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Re: Wood Porch Piller base repair

Posted By: Phil
Thursday, 24 May 2001, at 2:24 p.m.

In Response To: Wood Porch Piller base repair (Craig Osier)

I replaced 5 6X6 Porch posts last summer along a 48 ft long front porch with 7 6X6 spindled posts. Like yours, they were all rotted out at the base. Proceed as follows: (1) Determine the size of the posts to be replaced and check the lumber yards / hardware stores for availability. The most common sizes are 4X4s and 6X6s. Larger sizes have to be special-ordered. Smaller sizes are for decoration only. They even make aluminium round or square posts, but they are expensive. Using the right size posts will ensure that they will be adequate to support the roof above the porch. Read the load information on the package before you purchase the posts. An example is a 6X6 hollow square post will support 5000 lbs. (2) Brace up the roof on the left and right side of the post to be replaced with 2X4s. Nail cross pieces of 2X4s at the base before you put them in place so that they will stay up. Load them down with a bag of sand to prevent them from moving. Remove and replace one post at a time. My experience and observation tell me that the beams for a porch are secured under the main roof. You can check that by climbing into the attic and looking around. Porches with beams bolted or nailed to the rafters is an added security when you remove the old posts. Proceed to remove the rotten posts. (3) Smear silicon caulking at the base of your new post and nail plastic or metal support plates underneath them. allow the silicon to dry before installing. The silicon will prevent thr base from rotting. The support plates have pass-thru holes on its sides to allow water to flow freely. I suggest that you prep the posts before removing the rotten post. (4) Install the new post using method (A) or (B) below. Use a 48in liquid level to make sure that the post is perfectly vertical. You can also purchase a hand-free post level which is secured to the post with a rubber band. This one gives you level readings on two sides of the post.

Installing the post: Method A. This is the method I used. 1. Cut out a square piece of 3/4 inch plywood about one and a half inches wider than the post. 2. Glue and screw a border on three sides of the plate. Make another border and save for step 8. The idea is that the borders will secure the top part of the post in place without having to nail them to the porch ceiling. 3. Screw the plate with the borders facing down at the top of the porch where the post will be located. The screw heads must be flush with the plate surface, so you use counter drill bits to pre-drill the holes. 4. Slide the post into its final position, mark the bottom location. The top of the post will be enclosed by the three borders. remove the post after marking the floor location. 5. Drill a hole on the floor where the center of the post will be. Draw two diagonal lines in the square contour of the post location. Your center point is where the two diagonals meet. It is very important that this is done as precisely aspossible. 6. Fasten a screw (for plastic support only) in the center of the post location on the floor. If concrete, use concrete screws which comes with the plastic support. 7. Slide the post into its final position, making sure that the screw snaps into the plastic support center. This process stops the post from moving at the base. The plastic support package contains intructions for doing all this. Use a rubber mallet if necessary to move the post into place. You can protect the post by hitting a piece of 1X4 placed on the post. 8. Screw the final border to the plyword square at the top to stop the post from moving at the top.

If you use metal support, there are no hole to drill. Skip steps 5 - 6. The teeth of the metal support will bite into the concrete and the weight of the roof will prevent it from moving at the base. I favor the plastic foot support.

Method B: This is the lazy contractor's method. Skip steps 1 - 3 above. Complete steps 4 - 7 if using plastic support. Again, if you use a metal support, skip steps 5 and 6. Nail each side of the top of the post to the ceiling to prevent movement at the top.

One more recommendation. Do all your preparation, such as calculating the spacing between posts, before beginning work on the new posts. The spacing between posts should not exceed 8 ft, unless the posts are for decoration only. In this case, the porch's beams are likely to be an extension of the roof. Some posts may be a metal post enclosed by planks nailed into a square. Metal posts are usually used in the basement to support the floor above it. There are some checks that you can do to check what kind of post you have. Tapping a post can tell you if it is hollow inside. Since your post is rotted at the base, run a thin metal wire (coat hanger) through the bottom. If it goes thru unobtructed, you do not have a metal post inside. You can run the same check at the top. Good luck.

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