Wood rot always looks bad, no matter what type of rot it is. But even if you fix it, will it spread around?

Whether wood rot spreads depends on the type of rot. There is dry rot and wet rot. Wet rot happens because of moisture, and it makes the wood softer. However, it does not spread. Dry rot, on the other hand, spreads, and it could be very dangerous if untreated.

To identify either of these, you have to know their signs. But you also have to know how to fix them and what problems they could cause. So, read on to find out all about wood rot.

About Wood Rot

There are two types of wood rot. One of them is dry, and one is wet. Normally, wet rot sounds more dangerous because water damage can create a lot of problems. However, in this case, the dry rot is even more dangerous as it eats out the wood slowly, yet completely.

Wet Rot

Wet rot is created by moisture — it’s a fungus attracted by wetness, and it doesn’t attack just wood but also other materials. It doesn’t destroy wood as much as dry rot does, but it does need to be fixed as soon as it’s noticed. After a while, wet rot can also destroy the structure of a building.

Just spilling something on wood probably won’t cause this fungus to appear. What will, on the other hand, is moisture present in the wood for a longer amount of time. Here are some of the most common reasons wet rot appears:

Even more, problems cause wet rot — as long as there’s wetness in the wood. So, keep an eye out for that. Here are some of the signs that you will notice:

  • If the wood is darker than usual or darker than other wood
  • If the wood is soft or generally feels wet
  • If it looks cracked and easily breaks
  • You can actually spot the fungus
  • It became smaller
  • Smelly wood

The easiest test to perform is to stick something into the wood, and if it doesn’t meet resistance, you probably have wet rot. Keep in mind that you’re more likely to notice a smell with wet rot than you are with dry rot. It will smell musty and like the ground.

Some of the most common areas affected by this type of rot is a basement or a roof.

You probably know that wet rot is dangerous because it softens the wood, and it makes it less structurally sound. Over time, it can cause a lot of damage, but if repaired on time, you can avoid seeing the effects entirely.

To treat wet rot, you have to find where the wetness comes from and then dry it out — fix pipes, remove leaks, dry walls, etc. Then, you can do proper filling and repairing. In some cases, you may need to replace the wood. Treat the wood with a fungicide. You should also spray it on areas that are not quite yet affected by wet rot, but they have been damp for a while.

There are hardeners too that can help you restore some of the wood’s strength.

Dry Rot

Dry rot is a fungus that attacks wood. It causes decay of wood, especially in the parts of it that make it strong. This rot spreads easily, and it doesn’t need any water to do it. It actually creates more moisture by eating wood. Dry rot is far more dangerous because it can attack and reach so many places.

It destroys the structure of your building, and it could bring everyone’s life in danger because of this. To identify it, you should invite a professional. They will be able to confirm the presence of the fungus much faster and with precision.

If you don’t see it right away, you will probably need to replace a lot of wood. It appears in buildings and then just waits for the right place to attack. But they need good conditions for this, like slightly wet wood and moisture in the air. However, dry rot doesn’t just appear in the air. Here are some reasons why it’s there:

  • Leaky pipes and gutters
  • Dampness that goes through walls
  • Bad ventilation

These are the most common reasons, but there could be more as well.

Dry rot spreads in stages. In the first stage, the rot is just a spore that travels through the air. Once the conditions for their activation are met, the spores land on wood and grow into hyphae, which will make the wood inflated and start deteriorating it.

Next, there will be mycelium, which looks like cotton and can spread over more wood. After that, the fungus is at the top of its strength as it takes the shape of a mushroom and starts birthing new spores that will spread around.

So, dry rot actually spreads in two ways — one as mycelium and one as a big mushroom by creating spores. However, dry rot is hard to find in the earliest stages. For example, you won’t see the spores. But that’s when it’s the easiest to stop it. Once you notice it, it probably already did a lot of damage.

If you want to, you can look for a mycelium if you believe you have dry rot or for a fruiting mushroom since you’ll be able to clearly see those. Then, you might spot a sort of skin over your wood in strange colors. Look for red dust as well — these are the new spores.

You might notice dry rot by seeing wood shrink slightly, get drier and more crumbly, actually see it cracking and breaking or becoming darker. If the rot is under your floor, you will likely not spot it, but the floor will seem a bit spongy, almost like a trampoline with a creaking sound.

If this rot gets into the building walls — the masonry in particular — you might be in serious trouble as it will destroy many parts, but you won’t be able to see it while the fungus grows. ]

What Does Dry Rot Do?

Now that you know more about these two fungi, you are probably more afraid of the dry rot. Dry rot is sneaky. It’s not easy to smell, notice, or find. At the same time, it destroys the structure of your home.

In fact, you may see the effects of this on yourself as it can affect your health, especially of those people who have previous conditions, respiratory issues, etc.

How to Stop the Spread?

The first step, just like with wet rot, is to stop the leak. Find the source of the wetness, which caused it all and stop further damage. Allow the area some time to dry out and then move on to the rot. Open up the entire area — anything that the rot has touched.

Remove any spores that you can see, any bodies, or mycelium. Check how much of it it has been affected and then replace it if it seems inevitable. Using a fungicide is a must.


So, while there are different types of rot, the only one that spreads is dry rot, and that is the most dangerous one. It’s not easy to find it, but you can always be diligent and prevent any appearance of it.

Check for leaks, dampness, and anything similar often. It will probably be obvious to you that there’s some sort of a problem if something starts leaking. Once you fix that problem, go look for affected timber and treat it with a fungicide.

Related: How to Repair a Rotted Window Frame

Write A Comment