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Better housing through chemistry

While crawling around the house with the painter looking for wood that needs replacing, I spotted one windowsill that was particularly ragged.

Sitting inches from the roof for a few hundred years will do that to a piece of wood. Still, it’s remarkable how solid the remaining material was; old growth wood is amazing stuff.  We could have paid a carpenter untold sums of cash to replace the sill with lesser-quality wood, but I saw a great opportunity to try an epoxy patching system sold by Abatron, a company that’s endorsed  by historic preservation organizations around the country.  The system consists of two steps: the first is to soak the wood with a consolidant that solidifies the dry rotted and damaged material.  This creates a solid base for the second step, that starts with the mixing of a two-part epoxy putty with the consistency of Play-doh.  You stuff the mixture into the void you’re filling, shape it to roughly the final shape of the profile you’re matching, and sit back to let the chemical reaction of the resin and hardener do its magic.  A few hours later, the patch is rock solid.  I sanded this patch with a random orbit sander, gradually carving it to the shape of the original sill.

The cured material is waterproof, flexes with the wood and will never rot.  Reports of its long-term adhesion are good, so I’m optimistic that this is a fix that will help this sill live on for many more decades.  The epoxy system is not cheap.  This patch probably consumed $15-20 worth of material.  But when put up against the carpentry costs of replacing the sill, and knowing that the original material lives on, it’s an absolute bargain.

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