Dry rot

Dry rot is a fungus that, despite its name, occurs in the presence of moisture. Why it's called dry rot is anybody's guess. It can spread through a deck like cancer, turning it to powder in seemingly no time at all. Many a homeowner has stepped through his deck one sunny Saturday afternoon. It's easy to poke at your deck with an awl or screwdriver to find rotted portions, but the deck usually has concealed damage as well.

All the methods of keeping a deck dry to protect it from termites are also effective against dry rot, so start by eliminating sources of moisture. Remove leaves and junk from between deck boards, get those pots off the surface, and make sure the roof isn't dumping water on the deck. If you have dry rot, remove and replace all the affected wood immediately.

Using pressure-treated wood is the best approach for preventing dry rot from coming back. People make claims for various toxic chemicals and sealants, but these products are dubious both environmentally and in terms of effectiveness.

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