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  1. #1
    Platinum Member KYErik's Avatar
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    Default Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    I neglected to properly caulk along the bottom of the wooden frame of my patio door when I installed it 8 years ago. It looks like the end grain soaked up water over time. I have already pulled off the brickmolding in the following pictures.

    We rarely use this back door and a few weeks ago, I noticed the bottom corner of the wooden frame was discolored and swollen. I began digging out all of the rotten wood and here is what I am left with.

    Note this is on the side of the patio door unit that does not open. The 2x6 framing around the door had not rotted. This whole back porch area is covered by an 8 ft roof and faces west, but as you can see, its close to the north edge of the porch.

    So, what is the best way to fix it?

    1. Pull out the patio door and cut/pry off that whole end jamb and replace it? I would need to do some fancy rip cuts on the table saw to make a replacement jamb (it has a stepped shape that tucks behind the fixed door panel).

    2. Could I just cut/chisel out the lower 6 inches of the jamb and make a new "patch" piece and install it, caulk and paint?

    3. Is there a special heavy duty wood filler that I could fill the hole with and sand it smooth then caulk and paint? All of the rotten wood has already been removed, so what you see remaining is solid. Maybe spray some wood perservative in first for good measure?

    Thanks in advance for any help.
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  2. #2
    Elite Member
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    MrJimi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    Do yourself a favor and replace the whole frame, you will be happier with the results
    Jim
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  3. #3
    Bronze Member DanielAlexander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    One option would be to cut a section out just above the rot and install a milled piece to match.There is also a product available to patch and repair rotten wood , you might try a search on the web for info.
    Dan

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    i like #2. do yourself a favor and dont sweat it too much. just cut out the bad part carefully and square to make the replacement fit good.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    Erik,
    Clean out all of the rot, get a can of Bondo or a similar product designed for wood, fill the space, shape it, smooth, sand and paint. This will work.
    I would be more concerned about what is going on under the aluminum at the door base. Looks like water would migrate under the metal and rot the wood there as well. Worth checking out.
    I have also cut out the bad areas and hand fitted a treated piece of wood in place. I used an exterior wood filler to hide the seam. I couldn't tell where the patch was after it was painted.
    David B

  6. #6
    Silver Member Henry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    I had one of these problems a couple of years ago. I just cut out the rotted wood. In my case, I had to replace the whole sill plate and about 6 inches of the jam on one side. Take a good look at the door overall and make sure that there isn't some other reason that water is getting into the wood, like an improperly installed drip cap, etc.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    Yup, before your solve the problem, find the cause. Where is the water coming from if the door is covered? Is the deck sloped away from the house to allow any water to drain. Is door sill (AL plate) itself sloped towards the window and collecting water?
    As to fixing the door itself, if the framing is sound and dry, I would just patch it. Ive made up my own patching compound when in a pinch with some wood glue and sawdust. Its easy to shape and holds up pretty well.

  8. #8
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    Quote Originally Posted by Farwell
    Erik,
    Clean out all of the rot, get a can of Bondo or a similar product designed for wood, fill the space, shape it, smooth, sand and paint. This will work.
    I would be more concerned about what is going on under the aluminum at the door base. Looks like water would migrate under the metal and rot the wood there as well. Worth checking out.
    I'm in agreement with Farwell. First figure out what caused the problem. Usually it's water running down the wall from above. A leaky gutter, or flashing. It runs down your door and collects at the bottom, to rot away the wood.

    If everything is sound underneath, then it's a simple matter of removing all the bad material and get down to solid wood. I do this all the time for clients, and it's extremely common in old Victorian homes. Probably in all old wood homs.

    Once you are down to solid wood, screw in some screws so they come within haln an inch to a an inch of the finished surface. Fill with regular bondo in small amounts. Bondo dries in a few minutes, so don't mix up too much, and dont try to put too much on at at time. Once you start getting close to the finished level of the wood, start sanding the excess bondo off to even it up with the finished wood. It's kind of a tedious process, but it goes quickly.

    When you are done, you will now have an area that will never, ever rot on you again. It will hold paint better then the wood and after painting, be a perfect patch that is impossible to detect. I've done this on log homes and finished it with thick layers of wood stain too. The most common place that I do this is at the bottom of garage door framing and trim. A few hours and a can of bondo, and it's better then new.

    Eddie

  9. #9
    Platinum Member KYErik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    Thanks for all of the advice!

    I think that the root cause has to do with the raised ridges on the aluminum base plate and the lack of caulk.

    When we get a rainstorm from the northwest, water will hit the door/window and run down it and onto the sloped aluminum sill. However, the ridges on the sill force the water to run horizontally until it gets deep enough to run over the top of those multiple ridges and down off the sill. So the water would run sideways and up against the edge of the wooden jamb and since I never caulked it (the caulk would have acted like a dam to keep the water away from the wood), it got soaked up into the exposed end grain of the wood that butted up against the aluminum sill.

    The deck is sloped away from the house and the deck boards end about 3/8" from the house siding. The door sill is about 1 inch above the level of the deck boards.

    Since several of you suggested the exterior filler, I think I will give it a try first and keep a close eye ont the repair afterwards. I'll probably spray some wood preservative in for added protection and then fill much of the void with hardware cloth ( and attach it inside the void with a nail or two) to give the filler something to hold onto.

    I will definitely caulk it first thing after I get it filled so this doesn't happen again!
    "Attitudes are contagious; is yours worth catching?"

  10. #10
    Platinum Member KYErik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fixing rotting exterior door frame

    Thanks Eddie- the wood screws might be better for the filler to hold on to than my hardware cloth idea (and easier to install as well).
    "Attitudes are contagious; is yours worth catching?"

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