Do you suspect that you might have a termite infestation eating away at your hardwood floor?
While termites typically prefer to target soft wood floor support structures like floor joists and subfloors, they’re also known to cause damage to hardwood sections of the house — hardwood floors included.
These pests have an insatiable appetite for wood, and basically any wooden structure that’s up against the house’s foundation is susceptible to termite infestations, be it the walls or the floor.
In this guideline, we'll take you through the termite-damage signs you need to look out for, how to prevent termites from infesting your home, and how to repair termite-damaged hardwood floors.
Things to Think About
Do termites eat hardwood floors?
Yes, termites are well-known hardwood-boring pests, though it takes time for the damage they cause to hardwood floors to become apparent to homeowners.
If left uncontrolled for some years, termite colonies can eat away at your hardwood floor to the point that it becomes noticeable and weaker at the infested spots.
Do termites cause squeaky floors?
Yes. Whenever termites eat away at hardwood floors, the damage extends to the bond interlinking the floor pieces.
With the binding structures weakened, termite-infested hardwood floors are susceptible to movement upon any slight impact/foot traffic.
It’s this movement that causes squeaking, as the hardwood floor boards rub against one another.
What does termite damage look like on wood?
The visible effects of termite damage on wooden floors vary slightly depending on the type of termite colonies present in your home.
Wood that has been eaten away by subterranean termites, for instance, will exhibit definite honeycomb patterns along its surface. This is because subterranean termites bore wood along the wood grain.
Dry wood termites, meanwhile, leave behind similar unsightly excavations on wooden floors. However, these are much less prominent due to the smaller number of dry wood colonies.
What are the signs of termites in wood floors?
There are various signs which you can look out for to determine whether you actually have a termite infestation issue or not.
We'll go through a few of them below:
- Presence of swarmers: Termite swarmers tend to be attracted to lighting sources such as bulbs and lamps within the house. They typically shed their wings after a while. Therefore, if you notice discarded swarmer wings around your house you might have a termite infestation issue.
- Mud leads: Termites tend to build mud leads — also referred to as shelter tubes — outside the house as a way of accessing the interior by tunneling.
- Frass: This is termite feces that can generally be found along wall cracks which the termites use as exits. Each frass pellet is about 1/32-inches in length with a pointed shape on one end.
- Spongy wood flooring: iI the hardwood floor pieces can be easily penetrated by a sharp tool, you most likely have a termite infestation issue.
- Hollow sounds: If you notice that your hardwood floor pieces produce a hollow sound when tapped, it could be a pointer towards termite damage. The hollow sound is produced by the cavities left behind after the pests bore through the wood.
- Raised/detached floorboard: As termites eat through your wooden floor joists and subfloor, they establish tunnels that can consequently lift the floorboard. Termites can also eat trough the glue that binds your floorboard to the floor, so a detached floorboard is another way to identify whether you have a termite problem or not.
How do you repair termite-damaged floors?
To fix holes left behind by termite damage in your hardwood floor, follow these two steps:
- First off, you’ll need to identify an area of the floor affected by termites and remove the damaged hardwood floor pieces, which are typically rectangular in shape. A circular saw or a chisel and mallet can get the job easily done.
- Replace the damaged floor piece with a new hardwood piece and secure it by hammering down some finishing nails through it.
Alternatively, you can fill up the damaged parts on the existing hardwood piece, rather than replacing it totally. This can be achieved by using wood filler and a putty knife.
You simply need to use the knife to spread out the filler into the hollowed-out parts of the wood, then leave it to dry up overnight.
For larger gaps, however, we’d recommend that you use wood hardener in place of the wood filler.
How to Treat Termites in Wood Floors
There are several chemical and non-chemical solutions that you can use to get rid of these voracious pests once they invade your home.
You can always contact a pest control professional in your area to recommend a suitable solution. Popular chemical solutions used for termite eradication include:
- Bait: which is set outside their colony entry/exit points. The termites die once they feed off of it.
- Liquid pesticides: These are typically sprayed onto the soil surrounding the house and onto mud leads to kill the termites.
- DIY chemical solutions: You can spray these commercially-available DIY chemical solutions onto your foundation’s wooden structures, as well as on stored lumber such as dried firewood. The upside of such brand-based DIY solutions is that on top of killing the termites invading your home, they prevent new colonies from invading in the future. A popular example of a DIY anti-termite chemical solution is Ortho Home Defense Max.
If you’re in doubt as to whether you can do a good job by yourself, you're better off contracting the services of a pest eradication professional.
On top of killing the termites invading your space, a credible anti-termite professional can also inspect and diagnose additional structural issues caused by the termite damage and give you a report on the same.