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Yesterday I found a great deal on 3" x 12" x 12' non-treated lumber (pine). I bought several pieces, but before using it for an indoor table, I want to add a termite-resistant treatment.

Once I add the termite-resistant treatment, I'll add a coating of lacquer or add a staining.

I live in the Caribbean and I DO NOT have a single termite in the house. I want to make it termite-resistant because nobody knows what the future holds, and I want it to be termite-resistant.

My question: what can I do to make this nom-treated wood termite-resistant?

  • Again: termites indoors? If you have a problem with termites indoors you have bigger problems, and no "finish" in the world is going to solve that. However, if all you want to do is seal the wood once finished, to aid in preserving and, as a side-effect, make it less palatable to insects, then there is already a lot of information if you search the "finishing" tag. But, your local exterminator will have info on the safer treatments that can be used every year or so on indoor trim and built-in furniture to deal with pests. This is, of course, off topic for this site. – jdv Dec 19 '19 at 16:05
  • It may help if you mention where in the world you are. It sounds like you are in a place where houses are mostly made of concrete, and you are concerned with wood furniture being attacked by insects, possibly year-round. In this case, your best bet is to contact a local exterminator and go from there. – jdv Dec 19 '19 at 16:10
  • Unless your wood furniture is touching the ground or other termite infested material, you do not have to do this. Termites just don't march into your house and eat random furniture; they dig and follow a dark, damp earth (or, sometimes, a wood-pulp) trail to their food sources. Just finish your furniture in the appropriate manner, and keep your house termite free. At any rate, any anti-pest coating would have to be applied regularly, and on top of any finish, as I suggested in my other comment. Keep your house termite free and your furniture will not be food for those insects. – jdv Dec 20 '19 at 15:05
  • Boric acid is very effective against termites. – Monte Glover Dec 20 '19 at 20:50
  • Copper, zinc, or some other metal caps on legs are a traditional way way of preventing insects entering at the legs – Monte Glover Jan 5 at 17:46
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You make indoor spaces ant and termite resistant by having an exterminator come into your house and, using the appropriate chemicals in the recommended manner on a recommended schedule, spray wood trim and installed furniture, and places where such pests have ingress to indoor spaces. The idea is to lay down a coating of chemicals where the pests walk or come into the house. In some places or under some circumstances this has to be done on a schedule, because such chemicals do not stay effective forever.

I've never heard of needing to spray movable furniture, but I'm sure a local exterminator would be able to assist you with that decision.

In short, there is no indoor-safe treatment that you apply under a finish that makes wood furniture pest-free, but mostly because one rarely needs to do this.

Wood is a natural product, and it will eventually rot or succumb to pest attacks under the right circumstances. If you protect it from too much damp or too much dry it will last a surprisingly long time. And insects generally do not attack preserved or finished wood. Insects are usually the next step in material that has already started to degrade because of exposure to the elements.

To further take the Q&A off-topic, the real prevention you should be concentrating on is finding places where pests like termites might find entrance into your house! If they can't get from the ground to foundational structures (e.g., old boards leaning up against the house) you are probably ok. If you have a stone or concrete foundation then this is the best way to "future proof" against such pests.

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  • I'm on the fence whether or not this Q&A is appropriate for this SE, but I'll let the community decide. I opted to just put a bow on this series of Q&A for the holidays so we can all move on! – jdv Dec 20 '19 at 15:47
  • I don’t have termites, so it wouldn’t apply to me. – rbhat Dec 24 '19 at 4:04
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    @rbhat, it is unclear what you want from your series of questions regarding termites, then. I never suggested you have termites now, I am trying to show you how to think about prevention. If you don't have termites, then don't worry about them. If they are a common pest in your area then the correct action isn't treating furniture. It is not possible to plan for every single contingency that your furniture might encounter. Do you also plan to treat your furniture with fire retardants, and design them to survive long falls, being hit by meteorites, or from total immersion in flood water? – jdv Dec 24 '19 at 15:05
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You could sandwich wood boards between two panes of glass, leaving some space for wood expansion. Seal the sides with glass, use 100% silicone on glass seams. Leave one short side covered by steel mesh door on piano hinge for air and access (you can use aluminium window screen), leave several centimeters of space before the wood starts. Darken bottom and side glass panes and build a removable cover for the top (red tinted glass might work as well). Drill a few holes from the top for watering, create a cavity in the wood below the holes to hold about a glass of water, so you don't have to refill as often. Build glass or metal mesh plugs to close the water holes.

Look up thermal preferences of your local species and place the table in the house accordingly -- the goal is to encourage termites to build cavities near the top glass pane for easy viewing.

When ready to introduce the critters into their new home, catch as many workers as you can (50-200 or so), place them inside. Keep the wood moist. In about 6 month, one of the workers will turn herself into a queen and will start laying eggs.

Identify your species, read up on its lifecycle and peculiarities and you will have lots of fun facts to entertain your guests with. Avoid using the table when not entertaining guests, undue vibrations will stress the critters out.

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  • I can't tell if you are joking or not. Well played. – jdv Dec 19 '19 at 18:02
  • I would totally build this if I had termites over here :) – Eugene Dec 19 '19 at 18:03

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