Homes and many other types of buildings have long been constructed of materials made from wood. When properly maintained and protected, buildings made from wood can last for centuries.
Termites and wood destroying insects have long been blamed for the destruction of wood used in buildings, but they are not the only culprits. Wood also makes for an ideal food source for many types of fungi. Fungi, commonly referred to as mold, can quickly begin to grow on or in wood materials when there is sufficient moisture and temperatures that are conducive for its growth.
Some types of mold are primarily found growing on the surface of wood. This is commonly the case when there has been a water damaging event in a building caused by a leaking pipe, elevated humidity or some type of flood. The mold may be easily visible and can cause staining. When mold is growing on the surface of the wood it may become aerosolized and cause indoor air quality and health concerns for building occupants. This type of mold growth can often be removed by qualified professionals and the wood material treated to remove stains.
Other types of fungi not only use the wood as a food source, but also cause decay by breaking down the wood fibers. There are species that will attack living trees and others that will consume dead wood that has been used to construct a building. These wood decay fungi are classified based on the type of decay they cause. The most well known types include brown rot, white rot and soft rot.
Wood decay fungi can cause extensive damage and may not show visible signs of their presence for some time. The damage can be severe enough to even cause structural concerns. Some estimates have put the amount of wood required each year just to replace wood rot at approximately 10% of the U.S. annual wood production.