During many years as a restoration contractor, I bet I’ve replaced more than a mile of rotten porch floorboards. Because their ends are directly exposed to the weather, these planks may be the most vulnerable parts of an old house. In most cases, what I’m ripping out is not original old-growth flooring—which is extremely durable if it’s not badly neglected—but modern replacements that were installed with little or no pretreatment. Today’s fast-growth lumber has little natural resistance to rot, so it’s vital that you completely seal the boards before they’re installed. ...

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