Brick + Beam Detroit

Wood Columns Can Be Repaired: Save Them!

Columns are always a defining characteristic in the historic architecture of a building. Keeping columns in good condition is essential for historic preservation.

Columns can be maintained, repaired, and restored. If owners don’t know this, they may conclude that the only solution to damaged columns is replacement. It is not.

Knowing what to do is the key to saving columns.


Preventive Maintenance

Moisture is the main concern. Columns deteriorate when moisture gets trapped inside and cannot evaporate away.

  • Wood rots
  • Paint peels
  • Columns come apart or crack

Keeping columns dry is the principal goal of preventive maintenance:  Caulk, Paint, Vent.

If columns do deteriorate, the important thing is to know that they can be repaired and restored. If it’s a big column, it could be a big repair! But it’s always possible.


Here’s How-To-Do-It!

The Boston Edison web site has how-to-do-it materials by experts, covering column maintenance, repair, and restoration. With their guidance, owners can undertake the repairs, or be able to supervise a contractor.



Dealing with contractors is more successful when you know what needs to be done and how it should be done, even if you cannot do it.

One example:  contractors may tell you repair is impossible, because they don’t know how to do it! Contractors want you to do what they know how to do. Don’t believe it.

Another example:  contractors may tell you they know how to fix columns, when in fact they do not know how. The danger is that they will do something incorrect. Either the problem won’t be fixed properly, or the repaired column won’t look right. Ask how they will do repairs.

The web site can help owners. An owner who knows that columns can be repaired, and roughly knows how to do it, will not be misled.

The web site can help contractors.  An owner may have a trusted contractor who has the carpentry skills to do the column repairs, if he/she knew what to do and how to do it. A contractor can learn from experts on the web site how to do a first-class repair or restoration.

Knowledge is Power.


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