or pale yellow tone and feels very spongy to the touch.
  • Soft: Cellulose is also consumed by this fungi, in both extremely hot and cold climates. This type of rot creates a honeycomb-like pattern.

Though decay is valuable when part of the ecosystem, it's a problem when it causes structural damage to our homes. Exterior timber is exposed to the elements and may incur water damage after repeated exposure to rain and snow. Continuously high moisture content within its fibers creates an environment that allows brown and soft rot to proliferate.

In recent years, wood is being replaced by more durable building materials, such as vinyl and aluminum. However, local homes still use a lot of wood, especially on the exterior, making Wichita wood rot repair services a necessity for many homeowners.

Where Does Wood Rot Typically Occur?

Because rot requires moisture to develop, the process typically takes place on the outside of the home. Common areas for wood rot repair in Wichita, KS, include window frames, decks, porches, siding, fascia, and soffits.

Window Frames

Older homes typically have wooden window frames and windowsills. Because frames are often painted with durable exterior paint, you may not even know that they're made from wood. A high-quality exterior paint provides a moisture barrier that protects them from rain, snow, and humidity, but over time, the paint can begin to flake off or incur damage. Once this happens, wood becomes exposed, and decay gets started.

Decks and Porches

Rotting wood is only one of several signs you need deck repair in Wichita, KS, but it's also the most common. Pressure-treated deck steps and stairs, handrails, and floorboards can all develop rot if not properly protected.

Most homeowners choose to paint their decks and porches for aesthetic reasons but doing so can also prevent you from needing to hire a Wichita wood rot repair company down the line. A stain lends a stunning hue to your porch or deck boards, but the pigmentation also protects your structure from damage. Clear sealants and exterior paints can be used to protect the material from rain and snow.

Siding, Fascia, and Soffits

If your siding, fascia boards, or soffits are made with timber, it's a good idea to double-check that they are still in good condition. If you haven't hired a professional for gutter cleaning in a while, clogs could be causing water to leak down the sides of your fascia boards and siding.

Though newer homes may have vinyl siding, most homes still have timber fascia boards. When fascia boards begin to decay, they can no longer protect the attic opening or your soffits. One of the most common reasons that local owners seek out Wichita wood rot repair services is for damage to these three exterior components.

5 Methods of Wood Rot Repair in Wichita, KS

Have you noticed any signs of rot, such as discolored wood, on the exterior of your home? These five Wichita wood rot repair solutions are just what you need to halt decay in its tracks and restore your home to its previous structural integrity.

Make a Patch

Homeowners sometimes think that they need to remove the entire rotted piece and replace it with a new one. In some cases, removal is highly invasive and inconvenient. For example, if you notice a small area of decay on your fascia boards and decide you need to replace the entire thing, you’ll have to remove your gutters first.

Another option to halt the spread of rot is to simply create a patch for it. With a saw, cut out the infected area and about an inch of healthy fibers surrounding it. Then, cut a new piece of wood to the same dimensions, and insert it in place by filling the gaps with epoxy.

Because the idea is to eliminate the rot entirely, don’t be overly conservative with how much you cut away. If you leave any rot behind, it will just keep spreading, and you’ll have to perform a more complex Wichita wood rot repair strategy before you know it.

Repair with Wood Putty

If the decay hasn't spread all the way through, you may wish to simply remove the rotted area and fill in the hole that is left behind. This is a great strategy for things like window frames and sills, deck railings, and pillars.

To remove the damage, use a paint scraper or hammer claw to pull away any large chunks of decayed material. Then, using a router with a V-shaped bit, sand away at the rest of the decay until only healthy material is left behind. Like in the previous strategy, you’ll want to make sure that absolutely no compromised timber is left behind, or it will continue to spread. Sand away any paint or stain and ensure the surface is smooth.

Once you're left with a clean, smooth, and decay-free surface, apply several coats of wood hardener to the area. Also known as epoxy consolidants, these products strengthen compromised timber and act as a primer for putty and filler.

After curing, you’re ready to fill in the hole with epoxy fillers. This putty is very thick, making it easy to work with. All you need is a plastic putty knife and the ability to work quickly so that you can finish this Wichita wood rot repair before the product dries.

Repair with Wood Filler

Instead of using putty to fill the hole, you can also use a filler. If you thought these two products were the same thing, you’re not alone. Unless you’re a carpenter, putty, and filler may seem like interchangeable terms. However, it’s important to know the difference so that you don’t return from the hardware store without the product that’s right for you.

When the filler dries, it dries so hard that it is unable to expand or contract. This can be problematic outdoors, where temperature fluctuations are common. Putty can expand and contract with wood, preventing cracking. Unlike filler, putty can also match the color of wood, allowing you to stain the wood afterward. However, a wood filler may be a good choice if you're only filling in very small areas and plan to cover them with paint after using a sanding block to get a smooth finish.

Replace Entire Rotted Area

After your first time applying putty or filler to a timber surface, you might be so impressed that you think it’s too good to be true. In some ways, it is. Putties and fillers can be incredibly expensive, making them impractical for a large-scale Wichita wood rot repair.

Sometimes the better option is to replace the entire rotted area entirely. This is especially true for deck boards, which can be removed piecemeal and then replaced. The time it takes to remove rotted boards, cut a new board to fit, and nail that new board in place will often be much less than the time it takes to carefully fill and sand down putty or filler, then conceal it.

Replace with Alternate Material

When the damage is extensive, it may be time to consider replacing the structure entirely. If the decay developed due to a source of moisture that isn't going away any time soon, it might be in your best interest to replace your wooden window frames, siding, or fascia boards with an alternate material. Some popular choices for materials include:

  • Fiber Cement: Made from a combination of cement, cellulose, and sand, fiber cement is resistant to both moisture and fire. Not only is it quick and easy to install, but it lasts much longer than other siding materials at about 50 years.
  • Vinyl: Though it is sometimes designed to mimic the appearance of wood, vinyl looks like plastic at the end of the day. However, the low installation cost, immunity to moisture damage, and durability may make this trade-off worth it for you.
  • Aluminum: A great choice for fascia boards thanks to its insulating properties, but not a great option for decking boards. Aluminum railings combined with wood or composite decking can be an attractive option.
  • Composite Decking: Because it combines wood byproducts and recycled plastics, composite decking does not need to be painted, stained, or treated, but it can be a little pricey and doesn't offer much ROI (return on investment).

Can I Handle Wood Rot Repair On My Own?

If you already have the required tools, products, and a little bit of carpentry know-how, you can attempt to do your Wichita wood rot repair on your own. However, a professional handyman already has the tools and experience to get the repair done to a high quality of workmanship, as well as save you lots of time.

Trained professionals also have enough experience to be able to look at the problem and provide you with recommendations on the most cost-effective, long-lasting solution for wood rot repair in Wichita, KS. If you're not 100 percent sure what the best course of action is, it's probably best to consult a professional.

Contact Mr. Handyman for Expert Wood Rot Repair in Wichita, KS!

If you need exterior wood rot repair or deck restoration in Wichita, KS, Mr. Handyman of the Wichita Metro Area has you covered. As a locally owned and operated business, we're passionate about providing exceptional customer service and high-quality workmanship to homeowners and business owners in Wichita, Derby, Bel Aire, Andover, and many other surrounding areas.

To discuss your Wichita wood rot repair needs further or to schedule a service appointment, feel free to give our friendly and knowledgeable team a call today! We can answer your questions about wood rot repair and many other home repair services, such as caulking, door replacement, and even wallpaper repair.