Repairing split wooden porch columns


Old 05-27-15, 03:08 PM
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Repairing split wooden porch columns

My Mom's place has four wooden front porch columns, either 8" or 9" in diameter, supporting a gable roof that have cracked vertically from neglect. From the appearance of the seams, these look to be 2-piece wood columns. The splits in general probably are no more than 1/8th inch wide but in one case might be 1/4". I don't know but would speculate there's a 2x4 in the core that is the load-bearing member.

I've already tried constricting the column circumference to close the gap using a ratcheting cargo strap, and it either closed the gap altogether or got it close enough that with some filler and fresh paint will make it invisible (unless you're looking really close).

The cracks all appear to have begun at the bottom, and none extend all the way to the top, so I think any plan for repair calls for some sort of a mechanical reinforcement at the very bottom, to prevent any more cracks originating there. Before I got onto the idea of the ratcheting cargo straps, I also had considered using a hose clamp to compress the columns and close the cracks, but the cargo straps turned out to be readily available. I still don't know where I'd find an 8" hose clamp, but the idea is still in the running for the reinforcement.

Other possibilities include an industrial-strength zip-tie (Home Depot IIRC has them up to 48" in length) or, if I could lay my hands on the tool, a steel banding device of the sort used to close up shipping crates. In any event, with a couple of coats of paint, it would be less conspicuous than the cracks are now.

But before I start pulling the cracks together, I figure to fill them with Liquid Nails heavy-duty construction adhesive. Then squeeze the cracks together, wipe off the excess adhesive, let dry overnight, and paint the next day.

So how would the Pro's do it (short of buying new columns)?
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Old 05-27-15, 04:01 PM
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Personally, I would probably not try to bind them together again, but the ratchet straps are a great way to do it.

Binding them together then releasing the clamp is sure to put added stress on the glue joint. I would probably cut the crack a bit wider with a skilsaw where it gets narrow. Then mix up a batch of wood epoxy like this stuff.

By putting the epoxy into the crack without clamping it, it will have no stress on the joint and shouldn't want to crack further.

I would not use liquid nails. Gorilla Glue might be a better choice if you plan to clamp it.
Old 05-28-15, 02:44 AM
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My front porch has sawmill oak posts. One of them developed a good size crack that worried me so I drilled and use a couple of long bolts to draw it back together. That was about 20 yrs ago and that post is as solid now as it was then.
Old 06-02-15, 06:09 PM
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Wood splits like that even if it's not under stress, and it sounds like you're talking about wraps around structural posts, not the posts. The posts inside are probably 4x4 or 6x6 or larger. If the cracks are not getting larger I also suggest an epoxy filler for a cosmetic (not structual) fix. My own favorite is Fill-It, available from Rot Doctor or Jamestown Distributors. Sands beautifully, easy to apply, much longer working time than Bondo. If the cracks are expanding under a load, no glue or epoxy will hold. Won't those metal straps look like hell?
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