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How to Tell If Wood Is Rotten: Complete Guide

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You found the right-sized piece of wood for your project, but you need to check if it’s rotten. Even looking at the wood, it cannot be determined whether it is in good condition. The rot might be hidden under the surface and won’t be visible until you start cutting into it. So how to tell if wood is rotten?

There are a few ways to tell whether the wood is rotten. It depends on how bad the rot is and how deep it goes. Plus, different types of wood rot differently. This article will go over the different types of wood rot, including how to identify them. Let’s get started.

How to Tell If Wood is Rotten: Simple Trick

How to Identify Rotten Wood

While small amounts of damage may not be cause for alarm, large or widespread areas of damage indicate that the wood is beginning to rot. Cracks, splintering, and shrinking are all indicative of this process. As the wood breaks down, it becomes increasingly dark in color.

This is due to the breakdown of cellulose, which gives the wood strength and rigidity. As the cellulose is consumed, the wood becomes softer and more pliable. In severe cases, the wood may crumble and fall apart entirely.

While it is possible to repair minor damage, once the rot has set in, it is best to replace the affected wood. Otherwise, the damage will only continue to spread.

What Wood Rot Is?

What Wood Rot Is

Wood rot is a serious business. Not only does it cause unsightly damage to your home, but it can also lead to expensive repairs. It usually happens when damp wood grows fungal growth, and it usually happens in wet areas.

While wood rot can be prevented by taking steps to keep your home dry and by using rot-resistant wood, sometimes it’s just unavoidable. If you think you might have wood rot, it’s important to check it out as soon as possible, so the damage doesn’t get worse.

Determining whether the wood is rotten without the help of damp and dry rot specialists can be tough. So, it’s always a good idea to bring in a professional if you’re not sure. They will be able to tell you whether the wood is rotten and how bad the damage is.

What are the Causes of Wood Rot?

What are the Causes of Wood Rot

There are several reasons why wood rots and each has its own set of consequences. The most common cause of wood rot is moisture, so it’s important to keep an eye out for areas in your home that are particularly damp. Other causes of wood rot include:

i) One of the primary causes of wood rot is poor air circulation. When wood is exposed to damp, humid conditions without adequate ventilation, it is more likely to develop fungus. These fungi can cause the wood to deteriorate, leading to wood rot.

ii) Water damage is another common cause of wood rot. When wood becomes wet, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. And water can cause the wood to swell and warp, leading to cracking and splitting is more susceptible to wood rot.

iii) Insects can also cause wood rot by boring into the wood and damaging it. This damage provides an entry point for moisture and fungi, leading to wood rot. Common insects that cause this damage include carpenter ants, termites, and powder post beetles.

iv) Wood that is of poor quality is also more likely to develop rot. This type of wood is typically softer and more porous, making it more susceptible to damage from moisture and fungi. Poor-quality wood is often used in construction projects that are not exposed to the elements, such as interior framing or cabinets.

V) Another cause is a lack of maintenance. If wooden structures are not properly sealed or protected from the elements, they are susceptible to mold growth over time. And if any damage does occur, it is important to repair it promptly to prevent further deterioration.

What Are the Types of Wood Rot?

What Are the Types of Wood Rot

Now that you know the different causes of wood rot let’s look at the types of wood rot. There are three primary types of wood rot: brown rot, white rot, and soft rot. Each type of rot has its own unique set of characteristics.

Brown Rot

This is the most common type of wood rot. It gets its name from the brown coloration it causes on the wood. Brown rot is caused by a fungus known as Merulius Lacrymans. This fungus feeds on cellulose, which is a major component of wood.

As the fungi feed, it weakens the wood and causes it to break down. In some cases, brown rot can cause the wood to collapse entirely.

White Rot

The damage caused by white rot can be as severe as that caused by brown rot. White rot comes from the white coloring the fungus causes on wood. Unlike brown rot, white rot does not feed on cellulose. Instead, it feeds on lignin, which is another major component of wood.

As the fungi consume the lignin, it weakens the wood and makes it more susceptible to breakage. In severe cases, white rot can lead to the complete disintegration of the wood.

Soft Rot

The least common type of wood rot is soft rot. While it doesn’t cause as much damage as brown or white rot, it can still be destructive if left unchecked. Soft rot gets its name from the soft, spongy texture that it causes on the wood. Soft rot is caused by the fungus Phellinus Igniarius.

This fungus feeds on cellulose and lignin, causing the wood to break down and become spongy. It’s possible for the wood to collapse completely due to soft rot.


Now you have a better understanding of wood rot and how to identify it. Whenever you suspect your home or business may have rotten wood, have it inspected by an expert. Rotten wood can cause serious structural damage if left unchecked.

So, if you see any signs of wood rot, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified contractor to have it repaired or replaced. Make sure the contractor you choose is experienced in dealing with this type of damage. Have a great day.

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