'Beaming Up' for a New Year

Winter '21 CA-Modern offers expertise for maintaining your post-and-beam integrity
Fridays on the Homefront
'Those Dirty, Rotten Beams,' a story that runs in the new Winter '21 CA-Modern, features plenty of solid advice on the deterioration and upkeep of Eichler and Streng residential structural beams, and also tracks an eight-step beam-replacement process. Above: Tyler Larson of Larco Construction Services maneuvers a new beam in an Eichler atrium. Photo: Paula Lee

We stand today at the forefront of a new year, 12 fresh months to seize the wisdom of prior years and use it to make 2021 a better one.

Take beams, for example—a house component all of us ought to take seriously, especially if we live in a post-and-beam home like an Eichler or Streng.

To achieve this wise resolution, cast your eyes on the newly published Winter 2021 issue of our CA-Modern magazine. There, you'll find 'Those Dirty, Rotten Beams,' a compendium of residential structural beam insight from a quartet of Northern California's most savvy home-improvement specialists.

One of our most popular home-improvement features ever, 'Those Dirty, Rotten Beams' returns in the new winter issue after being updated and expanded. Written by home improvement writer Tanja Kern with an assist from this reporter, the story features plenty of solid advice on the deterioration and upkeep of beams, and an eight-step replacement process.

  Fridays on the Homefront
How bad can dry rot get? Have a look at this beam—rotten to the core.

"With a 60-year-old house, this is not a new problem—you are just now noticing it," notes one expert in the feature, Frank Larson, founder of the East Bay's Larco Construction Services. Larson alerts owners of modern homes to beams in their midst that they may have been too blind to see.

"The architecture of mid-century modern makes it easy for your home's exterior horizontal beams to get exposed to the elements," the story explains, continuing, "The beams project out to or beyond the roof-edge framing, and their degree of vulnerability depends on the home's orientation to the sun and its amount of exposure to rough weather, and how well the beams are maintained."

"On Strengs, the calling cards for damaged overhanging beams are crumbling or warped beam-ends," it warns. "On Eichler beams, check for wood that is pushing downward, and for beam undersides that balloon out."

"Usually the damage starts at the very top, at the connection to the fascia tile above the beam," said Adam Ramirez of Davis-based RETRObeam Restorations, which replaces rotted beam endings with custom-made extensions. Another of the story's experts, Ramirez says of rotted beams, "Some are very obvious, some are just starting to decay."

  Fridays on the Homefront
Larco Construction Services' heads Frank (left) and Tyler Larson. Photo: Kay Voyvodich

"You can get up there, take something sharp and poke it," said Joe Gomes of Sacramento-based Joe Gomes Construction. "If the wood looks like it's sucked in, then there is rot on the inside, and there is probably water damage into it from the top."