Attic Termite or Wood Rot? Has anyone seen something like this before?


I was inspecting an attic area today and came across what looked like termite damage or maybe some wood rot but it was black? Has anyone seen something like this before?



Looks like paint over charred wood.


I think you could be correct. I was thinking fire damage when I first noticed it. It didn’t smell at all

Yes, it looks like charred wood that was sealed over, Dustin.

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If it is listed ask your buyers agent for a copy of the property disclosures, that looks like fire damage.


Poor attempt to seal fire damage. The tongue & groove planks have wood decay.
<MG State Lic Termite/Lawn & Ornamental/Pest Control & Rodent Operator #2446 :cowboy_hat_face:


Looks like fire damage to me.

That would be a red flag in my report.


Yes, after a structure fire and subsequent repairs.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I was thrown off due to that it was painted and must of been very old. I recommended to my customer to seek out a professional roofing contractor for consult.

First time poster here, but occasional lurker. If I saw that it would be an automatic referral to a PE for evaluation and a general contractor for repairs. Even though the picture shows at least one rafter is “sistered”, I can’t see the full length of it or how much damage was done, new plywood sheathing in photo # 3 is improperly installed with the grain running parallel to the rafters and the charred 3/4" sheathing is badly damaged.
This is also a good reminder of why we should NEVER walk a roof until we have seen what it looks like from the attic!

Got any more pictures of it?

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That would depend on number of plys in the plywood used. How do you know how many plys is the plywood in the picture? For example, if it’s a typical 1/2inch CDX with 4plys, it would have equal amount of veneers facing each direction. How is running such plywood parallel to the rafters make a difference in the OP’s picture?

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Plywood (by definition) does not have a grain direction. If you are not familiar with how plywood is made you can do your own google search, but basically each layer (or “ply”) of the panel changes grain direction such that the final product has nearly equal strength in either direction. In fact the panel often has more strength and/or stiffness in the direction perpendicular to the veneer grain as demonstrated in this test . The veneer is the thin outer ply. Plys may vary in thickness and in quality of wood.

Welcome to our forum, Fred!..Enjoy! :smile:

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Guys, standard 1/2" plywood does have a strong and weak axis. Now, to Simon, it may be possible that they used 3/4" ply to match the thickness of the old sheathing, in which case it may not matter, but based on what I see in the pictures I wouldn’t bet on it. Every plywood manufacturer designs the material to be installed with the exposed grain at 90 degrees to the rafters. From Georgia Pacific:

Or, look at the International Building Code, table 2304.8 (3). All allowable spans are given with sheathing continuous over two or more supports and with the strength axis perpendicular to supports.

I know most of you guys don’t know me (a few will), but I promise I am not a rookie. :wink:

The other posters are not slouches either. You stated the grain. Now if you had mentioned the long length of the plywood should be run horizontally, as in the video you referenced, they might have not responded. You did bring up a good point, but incorrectly stated.

True, maybe that could have been worded more precisely. But, the grain of the surface veneer does show which way the strength axis runs.
Truthfully I was more concerned about the condition of the burned/charred 3/4" sheathing and how repairs were done to the rest of the roof structure. The pictures don’t show the whole area, so I couldn’t tell if it was just a small spot or not, but it looks like there are structural repairs to be done. The OP was referring it to a roofing contractor for repairs, but if there is more than just some sheathing to replace I don’t think very many roofers would be qualified.
The direction of the plywood isn’t the main concern for me, that has become a distraction from the main issue, but it does make me suspicious that remaining repairs were not professionally done.

Excellent points Fred, the sheathing really is the least of it, needs way more than a roofer, those repairs would be beyond most (not all) of them. Hope the OP upgraded that recommendation. The rest of it is just so wrong, looks like it would hold up up as well as charcoal briquets! The roofing nails were popping out pieces of the roofing planks.

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Looks like charred wood that was painted over instead of being removed.


Welcome to our forum Thomas Cleary!..Enjoy! :smile:

Exactly! That is some pretty advance pyrolysis. Not only is the roof structure weakened but the ignition temperature of the charred framing is now much lower than new wood. As I remember, it drops from somewhere around 700 degrees F to about 450 degrees. They have some real problems there that need to be addressed by someone who knows what he is doing.

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