Wood Decay 101: What Every Florida Homeowner Needs to Know

By Jenny Highlander
Wood Decay

If you own a home, you are likely to encounter wood decay, also known as wood rot. If you are lucky enough to own a home in Florida, where the weather is especially humid, you will find it hard to avoid wood decay. The good news is that it’s a relatively easy problem to solve if addressed proactively, and there are affordable measures you can put in place to prevent wood decay in the future.

Why does it matter? Aesthetically, decay will detract from the look of the home as well as the value. Even if it doesn’t bother you, when you decide you’re ready to sell your home most buyers will want to see wood decay repaired. Maybe you’ll luck out and the potential buyer won’t care, but not so fast! FHA and VA lenders, which make up 20% of all home-buying purchases, require ALL wood decay be repaired and at the expense of the seller. The last thing you want to be faced with is scrambling to find a handyman to do the repairs, holding up your sale. Staying on top of wood decay is important, and implementing measures to prevent it will go a long way to add value to your home.Wood Decay

Most homes built today have fiber cement siding (also known as hardie board), but many older homes still have wood siding and almost all homes will have some sort of wood trim or wood accents. These are the most common areas where you will find wood decay.

“Corner accents, door trim and window trim are notorious wood decay locations,” said Bo Helton, owner of Down Home Inspections. “Most homes we look at will either have wood decay or there will be evidence that a repair has been made,” Helton said.

Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover the cost of repairs for wood rot, so be prepared to pay out of pocket. If you choose to make the repairs yourself, you can expect to spend a few hundred dollars if you catch the decay early. If you wait to repair decay it can damage more than wood, and you could end up spending upward of several thousand dollars.

To make repairs yourself, small areas of decay can be removed, and the hole can be filled with a proper wood filler and repainted after drying. Larger areas need to be cut out past the point of decay. A new treated board or piece of hardie board should be used to replace the cut-out area and then painted. Make sure to cut out past the point of decay, not up to the point, or you could mistakenly leave areas of decay and end up replacing the same area again a short time later. For larger jobs, you’ll need to call a handyman or licensed contractor. Make sure either is insured.

Ultimately, the best solution to wood decay is stopping it before it starts. Do a yearly visual inspection of your home to stay ahead of any decay and definitely keep standing water away from any wood on the exterior of your home.


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