Dry rot is not only unattractive; it can threaten the structural stability and safety of your home. Learn dry rot wood repair techniques from the experts at Mr. Handyman before the problem gets worse!
How can you tell if you have dry rot? Test for dry rot by poking the wood with a screwdriver. If it goes in easily or feels spongy, you likely have dry rot. In some cases, you may be able to repair the wood, and other times it will require replacing the entire piece.
Mr. Handyman outlines both techniques below to help you make the best decision…
What Causes Dry Rot in Wood?
A certain species of fungus causes dry rot. Its spores land on wood, and with enough moisture, it thrives, despite the name. You may see white or grey growth on the wood and even a mushroom-like body if advanced. Other visible signs of dry rot include blistering, cracked or peeling paint, wood darker than surrounding areas, and green algae on the wood.
Windowsills and doorsills are the building materials most often affected by dry rot, but it can grow into non-wood surfaces in contact with the ground, including plaster and mortar.
Should I Repair or Replace Dry Rot?
Certain amounts of dry rot can be repaired, but it is not recommended if the affected areas provide structural stability to your home, such as with beams and joints, or even flooring for that matter. In those cases, you should replace the wood instead of repairing it.
Whether you repair or replace the wood, you must eliminate the conditions that allowed the rot to thrive in the first place or risk it coming back. Locate the cause of moisture buildup by checking for roof leaks, damaged gutters or downspouts, plumbing leaks and/or poor ventilation.
You may need the help of your professional handyman to find and repair the issue.
How to Repair Wood Damaged by Dry Rot
If you are confident that the area with rotted wood is repairable, many products are available to strengthen and patch it.
- Start by removing as much of the infected wood as possible with a wood chisel and wire brush.
- If you cannot reach it all, inject an epoxy consolidant into the wood through drilled holes. It will reinforce the affected wood fibers and bond with unaffected surrounding areas. You can find this at most home improvement stores.
- A wood-patching product can then complete the repair once the epoxy consolidant has cured. You apply the putty-like material to the rotted wood. Once it has cured, you can shape it to the desired form using a chisel and sandpaper.
Keep in mind that with repair, you run the risk of not getting all of the affected wood and allowing the fungus to spread deeper into the structure of your home. Only attempt repair if you have DIY experience with the work – otherwise, enlist the help of your professional handyman.
How to Replace Wood Damaged by Dry Rot
As noted with repair, only attempt replacement of rotted wood if you have sufficient experience. The work will involve:
- Removing all rotted wood plus an additional three feet of surrounding wood to ensure no fungus remains
- Removing all plaster, skirtings, paneling, linings and ceilings to ensure no fungus remains
- Cleaning all surfaces, including steel and pipes, within five feet of the rotted wood or other material
- Applying fungicide to all surfaces within five feet of the rotted area
- Replacing with pressure-treated wood
- Replastering or painting with a zinc oxychloride product to prevent the dry rot from returning
Throughout this project, all rotted materials will need to be removed from your home and disposed of appropriately. Again, as with repair, the goal is getting all of the affected wood and not allowing the fungus to spread deeper into the structure of your home.
Dry Rot vs. Wet Rot
Many homeowners also make the mistake of thinking dry rot is wet rot, which is caused by a different fungus. Wet rot looks wet and it requires repair or replacement of the affected wood. To be on the safe side, enlist the help of a professional whenever you spot rot in your home.
Professional Home Repair
Mr. Handyman can help you keep your home in great shape. One call takes care of your rotten wood repairs and more. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service now online or give us a call at (877) 685-1377. Mr. Handyman is part of Neighborly’s trusted network of home service providers.