Timber frames have many advantages for buildings. In modern construction they are cost-efficient, easy to construct, and great at locking in temperature. Older, traditional timber frame buildings attract many people as refurbishment projects, because the original exposed frames are desired for their rustic appeal. Wood also has a lower ecological impact than some other building materials when coming from a renewable source.
However, there are certain measures that construction industry professionals need to follow in order to ensure the woods longevity and structural integrity, and to prevent the natural fibres from being damaged.
Woodworm in Timber
One of the most common issues faced with timber, particularly when older buildings are refurbished, is the presence of wood boring beetles. The larvae of these beetles are colloquially known as ‘woodworm’. The most prevalent is the Common Furniture Beetle which is estimated to be present in up to 80% of UK homes, and it’s therefore easy to understand how they also pose a problem for commercial property developers.
Woodworm chomp their way through wood, potentially threatening the structural integrity of timber framed buildings and can significantly damage treasured items of furniture. The larvae prefer a moist habitat and it is thought the female will not lay her eggs on wood with a moisture content less than 8-12%. Since older, traditional timber frame properties have wood exposed to the weather this can be a common occurrence.
Woodworm and Timber Repair in Stanford Hall
Peter Cox technicians have dealt with woodworm infestations in a variety of different properties. We recently helped to refurbish and restore Stanford Hall which has become The Defence and Rehabilitation Centre. This former stately home in Leicestershire has been restored to treat injured military personnel.
Many of the rooms suffered woodworm infestations, confirmed by the presence of active flight holes in the timber. Alongside the dry rot, woodworm damage posed a threat to the structural integrity of parts of the building if left untreated.
Peter Cox’s scope of work included multiple timber resin splice repairs to the main roof trusses and structural floor beams. The trusses and beams had lost their structural integrity through fungal decay and, insect infestation, so were no longer strong enough to support the structure of the building.
Fungicide treatments were carried out to areas of wood that could be retained and preserved, and new sections installed alongside existing timbers to provide the required strength. We also sprayed the wood to eliminate existing infestations and provide future protection from further infestation and to prevent future fungal decay. The preservative creates a protective barrier up to 3mm below the surface to prevent future infestations and reduce the risk of fungal decay.
You will only be able to tell if a piece of wooden furniture has an active infestation when damage to the wood has already taken place, so it is important to take immediate action as soon as the problem is identified. Professionals use Controlled Atmosphere Technology (CAT), which is a safe and effective method to treat affected items, including delicate antiques. Inert gases are used in a controlled atmosphere that eliminates all life stages of the insect, including eggs and larvae, while leaving no harmful residues on the furniture. The treatment also penetrates fabrics, so upholstered furniture can be treated without having to remove the fabric.
Peter Cox has more than 68 years of woodworm control experience. If you’re unsure of the type of beetle in your property, or the extent of the woodworm infestation present, then it’s best to call in the experts. They are trained to recognise woodworm activity and offer targeted treatment with guarantees of up to 20 years, eradicating the problem quickly and efficiently, so you have peace of mind.