Woodworm And Wood Rot – 2 Killers Of Timber Strength In Property


Timber is major part of property construction in UK. Fixtures to structural timbers, the average home is made up of 70% of timber.

Woodworm and Wood Rot are 2 silent killers of timber strength in property.

Biggest advantages of using wood as building material is that it is natural resource readily available and economically feasible.

It is also strong and provides good insulation from the cold.


Weather conditions in UK can cause wet rot and dry rot in UK homes.

Effects of either of these can cost thousands of pounds if not diagnosed on time and resolved.

Wet rot, Dry rot and woodworm may not always be evident to naked eye from day one, but can cause major havoc.

They may not be obvious when you view properties for your property investment. During refurbishment they will show up, after stripping down.

In one of our property after over an year of refurbishment, carpet started becoming soft in couple of areas.

After investigation we found it was woodworm and got it treated.

We found dry rot in one of our properties which we completed. During refurbishment, we found dry rot hidden under old plaster. Got it treated as part of refurbishment.

Let’s dig deep.

One of the major reasons of wet rot, dry rot or woodworm is moisture content in timber. If moisture content of timber is above 20%, it puts timber at risk. If timber is infected, it eventually loses it strength.

Check article The Ultimate Guide That Explains Damp In A Property to understand the different reasons of damp in the property and how to prevent it.

dry rot

What are the signs of Dry Rot?

If you are concerned about dry rot in your home, there are some signs that may appear.

  • Dry rot grows in areas which is not obvious in first place. First sign you may see is cracking on skirting or facing timbers in your home.
  • Wood might have shrunk, darkened or has cracked into cubes in the infested areas.
  • A white, fluffy mycelium may develop on the wood. This mycelium looks like cotton-wool.
  • In few cases, a grey, mushroom coloured skin may develop on the wood.
  • The dry rot may also smell musty, giving off a damp mushroom odour.

There are four main stages of the dry rot life-cycle these being

Spores -these can initially resemble a fine orange dust on the surface of the timber.

Hyphae -If the spores are provided with sufficient moisture they will begin to grow into fine white strands known as the hyphae. The hyphae will extend in their search for food and have the ability to transmit water and nutrients from their original food source.

Mycelium –if the hyphae germinate they will eventually form a large mass known as the mycelium. The growth may extend behind plaster and other materials making it very hard to detect. Indeed, it may take some time before there is any external evidence of the fungus.

Fruiting body –eventually the mycelium will become a fruiting body which then has the potential to pump new spores out into the surrounding air.

What are the signs of Wet Rot

  • Timber shrinks and causes cracking in fungus affected areas.
  • Timber is likely to feel soft and spongy to the touch.
  • Discolouration of timber is often present.
  • Wet rot does not spread, it stays to the damp area.
  • Paint finish can appear damaged, highlighting the cracked timber below
  • Damp musty smell

Treatment For Wet Rot And Dry Rot:

Please engage a specialist team to treat dry and wet rot.

In broad terms following are steps treat dry or wet rot issues:

  • Identify and fix the defects causing the damp. Could be overflowing or damaged gutters or internal plumbing. If it is rising damp, proper damp proof course is required.
  • Strip out the affected area, including decayed wood, damaged skirtings, ceilings, wall fabric or flooring.
  • The affected structural timbers should be repaired and protected.
  • The affected area should be treated with appropriate fungicide.
  • Make sure the complete area of rot attack is dealt with prior to reinstatement of wall, floor and ceiling fabric.


Woodworm is the name for larvae state of wood drilling beetles. Mostly these woodworms drill holes in furniture or any other wood. This could be timber being used included flooring in the house.

If house is infested with woodworm you have to be careful as most landlord insurances don’t cover insects infestation.

Signs of Woodworm Infestation:

Woodworms usually create holes in the wooden item, with live infestations around the holes. Adult beetles which emerged from the wood may be found in the summer months.

Once the adult beetles have exited, they will leave small, round/oval holes on the timber surface.

There are four main insects that may attack the wood in your home:

Common Furniture Beetle: Most common of all woodworm species responsible for around 75% of all attacks in property.

House Longhorn Beetle: Normally found in roofing timbers, this beetle is the largest and most damaging.

Wood Boring Weevil: Affects timber that has been attacked by fungal decay.

Death Watch Beetle: This type of beetle prefers hardwood and causes damage to older buildings.

There are four stages in a woodworm’s development:

  • Egg – A tiny egg is laid on or under the surface of timber by Adult beetles. These eggs are easily missed by the human eye, the main reason why woodworm infestation spreads so quickly.
  • Larva – The second stage of their development occurs when the larvae hatch. At this stage, they immediately burrow through the wood, again, making it very hard for them to be seen by home owners. During this stage, the larva can remain hidden inside the wood, tunnelling, and feeding for several years.
  • Pupa – The more the larvae consume, the bigger they will grow. As the larva increase in size, they then become known as Pupa and are ready to exit the timber.
  • Adult beetle – In the final stage of development the adult beetles emerge from the timber and create the flight holes you see on the timber surface.

Woodworm Treatment:

Please engage a specialist for woodworm treatment. Treatment can vary based on type of woodworm.



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