Renovating a house. We confirmed with a pest company that there was a prior termite infestation but no current termite infestation. We are replacing some baseboards and I saw evidence of the old infestation and cut out some drywall to have a closer look. There are no issues with the wall but obvious termite damage on the bottom plate of this exterior wall. How risky would it be to just cover it up with some drywall and continue the baseboard project or do I need to hit pause/are we in a more drastic situation. The damage does not appear to cross through the full width of each floor plate.

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  • I added a comment up here, since it wasn't part of the process, but get this right, this is most likely a bearing wall. After you get the floor done well then you can get about 10-2X4 to temp. hold the wall up to do the other work, It is actually easy, just tedious. Here is a video from This Old House on the type of shoring to use. It may not even require cutting the studs to length. I have used this method and it really goes in fast and picks up a lot of weight. youtube.com/watch?v=rZsS_4HiHT8 It is all in the first few minutes of the video the rest is not applicable.
    – Jack
    Jan 9, 2022 at 19:13
  • Glad to se you got the drywall cut a little higher. With the video link in the prior comment and get the wall shored up about 1 ft away from the outside wall, you could take out the whole plate, cutting the rotted stud bottoms off first with a circular saw which will cut about 1/2 way through. That will establish a straight, square cut to follow the rest of the depth with an oscillating saw. Remove those cutoffs and the bad plate will practically lift out. Set the new lower plate in place, nail it down, then drive in the upper plate and release the temporary wall. The nail off the bottoms.
    – Jack
    Jan 12, 2022 at 2:43
  • Since my shoring wall will be sitting on perpendicular floor joists shouldn’t I build a second shoring wall directly below in the basement so that the load transfer goes directly to the basement floor and not entirely to the joists? If that’s what I need to do what is a good way to ensure my to support walls are exactly on top of each other without drilling through my nice oak floors?
    – Chris
    Jan 12, 2022 at 13:35
  • @Chris yes, you should have a 2nd wall in the basement to take the weight of the wall on the first floor. Odds are good that this is specified in the TOH video in the first comment (though I haven't watched this specific one, I've watched enough TOH to know that they will ensure temp walls line up all the way from the floor requiring work to the lowest level in the house).
    – FreeMan
    Jan 12, 2022 at 13:46
  • What about the damage under my front door. I assume the plate runs under that too? See new photo
    – Chris
    Jan 12, 2022 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


The plate should be replaced. The stud bottoms are seriously affected too. If possible, investigate the damage in the crawlspace too. The repairs may need to start there. Termites, in most cases enter from the ground and start eating their way up.

Not knowing what the condition of the rim joist or the joist ends for that matter, all I can suggest is what I see in your pictures. The walls can be temporarily supported by another wall added to the inside so the plate can be removed without the wall dropping anymore. The damaged studs may only need 1 1/2" cut off the bottoms to get back to solid wood, then when the plates go back in, they can go back in doubled to make up what has been cut off the studs.

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    +1 for mentioning the crawl space and all the elements down there like rim joists, etc. The exterior wall is acting like a giant beam, but when a giant load is placed on it , it will crush those studs, plate, etc. causing cracks in the wall board.
    – Lee Sam
    Jan 8, 2022 at 18:24
  • Can I replace the seal plate in sections or does it need to be 112 foot continuous piece for the entire damaged area
    – Chris
    Jan 8, 2022 at 22:18
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    You can replace it in sections as small as 4 feet, but larger the better for the actual sill plate. The "filler plate" can be smaller sections like 4 feet long but do not let the joints in the lower run of plate line up with the joints with the upper. I would not hold my breath on what the plywood subfloor looks like under the plate. Termites are attracted to moisture. If the wood was bone dry, it would be less attractive to the pests. I say that since windows are there in the area, and a leaky window may be the culprit to bring the termites there. Landscaping close to the siding will is bad
    – Jack
    Jan 8, 2022 at 23:08
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    The sill plate needs to be bolted down, no exceptions, as per code. Depending on where you are located it may need additional bolts for high wind conditions or seismic loading.
    – Lee Sam
    Jan 9, 2022 at 4:40
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    If you are certain that is all there is a block will do. If you take a scratch awl or ice pick down with you, stick it in what is known to be solid wood and compare it with the areas that have a small bit of VISIBLE damage. It may give you a better idea of the damage you don't see. Either way, it is better to cover more area in your repair when you are working a "one sided" view of the damage A BIG plus if none of the joist ends are affected. Please confirm.
    – Jack
    Jan 9, 2022 at 17:21

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