How To Prevent And Get Rid Of Wood Rot

We all want to keep our houses in tiptop shape when possible. We keep our appliances up to date, make sure that everything stays clean, and buy new furniture when we are inspired. But most importantly, we make repairs. 

What Is Wood RotView in gallery

Wood rot can eat away at wood and cause damage fast. It’s important that you keep wood rot at bay in order to make sure that your home is structurally sound. Let’s take a look at how to do that properly. 

What Is Wood Rot?

Wood rot is a common problem with wood that is exposed to moisture. Wood rot is a form of decay that occurs when moisture and fungi infiltrate wood. More than 5 million types of fungi exist so it’s hard to resist them.

What you can resist is moisture. Wood rot cannot appear in wood that is dry. It can stay in wood that is dry but it can not form. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of wood rot and how to prevent them. 

Types Of Wood Rot

Types Of Wood RotView in gallery

Not all wood rot is the same. There are many different types of wood rot, but all of it can be divided up into three main categories. We have dry rot, soft rot, and white rot, which covers most types of rot. 

Dry Rot

Dry rot appears to be brown and targets the cellulose in the wood. When the cellulose is destroyed, the wood shrinks, gets dark, and breaks up into tiny pieces. Because it grows at room temperature, it grows often indoors. 

Soft Rot

Soft rot works slowly but it can grow at almost any temperature, no matter what the season. It can be found any time of year and on any surface, though it is most often found on fallen logs. Oftentimes, the logs have fallen because of rot.

White Rot

This rot is easy to spot because it is either whitish or light yellow. The rot is spongy and not hard like other rots often are. It grows at room temperature and affects a different part of the wood’s structure. 

Where To Watch For Wood Rot?

Wood rot can appear anywhere there is wood, but there are certain places that it appears more often. These hotspots are full of moisture and tend to let rot eat away at the wood more often than anywhere else. 

Molding

This may sound funny, but mold and rot often grow in molding. Yes, like crown molding. Because it is near the ceiling, water can drip down and get caught under the molding. This can be difficult to spot at first.

Keep an eye out for weak boards or discolorment. It’s a good idea to keep the ceiling corners sealed so this won’t happen. 

Plumbing 

Anywhere there is plumbing and wood, rot can grow. It grows because where there is plumbing, there is moisture. So keep a close eye on cabinets under the sinks and any frames that are holding pipes. 

This includes water heater cubbies and even inside the walls. You can have your plumber check for rot whenever they repair or check the plumbing. There shouldn’t be an extra charge for this. 

Basements 

Basements are real hot spots for both mold and wood rot. This is because basements have a high moisture content. Especially basements that don’t have any windows. Adding egress windows is a good idea.

But even with windows, wood rot can grow. Check your basement regularly for wood rot. You should be able to see it early on as the wood in the basement is usually exposed. 

Frames

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Doorframes and window frames tend to grow wood rot if they aren’t sealed properly. This is especially true in old homes that don’t have a sealer to begin with or where the sealer has peeled away and is no longer working.

Keep a close eye on these frames and make any repairs necessary. If you feel air coming in or feel like the area near the door is cooler or hotter than anywhere else, there’s a good chance rot can set in. 

Decks

Decks can grow rot easily. They are made fully out of wood and are exposed to the elements. If your deck isn’t covered then there’s an even greater chance that wood rot will eat away at the exposed wood.

When you suspect rot, don’t just look on the deck, rot can grow underneath the deck too. So make sure you have space to check for rot underneath rather than just on the surface. 

Crawlspaces 

Crawlspaces are probably the number one spot rot grows. This is very unfortunate because this is the most dangerous type of rot. If rot grows in your crawlspace, it’s like having termites eating away at your foundation. 

Siding

Wood siding can easily have wood rot. It’s a good idea to keep extra pieces of your wood siding on hand in case something like this does happen. It isn’t always easy to replace if it has been discontinued. 

Make sure when checking for wood rot to look underneath the siding. Take a peek in problem areas but unscrewing one corner. It should always be dry when checking as it is easier to spot rot when the wood is dry. 

Wood Rot Repair

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If you are faced with wood rot, keep in mind that it is possible to get rid of it. Here are the steps you can take to completely get rid of it and not just cover it up. Covering it up can work for a while but it’s not your best bet. 

Step 1: Cut Out Affected Area

Although you may be tempted to simply add some paint or wood filler and call it good, it’s better to get rid of the rot altogether. To start with, cut out the affected area, cutting all the way to another support.

For example, if cutting out part of the wall, cut from the center of one stud to the center of another. Be very careful doing this and always contact a professional if there’s a chance what you’re cutting out is load-bearing. 

Step 2: Replace Wood

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Now that you’ve removed the affected wood, it’s time to replace it. Do so by getting a piece that fits perfectly into the slot created by the removed piece of wood. Make sure there isn’t any rot remaining or it could spread. 

Step 3: Use Wood Filler

After securing the new piece of wood, you can use wood filler on the cracks and any area that need it while you are at it. This can help even out the boards and make everything look natural once again.

Step 4: Sand It Down

Since the wood filler won’t dry even, you’ll need to sand it down lightly. Don’t sand the wood filler way, just sand it enough so that it is flat once again with the rest of the wood. Now the area has been repaired. 

Step 5: Refinish

After the area has been repaired, you need to refinish it by either redoing the entire wall, floor, etc. or by adding the same finish you did before. Be careful when matching paint or the repaired area will stand out.

How To Prevent Wood Rot

How To Prevent Wood RotView in gallery

Preventing wood rot is much better than letting it form and then getting rid of it. There are many things you can do to help prevent wood rot, but here are the top ways to do so that are all very easy to accomplish. 

Seal Everything With Caulk

Seal every frame and corner with caulk to help keep things sealed. This will lock out all of the moisture which will prevent it from letting rot, or worse, mold, grow. Start with this and you’ll notice a difference. 

Scrape Old Caulk Away

If there is old caulk, don’t just leave it alone unless it feels very tight and there’s never any moisture around it. If there is, then scrape it away and go ahead and re-caulk it to keep things sealed tightly. 

Clean Gutters

Keep your gutters clean to prevent wood rot. This may not seem relevant but gutters are there for a reason. If they aren’t clean, they can’t redirect the water properly and the water will settle in places that it shouldn’t. 

Cover Your Porch

Cover your porch to keep it dry. If your porch isn’t covered then it can rot when it rains. You can get wood that doesn’t rot as easily and seal it with an anti-rot sealer but keeping it covered gives you that extra edge. 

Dehumidify 

Add dehumidifiers to any rooms that seem to grow rot easily. This can have many benefits as well. So it’s a good idea to keep both humidifiers and dehumidifiers around for different reasons. So learn the difference. 

Keep Everything Dry

This is the number one way to keep wood rot at bay. This covers every other precaution because they all come back to this one. You have to make sure that you keep moisture to a minimum to prevent wood rot. 

Do this and you should be covered. Then you can move on to “more important” things like picking out your next set of patio furniture or transforming your next project with bleached wood