How to Fix a Soft Door Jamb
LESLIE: Now we have a call from Norman in New Jersey who’s got a bathtub question.
Norman, how can we help you?
NORMAN: I (AUDIO GAP) 135-year-old house. I have an apartment in a house. And my bathtub butts up to the door jamb. And over the years, I assume that it’s been getting very wet. It’s not rotted but I can feel it getting a little soft.
NORMAN: Is there a cure for this that I can do instead of completely replacing the door jamb?
TOM: Yeah, and now is the time to do it. If it’s starting to get soft, what generally happens when wood decays, it’ll sometimes rot from the inside out. And so if you find those soft areas and you could open them up – usually there’s some portion of it that’s breaking through the surface – then you can fill that cavity with a wood filler.
LESLIE: How do you find the areas that are super-rotted on the inside? Do you just stab at with a pencil?
TOM: Yeah, well not with a pencil; with a screwdriver. Just tap it and you’ll find the soft areas. If you can open those up …
LESLIE: And by opening them up, you mean really digging out all the stuff.
TOM: Carve it out. Take all the soft wood out there. Yep, and then fill them back in again. Now there are materials that will turn rotted wood into a – make it much stronger. There are epoxy solutions that you can buy at home centers that will do that. Or if you just get it opened up and it’s a cavity, then you can fill it with a water putty. I like the Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty. You can mix it up into a paste. It sets really hard and then you can sand the surface to smooth it out and then prime it and paint it.
NORMAN: Now would I find that in the wood care department or …?
TOM: You should find that in the hardware store in the paint aisle where they have all the wood fillers.
NORMAN: Should I let everything dry out for a while?
TOM: Absolutely. It should definitely be dry before you apply that stuff and then let it dry real well and try to keep it as dry as possible. And the drier you keep it, the longer it’s going to last.
And one other tip, Norman. When you repaint that, when you repaint the door jamb, use exterior paint and it’ll stand up better to that dampness.
NORMAN: Well thank you very much. I’ll call you back and tell you if it worked.
TOM: You do that. Thanks, Norman. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.