Princeton Wood Rot Treatment: What You Should Know


Rot: the word is alarming for most homeowners, depicting uncomfortable images of decay. Although a natural and integral part of nature, in your home, it's another problem entirely. Wood rot, in particular, is an issue for many Princeton homes, especially if you live in a historic building built more than a century ago.

Although wood decay is not entirely avoidable, there are a few tricks you can employ to prevent it from spreading. If you’ve noticed signs of decomposition in your home, it’s too late for preventative measures. But it's still possible to deal with the problem and avoid structural damage with effective Princeton wood rot treatment strategies from an experienced handyman.

If you've noticed signs that your property is desperate for effective wood rot treatment, trust your local Princeton handyman to chase timber decay off your property and put measures in place to stop it from coming back. The team of service professionals at Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville is experienced with wood rot treatment and knows what needs to be done to eliminate it. We've seen a lot of decayed timber, and we may be able to spot signs of trouble that others would miss.

What’s the Cause of Damage that Requires Wood Rot Treatment?

Wood rot is a type of decay. It happens when damp timber becomes infested with microscopic fungi. There are many types of fungi, including mushrooms and toadstools, you may be more familiar with. In fact, there are more than 5 million species of fungi in the air and soil around us. Over time, fungi slowly break down the structural integrity of the wood. This causes it to get soft and fall apart. Although rotting timber can be quite a headache in your home, it's a beneficial process in nature. Fungi's purpose is to break down trees that have died and make compost, creating a nutrient-dense forest floor for new things to grow.

It's important to note that wood rot fungi can only grow in certain conditions, and the main requirement is moisture. Timber needs to have a high moisture content that is above 20% or so in order for the decay process to begin. That's why wood that remains completely dry indoors can remain virtually unchanged for well over a century, but timber that is outdoors and exposed to water from rain and humidity is likely to need Princeton wood rot treatment sooner rather than later. There are three main types of timber decay fungi.


Soft rot decomposes the slowest but thrives in a wider range of temperatures—from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It breaks down cellulose (a natural part of a tree's structure), creating a honeycomb-like appearance. This variety is generally found in fallen logs, but it can affect your home in the right conditions.


Commonly called "dry rot" because it makes an affected surface look dry, this fungus also breaks down cellulose. The process causes timber to shrink, turn a deep brown color and break into tiny cube-like pieces. Although brown rot only thrives between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, once it starts growing, it spreads swiftly.


Lastly, if wood appears whitish or light yellow and feels spongy, the culprit is white rot. Whereas brown and soft rot impacts cellulose, this variety of fungi breaks down lignin, another structural part of the wood. Similar to brown rot fungi, this variety also occurs in temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees.

Where is Wood Rot Commonly Found?

Dry timber does not decay, as fungi need a source of moisture to spread. Any area of your home that's humid, moist, or exposed to water—including rainfall—runs the risk of wood rot. Princeton, NJ properties are particularly affected in areas where damp timber is not exposed to fresh air or sunlight. More often than not, decomposing wood goes unnoticed, potentially causing severe issues with your home's structure. That's why it's important to familiarize yourself with high-risk areas, such as:

  • Exterior Doors / Window Frames: Water from rain or melting snow will penetrate any gaps and cracks in your door or window frames, moistening and decaying surrounding areas. Learn how to repair your doors with our guide on door repair.
  • Windows: Likewise, improperly sealed windows let water seep through and potentially cause the decomposition of nearby surfaces.
  • Decks: Over time, even treated boards and planks can become damp and rot—particularly the supports that are below the deck’s wood surface and areas that are often shaded.
  • Roofing: Water can leak through missing and damaged shingles, possibly rotting the supporting frame.
  • Basement: Since basement walls are surrounded by moist soil, particularly after rainfall, the room can be damp, moist, and humid. This may cause fungi to spread.
  • Humid Rooms: Similar to basements, any room that’s regularly exposed to moisture—for instance, the bathroom—can create an environment where fungi will develop and spread.

Dry rot is also a big factor that impacts wood. A dry rot problem can be caused by wood-rotting fungi.

How to Find Spots That Need Princeton Wood Rot Treatment

As we’ve established, there are certain areas of your home that are more susceptible to decomposition. You should check these areas for signs of decay one to two times a year. The best time to do so is either in the fall or spring, around the same time you would have your gutters cleaned.

To check for spreading fungi, you'll need a screwdriver and a flashlight. Simply poke the timber around door frames, decks, windows, humid areas, and in the attic with the screwdriver, using the flashlight if needed. The wood should always be firm and hard. If the screwdriver sinks in, you have a problem that requires wood rot repair.

Is There a Way to Stop Timber Decay From Spreading?

Yes, although the effectiveness of the treatment—and how extensive and time-consuming it will be—depends heavily on the type of rot we are dealing with. The soft and white varieties can be dealt with relatively easily because they can not really travel across non-wood surfaces. For these variants, the best way to stop them in their tracks is to apply a generous layer of boric acid (also called borate), which is an effective fungicide, to the entire affected area. Borate can actually be used as a preventative measure to protect undamaged timber from decay, as well as a method of halting decay that has already gotten started by eliminating dry rot fungus spores.

Boric acid is effective against brown rot too. The problem is that the brown variety, which is sometimes called dry rot, is capable of traveling across non-timber surfaces such as masonry to reach new patches of timber to infect with wood rot. Princeton, NJ residents, will find that when it comes to brown fungi, it's a lot more difficult to make sure you are getting all of it, and some extra vigilance is necessary over the next few months to make sure it doesn't rear its ugly head again. For brown rot, the affected timber should be removed entirely, and all surfaces nearby should be treated with borate.

How Does Mr. Handyman Deal with Princeton Wood Rot Treatment?

If you've found rotten wood on your property, it's best to get professional wood rot treatment services sooner rather than later, before it has a chance to worsen and spread. The exact method that we use to get rid of the decay problem on your particular property will, of course, depend on the specifics of your situation. Our team has a lot of experience with wood rot treatment, so your Princeton handyman will be able to assess any situation and come up with the right repair solution for the affected wood. Here are some methods we may recommend.

Eliminate the Moisture Source

If possible, it makes sense to start by stopping the source of moisture. Sometimes that's not exactly possible—we don't have the power to stop rain from falling. But there's often something that can be done to better protect timber that is being affected by wood rot. Princeton, NJ homes that are being affected indoors are typically suffering from a problem like a leaky roof, deteriorated window frame, or hidden plumbing leak. But it can also be the result of excess humidity in a poorly ventilated bathroom. The steam from hot showers condenses on all surfaces in the room and seeps in, causing water damage over time. That particular issue can be solved by having a bathroom ventilation fan installed and running it every time you turn on the shower.

When the timber in question is outdoors and exposed to the rain and humidity, such as wood deck boards, it's often not realistically possible to shelter it from the elements—it is outside, after all. In this case, the best way to block moisture in the future is by refinishing the timber with fresh coats of paint or solid stain and following it up with sealant for added moisture protection. Those layers will naturally wear off over time, which is why it's important to refinish every few years. Want to know more? Learn about the five signs you need deck repair.

Replace the Affected Timber Altogether

Once the timber has rotted, there's no way to make the affected part of it whole and strong again. That's why removing the pieces that have rot on them and replacing them with new timber is usually the first choice for effectively eliminating the rotted wood and restoring the surface or structure to its original appearance and function. Once we put the new timber in place, we'll paint or stain and seal it to protect it from moisture incursion in the future.

This is the most common form of dry rot treatment for dealing with a dry rot problem. Wood repair or foundation repair will remove the damaged wood and prevent fungal spores from spreading.

Restore with Epoxy Wood Filler

Sometimes there's a reason why it's better to try to repair the affected pieces of wood rather than remove them. If the piece in question would be prohibitively difficult to remove or any patches of rot are pretty minor, your handyman may be able to take care of it by scraping out any soft, rotten parts and filling the gaps with epoxy wood filler. We'll send the dried filler down to a smooth finish and then conceal the repair by painting over it.

How Can I Prevent the Need for Wood Rot Treatment in Princeton, NJ?

Rotten timber needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, structurally compromised supports, jambs, and planks could be a serious hazard. If left unattended, these areas might collapse—taking down part of your home. However, there are a few ways to keep wood dry and avoid dry rot fungus growth:

  • Seal all cracks around exterior doors and windows with caulk
  • Scrape away old, hard, or cracked caulk and replace it
  • Clean gutters at least twice a year; this prevents clogs that lead to water running down the side of your home
  • Add an awning or covered porch above doors to protect against rain
  • Put a dehumidifier in the basement or any room subject to moisture
  • Ensure all your bathrooms are properly ventilated with exhaust fans to mitigate moisture
  • Repaint exterior windows, siding, porches, and fences if the paint is cracking or peeling
  • Sweep pooling water away from your deck, porch, or entryway as soon as possible

Hire the Pros at Mr. Handyman for Effective Princeton Wood Rot Treatment!

With homes dating back to the early 1700s, some of America’s most stunning examples of historic architecture can be found in Princeton. Our city’s homes have been built with a lot of timber that is susceptible to damage from moisture. Thankfully, our handyman experts are repair professionals. If you’ve noticed soft timber around your window trim, front door, garage, or basement, our technicians will carefully replace the decaying areas.

Not only are our technician's experts at meticulously fixing rotted frames, siding, and steps, but we are also recognized throughout Princeton for our unparalleled customer service. Our handyman professionals will arrive promptly, be transparent about the entire repair process, and treat you and your home with the utmost respect.

To book one of our technicians today, we invite you to give our friendly office staff a call at. Our team proudly serves Princeton and many nearby areas, such as Hamilton Township and Hopewell Township. We look forward to meeting you and helping with your repairs.