Q & A
Why not just cap the beams?
While only capping the beams might improve the appearance, it allows any existing dry rot to get worse. It's like capping a rotting tooth. Your smile may be pretty, buy the cavity and rot would just get worse until the tooth finally crumbled. A rotting roof beam, that does not have its decay removed, will fail — it too, will eventually crumble. Click on, Why not "just caps"?, to see a slide show (opens in new window).
Why not just cut off the rotted, ugly ends?
Well, first of all, it ruins the architecture. In fact, many homeowners associations require maintaining the original architecture. Second, depending on the amount of rot, cutting too far back can lessen the structural capacity of load bearing beams. Finally, it's not likely to eliminate all of the hidden pockets of rot-causing fungi, risking a new spread of decay and the loss of a once saveable roof beam.
Isn't epoxy/caulking/wood-filler with some paint enough?
In cases of established rot, the short answer is no. It would be nice if it were that simple. If the infection and its source are not eliminated, the decay will spread. Patching over decay is as effective on making it go away, as it would be by putting your hands over your eyes. Click "What's Really Under There?" for a slide show in a new window to see an example.
What happens if the rot is so bad that it can't be restored?
If beam restoration isn’t possible, the beam must be completely replaced. In some cases, this process is as overwhelming as it sounds. In other cases, not so much. The price tag for this method of repair depends on several factors:
Load bearing or decorative beam
Size and length of the beam
Complexity of the structure with respect to the beam
Accessibility of the beam
Height of the beam, etc.
Decorative beams are usually shorter than load bearing ones, and replacement is typically less labor-intensive. Large covered patios with exposed load bearing beams often have accessibility advantages that keep the labor down. These beams are usually split at the exterior wall, and can be removed and replaced without working from the inside of your home.
Some beams, however, span half way through the interior of the home, if not all the way through (this would be the overwhelming part). You can expect that extracting one of these will be, at the least, time-consuming, messy, and expensive. The size and scope of this kind of project is best suited for a company with a crew. Working alone, this is not a service I am able to offer.
In short, the best answer is not to find yourself in this place. Attend to roof beam decay as soon as you are aware of it. Complete roof beam replacement can be avoided. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing.
What does an inspection and estimate cost?
Nothing, they're free of charge.
What happens during an inspection?
We make an appointment. I bring ladders and tools. I inspect the roof beams to determine the amount of rot, if any. Afterwards, we'll sit down together and I'll go over what I've found. I'll show you a book I've put together with detailed photos of my beam restoration process. I'll answer any questions you might have. Then, I'll mail you a detailed estimate (bid). If you're happy with the bid, sign it and return it. We'll set a date and sign a contract. If you choose not to have me do the work, no more contact is necessary. I don't do the "hard sell" routine . . . ever.
What will it look like after you restore my beams?
Here’s a slide show to give you an idea of what a beam restoration looks like.
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