Know the Signs of Wood Rot

Cracked window sill in need of repair

Updated 8/3/23

Water damage is a huge threat to the safety and stability for any property. A lesser known threat to homes and businesses is wood rot. While it seems like the two would go hand in hand, water damage is not the only cause of wood rot. This means your home could still be at risk of wet rot or dry rot, even if it hasn’t been flooded or water damaged. Prevention is the best form of protection!

Read on to learn more about what wood rot is, where it grows, and how to spot the signs of its growth.

What is Wood Rot?

Wood rot

Wood rot is exactly what it sounds like — the decay and rotting of wooden material. Most commonly, it is caused by a combination of fungal growth and moisture. As the microscopic fungal organisms grow, they destroy the wood that they’re living on. If left untreated for too long, wood rot can spread from a small area to a structure-wide issue.

Exposure to the weather and the elements is one of the most common causes of wood rot. Some common exposure risks include:

  • Damaged roofing or siding
  • Cracked windowsills and door frames
  • Sitting water around the building foundation
  • Blocked or clogged rain gutters


Where Does Wood Rot Grow?

Fungal growth will affect any part of a structure that is made of wood. This includes the interior and exterior building elements. However, as with all fungi and molds, wood rot thrives in damp and dark areas with poor air circulation. Some of the most common places wood rot strikes include:

  • Baseboards in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Beneath the eaves of a roof
  • Around water fixtures (toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and showers)
  • Outdoor structures like decks and patios
  • Inside kitchen and bathroom cupboards


Common Signs of Wood Rot

1. Visible Wood Damage

Visible wood damage is the clearest sign of wood rot around the home. There are many ways this can appear. For example: warping, cracking, splitting, splintering, and discoloration are all visible signs of wood damage. As wood rot progresses, wood may become soft and dark in color. Wooden material loses its ability to bear weight and hold together over time as the cellulose in the wood is destroyed. The strength of wooden building materials is compromised when it begins crackling and crumbing, and it will need to be replaced at this point.


2. Exterior Building Damage

It is a cause for concern any time there are cracks, holes, or missing pieces in a building’s exterior. Damage to roofing, siding, window frames and door frames all present an opportunity for water infiltration. This can of course lead to water damage, and it also creates an entry point and a breeding ground for wood rot fungus.


3. A Musty Smell

Trust your nose. Wood rot, water damage, and mold give off a telltale musty odor. All of these contaminants break down wood and produce an earthy musty smell. The smell of decay is more noticeable in poorly ventilated areas.


4. Visible Fungal Growths

White, yellow, purple, and gray patches on wood are all signs of fungal growth. These growths can be cottony or powdery in texture. Treat these patches immediately, even if they are not wood rot. Additionally, treat mold and mildew spots quickly to prevent further growth.


5. Excess Moisture

Water is a necessary ingredient for wood rot. For this reason, any signs of excess moisture are a cause for concern. Look out for bubbling and peeling paint, condensation on windows and walls, and leaky pipes. All of these sources of moisture can contribute to wood rot.




Elite Restoration is Here to Help 

Elite Restoration has over 40 years of experience in the construction and restoration industries. We are happy to share that experience with you! Check out our other blog posts for more information on preventative home care and DIY restoration tasks.

We recently shared an article explaining How Mold Remediation Works

As well as this handy guide on Preventing Bathroom Mold Growth.


If you’re looking for ways to keep your home in good condition, we’re sure we’ve got a blog post that can help!

View the full Elite Restoration Blog here.