Part of Historic Environment Scotland




Timber is one of the oldest and most versatile building materials in the world. It’s a key part of almost all of Scotland’s historic buildings.

Timber is easily worked and is strong and light. Hardwoods and softwoods have different characteristics and uses. Older timber is often far superior to modern timber in terms of quality and durability.

Various factors can lead to the breakdown and decay of timber:

  • dry rot – despite its name, dry rot can’t exist if no moisture is present, rather it leaves timber in a dry, crumbly state
  • wet rot – requires a higher moisture content than dry rot to thrive (between 50% and 60%)
  • insect attack – larvae of wood-boring insects can infest structural timber and feed on the wood until they mature

It’s vital to deal with rot as early as possible. Once established in timber, a rot fungus can spread throughout the wood as long as conditions remain right.

Environmental control and chemical treatment are the two main ways to get rid of an insect pest. With either option, post-treatment actions are important to prevent re-infestation.

Regular maintenance of traditional buildings is vital to prevent wood becoming damaged or decayed. One of the most serious culprits is rot. Keeping your property free of water is the best way to avoid timber decay.

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