Timber Decay in Buildings and its Treatment

BookTimber Decay in Buildings and its Treatment

Timber Decay in Buildings and its Treatment

Historic England


April 15th, 2019





This is a book about the insects and fungi that may appear in building timbers if unnoticed or unavoidable maintenance problems allow them to remain damp. There are two options if a problem is found.

The building owner or occupier may require the organism to be rapidly exterminated and a document issued which seems to reassure that it will not come back. In this case they must accept generally expensive and frequently destructive chemical treatments using more or less noxious pesticides. Unfortunately each decade’s panacea has usually become the next decade’s poison and a pesticide accepted as ‘safe’ has proved elusive. Pesticides may be used in a ‘safe manner’ and this is the province of the remedial company, but legislation is continuously evolving and pesticides are becoming increasingly unpopular.

The second option is to take a little time and to consider the problem. This may not always be possible, but in many situations a little background knowledge can make a considerable difference. Frequently an understanding of why the damage has occurred, together with an understanding of insect or fungi requirements and limitations, can reduce treatments or show that they are unnecessary.

Author Information

Dr Brian Ridout was a Senior Architectural Conservator at English Heritage until his retirement a few years ago. He is a biologist and building scientist who has worked for many years as an international expert on timber decay and damp problems.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Part 1 Understanding the Problem
1. Why is the durability of wood variable?
2. Decay and insect damage
Part 2 Wood Destroying Fungi
1. Decay fungi and their requirements
2. Fungi that cause brown rots
3. Fungi that cause white rots
4. Fungi that indicate damp but not decay
5. The treatment of decay
Part 3 wood destroying insects
1. Beetles from the dead parts of living trees
2. Sapwood feeders in freshly sawn timber
3. Feeders on decaying timber
4. Bark beetles
5. Chemical damage