Dealing with Mold or Fungus on Barn Wood

by Jason
(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.

Hi Jason,

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.

Comments for Dealing with Mold or Fungus on Barn Wood

Click here to add your own comments

Feb 01, 2017
Be careful
by: Mike

The fact that the advice starts off with , " it could be mold or it could be fungus" is a huge red flag. Mold is fungi. Same thing. This person does not understand the potential hazards of indoor mold. Also wetting down mold to control spores is not responsible. In fact, it may release more spores. Bleach does not kill mold. Period. Vinegar on its own will not do it. Get a professionals advice.

Feb 01, 2017

by: Aaron

Yes, technically mold is a type of fungi, but people don't think if it that way, if it's mold it's mold. You don't look at mold and say "Oh look, there's some fungi" So making a distinction is important for clarification. Furthermore, not all fungi that grows on wood is mold. Again, therefore clarification in layman's terms is necessary.

I never said bleach or vinegar would kill mold. What kills the mold is drying the lumber out. Using bleach or vinegar IS an effective way to remove mold stains and to severely reduce the population of spores.

No, it doesn't kill it completely but it does remove most of the spores. Most molds are not toxic, but you should always use caution when dealing with mold, just in case it is. When in doubt, don't.

Wetting moldy areas IS an effective way of keeping spores from getting airborne and breathable. It's not going to remove the mold by itself of course, and if that is all you do then yes, you will spread it. But that is not the entirety of the process I laid out above. If you don't believe me then maybe you will believe North Carolina State University.

"Method 2: Damp Wipe

Whether dead or alive, mold is allergenic, and some molds may be toxic. Mold can generally be removed from nonporous (hard) surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water, or water and detergent. It is important to dry these surfaces quickly and thoroughly to discourage further mold growth"

https://www.ncsu.edu/ehs/www99/right/handsMan/air_qual/mold_remediation.htm

Air and kiln drying the lumber is the next step and IS an effective mold remediation process.

The dangers with dealing with mold on a stack of lumber outside are almost non existent. I guess if you stick your face next to the mold and wipe it vigorously with your hand toward your face, then yeah, you might have some health problems from that. But use some commons sense!

The entire process needs to be done outside.

You can, effectively remove mold from any lumber with the methods I described above. If you don't want to take the risk, then don't do it!

But really, the risks are very low. In the end, you need to make that decision on your own.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask the Barn Geek.


 ***Please note: Our full barn kits are only available within a limited shipping area.  We are sorry if you are out of that shipping area, we are working on solutions for you that would include, hardware packages, templates for cutting your own timbers, lists of local timber suppliers, lists of local contractors, etc.  Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date on the progress of these resources.  



Learn to build your very own post and beam barn!


Recent Articles

  1. 30x80 1800's BARN - ST. MARYS, OHIO

    May 22, 17 01:24 PM

    Late 1800's barn made of white oak beams cut from the woods that is on the property. Two story split. Beautiful hand hewn beams. Buyer must tear down and

    Read More

  2. How long does it take to build a barn?

    May 17, 17 06:26 PM

    Hello, I’ve been reading through everything on your website and I plan to buy the plans for them soon. I would like to build a bigger barn, I need at

    Read More

  3. Getting A Rooster?

    May 17, 17 12:55 PM

    Welcome to Getting A Rooster? an article in my series Raising Chickens For Beginners.

    Read More

  4. 60x80 barn - Tiffin, Ohio

    May 15, 17 08:37 AM

    I have an 1822 hand hewn and pegged barn for sale. The approximate information is as follows: Size: 80' x 60' Beams: I counted 15, 35 long, 8x8 in

    Read More

  5. 40x70 Handhewn Barn Frame - Nappanee, IN

    May 13, 17 05:22 PM

    We have a 40x70 hand hewn barn frame for sale in Nappanee, IN. Most of this frame is in great shape and would make a great conversion barn for a house

    Read More

  6. Salvaging a barn, Maine

    May 11, 17 02:05 PM

    Hello barn people! You are who I need! I am buying property to erect a barn and want to salvage rather than new build if possible. I wonder the best way

    Read More

  7. Salvage Rights to 98'x38' Bank Barn, Stone Home, and Log Farm House

    May 10, 17 11:45 PM

    PUBLIC AUCTION SATURDAY, May 20, 2017: BARN measuring approx. 98’ x 38’. Circa 1850 to 1870. Hand Hewn timbers, pegged throughout, some chop cut.

    Read More

  8. Protecting Your Chickens

    May 09, 17 12:33 PM

    Welcome to protecting your chickens, an article in my series raising chickens for beginners.

    Read More

  9. Barn Plans Article Series: How to build the 20x30 sugar Shack for under $10k!

    May 05, 17 01:43 PM

    I thought it would be helpful to go through one of our barn plans and calculate the approximate cost of building that barn.

    Read More

  10. Do you think it's a worth while investment buying a basis Homestead sawmill?.

    May 05, 17 12:18 PM

    Do you think it's a worth while investment buying a basis Homestead sawmill? $3K I have 40 AC. of trees, so I have the raw material...lots of white pine

    Read More

  11. Can I Build a BarnGeek Barn with Metal Siding?

    May 05, 17 11:44 AM

    I am interested in your high top horse barn and would like to use metal siding can I do this? Is there a big cost difference between metal or your wood

    Read More

  12. 1940's BARN WELLINGTON, CO

    May 04, 17 09:21 AM

    This barn is 22'x28' with a full loft. It also has a divider wall down the center made of ship lap type wood in good condition. The 2 sliding doors still

    Read More

  13. 40 x 60 Barn - Argos , IN

    May 01, 17 11:28 AM

    It will be hard to see this old barn go someday but it is right in the way for my new shop to be built in 2018. This barn was built I’m told around 1910.

    Read More

  14. Chicken Tractor Plans

    Apr 28, 17 05:26 PM

    Chicken Tractor Plans for pastured poultry, download these plans for an easy to build Chicken Tractor..

    Read More

  15. Old Milk/Bank Barn 55' x 36' with 17' Lean-to

    Apr 26, 17 04:12 PM

    Main Barn is 55’ 6” x 36’ Lean-to is 17’ x 36’ Wood Species Unknown All Hand Hewn CASH Up Front! Additional Pictures Upon Request Looking for reasonable

    Read More