Carriage House – episode 2

In May I went back up to Kentucky for a couple of weeks to continue renovating the Carriage House so that we can live in it while we renovate the Big Brick House. My ever-loving wife, “Doreen” (not her real name), ditched me on that trip claiming she had to go to work because she had a job. (Some people take their jobs too seriously, in my humble opinion. I find that a job cuts into my day too much. But maybe that is just me.)

My plan was to have some fun and build some walls according to the new floor layout we had worked out. Well, that was the plan.

The back steps of the Carriage House go up to a deck where you can go into what used to be the kitchen. The door jambs (the boards on each side of the door) had dark blotches near the bottom of the door that stood out because the door and the jambs are painted white. Although I was tempted to just repaint the jambs and the door, I decided the grown-up thing to do was to take a closer look and see what was going on.

Water was obviously the culprit because the black stuff was right in the bottom corners of the door. It was probably due to a poor job of caulking and some fresh caulk followed by repainting would do the trick.

It is always best to clean out any loose caulk or other gunk in the crack before applying new caulk. So I took a pry bar and poked around where the jambs meet the threshold. I didn’t feel much resistance. The pry bar was poking more into air than wood. By the time I had cleaned out all of the rotten wood I had a hole big enough to store a large carrot (though I wouldn’t advise actually doing that). The other side of the door was the same.

A little bit of digging reveals major rotting and missing wood. Ew!
More rot. No caulk anywhere to be seen. Even the flashing was sliced through.

Furthermore, it wasn’t a case of a poor caulking job–there was no caulk at all! The door frame was just sitting there with a couple of nails holding it up and absolutely nothing to keep out the rain. When I pulled out the door frame to reinstall it, I also pulled up the plywood subfloor in front of the door and discovered that the rot extended down into the floor joists. So now we aren’t talking about just a couple of door jambs that need to be repaired, we are talking about the whole floor rotting out.

Even the plate under the door is rotted out.

Needless to say, if I had just painted over those dark spots and called it good we would have had a big expensive problem down the road after a few more years of rain did even more damage. Doreen would not have been amused and my main “job” is to keep her amused.

After digging out all of the wet, rotten wood, I cut some replacement pieces for the joists out of PT (pressure-treated) lumber and fastened them in place along with some pieces to wedge into the carrot-sized holes in the jambs. Then I caulked (what a concept!) around the door frame and the joint where the jambs meet the threshold and then nailed the door frame into the wall and caulked some more.

New bottom plate to replace old one.

After sliding in the aluminum threshold under the door and flashing and caulking it (of course), I cut and installed a new piece of plywood for the subfloor.

3/4″ plywood for the subfloor makes it level with the original boards.

With the door frame all spiffed up, I could get back to building some missing walls and my full-time job of keeping Doreen amused.

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