Safeguard your new home with physical barriers
Physical barrier termite treatments are most often used for termite protection in new construction projects. The physical products are integrated into the structural elements of the building to create a complete ad continuous barrier. Specialist Termite Control do not currently install such barriers, but it’s important to know your options when building a new home.
When designed and installed correctly, the only way termites can enter the structure is by building a trail over a designated perimeter inspection zone. When they do this, they become visible and can be dealt with.
Physical barriers provide the least-toxic method of termite barrier treatment for new buildings in Melbourne.
How do physical termite barriers work?
A correctly installed physical barrier, working in conjunction with the construction elements, is designed to prevent concealed termite entry into the home. That is, to get around a physical barrier the termites have to make themselves visible. For example termites moving up through the inside of a brick pier may hit a metal “ant” cap. To continue their way upwards they need to a mud tube over the visible part of the metal sheet. When the termites become visible they will be spotted during a regular termite inspection, which should be conducted yearly to comply with the Australian Standard.
Designing your physical termite barrier
Protecting new homes and extensions from termites requires the termite management products to work in a seamless design with the construction elements to eliminate potential entry points such as joins in concrete slabs or brickwork and around penetration points where utilities enter buildings.
To protect a building, invariably a combination of different products is required to protect the various potential termite entry points that are created during construction.
Generally, a combination of termite membranes, termite collars, foams and sealants will provide a superior, integrated termite protection system for your home.
The modern version of “ant” capping are termite membranes, which are thick, flexible polymer sheeting, containing a long lasting insecticide. Being impregnated with insecticide, these membranes provide both a physical and chemical termite barrier, making this method of pre-construction protection safe, affordable and very effective.
Termite membranes are tough plastic sheet membranes, rather like a damp course material. They are impregnated with termiticide, such as bifenthrin or deltamethrin, to make them highly repellent and toxic to termites. Typically the termite membrane is installed before framing and extends across the wall cavity and though the brickwork. They are odourless and are expected to last at least 50 years and require almost no ongoing maintenance.
In any building construction, the services (water, drainage, electricity and phone) create a large number of “penetrations” which give termites easy access from the soil to your house. Termites can travel up the inside of the conduit (pipes) or on the outside of the pipes, even squeezing through caps between the pipes and any surrounding concrete.
In houses constructed on a concrete slab, these penetrations are hidden in the slab and so need to be protected during the construction process (after the house has been built, it’s too late!).
The use of solid plastic termite collars for standard diameter penetrations or collars made of flexible material for a wide variety of installations are required to be but in place prior to the concrete being poured, and are vital for termite protection.
Termite foams and sealants are products that provide a range of flexible protection options to deal with the more awkward construction situations. A variety of products are available to fill awkward gaps in construction and joins in concrete slabs, ensuring a complete termite protection system is put in place.
Termite foam is rather like gap filler foam but contains a repellent termiticide. It is applied as an expanding ‘two pack’ within the edge rebate cavity of a wall. A plastic membrane is also laid along the brickwork.
The termite foam system is installed after the framing and needs a base course of bricks laid. The product is expected to last at least 50 years and requires little ongoing maintenance.
Historically metal ant caps have been used on brick piers and sub-floor walls under suspended timber floors. Similarly, metal sheeting is often used through brick piers and masonry walls to force termites to the outside but is not generally used in the industry any more as it has not proven overly successful over time.
Metal sheeting is prone to rusting and sometimes they have been poorly installed – often nailed to the pier, creating a hole that the termites can crawl through – making them useless.
Marine grade stainless steel mesh may also be used as a physical protection barrier to termites. The size of the mesh openings is small enough to prevent termites passing through, this acting as an effective barrier to termites. Mesh is commonly glued to slabs and masonry and may also be used around pipes through slabs. As is the case with granite guard, this particular termite barrier system has mostly become obsolete due to the advancement of termite membranes, which are cheaper and more effective.
Solid materials such as crushed granite of a particular particle shape and size range is also used as a physical termite barrier for Melbourne homes. The termites are unable to penetrate the layer of granite particles and the particles are too large and heavy to be moved by the termites. Granite is most often used with concrete slabs where it is applied around pipes and behind the lower bricks at the building perimeter; however, this product has largely become obsolete with the introduction of cheaper and more effective termite membranes and other physical termite control methods.