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Timber Treatment for Fungal Rot and Woodworm.

There are two reasons for timber treatment, either to prevent rot or to prevent woodworm or beetle infestation. Both of these reasons are caused by one thing - damp. Rots need a source of damp to thrive (even dry rot needs a source of damp to intially develop); and woodworm, not liking a dry mouth, need damp wood to initiate an attack.


Ideally, by eradicating the source of the damp, (wet) rots in all their varieties can be eliminated. On new installations where an external decorated finish is required micro-porous paints or stains are best employed to allow the wood to breathe. Gloss and other non-breathing paints are good at keeping moisture out but when they fail, any moisture getting in the wood is unable to dry out easily - encouraging rot to occur.

Generally I do not recommend treating timber suffering from rot with a fungicide. If the timber is damp the fungicide will only be washed out or diluted. Good maintenance and the elimination of the source of the damp are the best treatment for timber.

Dry rot however does require treatment. Damage can be extensive and expensive. Effected timber should be removed and replaced, and adjacent timbers treated. Masonry can also be affected requiring chemical treatment. Fortunately, requiring quite specific conditions dry rot is a rare occurrence, and is often mistaken for a wet rot that has dried out.


There are generally only two types of woodworm found in buildings in this part of the UK - the Common Furniture Beetle and Death Watch Beetle. The Common Furniture Beetle is exactly that... common, although its occurrence is not limited to furniture. It's exit holes are about 1-2mm in diameter. The Death Watch Beetle, gets its name from the characteristic clicking noise it makes that can only be heard in such quiet found in a house during the death watch over a dying inhabitant. The exit holes it makes are 2-4mm in diameter and being a slightly larger creature the degree of damage caused tends to be significantly greater.

Before treating for woodworm, several checks should be made. Firstly records of any previous treatment should be sought to avoid unnecessary repeat treatments. Secondly, the suspect timbers should be inspected to ascertain whether the infestation is still active. New clean bore holes, created when the mature adult beetle exits the timber, are a sure sign of recent activity. Deposits of dust (frass) beneath the suspect timbers can be an indicator of activity however if timbers are knocked this can cause dust from old holes to be dislodged. Short of finding the insects themselves (usually dead on window sills) or hearing a clicking noise in the case of the Death Watch Beetle an accurate assessment of activity is difficult to achieve.

If activity is suspected and no record of treatment can be found I recommend the timber be treated with Permethrin, an insecticide. Permethrin is what is used to kill head lice on children. Permethrin, used appropriately, is safe to humans and is a chemical I am willing to use.

Where the timbers form critical function such as beams and lintels I tend to recommend the use of "Deepkill" paste. More expensive to apply and more toxic this products use is best limited to critical areas.

Prior to treatment all timber needs to be free from dirt otherwise it is the dirt that gets treated not the timber! Cleaning timber is what takes up most of the time of any timber treatment and customers are welcome to undertake this themselves if they wish to minimise costs.

I am a Sovereign qualified Timber Treatment operative and use their products, however I do not sell their guarantees. I will provide a report covering a description of the work if required as this can be useful when re-selling.

I offer an honest assessment of your particular situation, often directing the customer in how to carry out treatment themselves (in which case a small contribution for my time is appreciated).

To arrange an assessment telephone the number above.