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Need a Wood RX? The Types and Causes of Lumber Decay – and the Cure

By October 12, 2013May 19th, 2017Repairs, Uncategorized

(Flickr photo by aclasschris)

Nearly every natural or organic substance on Earth is prone to eventual decay. Wood is, and has always been, a most beloved building substrate with an intrinsic beauty that reminds us of our origins. Each tree’s unique coloring, grain pattern, and relative strength all lend to the charm of wooden furniture, trim, windows, flooring, and more. However, wood is also subject to factors that can cause an ugly decay.

What Causes Wood Decay?

Wood begins to decay and discolor over time due to the presence of tiny organisms known as fungi. This group of primitive “plants” is unable to produce their own food through photosynthesis, like true plants, and so must feed instead on natural organic substances such as leather, cloth, paper, and wood. When the spores of fungi  germinate, they produce enzyme-secreting filaments that break down organic matter into “food.” Filaments spread and penetrate below the surface of the wood, first softening it, and then destroying it entirely.

How Can You Prevent or Lessen Wood Decay?

For fungi to flourish there needs to be sufficient moisture and an adequate temperature for fungal growth. Its spread can be prevented by eliminating any one of the factors that fungi require to grow and propagate. Keeping your wood dry is a fundamental step in delaying its decay. However, many times wood is exposed to the elements by nature of its location (exterior housing) or by accident (leakage or condensation/humidity inside a house).

What are the Differing Kinds of Wood Decay?

Decay fungi will fall into three major groups: brown rots, white rots, and soft rots.

Brown Wood Rot

Brown rots are so-named because infected wood turns dark brown in color. When dried out, wood previously infested will then turn to powder when crushed. Many times, old infestations of brown rot which have dried out are labeled as “dry rot.” This is really a deceiving term since wood will not decay when dry.

White Wood Rots

White rots show a white, gray-white, yellow-white, or bleached appearance to wood, and most often infect hardwood species. In advanced stages of decay, white-rotted wood is spongy, has a stringy texture, and lacks the checking of brown-rotted wood. A thin black line often marks the advancing edge of white rot in hardwoods.

Soft Wood Rots

Most decay fungi are unable to conduct water very far and can only attack moist wood. However, Poria incrassata, often referred to as dry rot, will decay wood which would not be attacked by typical decay fungi. This type of fungus can transport water for several feet through large root-like structures called rhizomorphs. Once established, it can quickly spread through a building and devastate large areas of flooring and walls in as little as a year or two.

The PC Wood Rot Terminator Solution

PC-Rot Terminator was formulated specifically to penetrate damaged and even missing portions of wood by penetrating and following the natural grain, and hardening the wood to the point where it is even stronger than the original organic material. For maximum penetration poke or drill holes into the wood or expose the grain of the wood by cutting into the wood. Remember, the drier the wood at the time of application, the better. PC Rot Terminator cannot displace water from within the wood.

PC TIP: The greater the temperature, the faster the cure time. PC-Rot Terminator cure can be accelerated using a light bulb or other gentle heat source. After cure, you can use a PC Paste Epoxy to fill in any missing areas of wood, and re-paint.

Wood rot terminated – there’s your RX!