Dry rot is the cause of headaches to many RV owners. Despite the name, dry rot is caused by water damage. It is called dry rot because the wood continues to degrade even when it is no longer wet. Dry rot is caused by a fungus that develops after the wood is exposed to water. The fungus eats the wood, causing it to become soft. Left unattended, dry rot can spread and weaken the structure of your RV. Repair water leaks immediately and fix dry rot before your RV is ruined.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Putty knife
- Dry rot epoxy resin
- Optional: epoxy spreader tool
- 80-grit sandpaper
- Wood putty
- 60-grit sandpaper
Repair the areas of your RV that are allowing water to leak in before you start working on fixing the dry rot. Examine your entire RV - inside and out - for leaks. Check the roof seams, roof vents, skylights, rooftop air conditioner, the windows and the exterior siding for signs of water leaks. RV water leaks are tricky. Don't assume the water leak is right next to the wood rot. Water that leaks through the roof, windows or siding can travel far distances before it reaches its stopping point and causes damage.
Remove carpeting, tiles, wallpaper, panelling, roofing material or exterior siding to gain access to the rotted wood. Work carefully to remove only the minimal amount of materials necessary to gain access to the wood. If you are lucky, the materials will be salvageable and you can reuse them.
Scrape off loose broken fragments of wood using a putty knife.
Apply a generous amount of dry rot epoxy resin onto the rotted wood using a putty knife or epoxy spreader tool. Dry rot epoxy resin products are found at RV supply stores, marine supply stores and some home building supply stores. Two good dry rot repair products are GIT-Rot and PolyAll. Both are sold for marine use, but are appropriate for RV use as well. Allow the epoxy resin to dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
Feel the previously epoxied area. The wood should feel hard. If it doesn't, reapply the epoxy again and wait another 24 hours for it to dry.
Sand the epoxied wood smooth using 80-grit sandpaper.
Smooth wood putty over the repaired wood, using a putty knife, if large areas of the wood are missing. Allow the wood putty to dry for 4 hours. After 4 hours, sand the wood putty smooth, using 60-grit sandpaper.
Replace the carpeting, tiles, wallpaper, panelling, roofing material or exterior siding.
Tips and warnings
- Dry rot epoxy resins seep deep into the wood and harden the wood, making it usable once again.
- Regularly check your RV for signs of water damage. Look for water stains around the ceiling, below the windows and on the floor. Feel around for soft spots in the wood, which are a telltale sign of wood rot.
- If you smell a musty odour in your RV, wood rot may be present. Carefully investigate for signs of water leaks and dry rot.
- Epoxy resin emits strong fumes. Work in a well-ventilated area and wear a respirator mask when working with epoxy resin.
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