Millions of wood decks are built every year. Unfortunately, many of them will deteriorate long before they should. As a deck builder in the Pacific Northwest, I have a lot of experience demolishing and replacing rotted decks. I want what I build to last, so when I tear down a rotting deck, I try to figure out what went wrong.

Rot is a fungus, an organism that feeds on and destroys natural materials like lumber. The spores it uses to reproduce are nearly everywhere and will grow wherever conditions are right. There are many different types of rot, but they all require food and moisture to survive. If you understand how these organisms grow, you can build decks that...

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