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Wood Rot Repair and Restoration FAQs


What causes wood rot?

Wood rot impacts the appearance and integrity of any wooden structure or object. For example, log homes are often subject to wood rot that results from water intrusion into the logs. Wood rot also sneaks its way into exterior wooden doors and trim, floors, window sills, and thresholds. Wood siding, fences, and outdoor furniture can also become victims of wood rot.

In the marine environment, many boat hulls, decks, and cockpit floors are constructed with balsa wood core sandwiched between fiberglass layers. Most fiberglass boats also feature wood-reinforcing elements in structural areas. Fresh water and inferior drainage can combine to allow water to migrate into the boats components and lead to major wood rot issues.

In any setting, there is a specific set of environmental conditions that is considered ideal for growth of the wood rot fungus. When the woods moisture content is greater than 20 to 30 percent, and the surrounding air temperatures range from 32 degrees F to 390 degrees F, conditions are favorable for fungus growth.

Because the fungus can not make its own food, it feeds off the woods cells. At the same time, the fungus secretes specific enzymes that turn the wood into food. Over time, the fungi will substantially reduce the woods strength.

Dry Rot

Dry rot occurs when brown rot fungi decay the woods structure, causing it to crumble. When the brown rot dries out, it turns into a powder that is labeled dry rot. Although you may be able to perform a dry rot repair on small wood pieces, this is not a good option for wood components that provide structural stability. Then, replacement is a much safer option.

Wet Rot

Wet rot is caused by white rot fungi that degrade all the woods major components at the same time. As a result, the rotted wood feels spongy, soft, and wet. Over time, the punky woods structural integrity and strength are compromised.

What are the signs of dry rot?

The term dry rot is now more accurately called brown rot, as dry wood is not prone to rot. Brown rot kicks off when brown rot fungi break down the woods hemicelluloses and cellulose, and leave only the lignin that maintains cellular integrity.

Brown rot-affected wood generally appears very dry, and is so fragile that it crumbles into brown cubes due to across-the-grain cracks. Even if this compromised wood looks normal, it has lost its structure and is very weak. Dried-out old brown rot easily turns to powder when crushed. Generally speaking, brown rot is considered more serious than white (wet) rot.

How can you stop wood rot?

For wet wood rot to expand, it needs an adjacent area of hospitable damp timber. By fixing the problem that causes that soggy wood, you should be able to stop the wet rot and prevent future occurrences.

Boric acid, and Borate-derived chemicals, are versatile fungicides that effectively treat and prevent wood rot. These substances are safe for people and pets, but the fungi behind wood rot regard them as bad-tasting and poisonous.

To treat dry raw wood with borate chemicals, dissolve the borate powder in water. Spraying the solution on the wood is one option. However, the best application is to immerse each piece of raw wood in a container of hot solution for about a minute.

After the borate chemicals have soaked into the woods end grain, allow the wood to dry in the shade. Separate the wood pieces so air can reach every surface.

What are the different methods for fixing rotted wood?

You will not find a universal wood rot treatment method. Consider the location of the damage, and gauge its severity. Based on your evaluation, determine how to repair rotted wood.

Apply an Epoxy Treatment

Maybe the wood still retains its shape, but has been compromised due to wood rot, fungal growth, or insect infestation. If thats the case, a penetrating epoxy sealer or wood consolidant can reinforce remaining wood fibers. Porous wood quickly absorbs this clear low-viscosity resin, which ideally reaches the sound wood threshold while strengthening the damaged area. Once you have completed the wood rot epoxy treatment, you will know how to fix rotted wood.

Restore the Wood

If you have previously removed damaged wood sections, use epoxy-based filler putty to help in wood restoration. These super-strong, lightweight fillers easily blend with the wood substrate. The fillers are also designed to chemically bond with epoxy-treated wood. Once the filler putty has completely cured, you can sand, prime, and paint the filled areas to match the surrounding wood. This epoxy is one of the better wood rot repair products.

Preserve the Wood

If the wood has been damaged by wood-destroying insects along with rot, a Borate powder should help to preserve the wood. Whether used in dry form, or mixed into a water-based solution, Borate powder is an effective penetrating substance. As an added bonus, Borate solutions do not contain hazardous solvents or emit offensive odors.

Replace the Wood

In extreme cases, the wood may simply be too far gone to be repaired. In that instance, replacing the compromised sections may be the best option.

What is penetrating epoxy?

Penetrating epoxy is a low-viscosity, deep-sealing wood rot repair and restoration solution. This hardworking wood rot repair epoxy also seals new wood and offers protection against humidity, mold, mildew, and salt. Penetrating epoxy does not contain highly volatile solvents, and does not emit a solvent smell.

Apply TotalBoat Penetrating Epoxy with a roller, brush, or injection syringe. Correctly used, the epoxy glues cellulose (wood) fibers back together, and seals the porous wood surface from the inside out.

Once the solution cures, it is 100 percent waterproof. After a light sanding, you can paint or vanish over the wood surface. Note that TotalBoat Penetrating Epoxy is a self-contained rotted wood repair kit.

How do you seal wood or waterproof with epoxy to prevent rot?

  1. Always apply Totalboat penetrating epoxy to dry, clean, and unfinished wood. Remove contaminants by wiping the wood with acetone and a clean rag. Ensure that the surface is completely dry.

  2. Measure and mix resin and hardener in a plastic cup. Only mix as much as you can apply in 20 minutes. Stir the mixture for two minutes.

  3. (Optional) To better enable wood penetration, add denatured alcohol or acetone. Add enough solvent to equal the portion of mixed epoxy. Stir until ingredients are completely blended.

  4. Quickly apply the epoxy with a roller or brush. Let the epoxy dry until it feels tacky to the touch. Apply a second coat.

  5. Allow the epoxy to cure. Afterward, remove the amine blush by washing the wood with warm water and mild soap. Let the wood dry completely.

  6. Sand lightly, and paint or varnish the wood.
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