What is Wood Rot?: Key Things to Know

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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.

A wooden floor showing signs of cracking and damage after years of exposure to moisture

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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.


An old wooden floor with minor damage showing

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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 wood is 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.

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.

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.

tremont kitchen light wooden cabinets

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.


clements tv in wooden wall paneling

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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