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Hi Christina! This is a very typical problem and really just mother nature's way of disposing of dead trees. Unfortunately, one of those trees happens to be holding up your house! Wood which stays damp and moist develops decay. The post sitting directly on the concrete accelerates this process because both the wood post and the concrete are very hydroscopic, meaning they can soak up a heck of a lot of water!
While in some cases you can cut away and rebuild the bottom of the porch column, most commonly these posts need to be replaced. The process involves installing temporary supports under the porch roof to support the structure while you repair or completely replace the wood post. You can reduce the chances of reoccurrence in a couple of ways. First, use a pressure treated wood post. These may not look very attractive, but they can be wrapped after they are installed with a wood trim of aluminum cladding to improve their appearance.
Second, you should make sure that the new post is siting on a post base, which is a metal plate designed to keep the wood off the concrete, thereby allowing it to stay dry. There are many available, from a simples aluminum plate that is nailed to the bottom of the post to one that can be bolted to the post and the foundation to prevent uplift.
Finally, you might consider replacing the posts with fiberglass columns. These can be both beautiful and sturdy -- plus you'l never have to worry about rot again!
Good luck with the project and post your pics here when you're done!.
Cracks in wood support columns are very common and seldom weaken the post to the point where a structural repair or replacement is needed. Is this a pressure treated post? Those will crack like crazy as they dry out. Other than the cosmetics, they cracked wood posts or timbers rarely need repair.
Now if the post is so badly cracked and deformed that it is not supporting the roof, then I'd replace it. Again, if it's made out of pressure treated lumber, expect cracks and plan to wrap the post with aluminum cladding, pine or composite to make it presentable.
The idea of driving a screw through the post to slow down or prevent further cracking is interesting, but I doubt it'd have much impact. Wood that is drying out will crack, twist, turn and basically do what it wants to do and a few screws will probably not change that.
You are correct that the product to use for this is surface bonding cement. For the details, we went right to the experts a QUIKRETE for this answer.
The QUIKRETE team says QUIKWALL Surface Bonding Cement from is ideal for this project. It contains fibers and other additives that make the surface strong and protect it from potential harm. QUIKWALL is also rated as a waterproofing material, which is a great for outdoor projects like a grill island. They do recommend also using QUIKRETE Acrylic Fortifier to increase bond strength and yes, you can absolutely use QUIKRETE Liquid Color for a little more decorative flare!
Much like stucco, QUIKWALL is a sanded product designed to be applied vertically with a trowel. In fact, the primary use of QUIKWALL is for building block walls without mortar (known as dry-stacking).
Rather than explain the step-by-step process for applying QUIKWALL, check out this how-to video. It covers all the bases. Good luck with the project and please share your finished work!
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