This set of porch rails came to us so that the many layers of paint could be stripped off. Simple job right? Well, we got the paint of (simple but not easy!) and discovered a whole new set of problems. Years and years of water damage left many of the joints rotten. The paint was so thick it had actually been holding the rails together. Without the paint, the rotten joints fell apart.
You can see in this picture how blackened the wood had become. We ended up needing to rout out all the worst sections and replace them with new sturdy wood splines. A spline is a piece of wood, usually inserted on the underside of a repair, that will strengthen the wood around it. You can see one of the splines we did, in the picture below.
The spline repairs were put in with epoxy which is the strongest glue we have. The epoxy soaks into the surrounding wood and is so strong that to get the wood apart it has to be cut. We also filled all the rotten nail holes with epoxy. This way we cold re-assemble the piece and the nails would have something to bite into.
The porch rails were re-assembled and while they aren't particularly pretty, they are much sturdier and the repairs we performed should last a very long time. The owner of this rain is a faux finish expert so she will be taking it home and painting it herself, using exterior quality paints and finishes.