What is Wood Rot?: Key Things to Know | Sleeping Dog Properties (2022)

What is Wood Rot?

Functionally, wood is nothing more than a series of straws put together. Whenever the wood is cut or opened at the end, it’s like opening that box of straws. If these straws get exposed to water, then the natural function of the wood is to absorb it, and the water soon permeates throughout the wood. This process leads to wood rotting. If not addressed, the rot could grow throughout an entire building like an infection, weakening its structure as it moves past finishes and into sheathing.

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(Video) THE TRUTH ABOUT WOOD ROT (You need to watch this!!)

This is a major issue because countless homes and condos are made out of wood – and whenever homes or condos are made out of wood, there’s a constant threat of rot. Among other things, wood can cause decay of varying levels, ultimately resulting in both cosmetic and structural damage.

Here, you’ll learn about identifying affected areas, assessing their impact on your home’s structural integrity. In the process, you’ll find the answer to many of the most frequently asked wood rot repair questions – as well as the various rot repair services available to you.

The Dangers & Signs of Rotted Wood

As previously mentioned, identifying damaged areas or patches of rotted wood in your home or condo can feel like a guessing game without the aid of an expert eye and appropriate tools. Still, there are some general best practices for identifying rotted wood, which can be helpful if you suspect there’s some in your house.

With that said, here are some of the most common ways to look for and identify rotted wood:

  • Moisture content: The equation is simple: wood + water = decay (and decay = rot). Because of this, any part of the home that’s damp has the potential to result in rot, but it’s the parts of the home where there’s excess moisture that you really need to monitor. It usually happens in exterior corner boards first, but skirt boards and windows are also common victims.
  • The source of moisture: To solve issues with rot related to excess moisture content, it’s important to find the source of that moisture. Not only will identifying a potential source help you determine whether or not it’s actually rot you’re dealing with, it will also know what needs to be fixed. For example, if the culprit is leaky roofing, then you have a pretty good idea of what steps need to be taken to remedy the issue.

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Dry Rot vs Wet Rot: Understanding the Two Primary Types of Wood Rot

There are two widely recognized types of wood rot, dry rot and wet rot. Here, we’ll explain the fundamentals of each type of rot, shedding some insights into the one of the most commonly asked wood rot repair questions: “What’s the difference between dry rot and wet rot?”

Wet rot woodis caused by fungus, and as its name implies, it’s the highest risk for developing when there’s excess moisture. Wet rot is an all-encompassing term for a variety of different types of fungi that flourish in high-moisture environments. Commonly affected areas and underlying causes include damaged gutters, poorly fitted roof tiles, and leaky pipes.

Dry rot wood (also known as brown rot) is a single type of fungus. This dry rot fungus is Serpula Lacrymans, which can gradually settle into woodwork and timber. From there, Serpula Lacrymans can continue its spread without needing nearly as much moisture as its wet rot counterpart, making it quite hard to contain.

It should also be noted that wet wet rot wood rot and dry rot wood rot both have their own unique signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for when trying to distinguish the two.

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Dry Rot vs Wet Rot: Signs & Symptoms of Each

Signs & Symptoms of Dry Rot Wood:

  • Often browner in color than the blacker tints of wet rot (hence the alternative name “brown fungus”).
  • Often includes silky white sheets on the fungus.
  • Could include a fruiting body that’s growing on the timber. A fruiting body (also known as a “sporocarp”) is the spore-producing organ of a fungus, most often seen as a mushroom or toadstool.

Signs & Symptoms of Wet Rot Wood:

  • Often appears as a black-colored fungus.
  • Fungus will feel soft and spongy.
  • If it has dried out, the fungus will easily crack and crumble into pieces.
  • Often paired with a damp, musty smell.

What to Do When You’ve Got Wood Rot: The Answers to Your Wood Rot Repair Questions

Unfortunately, wood rot is a common issue in homes and condos throughout many parts of the country, especially when cheaper or less experienced construction companies were tasked with the original construction or woodwork. That’s because – simply put – cheaper almost always means rushed, and rushed almost always means lower quality. Whenever you’re rushing, it often means you’re taking shortcuts – and while this might seem like an ideal solution for getting a construction job done quickly, it almost certainly leads to issues down the road (and often within the next decade or less, as well).

Over our 30 years working in the high-end construction industry, the Sleeping Dog Properties team has found that many of these faster but less dependable companies cut corners by doing woodwork without any priming or urethane glue for reinforcement.

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For our team, these processes are considered mandatory for long-lasting projects, even if they do require more time, work, and money up-front. Rushed jobs don’t pay off in the long run. This is especially true when you consider the fact that you could have woodwork that lasts for 50 years or more. When you compare this to the typical 3-5 year lifespan of lower-quality work that doesn’t make use of priming and other construction essentials to prevent rot and decay, the long-term advantages become obvious.

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So, when it comes to wet or dry rot treatment and repair services, the renovation and remodeling experts on our team are more than equipped to help. Some of our wood rot repair specialties include:

  • Rot inspection and confirmation: If you’ve followed the above tips for identifying different types of wood rot in your home and suspect that rot might indeed be occurring, then our staff will be happy to come take a look and confirm your suspicions. Then, we can work together to decide the safest and most effective steps for remedying the situation.
  • Timber treatment and fungicide application: Widely used in building despite being extremely vulnerable to rot, our team will treat the timber in your home in one of two separate ways depending on which type of rot you’re dealing with. In less-serious cases, the treatment process might involve isolating the timber from the source of moisture or using the appropriate type of fungicide. However, in more extreme scenarios, affected timbers will need to be removed and replaced.
  • Waterproofing and rotten wood replacement: Our staff can apply specialized, long-lasting sealers to wooden materials to help prevent rotting before it ever even occurs. However, if rotting has already occurred, then we can provide an array of rotten wood replacement services followed up with the installation of new wood materials better-equipped to withstand the threat of rot.
  • Using premium exterior caulking and painting products to lead to greater rot-resistance and overall longevity. We also provide safer homebuilding and renovation solutions thanks to our Renovate Right-certified crew, ensuring your property remains safe and our team remains knowledgeable about following the right practices to prevent lead contamination.

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If you suspect or know that you have a wood rot problem in your home, don’t delay – contact the experts at Sleeping Dog Properties today!

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What is wood rot? ›

What is Wood Rot? It is decay caused by fungal growth in damp wood. When timber becomes damp enough to have 20% or more moisture content, and isn't able to dry out quickly or is repeatedly dampened, it creates the ideal conditions for wood-eating fungi.

Is wood rots a physical or chemical property? ›

Bacteria and other decomposers "eat" the wood breaking the complex molecules into energy and simpler molecules, such as Carbon Dioxide and Water. Thus it is a chemical change.

What is wood rot in a house? ›

What Is Wood Rot? It is the spreading decay of wood material caused by the combination of water and fungal growth. The microscopic organisms that thrive in this moist environment destroy the wood as they grow and can transfer from one area of the structure to others.

What does wood rot look like? ›

Typical indications of dry rot include: Wood shrinks, darkens and cracks in a 'cuboidal' manner (see picture) A silky grey to mushroom coloured skin frequently tinged with patches of lilac and yellow often develops under less humid conditions. This 'skin' can be peeled like a mushroom.

Which is responsible for wood rot? ›

It is caused by hundreds of fungi, including species of Daedalea, Fomes, Lenzites, Polyporus, Poria, and Stereum. Affected wood is often discoloured or stained, lightweight, soft, crumbly, or powdery.

How quickly does wood rot? ›

Wood can Start to Rot in 1-6 months If:

Wood is untreated. The wooded area is sitting in water. Water and/or air space is hot & humid. The area is at or near the ground.

What is the example of rot? ›

to decay, or to cause something to decay or weaken: [ I ] The fallen apples rotted on the ground. [ T ] Dampness rotted the old wood.

How do you deal with wood rot? ›

Boric acid (borate) is one of the most effective fungicides for use in treating wood rot. It can be applied to wood during construction to prevent future rot, or as a treatment to stop an active decay fungus from growing.

Does wood rot in water? ›

So, when water contacts an unprotected wood surface for a long enough period of time, the wood begins to rot. Lingering moisture on unprotected wood allows fungi to grow, eventually causing rot.

How do you test for wood rot? ›

The common signs of wet rot include:
  1. Darkened timber – darker than surrounding timber.
  2. Soft and spongy timber.
  3. Cracked appearance that may crumble to touch when dry.
  4. Localised fungus growth.
  5. Shrinkage.
  6. A damp, musty smell.

What colour is rotten wood? ›

Identifying Dry Rot

The affected wood will be brown in colour and will crumble due to a lack of structural integrity as a result of dry rot using the wood as a food source.

Does wood smell when wet? ›

If wood remains damp it will start to rot and give off an earthy musty smell. Once again, molds and fungi will grow just like it will on any other organic material.

Why decaying of wood is a chemical change? ›

Decaying of wood and burning of wood, because there will be a change of chemical composition and wood cannot be restored to its original form. Sawing of wood and hammering of a nail into a piece of wood is a physical process where the chemical composition of compounds is not changed.

What is the chemical and physical properties of sand? ›

Solid and evenly graded sand has high permeability, decent reactiveness as well as high flowability. Usually, foundry sand has grain sizes around 0.1 and 1.0 mm. Fine-grained sands are being used to the importance of ensuring as well as small castings. Large grained sands are being used to produce large castings.

Is Rotting a physical or chemical reaction? ›

Rotting food is an example of odor development as a result of a chemical change.

What will make wood rot fast? ›

Pour granulated sugar into the holes and nooks of the wood after one year has passed since the fertilizer application. The sugar provides an additional carbon source for the fungi. Repeat this step every few months until the wood has completely decayed.

What causes wood rot in trees? ›

Tree decay is caused by a variety of wood-decay fungi. The pathogen usually enters the tree through a wound that damages the protective bark. Lawncare equipment, birds (such as woodpeckers), improper pruning, boring insects (like Emerald Ash Borer), and storm damage are typical causes of decay-causing tree wounds.

What colour is wet rot? ›

Depending on the specific genus of wet rot growing the colour will vary from brown rot to white rot. These strands will later develop a white skin or coating and eventually a series of small fruiting bodies that look like tiny “off-white” mushrooms. This is known as Mycelium and is often accompanied by a musty smell.

How far can dry rot spread? ›

Dry rot can spread up to 80 mm per day, if it has optimal conditions for growth. In order to achieve this intense growth, dry rot needs temperatures between 66- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit.

How long can wood stay wet? ›

Wet lumber will naturally dry out if given enough time. If the outdoor temperatures are above 60 degrees F, it usually takes about 4 weeks for moisture content to decrease about 4%. It might take 6-12 weeks for a 4% drop if its cold and rainy. And if it's below freezing, it might take many months.

Does wet wood rot spread? ›

Wet rot doesn't spread to healthy dry wood and only affects wood or timber that has been wet for a long time and has 30-60% moisture content levels. Typically, this will happen when there are plumbing, guttering, roof, pipe leaks or even a leaking washing machine that keep the timber wet consistently.

What rot means? ›

ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial information)

What is called rot? ›

1a : the process of rotting : the state of being rotten : decay. b : something rotten or rotting. 2a archaic : a wasting putrescent disease. b : any of several parasitic diseases especially of sheep marked by necrosis and wasting. c : plant disease marked by breakdown of tissues and caused especially by fungi or ...

What do you mean by the word rot? ›

verbWord forms: rots, rotting or rotted. 1. to decay or cause to decay as a result of bacterial or fungal action. 2. ( intr; usually foll by off or away)

Why is it called dry rot? ›

'Dry rot' is an 18th-century term that generally described what is now called brown rot. The term was used because the damage was present in cured or dried timber of ships and buildings and was thought to be caused by internal 'fermentations' rather than water.

What causes wet rot? ›

Wet rot is caused by a fungus that is attracted to very damp wood and feeds off the timber, destroying it in the process. There are many different types of fungus, but Coniophora puteana, also called cellar fungus, is the most common.

What does dry rot smell like? ›

Damp and musty mushroom type smell

One of the most obvious signs of a dry rot problem is a damp, musty, mushroomy smell in the air. This smell is a significant sign that there is dry rot somewhere in the property, that it is active and likely to be spreading.

Can wood last 1000 years? ›

The finished result – often referred to as ore-pine or cured pine – is the material that you usually find in the many ancient wooden buildings – in Norway and in other places around the globe. Wood that will last for a thousand years and more.

Does wood rot in salt water? ›

Does wood rot in salt water? Wood does not decay simply because it is wet, but because it has been attacked by fungi under rather special conditions of moisture, temperature and oxygenation. Wood which is thoroughly saturated with water won't rot, whether that water is fresh or salt.

Does wood break down? ›

What about yard waste? Wood from trees, like stumps, branches, and limbs will take a very long time to decompose, upwards of 50-100 years if left whole. This is why for composting it's best to chip the wood. The smaller pieces take less time to break down.

How do you prevent dry rot? ›

Cover the vehicle and tires to protect from any unnecessary UV rays. If the weight cannot be removed from the tires, move the vehicle at least every three months to shift the weight on the tires. Store the vehicle and tires in a clean and dry area away from any chemicals or large temperature shifts.

How do you keep wood from cracking when spreading? ›

There are ways to stop cracks in wood from spreading. A good solution is to use wood filler or wood putty to fill the cracks or use sawdust and wood glue. You can also use epoxy resin to fill cracks in wood from getting bigger.

How can you tell if wood is damaged? ›

Press firmly with one or two fingers on areas that you suspect may be damaged. Rotten or weakened wood will be soft and spongy. If you can press a shallow indentation (or a deeper hole) into your wood, it's time to make the call for a replacement lumber delivery.

Does dry rot affect concrete? ›

Dry rot can affect all types of timber built properties, from historic buildings and churches, to modern buildings if the right conditions occur. Usually the dry rot will start on damp timber, spreading it's mycelium through wood, concrete, brickwork and wall plaster in search of fresh timber to decay.

Will wet rot dry out? ›

Wet rot growth will stop once the moisture, and the source of the moisture is removed – this is why it's essential to treat the wet rot and the cause of the wet rot, to both remove the infestation and eliminate the chances of it returning. It's also worth knowing that wet rot cannot spread or live within masonry.

Is dry rot harmful? ›

Of all the timber fungi, dry rot is one of the most dangerous, not just to the integrity of your building, but because of the underlying damp problem it represents. Whilst dry rot on its own won't cause too many health problems, it can cause costly structural damage that will eventually become a health hazard.

Why does my house smell musty all of a sudden? ›

If your home has a stale, musty scent, there could be a handful of explanations, including a plumbing leak, high humidity, poor airflow, dirty HVAC equipment, or soiled carpet.

How do I get rid of a musty smell under my sink? ›

There's no need to use harsh chemicals like ammonia or bleach to remove a mildew smell under a sink and dishwasher. Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda deliver a one-two-three knockout punch to most types of household mildew.

Why does my house smell so musty? ›

Musty smells in houses may be attributed to several causes, including: Mold and mildew: Leaky pipes, a damaged roof, high humidity, and exposed dirt in the crawlspace may all contribute to moisture buildup. This moisture combined with the stagnant air and dark corners can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

How do you treat wood rot? ›

Boric acid (borate) is one of the most effective fungicides for use in treating wood rot. It can be applied to wood during construction to prevent future rot, or as a treatment to stop an active decay fungus from growing.

Can wood rot make you sick? ›

You can get blastomycosis by contact with moist soil, most commonly where there is rotting wood and leaves. The fungus enters the body through the lungs, where the infection starts. The fungus can then spread to other parts of the body. The disease may affect the skin, bones and joints, and other areas.

How do you fix wood rot in a house? ›

How to Identify and Repair Rotting Wood | Ask This Old House

Is dry rot harmful to humans? ›

Dry rot spores in themselves are not harmful to your health. However, the damp conditions the fungus needs to germinate can represent a health hazard for older people, infants and those with respiratory conditions.

Does water cause wood rot? ›

So, when water contacts an unprotected wood surface for a long enough period of time, the wood begins to rot. Lingering moisture on unprotected wood allows fungi to grow, eventually causing rot.

Does dry rot have a smell? ›

The most common symptom of dry rot, even without physically seeing the outbreak, are the presence of a damp, musty and fungal smell.

Why is it called dry rot? ›

'Dry rot' is an 18th-century term that generally described what is now called brown rot. The term was used because the damage was present in cured or dried timber of ships and buildings and was thought to be caused by internal 'fermentations' rather than water.

What causes wood decay? ›

Wood does not decay simply because it is wet, but because it has been attacked by fungi under rather special conditions of moisture and temperature. The disintegration and ultimate dissolution of wood substance, known as rotting, is the result of the growth of fungi in the wood tissue.

How do you treat dry rot in walls? ›

Effective dry rot treatment begins with removing the source of moisture that created the conditions for rot and fungal growth. Next steps involve removing plaster and timber infested with fungus and spores, applying a fungicide treatment and fixing any structural integrity issues.

Is wood rot mold? ›

Mold flourishes in damp, humid environments and reproduces by sending spores through the air. Like mold, wood rot thrives in damp and humid environments. However, unlike mold, wood rot digests the wood it has infected. It spreads at remarkable speeds and can cause a need for major replacements in homes.

How do you check for wood rot? ›

If your home has wood siding, examine the siding around and beneath the windows for signs of swelling or discoloration. Paint can hide wood rot, so poke the siding with the tip of the screwdriver—the wood should be firm and hard. If the screwdriver sinks into the wood, you've got a wood rot problem.

How do you repair wood rot on an exterior door frame? ›

Simple Door Frame Rot Repair - YouTube

Does wet rot spread? ›

Does Wet Rot Spread? Wet rot, unlike dry rot, does not spread. However, this doesn't mean that wet rot can be left alone and untreated, as wet rot can cause serious structural damage to your property.

How do you harden wood rot? ›

If you are trying to harden rotted wood which is in very large sections (beams for instance), drilling holes and pouring CPES into a funnel placed in the hole is an easy way of getting rapid penetration. The CPES will travel quickly through rotted timber, especially along the grain.

What does wet rot smell like? ›

The smell of damp and wet rot is often described as a 'musty' smell and the air can sometimes feel damp too.


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