What Is the Difference Between Wet and Dry Rot?

Knowing the differences between dry rot vs wet rot is vital to identifying problems and treating them before they become a serious issue for your home. Read this guide to learn the differences.
Written by Marisol Pereira
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Wet rot and dry rot are similar in many ways and can usually be treated the same, but there are a few key differences, such as the cause of the rot and their symptoms.
Both wet and dry wood rot are common problems that many homeowners face. They can be sneaky and grow a considerable amount in a short period of time. Damp conditions can even be host to other problems, such as fungus and
mold
.
When left unattended, they can cause significant damage to building's structure, which is why it is crucial that you know how to identify and treat the different types of rot.
If you're wondering what those differences are,
Jerry's
got you covered. Read on to learn about dry rot vs wet rot.
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What causes wet wood rot?

Wet rot is the most common type of wood rot. It can appear when any unprotected timber is exposed to damp conditions of around 50% moisture.
Wet rot requires a constant source of moisture, and the damage will be limited by the range of such moisture. When left unattended, this rot can cause severe damage.

What causes dry rot?

Dry rot appears when the timber is exposed to conditions of at least 20% moisture, which is relatively easy to achieve.
This type of rot is usually present when things such as leaking roofs, defective gutters, and
plumbing leaks
happen, since it allows for dampness penetration.
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Wet rot vs dry rot

Wet rot and dry rot have some similar signs, but others may differ. Here are the signs that you might have wet rot or dry rot.
Signs of wet rot:
  • Timber shrinks, causing cracking
  • Timber feels soft and spongy to the touch
  • Discoloration is not unusual
  • Stays on the damp area and does not spread
  • Paint finish can appear damaged
  • Presence of a musty smell
  • Possible presences of black fungus
  • Appearance of fungus will be limited to the areas affected by dampness
Signs of dry rot:
  • Timber shrinks and cracks
  • The rot may leave a surface veneer that can hide the rot
  • Timber can feel soft and spongy to the touch
  • When exposed to light, the fungus can have a yellowish tinge to it
  • The fungus might have turned gray
  • Damp musty smell
  • Presence of mushroom-like bodies depending on how old is the rot
  • Red spore dust from said bodies may be present
  • Paint finish can appear damaged
  • Dry rot can grow along walls of a property to find more timber to attack

How to treat wet and dry rot

Both types of rot should be treated as soon as possible and by professionals. The lack of timely and proper measures can result in great damage to the structure of the building. If you find wet or dry rot, attend to it immediately.
To treat wet and dry rot in your home or in your walls, first identify the source of the moisture and repair the dampness (such as
defective internal plumbing
).
Then,strip out the affected area. Once it's stripped, you can repair or replace any weakened timber.
Be sure that you protect any new timber from dampness so it doesn't succumb to wet rot like the previous timber.
Apply a fungicidal treatment to near-by timber that may be at risk, and once you've ensured the rot attack has been successfully neutralized, you can start reinstalling walls, floors, or ceilings finishes.
While these steps may seem simple, and you may be tempted to do it yourself, we always recommended calling a professional for help.
Because of the various overlapping characteristics, many people have trouble identifying which type of wood rot is affecting their home. And, without a proper diagnostic, you won't be able to achieve a proper treatment. Instead of running this risk, it's often advisable to let a professional deal with the rot.
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Frequently asked questions about wood rot

How much does it cost to treat dry rot?

The cost of treating dry rot (and wood rot, for that matter) really depends on the location. If there's wood rot in small, contained areas, professional help will only cost around $300 to repair. Siding dry rot can increase the cost up to $2,500, and structurally significant parts of your home will cost much more to repair, even up to $12,000.

What does dry rot smell like?

Dry rot has an earthy, soil-y smell. This shouldn't be a smell you expect from unaffected timber. Other people have also reported that dry rot can smell like fungus.

What does wet rood look like on wood?

Wet rood will look damp on wood. You can expect shrunken timber with cracking, and there can be discoloration. If the wet rot is especially bad, there may be black fungus.
If you identify wet or dry rot in your home, call a professional.
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