Biodeterioration of wood

What is wood biodeterioration?

Wood is one of the oldest materials used by mankind, it is indeed light, easy to handle, resistant and renewable.

However, as it is natural, it is all the more sensitive to damage from insects and micro-organisms. The most important deteriorations are linked to lignivorous fungi, i.e. fungi capable of destroying the complex polymers of wood. Wood-destroying insects (termites) or wood-destroying larvae (capricorns) can also cause a great deal of damage.

There are different types of fungal attacks: fibrous rot, cubic rot, soft rot, blue stain, and mould.

There are more than 200 varieties of lignivorous fungi, the best known and most feared is the Merula or Serpula lacrymans. This species, rarely found in the forest but rather in damp houses, causes red rot especially on conifers.

During the last decades, wood has been replaced by other solutions such as concrete, PVC or aluminium. These are more durable.

The recent ecological boom is once again favouring the development of wood, which traps CO2 and is renewable.

How do the woods get contaminated?

Depending on the degree of humidity, the wood will be more or less attacked by micro-organisms.


Before considering treatment, it is useful to determine the precise nature of the risks to which the wood will be exposed in order to select the appropriate preservative and treatment process. Depending on the risks involved, more or less effective treatment techniques can be considered. Spraying, brushing and dipping processes are used for surface treatments of the material, while vacuum pressure techniques are used when a core impregnation is required .

Historically, degradation products are classified into three main families:
- tars and oils
- organic products
- metallic salts

L’ORGANCIDE 14 can be used to treat the wood if it is infected.

To prevent fungal infections, the ends of tree trunks can be pre-coated with an impermeable coating, often a phenolic derivative. One of the oldest of these is creosote, which is a tar resulting from the distillation of coal. However, some species of fungi are resistant to it, such as Lentinus lepideus and Cladosporum resinae.