Termites & Cedar

Termites have a bad reputation because they eat wood. Every year termites invade thousands of homes. This causes homeowners to spend millions of dollars every year to treat the termites and repair the damage that they cause.

There are several types of termites in the United States. Subterranean termites attack more homes than the other types of termites. Subterranean termites are most common in the Southern States, but these destructive pests can be found in every state except Alaska.

When subterranean termites attack lumber, they eat the lighter parts first. They leave the dark rings, so they create galleries that follow the grain of the wood. Scientists have found that the dark part of the wood contains a chemical that subterranean termites prefer not to eat.

Scientists discovered that cedar also contains a chemical that subterranean termites do not like. They found that if the subterranean termites had a choice, they would avoid eating cedar. The scientists also found that when subterranean termites ate the cedar, it turned out to be toxic to them. The scientists learned that since cedar was resistant to subterranean termite attack, it could be used in construction.

Cedar is beautiful wood, but it might be more expensive than some other types of wood. It may not be practical to use cedar in every part of new home construction. People who have existing homes cannot afford to remove structural lumber and replace it with cedar. Because of this, scientists have been working to develop economical ways to make ordinary lumber more resistant to termites.

In many areas, people treat lumber with a borate solution to make it resistant to termites. The borate solution is absorbed into the lumber without affecting the strength or appearance of the wood. The borate material makes the lumber toxic to any termites that might attack it.

The borate material must be applied to bare wood. It can be brushed or sprayed onto the lumber. There are also gel products that can be injected into the wood through holes that have been drilled. These applications can be made when wood is exposed during remodeling. The borate material can also be applied to ordinary structural lumber when new homes are being built.