Wet Rot

Stop the Rot

FAQs – and answers – about wood rot in your home’s exterior


Unlike a hurricane or some other natural disaster, wood rot isn’t a scene stealer. But if left unchecked, rot could slowly – and silently – be compromising the integrity of the wood in your home. Fortunately, wood rot can be controlled if detected early and treated effectively.


What causes rotten wood?

If wood is untreated, moisture is the #1 enemy. If a porous wood surface comes in contact with enough water for enough time, the result is usually some kind of deterioration.  This could be caused by leaks, flooding or excessive rain or snow.

What is the difference between wet rot and dry rot?

As the name indicates, wet rot (also called white rot) occurs when water permeates untreated wood. As the moisture seeps from the outside in, the wood becomes weak. Dry rot (also called brown rot) is a fungus that also starts with moisture, but can live and grow inside the wood even after it’s “dried out.”

Dry rot. Photo from BC Ministry of Forests
Dry rot. Photo from BC Ministry of Forests
wet rot
Wet rot. Photo from sawmill creek.org

What is the difference between rot and mold?

Mold is related to rot, in that it is fungi that grow from moisture. While there are health risks associated with a mold problem, mold doesn’t directly cause wood decay.

What areas are especially prone to rot?

The exterior of your home is especially prone to rot because of t’s exposure to the elements. Places to keep an eye on include:

  • Window sills
  • Trim around doors and windows
  • Exterior wooden doors (including garage doors)
  • Decking, including posts and railings
  • Roofs and eaves
  • Areas around gutters and downspouts


How do I check my home for rot?

It’s a good idea to check your home for rot every few months, especially if you live in a coastal area like Cape Cod. Rot can often be detected just by looking at and touching the wood. A discoloration or spongy feel unually indicates wet rot. If areas of the wood are split across the grain into cube-like sections, you probably have dry rot.

What can I do if I find rot?

Wood rot should always be addressed as soon as possible. Not only does it continue to get worse, but over time it can even make your structures unsafe.  Stewart Painting offers complete carpentry services including exterior trim & rot repairs, and we will always coordinate this phase of work with your painting project to make sure the job is completed by the designated finish date.

What can I do to help prevent rot?

There are several measures you can take to help prevent rot. These include using a decay-resistent type of wood in repairs or new construction, and making sure you have adequate drainage around and underneath any exterior wood.

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