Termite Damage vs. Wood Rot: Simple Ways to Tell the Difference

Have you ever taken a look at your wooden walls and noticed there were holes in them? You might immediately chalk it up to rot, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

Sometimes, your wooden walls can get destroyed thanks to little critters such as termites. And, knowing when you’re dealing with termite damage vs. wood rot can help you determine how to properly handle the problem.

If you’re unsure whether you should be looking into wood rot repair or termite damage repair, don’t worry! We’re here with a guide to break down termite damage vs. wood rot for you.

What is the Best Way to Identify Termite Damage vs. Wood Rot?

The first step in understanding whether you’re dealing with termite damage or wood rot is to know how to identify termite damage vs. wood rot. While these two types of damage may look similar, there are usually a few indicators as to which one you’re dealing with. 

Termites Tend to Live in Wet Wood

One of the first indicators that you’re dealing with termite damage instead of wood rot is that the wood is wet. While wet wood can begin to rot, termites won’t typically begin to eat away at dry wood.

This means that if you notice dry wood is suffering from damage, there’s a good chance it’s thanks to fungi. In contrast, wet wood with damage could be a sign that you’re dealing with a termite colony.

Dry Rot Will Weaken the Wood

Another difference to look for is weakening in dry wood. If you notice that your wood has become weaker, it’s quite possibly caused by fungi that are eating away at the dry wood.

As the wood deteriorates and is eaten away by the fungi, it will become spongy and soft. It often has a stringy texture, too. If you notice these signs, the wood is most likely suffering from rot, not termite damage.

Termite Damage Occurs On the Inside

One common misconception about termite damage is that termites start by eating away at the outside of the wood. In fact, termites eat the inside of the wood first and then move toward eating the outside.

In contrast, wood rot starts on the outside of the wooden structure. Eventually, the rot will progress inwards and will destroy the inside of the wood as well.

termite damage vs. wood rot

What Are the Common Causes of Wood Rot and Termite Damage?

Now that you know how to identify whether you’ve got termite damage or wood rot, it’s time to take a look at what causes these two situations. While both ultimately lead to the destruction of your wooden structures, they happen for different reasons.

Causes of Dry Wood Rot

Dry rot happens thanks to poor ventilation and humidity of between 20 and 30%. This creates an environment that dry rot fungi love. A few conditions necessary for the creation of dry rot include: 

  • Moisture
  • Wood
  • Oxygen
  • Poor ventilation
  • Dry rot spores

Because dry rot spores are constantly floating in the air, homes that meet these conditions are always at risk for dry rot damage. Dry rot spores don’t typically settle on wooden structures unless they have the perfect environmental conditions for them to proliferate in.

However, once dry rot has begun to eat away at the wood in your home, it can easily spread to other parts of the structure. That makes treating it right away extremely important. 

Cause of Wet Wood Rot

Dry rot isn’t the only type of rot that can affect wood. Another type of rot, known as wet rot, can also cause significant damage to your home or business’s structure. 

Wet rot happens because wood is continuously exposed to a source of moisture. This can happen from moisture leaking in from the outside of the building or from water moistening the wood from inside the building. 


A few typical causes of wet rot are:

  • Roof damage
  • Plumbing system leaks
  • Bath and shower trays
  • Dampness penetrating the walls
  • Condensation
  • Blocked or leaky gutters

Failing to address these issues right away can lead to dry rot developing and then spreading throughout the home. The faster you treat the rot, the less likely you are to struggle with ongoing issues. 

Causes of Termite Damage

Termites are typically attracted to wood that suits their living environment. For one, they prefer to munch on wet wood. If your home has damps paces or wood that’s wet, you’re at much greater risk for termite damage. 

What’s more, termites like wood that’s in contact with the home’s foundations. This is because they’re able to move through the soil and get into the wood to start having a feast. 

Finally, other cracks in walls and structures are ideal for termites because they let them have easy access to the center of the wood. Termites look for holes that they can get into so they can begin chowing down on your wooden structures. 

If you notice cracks, wet wood, or have a wooden foundation, it’s a good idea to get your home checked for termite damage regularly. Using preventative treatments can help keep these critters at bay, even if your inspection shows that you don’t have termites. 

Get Rid of Wood Rot and Termite Damage

Understanding the difference between termite damage vs. wood rot is essential to properly treating the problem. The sooner you treat it, the fewer potential problems can arise. 

One of the more common areas of the home where people find termite damage and wood rot is in their crawl spaces. If you notice that you’re struggling with these issues in your crawl space, don’t work. 

Crawlspace Medic is a team that specializes in keeping crawl spaces clean, clear, and healthy. Call us now and we’ll help you repair your wood rot or termite damage in your crawl space.


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