Termite resistance
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FACTS, MYTHS AND TRUTHS ABOUT THE RESISTANCE OF INDONESIAN HARDWOODS TO TERMITES (and how we cope with this)

 

 

If you notice this (termite mudding), you have termites

 

TERMITES AND HARDWOOD

There are only a few wood species available in the world which are 100% guaranteed termite resistant. These wood species can only be found in Africa and South America, but definitely NOT in Indonesia, however, there are a few Indonesian hardwood wood species which will give some protection when the proper part of the tree is used (the core or "heart").

Termites eat the cellulose from the wood cells. The harder these cells the less interested they are in their dinner. Any tree has a core called heartwood. This is the hardest part of a tree. There is only one wood species in Indonesia which have a core so dense and hard that termites can't eat it. This species is Bangkirai. Close followers are Bojonegoro Teak, Merbau and Iron wood. However, as is the case with all trees the outer rings (called sap wood) are soft or softer than the core (heartwood). As a result termites do not attack Bangkirai heartwood and in a lesser extend the heartwood from the other species mentioned, however the termites attack the juicier and softer sapwood. The solution would be that we only buy heartwood from our suppliers, however, so unfortunate, this is merely a mission impossible, since the suppliers do not want to be left with only a stock of sap wood. As such the suppliers mix the wood in portions of heartwood and sapwood, or will ask a 30% higher price for heartwood only. In conclusion we cannot guarantee that all the wood that we use is not susceptible to termite attacks whether it is Bangkirai, Teak, Merbau or Iron wood.

That was the bad news. However, there is also good news. When the mixed wood of one of the above mentioned wood species is used in combination with a termimesh system or a termite barrier you will be much safer for many, many years to come, whereas a combination with Bangkirai is considered the ultimate option. You may read more about termimesh and a termite barrier <here>. The best solution is to build with 100% Bangkirai heartwood and for those who have the budget available we offer the grandeur solution (see bottom of this page marked in orange)

The termite (also called white ant)  

Termites always attack from natural grade. It is a fairly tale that flying termites will nest in your roof or roof truss. Flying termites are visible when their colony swarms which are provoked by heavy rainfall and warm, humid temperatures among other triggers. Swarms occur when established colonies produce winged male and female termites in order to reproduce. After these mating flights, fertilized termites shed their wings and go on to establish new colonies underground. However, termites seen flying in a home are indicative of a mature colony which may sooner or later attack the wooden parts of your house to natural grade. If unnoticed they may creep up into your roof and roof trusses. 

 

Winged termites


FACT

Most Indonesian wooden prefab house manufacturers state on their web sites that Bangkirai and Merbau are documented to be absolutely termite resistant. We are of the believe that these companies should do their home work again and carefully read what is written in the following laboratory reports: 

J. Kenneth Crave and Carrie H.M. Tome from the University of Hawaii evaluated the resistance of Indonesian Bangkirai to the attack of the  dangerous Formosa termite. Their investigation revealed that "as with all durable tree species only the heartwood and not the sapwood of these species is reputed to be durable". See page 504 line 15 of their report which can be downloaded via http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/gracek/pdfs/212.pdf  This report supports our claim that the only Indonesian fully termite resistant Indonesian hardwood is Bangkirai provided this is heartwood. 

A technical data sheet from the Australian timber base sheds some light on the termite resistance of Merbau and can be found at http://www.timber.net.au/?option=com_species&name=Merbau&Itemid=441  This article clearly indicates that only Merbau heartwood is termite resistant.   


RATIONALE

Claiming that a wooden house built from Bangkirai or Merbau is 100% termite resistant is a deceiving statement, since not one supplier will supply heartwood only, hence they supply a mix of sapwood (very termite sensitive) and heartwood (not susceptible to termite attacks). As a result the house is built with this mix of sapwood and heartwood and thus.....not 100% termite resistant     

Main conclusion: One shall not automatically believe that a house built from Indonesian hardwood is 100% safe to termite attacks, at least we are not promoting this. By ruling out the extremely expensive Bojonegoro Teak and the fact that Iron wood is prohibited from being exported, Bangkirai or Merbau heartwood in combination with a termimesh system or a termite barrier application will give absolute protection. Our statement that Bangkirai and Merbau sapwood is not termite resistant is therefore fully underlined by the above articles.  

 

Termites eating Bangkirai sap wood (the yellow part)


(*) STOP PRESS: We can guarantee termite resistance:

Latest update: On April 16, 2012 we signed an exclusive contract with one of the Balinese timber suppliers allowing us to select Bangkirai heartwood from his  stock yard at no extra costs, provided we buy all Bangkirai that we need for our projects from his company. This will put us in the unique situation to guarantee that we are now able to fabricate timber houses, using Bangkirai heartwood, which is definitely 100% termite resistant.  
 

 

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Last modified: November 05, 2013
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