We knew that the vinyl siding was hiding lots of problems, but didn’t know just how bad the damage would be. Yesterday we found out.

While not attractive, the damage is absolutely repairable. It’s unfortunate, but not a death sentence for the porch. Jim has been hard at work… and making progress.

This is what the front porch looked like when we started addressing exterior issues. You can see it was looking a bit neglected.

Two porch supports had previously been removed for repairs off-site. Yesterday Jim removed the vinyl soffit to see just how badly deteriorated the actual wood soffit was.

Apparently there had been a history of problems with the soffit as parts of it had already been replaced with plywood.

Water damage had caused deterioration to some of the brackets as well. Birds had found the space within the soffit well-suited to their expansive nests.

The damage seems to have originated with the original built-in guttering system which was incorporated into the roof itself. These gutters were eliminated when a new roof was installed by the previous owner. The unsightly downspout will go away. Jim installed a wide drip edge to help deflect water from the porch. We will not install exterior gutters unless doing without them presents a problem. A French drain may be an option if needed.

The downspout is now gone, and the moldings have been removed for cleaning, priming and re-installation after the soffit and fascia boards are replaced. Jim will be using antique material salvaged from another building.

Yes, it can all be repaired and made strong again! This deterioration would likely not have gotten this bad except for the fact that the vinyl siding was hiding the problem. Friends don’t let friends put vinyl siding on their houses.

I stuck my camera into the space between the rafters of the porch roof. At right you can see a board cut to shape the curve of the Pagoda-style roofline. The roof appears to have been shaped with thin toungue-and-groove boards which are now pierced with roofers staples through the original standing-seam metal roof. Aaaarrgghhh!

At the bottom of the photo you can see the back (top) of the porch ceiling boards. Once you get past the soffit, the wood looks very clean and crisp.

The porch as it looks today, waiting for a new fascia and soffit — and the return of its Gothic porch supports.

When the porch supports were removed in August, the extensive rot in their bases was fully revealed. Jim took them home and has been nurturing them in-between other projects competing for his time.

Here is the same column, turned upside down in our workshop. Jim built a form around the rotted base and poured epoxy into it. Anyone want to take a guess as to how he was able to prevent the formwork from bonding with the epoxy?

Here the epoxy cures outside. The still-unfinished greenhouse project is in the background. I finally got all of the glass installed, but that is for another blog post.

The finished product! Yes, all of the rotted wood is still there… it is just consolidated with epoxy and will never wick up water again! Sanding and primer will make it impossible to tell that the wood was ever decayed.

Here the corner porch support is also upside down. The original base had been sawn off so Jim replicated it. It is secured with wood glue, long screws and epoxy. When sanded, primed and painted the repair will not be evident.

The corner porch support had lost a section of its wavy vine patterning. Jim copied the pattern and made a new piece — again using salvaged lumber.

Here he inserts the surviving remnant from the base of the vine. Damn, he’s good!

Still upside down, but you can see that he has used epoxy to bridge the slight gaps between historic and replacement material. We can’t wait to see the porch supports reinstalled on the house!

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