Rotting Wood Floor: Causes and Solutions

Wood is a popular material that is often used for flooring. However, even wood can be damaged over time. Rotting wood floors, for example, is one of the reasons for wood flooring damage.

This condition can happen when you put the wood floor in the wrong place or don’t take good care of it. Hence, wood flooring must resist water, heat, and weather conditions. 

What Cause Rotting Wood Floors?

Any wood materials used for flooring will eventually rot. What needs to be considered is the durability or resistance of the wood from rotting. A damaged and rotting wood floor of less than 1-year-old is considered bad. That’s why proper care is needed so the wood floor doesn’t rot easily. Thus, what are the causes of rotten wood floors?

  • Use of wood— The use of wood floors for outdoor and indoor use has different characteristics. Both have different preservation techniques to be considered before installation.
  • Termite and fungal (molds) attack— Pest attacks, including termites and fungi, will speed up the rotting process. Both are the first agents that can cause rotting wood floors.
  • Attack of spoilage bacteria— This organism will cause structural and aesthetic damage to the wooden floor.
  • Humid room conditions— Humid rooms will also make the wood rot quickly. Seepage of water on the floor will add to the decomposition process.

How to tell if floorboards are rotten

Wooden floors are flooring materials that are often damaged, causing wood floors to rot, especially if the maintenance method is inefficient. So, what are the signs of a normal rotting wood floor?

  • Stains on the floor surface— Subfloors that lack adequate ventilation allow moisture and mold growth to accumulate. This increased humidity can cause the floor wood to rot, which can be identified by surface stains and other signs of damage.
  • The color of the wood changes to brown or gradually becomes darker.
  • Turns the wood floor structure into fine chips that eventually lose its strength.
  • The wood floor’s surface becomes damp, which makes the wood too moist.
  • The natural aroma from the wood floor changes.

How to Fix Rotting Wood Floor

The strength of a wooden floor can last for years. But when the time comes, a wood floor will experience a decrease in quality and turn into a rotting wood floor. So, here are some ways you can repair rotted wood floor:

  • It is important to ensure that your wooden floor is not in contact with water for too long. As previously mentioned, a damp wood floor is susceptible to molding, which will eventually cause the wood floor to rot. Water can also cause permanent stains on wood. Therefore, it is recommended to use protective wood wax to increase the resistance of wood floors to water.
  • Do the preservation process using preservatives such as insecticides and fungicides. The reason is that the wooden floor is not resistant to organisms such as mold, termites, etc. This is important because wood is a popular material amongst these various pests.
  • Dismantle the rotten wooden floor and replace it with a new one. Make sure the replacement product is the same, both the type of wood and the size.
  • Do a finishing process so that the old wood floor with the new looks unified or sanded and completely refinished.
  • Wood filler is needed to prevent the rotting and weathering of wood, mainly caused by fungus. The wood fungus needs 3 things to survive: wood, moisture, and heat. To prevent wood rot, you need to address each of these needs.

Prevent Wood Floor from Rotting

You have to do regular maintenance on your wood floor. Don’t let the wood floors of your house change color and become rotten. The solutions that can be done to prevent rotting wood floors include:

  • Remove damaged wood when you see it. Don’t delay it so that no further damage occurs.
  • Using wood that has very good strength and sturdiness. For this reason, your wooden floor can last longer and doesn’t rot easily when exposed to water.
  • The wooden floor’s installation process must be done perfectly so the wood floor can last a long time. Thus, ensure no cracks between the wood pieces and no water seepage that can rot the wood floor.
  • Provide preservatives to protect the wood from fungus.
  • Avoid placing the wood directly on the ground.
  • Arrange the finishing process at least once a year.
  • Take advantage of wood floor coatings, such as the HPL layer. This is useful for protecting wood from liquid materials that can rot wood and also gives a color pattern that beautifies the wood floor.
  • Apply a quality wood sealant to all wood exposed to moisture, preferably one that contains a fungicide.

Treating Wood Floor That Is Starting To Rot

Though beautiful and grand, wood flooring is not immune to the dangers of humidity, stagnant air, and moisture. These silent threats can seep into the wood, causing it to rot and deteriorate. Rot not only mars the floor’s appearance but also harms one’s health. To fight against this decay, one can take several preventive measures.

Use Vinegar

Vinegar can be a powerful weapon against rot. Mix a cup of vinegar with warm water and clean the infected area thoroughly. The acetic acid in the vinegar will kill any fungus that causes rot.

Sprinkle Borax

Sprinkle borax on the flooring and let it rest for half an hour. Vacuum it up, and watch as the borax eliminates mildew, fungi, and mold. Illumination is key, too. Fungi hate the light, so brighten up the room and banish their growth.

Use Water and Lemon Juice

Water and lemon juice can also be used to fight rot. The mixture’s acidic nature neutralizes any unpleasant odors. To keep moisture at bay, keep the air fresh and treat any affected areas promptly.

Opt for Treated Varieties

Opt for treated varieties to prevent rot from taking root when buying flooring.

Enlist the Help of Professional Floor Cleaners

Though it may seem pricey, enlisting the help of professional floor cleaners is worth the cost. They have the tools and techniques to defeat rot and ensure a fungus-free floor. With their help, the floor will be thoroughly dried or steam cleaned, leaving no trace of moisture for fungi to thrive.

Understanding the Types of wood rot

Wood rot is a big problem for homeowners because it can weaken the structure of a building and make it look bad. Understanding what causes wood rot and how it spreads is crucial to prevent it from happening to your home.

Wet Rot vs. Dry Rot

Wet rot and dry rot are the two main types of wood rot that can happen in your home. Fungi cause both, but they need different things to grow and spread.

Wet Rot

Wet rot requires warm temperatures between 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, oxygen, and moisture to start. The rot can start to set in as little as a week if the wood is exposed to enough moisture and warm enough. However, it may take longer for the rot to be visible to the naked eye. Wet rot is more likely to spread quickly in the dampest parts of the wood.

Dry Rot

On the other hand, dry rot is even more dangerous as it can spread quickly if the conditions are right. This type of rot likes it warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from 66 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and requires a minimum of 30 to 40 percent moisture to get started. In the right conditions, dry rot can spread up to 3 inches a day, making it crucial to address the problem as soon as possible.

The Early Signs of Dry Rot: How Long Does It Take For Dry Rot To Appear?

Please don’t confuse the time it takes for the dry rot to start affecting your wood with the time it takes to show up. It only takes a week or two for dry rot to start, but it can take much longer for the effects to become noticeable.

How Dry Rot Begins

Contrary to popular belief, dry rot doesn’t take years to develop; it can start affecting your wood in as little as a week or two. However, it can take much longer for the effects to become noticeable. This is why it’s important to watch for the early warning signs and address the issue promptly.

Recognizing the Early Warning Signs of Dry Rot

The first step in detecting dry rot is to inspect your wood. Give it a poke with a screwdriver to see if the wood feels spongy. If it does, and the screwdriver goes all the way in, you have a problem. Additionally, look out for other warning signs, such as:

  • Green algae on the wood
  • White or gray growth
  • Mushroom-like bodies
  • Cracked or peeling paint
  • Darker wood than the surrounding wood
  • Why Dry Rot Shouldn’t be Taken Lightly

Dry rot can cause significant structural damage to your home, leading to costly repairs. The longer you wait to address the issue, the worse it will become. To avoid a headache, stay on top of dry rot and address the issue as soon as you spot the warning signs.

How Far Can Dry Rot Spread?

Dry rot is a sneaky foe – it’s tough to spot until it’s caused major damage. And once it takes hold, it can spread like wildfire if not taken care of pronto.

Unlike wet rot, which needs moisture to spread, dry rot can spread even without it. It’ll spread to any part of your wood floor where conditions are just right.

And it doesn’t stop there – it can also wreak havoc on your house’s support beams, ceiling joists, roof decking, and more.

The fungus that causes dry rot can spread quickly if left unchecked and cause major structural damage to your house. But spreading from house to house is different – it’s not very common.

But, dry rot could spread if the houses are connected by wood. And if you’re moving wood or timber from one house to another and it has rot or harmful insects like woodworm, watch out! It could be moving the dry rot along with it.

What is the cost of replacing a rotten floor?

Replacing a rotten floor ain’t cheap. Depending on the damage, you’re looking at anywhere from $2000 to a whopping $30000! And each joist can cost you anywhere from a hundred bucks to two grand, depending on how accessible your contractor can get.

But when it comes to water damage, that’s a whole different ballgame. Repairing those floors will run you anywhere from $8 to $100 per square foot.

And if the damage has spread like wildfire, it may be more economical to rip up the old floor and start fresh rather than trying to patch it up. So, fixing a rotten or water-damaged floor can be a pricey affair.

Don’t Let Dry Rot Take Over Your Flooring

Dry rot is a sneaky pest that can take over your flooring if you’re not careful. Unlike wet rot, it doesn’t need a damp environment to spread.

Dry rot loves poorly ventilated areas and can spread like wildfire in a dry environment. That’s why it’s crucial to nip it in the bud by replacing the infected wood or treating the surrounding areas with an effective fungicide.

And don’t be fooled; just because wet rot doesn’t spread as easily, it doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

Dry rot is by far the worst of the two in spreading. So, if you’ve noticed some rot in your flooring, don’t just ignore it and hope it goes away.

Take action, fix it, or it’ll continue to rot and spread. If you’re unsure what to do, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional. Trust us; you don’t want dry rot to take over your flooring.