Termite infestation occurs throughout the United States, but it is far more predominant in the southern half of the country. Termites gain access to wood from ground level and use termite tubes made of mud to cross distances over non-wood articles like concrete, steel and brick. This means that to completely avoid termite infestation on your fence the entire fence, from posts to slats, must be painted or stained to protect against termites.
Borate-Based Wood Preservative
Brush or spray on a borate-based wood preservative before painting or staining. This is a known termite repellent. It comes as a powder to be mixed with water or as an already mixed liquid ready to be applied. For added protection, fill the post hole with a borate-based solution before putting in the post. Both the surrounding soil and the wooden post will absorb the solution to prevent termites from gaining access to your fence.
If painting the fence, apply an oil-based primer before painting on a finish coat. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly, then apply a second coat of primer. This acts like a shield to add an additional level of protection against termite infestation.
As an added measure of protection, use a termite-proof paint as a finish coat over the primer. These paints are infused with termite-resisting chemicals that discourage termite infestation. Depending upon the maker instructions, you may be required to put on up to three coats of paint for maximum protection.
If you want a fence with a natural finish rather than a painted one, use an oil-based stain. The oil soaks into the wood and makes the fibers unpalatable to termites. Before staining, use a wood sealer both as a termite repellent and to stabilize the wood pores for even stain coverage. The more coats of sealer and stain are applied, the deeper the oils and chemicals in these products soak in and the more resistant to termite infestation the fence becomes.
If you're building your own fence rather than painting or staining an already existing fence and you live in a known termite habitat, construct your fence with termite-proof wood. Commonly used woods include redwood and yellow cedar; some exotic types, like Laotion Teak and Tallowwood, may also be available. If these types are unavailable or do not fit your budget, use a pressure-treated wood, commonly available in hardware stores or lumber depots.
- Mr Fixit Bali: Specialists in Property Inspection, Renovation and Maintenance
- Orkin: Termites, Treated Lumber, & Termite Proof Lumber
- University of Hawaii: University of Hawaii Termite Project
- Meta Chem Paints: Termite Proof Paint
- University of Wisconsin Extension: The Learning Stone, Protecting Wood Fences for Yard and Garden
- U.S Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Figure 4.22. Subterranean Termite Risk in the United States
Dale Yalanovsky has been writing professionally since 1978. He has been published in "Woman's Day," "New Home Journal" and on many do-it-yourself websites. He specializes in do-it-yourself projects, household and auto maintenance and property management. Yalanovsky also writes a bimonthly column that provides home improvement advice.