So I have a 2x10 floor joist that's only about 5 feet long (short because it only spans a rounded part of my house) which has termite damage at one end for about 1.5 feet. The damage is on the outward side of the joist making it much thinner than 2" once the damaged bits are flaked off. The end sits on a notched sill on the curved wall on the masonry since I have brick exterior walls. The notched sill area is not wide enough to have 2 sistered joists rest on it. It is the first joist and doesn't really seem to have much weight or load on it since the load is mostly on the exterior brick wall at that spot.

If I were to do this myself - would I cut out the affected end by a few feet and replace it with a partial new joist which I sister to the old joist, or should I just replace the entire joist since it's only 5 feet long in its entirety?

I am assuming that I can't just sister it the whole length since the edge of the sister can't sit on a sill?

The joist goes in front of the hvac register so I shouldn't have to cut any duct, just maybe hold it up if the register edge is screwed into the joist.

Images below and I drew a blue line in the floor plan of where the beam is along with the red line indicating the termite damage. Note that the white residue on the wood is from the BoraCare termite salt that was sprayed on - the wood is normally a nice brown.

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In case anyone is interested, I ended up have 2x8s bolted/sistered together to replace what turned out to be an actual 3x8. I used some shims on top of the brick sil.

To get it in, broke the concrete cap in the notch, put in the double beam, and then re-cemented it back in.

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  • hard to tell the condition from this pic. can you swap in a pic where you light it up or use a flash? Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 23:47
  • Are you sure you have gotten rid of those nasty insects.I would tear up the whole thing and replace.
    – r13
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 1:42
  • What is the distance between the un-notched part of the sill and the floorboards above? I'm asking because I'm wondering if you can just put one or two additional thinner joists in place of the eaten one. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 2:42
  • @r13 Some are still coming out but I applied termidor and boracare so it should take a few weeks for them to die out Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 11:04
  • The notch is just wide enough for the board so it looks like about 2" wide and 10" tall. If you can tell from the photo - the board goes into the cement. I'll try to take a closer flash photo and post it. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 11:05

2 Answers 2


In my estimation, that is not at all load bearing, it simply holds the flooring above up to keep it from being bouncy.

As short as it is, I'd suggest replacing the whole thing. With termite damage that severe at one end, you don't know how far into the middle of the remaining portion they may have eaten, so might as well get rid of the whole thing. The hard part is getting the board long enough to fully bear on both sills while being short enough for you to be able to actually get it in place - I'd imagine the original was dropped into those slots from above before the flooring went down.

I would be tempted to cut it to length, then cut it in half. This would allow you to slip each end into the notch for it and have them meet in the middle. Of course, now that it's cut in the middle means it's not going to support much. To fix that, take the left over piece of that 10' 2x10* you bought and sister it across the entire span. Sure, a 5' scab is probably overkill, but you've got the lumber, so why not. I believe that the general rule is about 2' on either side of a split/break, so you're only exceeding that by about 6" so why bother cutting it shorter.

Unfortunately, this will leave the floor boards above not attached to the joist, so you risk them squeaking. Pick up a floor squeak fix kit that includes clips that will screw into the bottom of the flooring, then into the side of the new joist. Putting one on every other floor plank above will probably do the trick. Leave the ceiling open for a week or so to see if that's sufficient, if not, add more.

*The existing joist looks to be rather old and rough finished, as a matter of fact, it looks like much of the lumber in my house. That means there's a non-zero chance that it's actually 2" x 10", not a nominal 2x10 (i.e. 1.5" x 9.5"). If that's the case, make sure you buy a 2x12 as your new floor joist, then notch down the ends to the exact height you need to slip into that pocket in the wall. If you don't, your nominal 2x10 will sit on the bottom of the pocket and not reach up to the floor, or you'll attach it to the flooring, but it won't rest on the bottom of the notch.

Oh, and your nominal 2x12 won't be wide enough to fully fill the pocket, either. That's less of a concern, since you'll be sistering 2 pieces. The 3" bearing surface against the flooring above, as well as the squeak-fix clips, should prevent it from twisting, turning, or "sliding" around in the pocket. However, you could use some 1/2" plywood shims to get a nice snug fit into the pockets, if desired. Cut the plywood to fit and drive the shims home (hammer and a sacrificial scrap of 2x4) after you've got the joist in place. Remember, too, that 1/2" plywood is also a nominal size ranging from about 0.4" to about 0.6" so be sure that you're getting ply on the thicker end of that range. Easier to sand it down to fit than to try to add additional wedges/shims.

  • A minor variation to this answer: Cut off 2 feet from the bad end. Leave the good end alone. Removing it from that "notch" that appears to have been poured around it, is not worth the extra effort. Do however break open the notch at the bad end so it can accommodate two joists. One, two feet long, butt against the remainder of the old one, the other sistered as far as it will go ... almost to the other wall. Follow all other advice in this answer, I just don't believe removing the whole thing is worth the effort given the way it's cemented in there.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 12:27
  • Fair enough point, @jay613, however most people (doing DIY) have woodworking tools and are reasonably comfortable with them. Not everyone has masonry working tools, nor are they comfortable with those. Granted, a cold chisel and a 3lb sledge are not expensive purchases (don't forget eye protection!), but that can be scary new ground to cover. It's not hard, it's just hard work.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 13:22
  • @FreeMan went and actually did the measurements vs just taking the proposal from the contractor - and actual measurement is 3" x 7.9" ... so looks like it should be replaced with 2 2x10s doubled up and notched at the ends? Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 13:53
  • Sounds right to me, @MonkeyBonkey. On the bright side, the extra 1.5" or so of joist height should make that bit of floor just a bit stiffer, too!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 14:06

I would leave the existing termite damaged joist in place and just sister a 5' new joist to the old one. That way you reduce the risk of damage to the floor above by trying to remove the nails that fasten the floor/subfloor to the joist.

Also, a more extensive termite inspection and remediation is probably warranted.

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