Wood Rot Repair

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Wood rot seems to be a growing epidemic in homes and something we see a lot here at DogGoneHandy. Some of the rot can be traced to poor maintenance habits by homeowners, some to poor building practices by the trades and, believe it or not, some to the lumber companies.

If you want to prevent wood rot, you need to keep it dry. Wood rot is simply different fungi that are consuming the wood. The fungi need water to live. You keep wood dry by keeping it painted and sealed. It's also a great idea to keep it above horizontal masonry or concrete surfaces by at least 2 inches. Test.

Before you attempt to repair wood rot, you need to stop the water problem. It's imperative that you hunt down and eliminate the water source that's causing the rot. If the wood has been placed too close to the soil, a sidewalk, a patio, a roof or some such, you may have to re-engineer the situation so the wood doesn't get wet -- or, if it gets wet, it dries rapidly.

Once you have the water situation solved, then the wood needs to dry completely. This can take days, weeks or months, depending on the season. Blowing air across the wood will accelerate the drying time. Be very careful about using a heat gun or other artificial heat source to dry the wood. Wood that's rotted and dry ignites very readily and can burn fiercely.

As with any repair products, you have to read all the instructions on the product labels. What you'll discover with most, or all, of the chemical and epoxy repair products is that the wood needs to be dry. You want this anyway so the good wood doesn't rot further!

Preventing wood rot is not as hard as one might think, but it requires a mixture of common sense and best practices. Buy lumber that has built-in rot resistance if possible. Redwood and cedar are exterior wood species that have natural chemicals that stave off wood rot except in the worst conditions.

Beware of hybridized lumber that's now grown by lumber companies if possible. This lumber has vast quantities of spring wood in it. Spring wood is the lighter-colored band of wood when you look at the end of a piece of lumber. It's softer and readily absorbs water.

Keeping wood painted and sealed is the most basic form of maintenance you can do. It's not the silver bullet, but it can help. Caulk cracks that allow water to penetrate into wood crevices.

If you want to give untreated lumber a chance to fight fungi, you can also treat it with borate chemicals. These borate powders readily dissolve in water. If you then soak the dry lumber with the borate solution so it soaks into the wood fibers, the borate chemicals stay behind after the water evaporates.

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