Dealing with Mold or Fungus on Barn Wood
(Crested Butte, CO)
A friend of ours just gave us a bunch of barn wood that has been sitting outside his house for a few years.
Some boards have a light white looking fungus.
We want to use it as trim to finish our basement. We live in a very dry climate in the Colorado mountains.
The wood has no signs of insect infestation. Any suggestions on how we need to treat this wood? Thanks for taking the time to help us.
It could be mold or another type of fungus. Either way the best thing to do is to dry it to about 6% moisture content.
If it is mold it will look a little fuzzy. In either case you will want to wet it down so the spores don't fly around in the air and then wash the mold off with a vinegar solution. This will discolor the wood, so try it on a small area before you go to far. Then you can sticker the wood. (Separate each layer of the lumber stack with 1x1 pieces of wood that run perpendicular to the stack.) It would be best if this is done in a heated area with fans blowing on the stack. Or it could be done outside in the summer with a canopy over the stack to protect it from rain. Whatever you do, do not cover it with a tarp or plastic. This will lock in the moisture that is already in the wood and cause the mold or fungus to grow faster!
You will want to check the stack after 2 or three weeks to see how dry it is. You will need a moisture meter for that. I bought one on ebay not long ago for about $15. It wasn't the greatest moisture meter by far but it was sufficient to check a few boards.
Keep checking the moisture until it gets to around 6% to 8% moisture content.
Also be sure to check the moisture of the air in the environment your lumber stack is in. Just hold the meter up in the air and hit the button. If the Moisture in the air is higher than 8% then the wood will never get that dry. Wood will always acclimate to the environment it is in.
If you can't live with the discoloration effect,or you can't get the wood below 8% then I would recommend having it dried in a kiln designed to dry lumber. A kiln will raise the temperature enough to kill the mold or fungus.
Best of luck to you in your project, and thank you for using reclaimed lumber in your project.