How to Repair Rotted Wood

wood rot

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Rotted wood is a common problem in most households, especially those who own older homes. Rotted wood is a result from moisture in the area or just being old and it can happen both indoors and outdoors of your home. Most rotted wood appears in high moisture areas near water pipes, attics, basements, door jams, decks, and fences. Thankfully, there are ways to repair the rotted wood versus spending your time and money on replacing it the whole thing. 

Total Time: 24 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

What You'll Need


  • Putty knife
  • Rasp or utility knife
  • Wood chisel


  • Paintbrush and paint to match 
  • Sanding block or 100 grit paper
  • Polyester or Epoxy filler
  • Wood hardener


  1. Evaluate the Damage and Diagnose the Problem

    Inspect the area that you suspect rotted wood, see how much damage is there and how much repairing you will need to do. If the rotted wood is limited and not more than 50 percent of the product, you can most likely repair the rot without professional help or replacement. Next, prevent this problem from happening again by figuring out what has caused this wood rot. Look for leaks, open spaces where weather elements and moist air can affect the area. If it is outdoors consider checking your gutters and bad drainage areas.

  2. Clear the Rotted Wood 

    Using your rasp or chisel, remove the rotted wood carefully. This takes a gentle hand and the right amount of pressure. Be sure to get any spots that seem to be weak around the wood rot. Once removed, clear the area of any debris. 

  3. Apply a Wood Hardener 

    You can find a wood hardener at your local home improvement store. The hardener is a resin that will penetrate the wood and create a seal and will help prevent moisture from seeping in. Using a small paintbrush, slather on the wood hardener to the exposed area and allow it to dry.

  4. Apply Filler 

    Wood putty or epoxy is the best agent to fill the wood. Using a putty knife, apply the putty to the areas that need to be filled. Make sure that you smooth it and remove any excess putty quickly before it dries. Allow the putty to dry completely, over night preferably. 

  5. Sand It Down

    Once the putty has dried, using a sanding block or sand paper, sand down the putty to match with the surrounding wood area. Be sure to blow or wipe away with a dry rag any remnants of wood and dust. 

  6. Prime

    If you are planning on painting and depending on the area, you may need to prime the newly fixed area with a primer. Using a paintbrush and following the directions of the primer, apply and allow to dry completely.

  7. Paint

    Lastly, paint your patchwork! You may need to apply one to three coats depending on the results you are looking for. Allow to completely dry and ta dah! You are good to go!