August 26, 2022

How to Repair Rotted Wood: a Step-by-Step Guide

How to Repair Rotted Wood: a Step-by-Step Guide

Home improvements are often done for aesthetic purposes but in some cases they are necessary. In the case of rotted wood repair, it is urgent to take care of it before the problem spreads or affects the structural integrity of a property. This kind of repair can be done by DIYers but hiring a carpentry company may be the best option depending on the size of the project.

What Is Wood Rot?

Wood is a popular construction material because it is solid and resistant to most biological effects if it stays dry. In many cases, wood rot can be brought on by prolonged exposure to moisture. There are three types of wood rot that can threaten your home: white rot, brown rot, and soft rot. Knowing how to repair rotten wood is key to maintaining the wooden areas of your home.

White Rot

how to repair rotted wood

White rot is caused by fungi called lignin, it affects the sturdiness of the wood by making it soft and giving it a spongy texture that can be structurally hazardous. Because white rot tends to flourish in temperatures ranging between 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it makes it a danger to wooden interiors of homes. In this case, fixing wood rot is highly recommended.

Brown Rot

Brown rot is a common type of rot, and it is often referred to as dry rot. As the name suggests it gives the wood an appearance of drying out which causes it to chip and break apart with its dark brown discolored look. However, wood affected by brown rot still has at least 20% of moisture, so the name can be deceiving. Brown rot also prefers to grow indoors like white rot, and it can travel from wood to wood infecting lumber that has previously been fixed. This makes it a challenge when doing wood rot repairs.

Soft Rot

Soft rot is a stubborn type of rot, it grows in both hot and cold temperatures, it can affect both kinds of wood inside and outside of the home, and it grows slowly and consistently. This type of fungi needs a lot of moisture to grow and is often seen in houses built in the country. It is less aggressive than white or brown rot and tends to be found commonly in nature. However, due to its resilience, it can grow and inflict damage on homes as well.

Common Location of Wood Rot in a Home

Fungi that cause rot in lumber breed in moist wood of at least 20% moisture. This means that areas of the home that tend to get more moisture are more likely to be affected by this. It is important to keep an eye on the following areas of your home:

  • Decks
  • Steps
  • Porches
  • Thresholds
  • Fences
  • Outdoor siding
  • Indoor siding
  • Windowsills
  • Window frames
  • Door frames
  • Bathroom sinks
  • Kitchen sinks
  • Basements
  • Attics

Knowing how to fix rotted wood can prevent your home from losing its sturdiness and structural integrity. It is also important to consider where you live, if you live in a highly wet environment, your home may be more prone to rot-causing fungi.

How to Recognize Dry Rot

wood rot repair

Dry rot is the cause of the most frequent issues that arise with lumber in homes. It is wise to inspect your home once a year to detect any weaknesses in the wood. It is important when examining the wood that you look for soft or damp wood that also has a look of decay.

Once you have uncovered an area that you think may be infected, use a screwdriver to poke the wood. If the timber in the poked area feels soft, then you may have discovered dry rot. It is recommended to hire professionals who can check for rotting wood, and they will also be equipped to fix wood rot before it becomes a larger problem.

Should Rotten Wood Be Repaired?

Once you have discovered rotten wood the question arises whether you should be repairing wood rot or replacing it altogether.

Repair rotted wood Replace rotted wood
When the piece of wood has a special significance or is a unique part of the home If the piece of lumber can’t be fixed or painted
Replacing the piece of rotted wood is too complicated due to its location and is too complex of a project For financial reasons if lumber is inexpensive and it is more cost-effective to replace rather than repair
If less than 1/5 or 20% of the piece of wood in question has rot on it If the infected piece of wood is no longer structurally sound

Tools and Materials Needed

When patching rotted wood or repairing wood rot, it is important to have the right tools and materials on hand:


  • Latex gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper and sanding block
  • Cloth
  • Chip brush
  • Five-in-one tool
  • Clean and disposable plastic container
  • Chisel
  • Claw hammer


  • Two-part epoxy resin kit
  • Wood primer
  • Wood paint
  • Wood filler

What Wood Filler Should I Use?

If your home has large wooden areas such as decks or porches, or the entire inside of your home is lumber, then it is recommended to always have wood filler on hand for repairs. When it comes to the kind of wood filler, there are many options on the market, and the product selection abounds. For the most part, most of them are polyester filler or epoxy which blend with ease with wood. Some popular options for wood rot repair are:

  • Elmer’s E887Q stainable wood filler
  • Goodfilla Water-Based Wood & Grain Filler
  • Bondo wood filler

There is a wide range of these wood fillers, and they are easy to come by in most hardware stores.

How to Prevent Dry Rot

Knowing how to repair rotted wood is an important skill that will help your house’s lumber to maintain its structural integrity. However, preventing rot from affecting your wooden areas such as walls, windowsills, doors, door frames, decks, porches and more might be an even better avenue.

To prevent rot, ensure that the lumber in your home is always as dry as possible. For example, something as simple as regularly sweeping your deck may protect it against rot. There are different products for all forms of lumber types that can help you seal the wood and protect it from rot. Painting can also help prevent severe rot in wood if maintained properly.

Call Oahu Pro Painters to Repair Advanced Damage

Lumber is an ideal construction material, but it does have some vulnerabilities — like different types of fungi that cause rot. Wood rot repair is a serious project and from time to time it can be overwhelming. It may be time to contact professional painters to inspect your house and all wooden areas that may be prone to rot and ensure that your house is protected. The Oahu Pro Painters team will be happy to help you!

8 Steps for Fixing Wood Rot

Wood rot repair is paramount and can be done in a DIY way by following the steps below. However, if the damage is too great or the area too big, it may be wise to hire professionals.

Step 1: Remove Rot-Softened Wood

fixing wood rot

When removing rotted wood or board, it is important to not damage the surrounding wood. Use a claw hammer, chisel, or Five-in-one tool to remove the rotted board carefully. Before replacing rotten wood, make sure that the wood next to the removed board is dry.

Step 2: Use Consolidated

Use Consolidated

In a clean plastic container, pour the two-part solution into that container. Use a wooden stick to mix the solution. Use a chip brush to apply the mixture to the wood generously. You can even pour the solution onto the area if the area to be fixed is large or deep.

Step 3: Mix Filler

repairing wood rot

Wood filler is an essential element of wood rot repair. Before mixing the filler, it is important that the consolidant has had time to rest. Then open the filler container and mix it with a wooden stick using latex gloves.

Step 4: Apply Filler

Apply Filler

Once the filler has been properly mixed, it is important to apply the filler to the area that will need to be replaced. Using a putty knife, a generous amount must be applied to the section that will need replacement.

Step 5: Shape the Epoxy on the Wood

how to fix rotted wood

Allow for the filler to dry for a few hours. Once the filler has dried, use sandpaper or sanding block to shape the filler to the size that will allow for the new board to be put in place accurately. This step is critical when repairing rotted wood.

Step 6: Let the Epoxy Set Overnight

repairing rotted wood

Once the filler has been shaped to size using #80 sandpaper, it is important to let the filler rest for at least 24 hours before continuing to repair wood rot and ensure that the new board will sit in place sturdily.

Step 7: Sand Down Filler

Sand Down Filler

To finalize the shaping of the area before fixing wood rot, it is important to switch to #120 sandpaper and continue the sanding process until the filler is entirely smooth and ready for the next step.

Step 8: Paint or Stain Filler

Paint or Stain Filler

Painting or staining the new boards is an optional step but highly recommended to ensure that the replacement board perfectly matches the rest of the wooden area. Using a tack cloth, it is recommended to clean, dust off, and dry the area before painting. Once it is ready to paint, apply a primer coat. Let the primer coat dry fully before applying the additional coats of paint. When painting it is always recommended to apply two coats at the very least. This will complete your wood rot repairs project. It is also a good idea if the project is too great to hire professional residential painters.

Benefits of Priming

  • Priming allows a surface for the paint to stick to
  • It helps seal the wood
  • Priming allows the wood to be further protected and aids in durability
  • It covers imperfections

Benefits of Painting

  • Paint ensures that the replaced area of wood matches the other wooden areas around it.
  • Paint makes the wood look better
  • After painting, wood becomes easier to maintain and upkeep
  • Painting offers the wood protection from future rot or other issues

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

How to Repair Rotted Wood: a Step-by-Step Guide
Written By:
Karl Van Zadnt

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