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80 year-old porch columns need help

Our Dutch colonial's porch has three original 20" diameter round wood porch columns in different states of disrepair. Two need new bases and all need to be completely stripped and re-painted. In addition, one has been wrapped (I'm not sure what they used as a wrap) and sloppily caulked (probably with a masonry caulk gun) and then painted over the gobs of caulk. We've considered replacing them with fiberglass columns (though they only go to 16" diameter). However, we would love to reburbish these and save both money and the environment. We've made a new base for similar style columns at our previous house so that's not a problem. The slats that make up the columns are still in good condition but we need to act soon as the raw wood is exposed to the elements in many places.

My questions:
1. Is there a recommended durable and attractive material that we could use to securely wrap and paint the columns, thus, circumventing the mess and danger of stripping old paint?
2. If not, what paint stripping technique and/ or product do you recommend? We have various layels of chipped paint and we would have to remove most not all, of them.
3. What kind of caulk or other material would you recommend for us to use between the slats that make up each column?
4. Do you have any other recommendations or suggestions?

We have other porch problems but this one stumps us most. Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Re: 80 year-old porch columns need help

I'd take them down and work on the on the bench, so to speak. The individual staves were originally glued together with a waterproof glue. After cleaning out the open joints to remove all paint, caulk and debris, the columns should be glued back together. Band clamps can be employed to draw them together. Any existing rot will have to dry out, and then an epoxy treatment and filler can be implemented.
New bases of fiberglass, aluminum and wood are available.

Re: 80 year-old porch columns need help

Hi Mabi.
My name is Maciej and I am Home Improvement Contractor. There is a few ways to fix your problem and everyone is more or less costly. Usually I do what my clients ask me to do. For sample; if you wish to restore your columns i will strip old paint, clean silicon, fillers or whatever people previously used to fix them before. Next step will be check the condition of the wood, cut out roted or demaged wood and fix with new wood. Next step will be sanding , preserving the wood, staining if you want to, and cover with clear, waterproof, oil base finish. This process is long and depends how many columns you have and how big they are, will take a couple of weeks and will cost you a few thousands of dollars.
Another way is, if you want to paint them, roughly clean suface from loose paint and averything else, apply fiberglas(resin with two different type of fiberglass cloth), send smooth and paint with epoxy paint. It will take shorther time and definitelly will be less expensive. Of course, before you apply the fiberglass, the wood have to be fix as well.
I don't know your location, I live in Bridgewater, NJ, and sometimes I do jobs in different states if the location is not farther then a day of driving away and the job will take at list one week or more. If you will be interested, I can do this job for you. Please let me know... In the mean time you can look on my web site and if you like to see some of my work click on link "Work sites".

Re: 80 year-old porch columns need help

Sorry, this is link to my web site;
If You have more questions you can also send me email;
abdank @ verizon.net

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