Got Old Wood? Try Borate

Shannon Lee

When the owner of an old house is faced with the prospect of termites, their first thought is often to call in an expert to take care of the problem with harsh chemicals. Wood rot, one of the banes of any old house, is also a situation that can be treated with chemicals. But why add those chemicals to the environment, and potentially risk your own health? Give borate a try instead.

Borate for Termites and Wood Rot: How it Works

This non-toxic method of protecting your home has been around for a very long time. Here's what you need to know:

  • Borate comes in many forms. Most people have seen borate powders, but there are many other formulations that are designed to get into the wood and protect where needed. You can find borate in granuales, ready-made poultices, gels, fused plugs, and sprays. You can use borate on wood in a variety of ways, including sprinkling, spraying, or brushing it on, or injecting it into small holes bored into the wood.
  • Borate migrates with water. Borate is attracted to moisture, which is a good thing if you are trying to get rid of termites. The borate heads right for their tunnels and stops them in their tracks. But if you are trying to prevent rot, it is important to keep the borate from washing away. There are several ways to do this, including the application of a good water repellent over the borate.
  • It is relatively inexpensive and unrestricted. The cost of borate often depends on the application methods. For instance, a heavy-duty gel might cost more than granules. However, borate is much less expensive than most chemicals that are used to treat the same problems. Borate is also unrestricted, which means any homeowner can purchase the solutions.
  • Look for borate treated lumber. Want to make sure your new construction is thoroughly protected? Opt for borate treated lumber. It can be tough to find and might be more expensive than traditional treated lumber. However, when you are working on restoring your old house, especially where the wood meets the ground, borate treated lumber can give you peace of mind for many years.

You can find borate solutions at your local home improvement store. To find more information on the application techniques that might be best for your house, speak to a contractor familiar with termites, wood rot, and other issues an old house can face.

About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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