No deck owner wants to hear the words “dry rot”. This issue can be a tremendous headache for the homeowner, and without following careful guidelines, it can quickly become a big problem. Thankfully, being prepared, focusing on prevention, and knowing what to do if you notice the signs of dry rot, will help empower you to deal with this problem or prevent it from happening. Continue reading to learn how to prevent or fix dry rot on your deck.
What is Dry Rot?
Dry rot is wood decay caused by an aggressive form of fungal growth. When this decay occurs, the fungi break down cellulose and hemicellulose, the components which give the wood its strength and stiffness. The wood is left brittle and weak, which is an especially bad situation for structural timber. Dry rot is a fungus and can spread very quickly throughout a deck and wreak havoc unless it is treated quickly and carefully.
Signs of Dry Rot
As your deck gets older, it may begin to show signs of dry rot. These signs include discolored, cracked, bubbly, or spongy wood that may flake off and fall apart when wet. Dry rot can also attract wood-eating insects such as termites, which can make the problem even worse. When you see an area that you think might be affected by dry rot, try the screwdriver test: take a screwdriver and press it against the timber. If it sinks in right away with little or no resistance, you are looking at rotting wood.
Preventing Dry Rot
Rot and wood decay can be caused by moisture and pooling water. To prevent dry rot, it is important to limit your your deck’s exposure to moisture. Regularly cleaning your deck and following an inspection schedule are also important. Sweeping and wiping down your deck regularly will help prevent damp leaves or debris buildup which can lead to rot and decay. An annual deep cleaning will keep your deck free of bacteria buildup, mildew, and dirt. Having your deck professionally inspected every two years will help ensure you are aware of problems before serious harm to your deck occurs.
Another way to prevent your deck from rotting is to build it with rot-resistant wood. The most rot-resistant species of natural wood are redwood, mahogany, cypress and cedar. Even with rot-resistant wood, you will still need to be diligent about maintaining and cleaning your deck, and keeping it as dry as possible, to protect its longevity.
You can also help prevent dry rot by coating your deck with protective stain. This will help lock out moisture and prevent fungus from growing. Stains can also help improve the look of water damaged decks.
Wood Rot Repair
It is much easier to prevent dry rot than it is to repair the damage caused by rotten wood. When caught early, it may be possible to repair the damage without having to replace the whole deck. If you are noticing signs of dry rot, it is important to act quickly. Following these steps can help treat dry rot:
- Remove and discard any rotted boards and replace them with new, pressure-treated wood boards.
- Apply a water-resistant coating overtop the entire deck, including the support pieces.
- Carefully even out spots that create water pooling problems.
Unfortunately, sometimes by the time you notice the signs of dry rot, the damage may be too great, and the task overwhelming. Calling in professional help can give you peace of mind when you discover rot occurring on your deck. Trained professionals will know what to look for, what can be salvaged, how to help you best repair your specific deck, and how to replace boards with the most rot-resistant materials and stains. Our team at Crosby Home Services is here to help you whether you need to prevent or treat dry rot. Contact us today to learn more.