Wood columns and pillars are classic! They can however have a downfall (literally). Since most everyone uses wood columns to support a front porch, having your wood pillars rot without taking care of the issue could cause your front porch to possibly come crashing down (which of course none of us want).
The greatest enemy of wood columns is water, and they should never be in direct contact with concrete, stone or soil because they will soak up moisture and result in them rotting.
Wood columns are typically separated from horizontal surfaces with a thin metal plate (as with a wood deck column) or suspended above the surface and the gap is disguised with a trim piece. This is enough to keep the wood from absorbing too much water.
Sometimes the rotting wood is repairable. If you are finding yourself constantly patching and repairing then you may have a bigger rot problem than you expected. At this point you would need to replace your column. Before you replace your column you would need to make sure you handle any moisture problems prior to installing the new column.
Why would a wood column that has performed perfectly for so long suddenly develop a moisture problem? Keep in mind that rot does not happen overnight; it can take several years for a problem to show up because wood rots from the inside out.
There are several environmental factors that can alter the performance of a support post:
● Plants and shrubs that have grown large enough to block sunlight and airflow
● Landscape mulch depth increases which brings the post into regular contact with water
● Gutters malfunction, causing water to splash or drench the area
● Paints and coatings eventually wear off and expose wood to the elements
● Foundation settlement or weakness opens up new channels for water penetration
Because you are most likely dealing with structural supports, it is preferred that you stay safe and let a professional take care of this type of problem.
Another option you have when changing out your wood column for a new one is to change the material. Use a fiberglass column that has a lifetime warranty, and is much cheaper in price. This are rot free and also very lightweight. You can also research to see all the different types of column materials available.
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