“The Wall” Saga

I’m going to tag along with Megan’s quick post about the floor and do a short one on “The Wall.” This particular project was one of the biggest unknowns we had to tackle. It was a clearly rotten wall, but the big question was, “what is causing the rot?”

Rot is a tricky beast, and the numerous Youtube videos I watched preparing for this project reaffirmed that belief. The big issue with rot is identifying the moisture source. It doesn’t matter how much repair work you do, unless you cut off the source of moisture, the rot will continue to grow. With this particular wall, there were two possible sources for the water: the window, or the siding. Basically, either water was coming in through the window panes, or leeching directly through the wall. The window would obviously be the more desirable of these options, but either one is problematic.

This is the wall under the window. You can see the white streaks under where the paint has peeled away. This is the fungus that’s working its way through the wall. The paint has almost completely disconnected from the wall due mostly to the moisture. When I tried poking at the wall with an awl I was able to easily push the tip 1″ or more into the wood in several places. In some cases is slipped in up to the handle with little resistance. So, it’s in pretty bad shape, but here’s where the historical side of this whole project starts to play a roll. Usually, I would tear into this wall, determine how deep and wide the rotten wood extended, and rip out everything compromised by the water damage. Then I’d replace the missing wall with new construction and clean it up from there. But due to the historical nature of this building, I’m really not supposed to pull and trash a 300 year old board used in the original construction. So whatever the cause, however extensive the damage, I have to practice the gospel of Repair vs. Replace.

So as I mentioned, the first step was to determine where the water was getting in. We started and ended by having Megan spray the window with a hose. We found out immediately that of the 20 panes of glass in the window, every single one of them leaked on at least 2 sides. The result was water absolutely POURING down the inside of the glass. That pretty much answered my questions on where the water source was!

Outside doesn’t look too bad, but don’t let it fool you
The inside tells the real story…
A closer look and you can see cracking glazing putty. You can actually pick a lot off with your fingers…

Reglazing the window actually took the longest out of any step in this project, but it’s not particularly interesting so I’ll just hit a few bullet points. Point one: Old glazing putty dries like fucking concrete. Point 2: We used reproduction single pane glass, made in the historical side, for pieces that had cracks. Point 3: It took about a day and a half to get the 20 panes removed, scraped clean, replaced and reglazed. Not quick, but a quick spray with the hose told me we did a good enough job to hopefully stop the rot from spreading

Just needs to be repainted!

“The Wall” was a comparatively quick repair, but more interesting in my opinion. We used a process I’d never practiced before which involved locking the rotten wood in place with epoxy. It’s an old boat builders trick that allows them to fill and repair rot and beetle damage without removing and replacing portions of their boat. Essentially, you drill a series of holes into the rotten wood and then use them to pour in epoxy, saturating the wood until it essentially can’t hold any more. Once the epoxy dries, you can sand down and bumps or lumps on the outside and repaint the wall like normal. It essentially locks the wood in place preventing it from crumbling or breaking away. Assuming that you found the moisture source and prevent the rot from growing, the epoxy will keep the existing wood in place and solid. Pretty neat!

We started by scraping the peeling paint. There was a lot to remove.
I drilled holes about every inch or two across the face of the wall
The epoxy fills the holes until it spills out.

Here’s some pictures during the process that illustrate what we did. I ended up dumping the better part of a quart of epoxy into this wall, but by the end, the sound it made when I knocked on the wall had changed from sounding like a drum head, to something more kin to concrete. I took that as a good indicator. And here’s the final picture after we got it all painted up!

Before…
After!

As with all of these projects, we will need to keep an eye on them and make sure the repair sticks. This will be no exception and we will have to be diligent making sure that the window repair took and remains sealed, and that there is no indication of water seeping through the siding. Fingers crossed that it keeps looking as good as it does now!

Here’s a quick slide show of all the progress pictures from this saga.

Tune in next time for more exciting before and after pictures!

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