We have an 1880 country style Victorian in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are blessed with generally good weather however we do have a rainy period from November to April. The result has been the balusters on our exterior porch have rotted over a 5 to 7 year period.
The balusters rest on a 2 x 4 base plate that is raised above the porch 3 to 4 inches providing good drainage of rainwater. The top handrail is a 2 inch pipe with a 1 x 4 top plate immediately below which secures the balusters. The balusters are cedar and traditional in shape with square tops and bottoms about 2 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches. The balusters and rails are primed with an oil based primer followed by two coats of a white exterior latex house paint. The balusters are secured to the top and bottom plates with hot dipped galvinized nails.
The problem seems to be that rain water seeps in the tops of the balusters through cracks or imperfections in the paint and for some reason cannot exit out the bottom despite the substantial clearnace above the porch deck.
We have considered placing small metal standoffs between the bottom of the baluster and the 2 x 4 bottom rail. These would esstentially be smaller versions of the standard base plate used for 4 x 4 posts. We are concerned that perhaps we are misunderstanding the problem and there is a better solution out there before we go to the trouble of making up 100 of these mini-standoffs.
Does anyone out there have suggestions on how to solve this problem???