How to Identify and Treat Dry Rot & Wet Rot

Timber is used widely in houses and buildings but can be vulnerable material that needs to be protected. One of the main threats to structural timber is wet rot and dry rot.

It is important that these two types of fungal decay are distinguished because they require different treatment. In this guide, we take you through identifying wet rot and dry rot, and the types of treatment available. Both types of decay will require professional diagnosis and treatment, but we want to provide you with plenty of information so that you are well informed.

Common causes of wet rot:

The common causes of wet rot include the following:

  • Roof defects
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Leaky or blocked gutters
  • Shower trays and around baths
  • Penetrating damp through walls
  • Condensation

Do I have wet rot?

Identifying wet rot is not always easy because some of the symptoms of wet rot are similar to those of dry rot. Wet rot should be identified by a professional who can tell it apart from other forms of rot by the differing colour of the decayed timber as well as the size and type of cracking it exhibits as the wet rot progresses.

The common signs of wet rot include:

  • Darkened timber – darker than surrounding timber
  • Soft and spongy timber
  • Cracked appearance that may crumble to touch when dry
  • Localised fungus growth
  • Shrinkage 
  • A damp, musty smell

Damaged or flaky paint can sometimes be a sign of wet rot. However, with painted wood it can be harder to see evidence of wet rot. If you stick a screwdriver into the wood and it goes in easily this suggests you have an issue with rot.

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