When explaining home construction, maintenance and repair concepts, it helps to use examples of things most people are familiar with. That's why I like to talk about the spongy or sponge test. The sponge test is a very easy way to identify if you've got problems with wood rot.
Curious to learn the secret?
Using the Sponge Test for Home Maintenance
On a scale of hard to soft, here's what I want you to visualize … except you have to think about how things feel, not how they look.
- Hold a brick and see if you can squeeze it?
- Do the same thing with a piece of lumber … and feel how hard it is.
- Hold some modeling clay and imagine squeezing it.
- Pick up a sponge and how easily can you squeeze it?
Testing for Wood Rot – Does It Pass the Sponge Test?
Now you know that wood is hard. You also know when you squeeze a piece of wood, it shouldn't compress the way a kitchen sponge will. That's true unless the wood is rotted.
Unless you're prepared to repair or replace a piece of rotted wood right after you test it, you probably don't want to have a large chunk of wood fall off the window sill, deck board or kick plate under the door. So you'll want to test carefully using one of the following sponge tests:
- Use one finger and gently push against the wood. If it moves, you probably have wood rot.
- Use a screwdriver, nail, safety pin or anything that will only leave a small hole. If any of these are able to penetrate the wood, you've got wood rot.
If you suspect you have some wood rot issues, you should try to address them quickly. That's because wood rot continues to extend it's reach which will cause the scope and cost of repairs to grow. So here's some extra reading to help you master the art of the sponge test, as it's one of the top 10 handyman jobs which is how I became an expert.
- Rotted Window Sills & Estimating Repair Costs will show you want you want to find and fix these problems quickly.
- We've written a series of articles on wood rot to help you find and repair problems at your house:
Note: My handyman technicians liked using Bondo to repair small areas with wood rot damage. When I searched Amazon for wood rot, I found Bondo products and a whole lot of other options, but please check the reviews.