Termite Damage vs Wood Rot: How To Tell The Difference

House maintenance is essential since it can help you avoid significant problems, and saves money in the long run. However, for homeowners, termite damage and wood rot are two of the most difficult concerns when it comes to maintaining the property. Both of these problems can be quite harmful to your property, and they need specific solutions. It is critical for homeowners to be able to identify, and remove the common culprits that may be causing damage to the property. Let us learn more about the difference between termite damage vs wood rot.

Termite Damage vs Wood Rot: 5 Fast Facts

  1. Wet wood is more likely to be damaged by termites, while dry wood is more likely to be damaged by wood rot.
  2. Dry rot is caused by poor ventilation and humidity, while wet rot is caused by moisture leaking in from the outside.
  3. Termites are attracted to wet wood and wood in contact with the home’s foundations.
  4. Dry rot can still occur in wet wood if the environmental conditions are right.
  5. Wet rot can still occur in dry wood if there is a source of moisture present.

Termite Damage vs Wood Rot

Termite Damage

What Is Termite Damage?

Termite damage is caused by termites. These pests reside in the soil around your home and cause damage. Many termite species can cause significant damage to unprotected buildings and other wooden structures due to their wood-eating behavior. They devour the cellulose that makes up wood, so when they find a way into your house, whether through cracks in the foundation or a gap in the wall, they start eating the inside of the wood.

Termite infestations cause the wood structure to become hollowed out and wavy in appearance.


What Is A Termite?

Termites are tiny insects, ranging in length from 4 to 15 millimetres (3/16 to 9/16 in). The queens of the species, Macrotermes bellicosus are the largest of all extant termites, measuring up to 10 centimetres (4 in) in length. Termites tend to be drawn to decaying wood. Only 183 species out of 3,106 are known to cause damage, with 83 species causing considerable damage to wooden structures.

They are commonly referred to as white ants, despite the fact that they are not ants. They are usually associated to the wood eating cockroaches family.

Termites have a consistent source of food and moisture in structures and landscapes that contain structural wood components, cellulose derived structural elements, and ornamental vegetation.

Because of their habit of remaining hidden, termite infestation is frequently unnoticed until the woods have been severely damaged, leaving just a thin external coating of wood to shield them from the elements.

Signs of Termite Damage

It is vital that you promptly treat your home to prevent structural damage, particularly in the case of destructive subterranean termites. The most common sign that there are termites in your home is the appearance of pinpoint holes in the wood. Some of the signs that your home has been infested with termites are listed below.

Damaged Paint

Termites feed on the wood paneling beneath the surface of your walls. While they are doing it, they make termite galleries and small pin holes.

Termite damage can be seen beneath the surface, such as peeling or discolored wallpaper, bending wood, dented or sunken areas, if you look closely.

Hollow Sound

If you try to tap the food, it will produce a hallow sound.

Stuck Doors And Windows

Termites usually attack areas where wood is exposed and easy to access, such as windows and doors. As termites consume the wood in your windows and door frames, they may deform, making it difficult to open and close properly.

Repairing Termite Damage

If you noticed that your home is infested with termites, it is important to call a professional to inspect the area. The professional will conduct a thorough examination of the remaining wood and its condition. Reinforcement is usually needed for wood that can be repaired. It is preferable to replace the damaged area.

Wood Rot

What Is Wood Rot?

Wood rot is a decay caused by oxygen, warmth, and moisture leading to fungal growth. This fungus acts similarly to termites in that it eats away at the structure of your home. Generally speaking, wood rot is the degradation of wood as a result of a fungus, which in most cases, is simply caused by consistent presence of moisture.

Types Of Wood Rot

Dry Rot
Dry Rot

Dry rot is a type of wood decay caused by fungi that consume the components of the wood that provide the wood strength and stiffness. It was previously used to characterize any decay of cured wood in ships and buildings by a fungus resulting in a darkly colored degraded and cracked state.

Dry rot is also referred to as brown rot decay which deteriorates timber in buildings and other wooden structures without an obvious source of moisture. It is the most common type of wood rot, and usually appears in humid conditions, which can lead to fungal growth.

Dry rot caused by fungi can make the wood to break and collapse when touched. Wood decay has a distinct smell, even if you can’t tell by touch or sight.

There are four main stages of the life-cycle of dry rot. Dry rot starts as a microscopic spore that can resemble fine orange dust in high enough concentrations. If the spores are exposed to enough moisture, fine white strands known as hyphae will begin to form. The hyphae will eventually form a large mass known as mycelium as they germinate. Fruiting bodies release fresh spores into the surrounding air. This is the final stage.

Serpula lacrymans and Meruliporia incrassata are both fungus that require an elevated moisture content (28–30%) to begin attacking wood. The fungi can survive in wood with a moisture content of more than 20% once they’ve established themselves.

Dry rot spreads swiftly and consumes a complete structure in a short span of time due to the low moisture content of the wood.

If wood is left untreated, dry rot can appear anywhere. When this happens, the fungi begin to grow and degrade the wood, reducing the grains and turning them brown in color.

Wet Rot
Wet Rot

Another type of wood rot is called wet rot. Wet rot is caused by water damage that develops gradually over time, such as leaking pipes or penetrating damp produced by moisture in the air.

The appearance of the wood will turn significantly darker and spongy as a result of wet rot. It is possible that pieces of the wood will break off.

The signs of wet rot are soft, spongy texture wood, cracks in the wood, discolored wood, and damp odor.

Unlike dry rot, wet rot is more localized and does not spread quickly. Once it’s been identified, it will be easy to treat and repair. Once you find the signs of wet rot in your home, you should treat it right away.

Repairing Rotted Wood

Unless all of the decaying wood and spores are removed, dry rot can be difficult to repair. Rotten wood portions can sometimes be treated with special epoxy formulas that fill in the damaged wood’s channels, eliminating the rot and enhancing structural integrity. However, unless the epoxy application is made to shed water, this type of repair might actually encourage rot in wood in exterior service.

If the structural damage is close to collapsing and placing your loved ones or you in danger, it is advised to have it inspected by a professional, and have it repaired it as soon as possible.

Termite Damage And Wood Rot Prevention

  1. If you are planning to build a house made of wood, it is best to get the right type of wood. Mahogany and teak are great choices. If you cannot afford costly hardwood, pressure-treated wood is your next best alternative. To protect the wood from moisture, you can treat it with a suitable coating. You may need to use lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane finish depending on the amount of moisture exposure and use.
  2. Any old caulk should be replaced with new caulk. If the paint is peeling, remove it with a sander and repaint the zone. Do not allow water to remain on the wood for an extended period of time.
  3. Make sure there are no cracks or gaps around or near doors or windows.
  4. Repair water leaks and clean waterways like kitchen sinks and gutters to avoid water damage from the source of moisture.
  5. It is best to install exhaust fans in the bathroom to keep steam and moisture from soaking into the walls after a warm shower.


With that said, prevention is definitely better than cure. It is important to prevent wood rot and termite damage. The precautions mentioned above should keep termites and fungus from invading your home. However, if you have any concerns about your home being at risk for severe damage from termites and wood rot, it is much better to seek professional assistance. Thank you for reading this post.