Timber Decay in Buildings and its Treatment, by Brian Ridout

ISBN 978-1-874146-03-2

Softback, 119 pages illustrated with 93 photographs

Published by:
Scientific and Educational Services Ltd – available now

Price: £18 (plus P&P)

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This is a book about the insects and fungi that may appear in building timbers if unnoticed or unavoidable maintenance problems allow them to remain damp. There are two options if a problem is found:

  • The building owner or occupier may require the organism to be rapidly exterminated and a document issued which seems to re-assure that it will not come back. In this case they must accept generally expensive and frequently destructive chemical treatments using more or less obnoxious pesticides. Unfortunately each decade’s panacea has usually become the next decades poison and a pesticide accepted as ‘safe’ has proved elusive. Pesticides may be used in a ‘safe manner’ and this is the province of the remedial company, but legislation is continuously evolving and pesticides are becoming increasingly unpopular.
  • The second option is to take a little time and to consider the problem. This may not be possible on a busy building site, where time and a guarantee are the most important considerations, but in many situations where people care about their homes or historic buildings, a little background knowledge can make a considerable difference. Much of the decay and infestation treated in our buildings is historic and even if there is some current activity a more limited approach is generally possible. Ten or twenty deathwatch beetle distributed around a sixteenth century house does not mean that the building will be destroyed, but any attempt to expose and treat all of the timbers might. The beetles may have been present for centuries, damage will be very slow and removing sources of moisture might ultimately resolve the problem whilst leaving the building intact.

Similarly dry rot growing in its optimum environment can be a vigorous and destructive fungus, but this is not always what is happening. Frequently it can be killed by just cutting off the source of moisture.

This book covers both full treatment and limited or no treatment options, but also supplies some historical information to show how attitudes to treatment have developed.

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Timber Decay in Buildings – The conservation approach to treatment, by Brian Ridout

ISBN 0-419-18820-7

Awarded the Best Technical Publication of 1997/2000 by The International Association of Preservation Technology

A copy of this book can be obtained on Amazon

Timber Decay in Buildings is the first book to tackle all the issues relating to timber decay. It presents the facts and explores timber decay problems through case studies. These are illustrated with clear self-explanatory photographs for the reader to use as a diagnostic aid. The methods outlined are intended to reduce unnecessary damage frequently caused to buildings by uninformed timber treatments, and form the basis of the timber conservation methods advocated by English Heritage and Historic Scotland.