Worried about termites laying waste on your wooden fence?
Worry not; you are not alone!
Research done on termites reveals that termite infestation is a common problem throughout the United States – particularly in the southern half of the country.
Termites usually spread through from the ground levels to reach your fences, outdoor wooden furniture, and, subsequently, indoor furniture at home.
They make use of termite tubes (made up of mud) to travel over non-wood items like concrete, brick, or metal.
Fortunately, several proven ways can treat and help get rid of termite infestation.
One of them is painting and staining your wooden fence (or other infested articles) using high-quality anti-termite paint for wood.
In this guide, we’ll go over the different methods of treating your wooden fence for termites, along with protecting your wood against these wood-boring insects in the longer term.
Please keep reading to find them out, so your property stays termite-free with an added aesthetic appeal.
Treating Your Wood Fence for Termites
In general, termites do not tend to eat painted wood. They’re not fond of finished wood that has paint or stain over it, and they won’t eat through varnished wood either.
And the good part is from primers and paints to oil-based stains, there’s more than one way to paint and stop termites from getting attracted to your wood fence.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these ways and steps, so you can better fight off termites your way.
1- Use An Oil-Based Primer
If you plan on painting your pine or cedar fence, you should start with an oil-based wood primer that’s designed specifically for protecting wooden surfaces.
These primers act as termite repellants and are highly effective at keeping nasty bugs away from your wood.
Especially when thinned with mineral turpentine or Nitrocellulose thinner (also called NC thinner), these primers can offer greater protection against termites.
But remember, for best results; you’ll want to apply two coats. And during the application, ensure that the first coat of primer is fully dry before you follow up with the second.
2- Apply Borate-Based Wood Preservative
Before you apply your paint or stain, you may choose to apply a borate-based wood preservative which is highly effective at keeping termites at bay.
The solution comes either as a direct-to-apply liquid, a spray, or a powder you can mix with water.
For optimal results, apply the borate wood preservative evenly and pour it into any post holes, as this will allow the chemical to seep into the surrounding ground areas and repel termites even more efficiently.
Make sure there are no plants in the nearby soil, as they may die due to this preservative.
3- Use Termite-Repellant Paint or An Oil-Based Stain
Once you have applied the oil-based primer and a preservative, it’s time to put on your final coat.
This finish comes in the form of termite-proof paint that you can apply for even more protection against pesky critters.
When painting, follow the manufacturer’s directions and apply two to three coats to get the level of protection (and looks) you’re going for.
You may also choose to stain color your fence (oil-based) if you are going for a more natural look.
Just be sure to apply more than one coat, allowing the oil to soak and reach deeper into the wood for better termite protection and a natural look.
After painting or staining, you consider adding a coat or two of polyurethane polish, which will add an extra layer of protection to the wood from termites and external elements like moisture and UV rays.
Will Wood Varnish Prevent Termites?
Studies have confirmed that shellac-based varnishes are highly beneficial in protecting wood from termite damage indoors and outdoors.
In fact, impregnating the wood with a protective varnish proved considerably more effective than any other method for safeguarding it against insect infestation.
Although typically used as a top coat for painted and stained fences, you can use these varnishes alone to finish your fence and get a more natural look with beautiful grains.
That said, applying shellac-based varnish can be very time-consuming, so it’s good to use this method only if the aesthetics of the wood are of utmost importance to you.
How to Kill Termites in Your Fence Before Painting?
Above, we have seen how you can prevent termites from getting into the timber.
What if they are already present in your old wooden fence?
If that’s the case, it’s essential to inspect and kill live termites before painting and refinishing so they do not get a chance to spread.
You can kill the termites in wood by spraying it with the following:
- Kerosene oil
- Salt and hot water solution
- Natural oils like orange oil and neem oil
- Sprinkling diatomaceous earth or boric acid
But remember, killing the termites’ colony in your fence will not stop the termite activity completely.
So, besides spraying and treating your wooden fence, you will need to detect the swarming termites inside the ground and kill them to remove them permanently.
You should check for these insects not only on your fence but also under the ground, where they might be damaging the wood posts.
But how can you exactly get this done?
One of the best environmentally friendly ways of killing the termites in and around your fence is using termite bait traps.
Termite traps are bait stations placed in or above the ground around your home (near the fence, deck, etc.).
These traps do not actually trap the termites. But they work by providing the bait containing paper, wood, or cellulose, often combined with a poisonous substance that can kill termites.
Spectracide Termite killer is one of the best termite baits that I have found and have been using for many years.
Not only does it kill the termite fast, but it also helps detect the termites very quickly around your fence.
TIP: Most of the time, homeowners think of removing and replacing the old infested fence as the only viable option.
IMO it’s correct, especially if the fence is heavily damaged.
You should remove them and burn all the pieces. Get the new one installed and follow the treatment process (mentioned above) for protection.
However, if the fence is not severely damaged and can be repaired, you can kill termites and repaint the fence with termite-repellent paint to make it like new.
How to Prevent the Termites from Attacking the Wood Again?
Staining or painting your wood fence is the very first solution.
When choosing between painting and staining a fence, I suggest getting them stained rather than painting.
Since wood can absorb stains to a much deeper extent than it does paint, the finish you will get with staining will be excellent and longer-lasting.
A few other tips/ways to help you prevent future termite attacks include…
a) Refinish the fence
The stain will prevent the termites from eating through the finished wood.
But after you have applied the stain, remember that it’s not going to be there permanently.
With time and exposure to the elements, the stain (and the additives you used) will wear out and become less effective.
To make sure your fence continues to be protected from termites, it’s vital to refinish it every 2-3 years, possibly with the same stain you used earlier.
b) Use Termite-Proof Wood
While this may sound to be quite general, it’s one of the best ways to prevent termites, especially when you are building a new fence or a shed in your backyard.
Termite-proof woods like Redwood, Yellow Cedar, Laotion Teak, and Tallowwood are the best-known options for construction and avoiding possible termite infestation.
However, since these types of wood are rare (maybe unavailable and sometimes out of your budget), you can consider using a plank of pressure-treated wood.
These are better than untreated wood and are readily available at your local hardware stores or lumber depots.
c) Use Termite Repellent Plants
Plant species like catnip and vetiver grass are effective in repelling flying termites.
Marigolds, garlic, hot chili peppers, and mint are other plants that help to deter termites (and vampires) naturally from your garden and near your fence area.
The good thing is some of these plants are so effective that they can also help in repelling aphids, moles, and fruit tree borers.
So you may definitely consider them in your backyard if you like.
d) Allow Easy Access to Sunlight
Bright sunlight and heat have the properties to kill termites and other insects in their colony.
Haven’t you tried putting your firewood in sunlight to eliminate the critters, it’s so effective.
If you are not interested in planting termite-repellent plants, you can clean the vegetation around your house fence, which will then allow enough sunlight access to promote termite death.
The Bottom Line
Oil-based termite-proof paints and stains can help get your old wood fence adequately treated for termites.
These solutions are not only highly effective at keeping the swarm of termites away from your wood but also help your fence’s aesthetic in the long term.
Plus, it will help in protecting the wood against the elements, such as UV rays (that cause greying of the wooden fence over time) and rainwater (that can seep in and can rot the wood or can create splits and cracks).
Why not try them out before you refinish your fence or furniture?
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.