Photo: David Hamsley
Because of their unrivaled adhesive strength and ability to resist water and chemicals, epoxies are well suited for outdoor wood repairs. (Just keep them out of the sun.) All epoxies have two parts—a resin and a hardener, which must be mixed together—but they come in a multitude of formulations and consistencies. Some are syrupy, some more gellike; still others resemble lightweight spackles and have to be kneaded together like dough. For small repairs, nothing beats readymade kits with all the necessary materials, including plastic gloves, packed in a single box. For bigger projects, double-barrel caulk guns with automixing nozzles, or metered pumps like fast-food ketchup dispensers, make more sense.

No matter which product you use, a few things are essential: accurate measuring, thorough mixing, dry wood, and the application of a thin epoxy primer or consolidant before putting on the filler coat. Where manufacturers disagree is on how much wood to remove at the outset. Some favor treating all but the loose, punky wood with a wood-hardening consolidant. Others advocate grinding down to bright, solid wood before priming. This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram sides with the latter group. "I would not leave rotted wood in place," he says. "It's like filling a tooth cavity without removing the decay."

Epoxy doesn't have much of an odor, which makes it seem benign. But don't drop your guard. If you get it on your skin or work with it in poorly ventilated areas, you can develop acute dermatitis, an itchy, flaky skin rash, or temporary irritation of the upper respiratory tract.

Epoxy Safety
To be safe when mixing and spreading epoxy, wear gloves, use long-handled tools, and work outdoors if possible. Indoors, ventilate well with fresh air or wear a respirator. If you do get epoxy on your skin, wash it immediately with vinegar, then soap and water. Once epoxy cures, however, it's perfectly safe to touch.

Where to Find It
EndRot Repair Kit System Three Resins, Inc.Auburn, WA 800-333-5514
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