Any fix for rot in wood frames besides replacement?

linnea56October 19, 2013

I noticed today that several of my exterior window sills have some rot. The paint layer is intact, so not til I pressed on one did I realize it.

The windows themselves (all wood) are perfectly fine. It's just the outermost portion of the sill. There are two parts to it: a section of wood ~ 4" deep right outside the window, which looks like it is part of the pre-hung window, and a strip of 2 x 2 (approx) that looks like it was applied with the outside molding after the window was put in it's opening. It is that 2 x 2 that seems to have the rot, plus a small part of the side molding where it meets that. Of course I can't see if the rot extends into the sill itself.

I could take a photo but with the paint still there, there is not much to see. Of course, it is mid October. I don't think I could get this fixed before it gets really cold, or find someone to do it. I am handy but no carpenter. I am afraid to totally leave it for the winter. If it extends into the sill I don't know what to do. It seems like overkill to replace a perfectly functioning window just because there is rot in the sill. Plus there is a marble tile backsplash on the other side that would be ruined if we did try to replace the whole window.

I remember hearing somewhere that there is a wood rot treatment that saves you having to replace the wood. I also heard somewhere about using Bondo. I know nothing about Bondo other than I used it on my first car decades ago :) A couple of friends of mine just did theirs with tuckpointing mortar. I guess they had it around and thought, why not.

Thanks for your advice.

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I have replaced sills on all wood windows. There is even premade sill that can be bought at home improvement stores---or at least there used to be(10 years ago).

That is not generally a DIY job, unless a person is fairly experienced at controlled removal and replacement.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Use this stuff:

Here is a link that might be useful: Abatron

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 11:40PM
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after solving the issues that caused the rot in
the first place, I use this product.
Durham's rock hard Water Putty
not costly, easy to use, sands smooth
for painting,
only 1/2 way around my house working on windows
also. make sure exterior sill slants so that
it won't hold water.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Use the Abatron link. The epoxy wood replacement system works, and is a permanent fix. I have Abatron epoxy repairs that I did 30 years ago that are still performing well, and I'm restoring historic windows with it now.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Abatron is expensive but it works very well; everything else shrinks creating cracks that allow further deterioration. Don't use anything that is ready mixed or to which water is added.

The hardener can be put into holes drilled in still intact wood and the 2 part epoxy can be shaped to replace portions that must be removed. It takes some experience to know which is most appropriate.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:45PM
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Do you think that liquid wood would also work for swelled and crumbly plywood?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 12:08PM
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with any filler you have to take the wood back
to where it isn't rotted or damaged.

take a look at your plywood (pressed wood or
cdx??) and see how much you have to remove
& how deep the rot is.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 6:50PM
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This is actually around the edges of bathroom cabinets, so not rot but just swelled up a bit. Just wondering whether I can have it soak in and then sand, prime, paint.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:49PM
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nosoccermom, if it's crumbly, you have to cut it out.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:55PM
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swelling is usually a moisture problem.
without addressing the moisture
any fix will be temporary.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:31PM
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The moisture is when people spill water on the part of the vanity where paint has come off.
Just wanted to know whether this stuff can be used for plywood or particle board.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:21AM
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You can use Abatron on just about anything - a company rep said I could use it to fill in a small piece of drywall. Your problem, as I see it, is that you are not going to get the plywood to "unswell."

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:56AM
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I've been sanding it but it's like cardboard layers that are lifting off. So my idea was to soak it with liquid wood and then sand it. If it doesn't work, I also have rotten windows to fix :)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 4:24PM
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I've used CPES two part epoxy to restore window sills with dry rot in an 1840 house. They make several products; sealer, paste filler, and a gel that's used with a caulk gun. It's similar to Abatron but not as well known. Worked great. I got it online from

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 1:05AM
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Try this stuff if your looking to use an Epoxy system, been told this is about the best available. But for plywood I do not believe there is really anyway to repair it, just not doable.

Here is a link that might be useful: West System

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 8:51AM
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I've had great sucess wiith the Durham's product.
remove rotted wood, vac out pieces of wood to
good wood, apply in layers,
sand smoothe. kilz twice paint 2-3 times.

I know someone posted not to use products
that mix with water...but when you have a lot to
do the other epoxy produces are expensive.

just my pov & experience. I consulted a
master carpenter/retrofitter before making
the durham purchase.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 10:52AM
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