Timber decay comes in a multitude of fashions; dry rot, wet rot and even woodworm – the existence of any isn’t good news and won’t be a welcome member to your family. Correctly identifying which timber decay is present is paramount to the correct diagnosis.

Dry rot

Dry rot AKA Serpula lacrymans

  1. Dry rot is the most severe form of fungal timber decay.
  2. It occurs in poorly ventilated conditions in buildings, resulting in cracking and powdering of the wood.
  3. It happens in embedded timers such as floor joists and lintels and can affect the whole structural soundness of a building.
  4. Dry Rot is particularly destructive and very expensive to eradicate.
  5. Dry rot can start in wood with moisture conditions of only 20%.

Please read more about dry rot on our dedicated page.

Wet rot

Wet rot AKA Coniophora Puteana occurs more frequently than dry rot but is less serious.


  1. Wet rot requires a higher level of moisture – at least 50%.
  2. The problem with wet rot (as with dry rot) is that it often occurs in places that are not visible, such as embedded timbers, making it difficult to recognise.
  3. A sure sign of wet rot is fungus growth and signs of damp, darker coloured wood. You’ll also notice a change in texture as it becomes spongy to touch and crumbles easily.
  4. Once dried out, the wood will still be porous and brittle, breaking away in your fingers. You can also visibly see these changes, so look out for lines that appear in the wood.
  5. Wet rot requires a constant source of moisture to breed, once removed then wet rot will cease to grow. Of course, at this stage, the affected wood will still need to be treated.


  1. Woodworm is the name given to wood-eating larvae.
  2. Signs of woodworm are usually small holes of 1mm – 1.5mm diameter dotted throughout the timber.
  3. It is common to see tiny amounts of powder (known as frass, which happens to be the faeces produced by the woodworm) around the holes. The size of these depends on the size of the beetle.
  4. It is a multiplying problem as the adult beetles lay eggs under the surface of the timber. The new grubs feed and soon become beetles, which once again reproduce, and the cycle continues. The result of the infestation is structural damage.
  5. These beetles tend to favour timber with high moisture content and suggests your home also suffers from a damp-related problem.
  6. We have recently seen a case of woodworm on old timber beams in a listed property where the roof space had inadequate ventilation.

If you suspect your property is suffering from any form of timber decay, then a thorough assessment is important. We urge you not to delay and book an appointment with a recommended specialist immediately. Once timber decay starts, it sets in and spreads scarily fast. Once an assessment has taken place, correct recommendations and a specification for remedial repair along with costings provided. We will also advise you if we believe your insurance should be covering for the remedial works and assist you in placing your claim.

If you have any questions about timber decay please do not hesitate to ask.

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