When treated properly, bamboo becomes an inhospitable environment for termites.
Bamboo Living structural poles are thoroughly treated and third-party inspected with time-tested natural non-toxic borates in a large pressure treatment tank at our factory in Vietnam. All additional bamboo materials that are used in our homes, including the woven bamboo strands, cross-laminated products used for cabinetry and mill work, bamboo weavings, and split bamboo siding, are also treated at our factory to ensure protection from those nasty little critters.
Advantages of Borates in Wood Preservation
- Low Toxicity – borates have a very low toxicity in all categories of exposure. This means all aspects of working with borates is much safer and easier than with other preservative treatments. This includes the mixing of the DOT (Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate) into the treating solution, the handling of the treated wood, the cutting of the treated wood and exposure to the general public. In addition, borates enjoy a very good reputation for being a very safe preservative since they are used in laundry detergents and eye wash solutions.
- Ease of Treating – borates are a sodium salt that are completely water-soluble and dissolve in solution. As a result, borates are the easiest wood preservative to treat multiple species of wood. Borates will even penetrate the heartwood of many species. In a study, DOT was compared with a copper-boron preservative and CCA in their ability to treat the most difficult wood species of balsam fir, englemann spruce, lodgepole pine, red spruce, sitka spruce, and white spruce. Each of the species are often grouped together as SPF (spruce-pine-fir) and are very difficult to treat. For each species, the DOT solution had the greatest uptake and penetration as compared to the boron-copper and CCA treatments and easily met the acceptable AWPA standards (Lebow, et al. 2005). In the less difficult species, DOT solution will penetrate southern yellow pine with very little pressure (80-100 lbs) and time (20 min).
- Competitive Price – borates are almost always the lowest cost preservative available. Typically, the cost of production based on AWPA retentions is $17-$25 per MBdFt. In comparison, MCA (micronized copper azole) and MCQ (micronized copper quat) formulations are 20-30% higher in cost.
- Toxic to a wide range of fungi and insects, borates have been used as an insecticide for over 130 years. Unlike most organic insecticides that attack the nervous system, borates are a systemic poison that destroys the digestive tract of the organism. As a result, it is impossible for the species to develop an immunity and borates will kill any organism that ingests the chemical. Thus, borates are effective against a wide range of insects. The golden rule of borates is, “If the insects eat it, they will die”. This can be through a broadcast application, crack and crevice, barrier, or in the case of treated wood—a bait. Borates can act as a repellant to certain insects. For example, when subterranean termites tunnel across borate-treated wood, the moisture of the tunnels will absorb the borates into the tunnel and the termites will abandon the tunnel. This is unique to borates as the termites will tunnel across other preservative treatments until they find a piece of untreated wood. Borates are effective against all termite species, including Formosan and drywood termites. They also are effective against ants, beetles, cockroaches, powder post beetles, etc. A few studies that report efficacy against these insects are: Scheffraihn et al. 1991; Maudin et al. 1996; Grace, Forest Products Journal vol 42; and Robinson et al.
- Borates are very effective corrosion inhibitors – unlike all of the copper preservative systems that promote corrosion on fasteners, borates inhibit corrosion. Therefore, a fastener will experience less corrosion in contact with a borate-treated board versus an untreated board.
- Permanency – as an inorganic salt, borates have virtually no volatility or reactivity. Therefore, wood treated with borates is protected indefinitely. Wood must be wetted repeatedly or flooded for a period of time before the borates will leach out of the wood. But if the wood stays dry, the borates will stay in the wood.
- Measurement—inexpensive tests are available to easily measure for full penetration and the retention concentration of borates in pressure-treated bamboo and wood. Routine measurements can assure that a wood or bamboo product is properly preserved and protected.
Safe and Effective.
Borates are a safe, easy, and very effective way to protect all wood species (and bamboo!) from any kind of insect or decay attack. Its low toxicity and permanency gives the homeowner assurance that the structure they have purchased is secure from these threats.
Bamboo Living has been building homes with structural bamboo for over 20 years. The first home is still in perfect condition. Bamboo houses properly treated with borates should easily last as long or longer than conventional wood construction, over 50 years.