What Fencing Materials are Most Likely to Rot?

Rotten timber fencing forming boundary to farmland caused by fungal decay with shallow depth of field

Wood, vinyl, metal, and concrete: which of these is most likely to rot? The answer is pretty clear: wood. Here is a bit more about wood rot, what to look for, and how to protect against rot.

Wet Rot, Dry Rot, and White Rot

Wet rot is the appearance of a fungal species, typically C. puteana, or cellar fungus. Wet rot, as the name implies, comes from the exposure of wood with too much moisture. The fungus eats away at the wood. Levels of 50 percent moisture or higher will cause wet rot.

Dry rot, also called brown rot, is also caused by fungus. The type of fungus that causes dry rot, however, lives where moisture levels are less. The optimal level of moisture for dry rot is around 20 percent. Dry rot happens when the fungus pulls moisture and collects it in a specific area.

Lastly, white rot is rot caused by a third type of fungus. This is the most damaging form of rot as the fungus actually breaks down the cell walls using an enzyme they produce. This type of rot typically goes after hardwood.

Signs of Rot

Each of the different types of rot – wet, dry, and white – have different signs. Here are the most common signs for each type.

Wet Rot Signs

  • A musty smell
  • Soft or spongy wood
  • Darker wood color
  • Fungal growth
  • Flaking paint
  • Warping wood

Dry Rot Signs

  • Deep cracks in the wood
  • A musty smell
  • Unusual brown color
  • Crumbly wood
  • Grey veins in the wood that looks like spider webs
  • Mycelium – white, wooly patches
  • Mushrooms

White Rot Signs

  • Soft or spongy wood
  • Moist wood
  • Unusual white or yellow color

How to Protect Against Rot

Here are some tips for protecting your wood fence against rot.

  1. Use the right type of wood. Choose wood that is naturally resistant to rot. Hardwood like redwood, cypress, cedar, and oak are fantastic options for reducing the risk of rot. If these options aren’t available, go for pressure-treated wood. Pressure-treated wood has preservative chemicals forced into the wood using pressure. Pressure-treated wood will be resistant to rot and pests.
  2. Stain the surface. Stain will help the wood repel water. This will keep moisture from causing fungal growth and rot. The stain will need to be re-applied every one to three years.
  3. Follow best practices. Following the best practices for a wood fence will lower the risk of rot. Things like making sure the wood is encased in concrete and not touching the soil directly or cleaning the fence regularly with bleach or a pressure washer are especially important.
  4. Stay on top of repairs. Keep the rot from spreading and causing more damage by removing the rotting pieces as soon as you notice them.

The Best Way to Protect Against Rot is By Using Precast Concrete

Unlike wood, precast concrete is naturally resistant to rot. Concrete has no organic material for the fungus to feed on. 

The best tip we have for removing the risk of rot is to replace your wood fence with a precast concrete one. The precast concrete will quickly pay for itself thanks to minimal long term costs for maintenance and repair.

American Precast Concrete Inc.

If you are curious or want to learn more about precast concrete for your residential, commercial, or architectural project, contact American Precast Concrete Inc. today!