A Spalted Slab in a Wine Cellar

Kiln-drying kills the fungus in spalted wood, and 60% RH in a wine cellar will not support fungal re-growth. December 6, 2011

I have a large tulip poplar slab roughly 30"x60"x2". It was purchased for use as a bar top in a wine storage room. I am a little worried about the set humidity, 60%, and the spalting in the wood. Will the fungus continue to grow under these conditions? Is there a way to seal it with maybe epoxy resin, that will not allow the humidity to reach the wood?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
You better season your slab at 60% RH and 60 degrees F before surfacing, so it does not move too much once installed. Of course I am assuming that it was kiln dried prior to purchase. Kiln drying will kill the fungus, so continued growth is not a huge concern.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
In addition to the above comment, 60% RH is 12% MC in wood. That is, the air is at 12% EMC. Fungal growth needs at least 22% MC to be active.

From contributor S:
How has the piece been stored? Any sign of insects? If it has been stored dry and it was kiln dried, there should be no insects.

I made a mistake once and used an epoxy coat over material that had bugs. It was an exterior application. I stored it under exterior conditions prior to use. I figured it would reduce movement after the finish was on. Needless to say, as soon as the epoxy went on, the bugs became visible. I ended up burning the piece. Shameful.

If you store the piece at around EMC 12%, I would look carefully for insects before you increase the EMC and be very sure your high EMC storage is bug free.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Insects (mainly the powderpost beetle), their eggs and their larvae can all be destroyed by heating them to 130 F for a few hours. No need to throw away a piece.

When wood leaves the kiln (if the kiln went to 150 F or higher; some kilns do not go that hot), it is free of insects. However, even dry storage can result in an infestation of the PPB if the PPB is in some adjacent wood. In the majority of cases, the PPB comes from foreign wood rather than local wood. However, with the recent hurricanes, the PPB is much more active and plentiful, so foreign wood sources are not the only source today.