Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs

Introduction

I have two teak garden seats which spend all their time outdoors on the lawn or patio. They go back to the 1980’s and the bottom of all the legs has rotted where they are perpetually in contact with the ground. I first noticed the problem while I was cleaning and sanding them ready for repainting and had them upside down. I dug a penknife into the underside of the end of each leg only to find the wood was soft and easily dug out. I had painted them with exterior paint several times over the years but this wood wasn’t good to paint anymore. I had noticed a deterioration in the wood previously when I painted them but just put plenty of paint on the bottom of the legs after letting the wood dry out. The problematic area was in the bottom 5mm to 10mm of each leg and It had got to the point where the wood was crumbling away and the legs were no longer all of the same length. I had to find a method of repairing rotten garden seat legs.

My Method of Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs

Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs
A Repaired Garden Seat Leg Ready For Painting

I decided to remove all of the bad wood by prodding and poking the leg ends with the penknife and sanding as necessary. I then let the leg ends dry before applying polyester resin in the form of David’s Isopon P38 (a car body filler) to build up the wood to the original length. The jagged nature of the leg ends made a good bond with the resin filler.

Polyester resin sets in fifteen minutes and it can then be sanded. With a quarter sheet of course grit paper wrapped around a block of wood I then sanded the polyester resin back until it was flush with the original wood of the leg and I sanded the end of each leg until they were back to the original length.

As is often the case when building up with polyester resin unevenness in the surface may appear after sanding to shape just because there wasn’t enough resin applied in the first place. It’s very easy to mix some more resin and apply it where necessary. Then after another fifteen minute wait it can again be sanded down.

The polyester resin I used is grey but with two or three coats of paint the repaired area soon blended in with the rest of the seat.

Yes the seats are teak and I used Sadolin paint. Some people leave teak to go grey and others oil it. Well if left to nature green stuff grows on it and it splits and deteriorates. After a couple of years the oil has gone and it takes paint. I have used Teak coloured Sadolin for years but now I have changed to Mahogany to match my windows.

Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs One Seat At A Time

I actually repaired one seat in 2013 and the second in 2014 after I had seen if the first seat’s repair was satisfactory. What I found was: the polyester resin was very well adhered to the original wood and being water resistant kept the bottom of the legs from soaking up any moisture from the wet garden. Here is the final result as seen in the featured image rubbed down and ready for painting.

Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs
Garden Seat repaired in 2014 before painting.

Previously the paint on the bottom of the legs soon got worn away by moving the seats about on the lawn and the patio so letting moisture into the wood. As soon as I covered the bottom of the legs with 5mm of polyester resin the legs were permanently waterproof. This has proven to be such a good method I would recommend building up new wood by 5mm before garden seats are put into use to prevent the initial rotting. However I am not sure if the oily nature of wood like teak would prevent the polyester resin from adhering when the wood is new.

Time Has Passed Since Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs

Today, 6th October 2015, I examined the seat I repaired in 2013 and that has faired well. It looks as good as when I did it:

Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs
Garden Seat repaired in 2013 and photographed on 6th October 2015.

However the one I repaired in 2014 has problems on two legs:

Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs
Garden Seat repaired in 2014 and photographed on 6th October 2015.

There are chips and a crack as you can see below:

Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs
Leg 1 repaired in 2014 and photographed on 6th October 2015.
Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs
Leg 2 repaired in 2014 and photographed on 6th October 2015.

I will now have to wait for dry weather to repair these legs. It’s getting towards winter so when it is dry it might not be warm enough for P38 to set quickly. So I might find that I’ll have to wait until spring.

Author: Helpful Colin

I have a background in telecommunications and a fascination with all things scientific and technical - from physics to electronics, and computing to DIY.

6 thoughts on “Repairing Rotten Garden Seat Legs”

  1. I have a similar problem with our garden seat. I have just removed all of the paint with a Heatgun and have rotting feet. Just wondering what to do and this has given me an idea. Wondering whether Woodfiller Resin would do it in a similar way or whether the P38 bond might be stronger.

    1. Hi Clive,

      I don’t have experience of wood filler resin. I have filled cracks with a liquid cellulose substance for dealing with rotting timber. I’ve been using P38 since the 1970’s. Initially I filled car bodies (in an amateur way) where they were rusting away or had been damaged. I read in the instructions how it can be used to repair many products. I have repaired broken corners on concrete slaps and filled the vertical letter mail slot in my front door before cutting a horizontal one. I have repaired a concrete fence post damaged by a car with an alternative brand of polyester resin. I had to paint it with paint for concrete because it cured to a bright pink colour.

      I think it can bond to any surface with free electrons to bond to. That’s why there can be issues with some plastics and why roughing things up with sand paper helps. The good thing about it, in my opinion, is the way it sets in around 15 minutes and is ready to sand down or to have another layer added on top. You won’t want to use a product that cannot be worked on until some hours have passed. Other epoxy resins can set quickly. They are fine to use if the price compares favourably. One issue with any resin – what is the final colour and does it matter – can it be painted? Make sure your garden seat timber is dry and free of oil before you start – you do want it to stick. Remove anything that isn’t solid timber with a penknife, chisel , scraper or sandpaper.

      Good luck.

      1. Hi Colin, thanks for that info; I have used quick drying Woodfiller before and it sets rock hard in about 15 minutes and can be over painted. However, I have not used it on anything which will be quite moveable like a garden seat. As you have used P38 for a long time I will try that on our seat; I notice that Halfords sell it so will give it a go. Many Thanks

        1. Hi Clive,

          I got most of my P38 from Halfords over the years. It had grey hardener in the past but it too has pink hardener now. It doesn’t show up too much when set but I thought it was a bad day when that happened. It is still basically light grey but will start to disappear under a couple of coats of garden furniture paint.

          1. Hi Colin, I bought a tin of that P38 from Halfords this morning. I imagine that it’s a bit like the ‘Bondapaste’ that I used to repair my car sills with many years ago. I’ve just finished stripping the seat so just got to give it a good sanding, repair the feet and then let the wife decide what colour she wants it stained.

            1. Hi Clive,
              I have added some up to date pictures showing wear and tear if you want to look at them. Update is not 100% complete but I have to do something else just now.

Please Comment Below (or Select An Existing Comment's "REPLY" Button First) - See HELP for Details.