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Removing Sap From Wood

Question: My house has a magnificent wrap around porch - beautifully stained wood and in excellent condition. Unfortunately the stairs leading to the front door are not so great. The builder must have been running short on funds when he got to the stairs because a couple of them still have bleeding pitch coming out - and the house is 15 yrs old! There is more sap on hotter days - on cool/cold days it looks pretty hard - but is still noticeable. Should we try to sand them down first? it's a little gooey in places!

Answer: It is very difficult to get rid of sap that is still flowing. The sap expands when heated by the sun and needs somewhere to expand to and will find a fisher in the sealing or paint and come through. Clean off as much of the sap as possible using alcohol or mineral spirits, try to flush the sap out of the crack, then wash that off with soap and water. Apply the shellac, wait at least 24 hours and apply another coat. Wait another 24 hours and you can then paint using any high quality porch and floor paint. It's not a guaranteed cure, but it should work.

Another trick that can be used is to drill a 1/4 inch hole into the bottom of the stair tread, into the sap pocket. This should allow the sap to drain down rather than up. This only works if the dripping sap will fall in a place where it won't be stepped on.