Our neighborhood was built by David Baird Homes. They were a small company who tried to distinguish themselves from the competition by building “high quality, innovative designs” with interesting architectural features. All of the several “semi-custom” local designs incorporate longer than average driveways and a porte cochere.
While they are a graceful addition to our stucco finished houses, most of which were built using the Integra Block Wall System, they are constructed of wood. Cedar wood to be exact. They looked very nice when the houses were first completed.
Arizona’s climate is not especially kind to wood. Also, the cedar used varied in hardness depending on which of several contractors supplied and installed the structure.
In the approximately 15 years since it was built, one of our neighbor’s porte cochere suffered badly, as seen in the picture below.
Their guess is that a combination of softer than usual wood, possible poor craftsmanship, and lack of attention in the last few years led to this failure. They are in the process of replacing it. One of our other neighbors directly across the street had a similar experience and has since replaced one of their two major cross beams.
Needless to say, all of this got our attention! Fortunately, as you can see in the picture below, we have been more fortunate.
Partially disassembling our porte cochere showed that it is still structurally sound, except for one small area pictured below. I guess all that painting activity was useful after all.
Here you can see some soft wood in an area where runoff from the roof was not kind to it. So, we decided to gather our trusty hand tools to install some flashing to redirect the water. At the same time, it made sense to replace the soft wood and repair the water damage in the mounting holes for the lag screws that hold the cross pieces in place.
We were lucky enough to have a few pieces of very hard cedar left over from the construction when we had the house built. Cutting some the harder wood to fit in place of softer, damaged wood was a big part of the project.
To further exclude damaging moisture, the holes in which the large lag screws entered the main beams were treated with Gorilla Glue to make tight fitting, hopefully water proof screw holes. Teflon tape wrapped around a long lag screw allowed us to form new threads in the Gorilla Glue reinforced wood and subsequently remove them to install the beams. If necessary, the lag screws can be removed for future maintenance.
Of the two main beams, only one showed any damage. Luck of the draw I suppose, but the way the tiles aligned with the undamaged beam resulted in a lot less water being directed at it. So, installing the flashing to prevent water from reaching either beam in a direct stream should dramatically reduce possible future damage.
The entire process spanned several weeks, partly because I fell off the ladder at one point. Getting old is NOT everything it is cracked up to be.
Fortunately, I was not badly injured and was able to press on to the finish. Knock wood for luck, we should have limited additional painting to look forward to in the future. This means more time for bicycling! And, that’s a good thing.