Dry Rot Vs Wet Rot: What’s the Difference and How to Spot Them

Have you noticed your wooden structures looking a bit off lately? Perhaps the door frames feel spongy, or the floorboards seem warped. Chances are, you’re dealing with wood rot – a common problem in many homes. Wood rot comes in two main types: dry and wet. Each has its way of attacking wood, causing frustration for homeowners.

One key fact to remember is that while both kinds of rot damage wood, dry rot requires more moisture to start but can spread even in dry conditions. On the other hand, wet rot happens when there’s consistent contact with water.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through identifying which type of decay you’re facing and how to tackle it effectively. Anke Damp aims to help save your wooden fixtures from further damage. If you have either wet or dry rot, ask us to help. 

Too much water from leaking pipes or rain can make conditions right for these fungi to do their work.

There are two main kinds of rot: white rot and brown rot, both causing timber damage but in different ways. White rots target the cellulose, leaving the wood light and stringy. Brown rots eat away at the cellulose too but leave behind a dark colour and cuboidal cracking pattern.

Both types threaten buildings’ structural integrity if we ignore them for too long.

Differences Between Wet Rot and Dry Rot

What Is The Difference Between Wet And Dry Rot?

FactorsWet RotDry Rot
CauseHigh moisture content, often from leaksDamp environments, poor ventilation
AppearanceDark, damp, and may have a musty smellBright orange or rusty red, powdery texture
Affected AreasDamp timber, near sources of moistureMostly in dry timber, but can spread widely
Moisture LevelsRequires higher moisture levels (30%+)Thrives in lower moisture levels (18%-30%)

Wet rot is usually caused by water ingress, while dry rot is caused by a lack of ventilation and high humidity. Wet rot appears darker and spongier, whereas dry rot looks like a brownish mass with white edges.


Dry rot happens because of a special fungus. This nasty fungus does not need much water to grow. It likes places with poor airflow and lots of humidity. If your home has these problems, dry rot might happen.

Wet rot, on the other hand, needs more water in wood to start growing. Things like water leaks and too much moisture in the air cause wet rot. So, if you have a leaky pipe or very damp air at home, you might get wet rot.

Both types love wood but for different reasons. Dry rot can spread quickly through buildings because it can move across materials that are not wood, like plasterwork and masonry treatment products used on walls intact by this issue.

Wet rot sticks mainly to the wet wood where it started unless fixed quickly; it can lead to structural damage over time as well.


Moving on from causes, the appearance of rot offers clear hints about its type. Wet rot makes the wood look darker and can be found in specific spots. It feels soft and spongy to the touch.

The area might also give off a damp, musty odour. On the other hand, dry rot changes wood’s colour to a lighter shade and attacks more areas than wet rot does. Wood becomes hard and crumbly with this kind of decay.

A strong smell that reminds one of mushrooms often surrounds places where dry rot takes hold.

Dry rot also shows through white or grey patches that spread over wood surfaces. Sometimes, these patches form1 cotton-like textures known as hyphae which help the fungus grow further.

Moreover, fruiting bodies might appear on affected timber during severe infections, releasing spore dust into the air around it. This dust can cover nearby items with a fine layer if not treated quickly.

Spread and Damage

Wet rot stays close to where there’s water. This means it might not move far from wet spots like leaking pipes. Dry rot is different. It can travel through bricks and affect more than just wood.

This makes dry rot a big problem for houses.

Dry rot causes worse damage than wet rot because it can reach many areas quickly. People need to fix dry rot fast to avoid harm to their homes. Next, let’s look at how you can spot and treat wet rot in your place.

How to Identify and Treat Wet Rot

To spot wet rot, look for timber that seems darker and feels water-soaked. This kind of wood decay occurs due to high moisture levels. You might also notice a musty smell, indicating damp conditions ideal for wet rot.

The key to treating this issue is first removing the source of moisture. Fix leaks or manage condensation to stop further fungal growth. Next, replace any timber that’s damaged. At Anke Damp, we provide timber treatment. For accurate identification and effective treatment options, consider hiring a specialist in damp proofing.

Fixing wet rot helps maintain the integrity of structural timbers in your home. Specialists use tools like moisture metres to measure water content in wood, making sure it’s safe from further damage.

After tackling wet rot, attention shifts towards dry rot – another serious concern for homeowners.

How to Identify and Treat Dry Rot

Moving from wet rot to dry rot also needs our attention for its distinct behaviour and treatment methods. Dry rot thrives in areas that stay damp and don’t get much air. Look for a musty odour and orange-brown spores as these signs point to active dry rot.

The fungus behind dry rot, Serpula lacrymans, prefers hidden spots to grow. This makes checking under floors and behind walls important.

Treating dry rot involves a few key steps. First, find what causes the moisture and fix it. You might need to repair leaks or improve ventilation. Next, remove the wood that the fungus has damaged.

Sometimes you’ll have to replace whole timbers if they’re too far gone. After removing the bad wood, apply a fungicide that kills any remaining fungus spores. It helps stop the spread of dry rot through your home’s timber structures like beams or wooden frames.

Experiencing Dry or Wet Rot?

Dry rot and wet rot both attack wood, causing harm. Dry rot can travel through walls, unlike wet rot which stays put. Spotting them involves looking for musty smells or damaged timber.

Fixing the problem might need removing bad wood or using fungus killers. Keep buildings well-aired to stop these rots from happening again.


Yes, both dry and wet rot can damage your home’s structure if not treated. They attack wooden parts like floors and walls when conditions are right for fungal growth.

You should get professional help to assess the damage and discuss treatments like fungicidal treatment for affected areas to stop further decay.

Keeping your home free from excessive moisture by fixing leaks quickly and ensuring good ventilation can help prevent both dry and wet rots from starting.