Natural wooden material is back in the trend, giving a timeless effect which enhances any interior be it in the living or working space. Commonly pre-treated wood material is damage-resistant, but periodic maintenance and treatment make it sustainable and protect it from infestation. Clean India Journal speaks to a young interior designer from Delhi, Menka Sehgal, and Assistant General Manager, Technical Training, Pest Control (India) Pvt. Ltd Suneel Joshi on wood treatment.
Coffee tables in mid-century Danish design, sleek furniture in geometric shapes, antique accessories, floors, kitchen tabletops and window shutters create pure wooden perfection in today’s interiors. But wood in its natural state, forms food, shelter and breeding ground for some insects, warns Suneel Joshi. “Frequently, the wood used in various homes and industries are susceptible to insect infestation or ‘pest attack’.”
The common types of wood preferred by architects are Cedarwood, Redwood and Teakwood, as they are a natural resistant to subterranean termites, says Menka Sehgal. “However, any kind of wood has to be treated with proper chemicals and given the required polish and varnish to make it usable and infestation proof.” Salwood is another type of wood used especially in cladding and is made moisture- and pest-resistant before mounting.
“Infestation as such can be caused in treated wood also, if it is not maintained. Wet/damp wood is an ideal place for pest infestation. Moreover, wood should not be damaged as crevices give grounds for pest to reside. Humidity and excessive light again is harmful to wood. Even if water is used for cleaning a wooden surface, it has to be made dry and not left damp or wet. These are a few precautions that have to be taken to keep wooden interiors infestation free.
“Post-treatment of furniture or any wooden interior is essential to keep pests away. Besides, polish and varnish finishing, we also use polyurethane film/coating on the wood to make it more resistant,” explains Menka.
– Menka Sehgal
“Among pests, termites are the most notorious wood-damaging insect. Subterranean termites build their nests underground and travel over ground in visible mud tubes. These mud tubes are the best way to identify an infestation of subterranean termites on a structure,” adds Suneel.
Dry wood termites build the nest inside wood and their infestations are identified through the excreta (black or white pellets that look like poppy seeds) that they leave behind. “Several generations can complete their lifecycle in the same wooden host. Damp wood termites infest wood with high moisture content. Both damp wood and dry wood species do not need soil contact like their subterranean counterparts and can survive in wood with ground contact.”
Explaining the control measures, Suneel says, “Damage due to subterranean termites can be best prevented by providing protection to the structure at the time of construction by availing a pre-construction termite control treatment. If the infestation has become evident post construction, it can be controlled by availing TermiSeal Services.
“Controlling dry wood or damp wood termites pose several issues as neither need to be connected to soil for survival. The extent of damage is the most important consideration in planning the control measures. Localized infestation can be managed by carrying out spot treatment to termite galleries by injecting a termicide. Control can also be achieved indirectly using grooming behaviour of termites, by using insect growth regulators (IGR) and biological control methods. As part of integrated pest management approach (IPM), nontoxic methods of cooling or heating (cryogenic or thermal) also hold some promise.”
Though these methods are complicated and need equipment and technological support, they possess tremendous potential and are part of future of pest management strategies.
The amount of damage that Wood-Boring Beetles cause depends on factors like the type of wood, its moisture and starch content. The female wood-borer lays eggs in crevices. When the eggs hatch, the tiny larvae bore into the wood. As the larvae grow into adults, they cut circular exit hole in the surface of the wood to come out. The powdery dust which is the excreta of the beetle is pushed out of the hole, earning the name “powder-post” beetles. Wood-boring beetles do not usually damage seasoned structural timbers or finished wood products. In most cases only the larvae of wood-boring beetles damage the wood, while in other species it’s the adults.
“Preventive and curative options are available for controlling wood-boring beetles. Most control programmes involve temperature treatment, replacing infested wood, spot treatment with residual insecticides or fumigation. Though fumigation, i e, use of gaseous insecticides under controlled conditions is the most effective method to eliminate the wood borer infestation from wood structure, it is hazardous and is not permitted to be used in public places. However, replacing infested wood, treating the spot with residual insecticide or heat treating to reduce the moisture from the wood is a good preventive measure of avoiding wood borer infestation,” explains Suneel.
Among pests, termites are the most notorious wood-damaging insect. Subterranean termites build their nests underground and travel over ground in visible mud tubes. These mud tubes are the best way to identify an infestation of subterranean termites on a structure.
– Suneel Joshi
In India and other tropical regions Tropical Bedbug is more common and usually inhabits in cracks and crevices in beds and bedding. “The use of paper, fabric and wood in the hospitality industry has made it challenging to manage infestation of bedbugs. They hide in beds, furniture and any wooden skirting from a photo frame to wardrobes. The porous surface of wood makes good egg-laying locations. Tiny spaces in the bed frame and other furniture, such as a peg hole for a shelf, are ideal hiding spots for bed bugs.
“The use of chemical pesticides can control infestations of bedbugs. Non chemical control measures like awareness and prevention, trapping on bed bug monitors and spot treatments have shown more long term results. Pesticides are best used in a controlled manner during the spot treatment for bedbugs in wooden furniture, cracks & crevices. The treatment starts with a complete survey of the premises to establish the full extent of the known and likely infestation. It’s followed by the thorough treatment of furniture and mattresses, supported by use of residual insecticidal action, if required. ”
In super humid uncontrolled atmosphere or due to seepage of water, wooden structures often develop patches of fungus and molds. Apart from the ill appearance, it can be a serious health hazard.
“A long term control measure is to seize the cause of the humid condition, which is generally the seepage of water and absorption of water by wooden structure. Temporary control measures can be achieved by using heat treatment followed by residual spray of anti-fungal agent.”
Wood furniture and wooden articles carries a bit of heritage or artistry. “Always look for solutions to wood infestations with trained professionals who can customize solutions for you, to control the pest problem and without damaging the furniture!” suggests Suneel.