Pest Resources

Termite-resistant wood



In warm climates, termites are a constant threat to our homes and buildings. Termites eat wood and, in doing so, cost the U.S. 5 billion dollars a year in termite control, termite prevention, and termite damage repairs.

Termites swarm in the spring, and this is when homes are more likely to be infested. If a colony is not stopped with termite control, the colony will keep growing. A mature Subterranean termite colony can consist of between sixty thousand and two million members.

Building with termite-resistant wood is a useful preventative measure. But which woods are termite resistant and help prevent termite damage?

This article will discuss how discouraging termites with termite-resistant wood can reduce the chances of termite infestations in your home, saving you money.

Let’s get started!

Why do termites eat wood?

Termites eat the cellulose found in wood or cellulose found in other plant-based materials like cotton, paper, plants, sheetrock, and cardboard. Termites have protozoa and bacteria in their gut that break down the wood’s cellulose fibers. Termites never stop eating, and only worker termites feed on wood.

The two main culprits in the U.S. for structural damage are Drywood termites and Subterranean termites; each species attacks a wooden structure differently. Dry wood termites eat dry wood found in your home’s structural framing, timbers, hardwood floors, furniture, and fence posts.

Subterranean termites feed on cellulose fibers; they are the most destructive termite in the U.S. and the most common found in people’s homes. They attack foundations and framing. A Subterranean termite colony lives in the soil in underground nests.

The workers build mud tubes to protect them from drying out and to travel through to reach a food source, such as a wooden structure. They get into homes through cracks in walls and foundations. They DO NOT EAT CEMENT!

Dampwood termites eat moist wood, as their name suggests. These termites can be found eating dead and decaying tree stumps and logs. Dampwood termites rarely cause damage to buildings.

Choosing termite-resistant wood for termite-resistant building materials will go a long way toward preventing a termite infestation.

Do termites eat pressure-treated wood?

It is important to know that while pressure-treated wood is termite-resistant wood, it is not a failsafe. Termites can eat wood and cause damage to termite-resistant wood. It can happen if the wood products get damp and begin to decay.

Woods resistant to termites

There are some wood species termites that prefer to avoid as much as possible due to their termite resistance. Termites will avoid Heartwood because it is the dry non-living part of the inner tree trunk. Heartwood contains less cellulose than the outer sapwood part of the tree, which makes it less nutritious for termites to eat.

If you are looking to choose lumber for its termite resistance, choose a heartwood grade lumber. The lumber is a termite-resistant material and will have the word ‘Heart’ in the grade name. For example, ‘Clear Heart’ or ‘Heart B.’ Heartwood has the added benefit of being more resistant to rotting than other grades of lumber.

The typical tree species used for building are the Douglas fir, Spruce, and Hemlock; out of the three, only the Douglas fir is pretty resistant to termites.

Do termites eat cedar wood?

Some wood species have a natural resistance to termites. However, they are not impervious to termites, but termites are less attracted to them; therefore, they are more unlikely to eat the wood.

In terms of naturally deterring termites, Cedarwood is one of the species resistant to termites and includes Southern Red cedar, Western red Cedar, and Alaska yellow cedar. Availability can vary depending on the region; the Western Red Cedar wood species can be found in most areas in the U.S.


Many people like the rich red-brown color of Redwood lumber, and it is not a favorite of termites. It grows on the west coast, which is where this popular wood species is most widely available.


Another good choice for discouraging termites is the Cypress wood species in, particularly tree species like the Bald Cypress and Tidewater (red) Cypress. They are durable, and the light color and straight grain make them very visually appealing. It is ideal for construction projects, interior trims, and exterior walls.

It is worth noting none of these types of wood are as long-lasting as termite-resistant wood.


Laotian Teak wood is a tropical hardwood and is not appealing to termites. If they have to eat it, however, they will. It is often used for outdoor furniture. This wood species is prized for its weather resistance and strength. Unfortunately, it can be expensive.

White oak

White oak and Chestnut oak are termite resistant. White oak is a popular choice for flooring. Termites steer clear of it but are happy to chew black oak. Chestnut oak is not so widely used, but if available, it’s often referred to as mixed white oak.

Other naturally resistant tree species:

  • Black walnut

  • Chestnut

  • Honey mesquite

  • Black cherry

Some of these types of wood that are termite-resistant building materials may not be practical because of their cost. The hardwoods like Cherry, Chestnut, and Walnut are usually used for fine furniture. Honey mesquite is very rare and can be difficult to find in large quantities.

Fiber cement siding

Fiber cement siding is composed of cellulose fibers, cement, water, and sand. It is popular for building siding because of its durability. It is not 100% wooden, making it resistant to termites.

Also, it is too tough for termites to chew; unlike lumber, fiber cement siding is fireproof and highly customizable.

Do Termites eat and damage Pressure Treated Wood?

Pressure-treated wood has a chemical preservative made of alkaline copper quaternary, copper azole, and micronized copper azole. They are forced into the pores of the wood using vacuum pressure. Treated wood has a barrier that resists decay and wood-eating insects like Carpenter ants and termites. Because it is pressure-treated, termites and wood-eating ants will avoid pressure-treated wood. However, A Subterranean termite colony will build mud tubes over the surface of termite-resistant wood to reach untreated wood.

The preservatives used can penetrate sapwood easier than Heartwood, so wood with a higher percentage of sapwood, like the Southern pine, is used the most often. If you cannot purchase termite-resistant wood, use pressure-treated wood instead.

Wood treatment for termite-resistant building materials

Wood treatment is a process that involves soaking the lumber with a termite-resistant chemical with pressure applied to it. The termites cannot eat the lumber with the chemicals present.

Wood Products Designed for Durability

Composite lumber is made by combining waste lumber, fiber, and plastic. The artificially produced lumber is completely impervious to termites and has the added benefit of resisting decay. Composite lumber offers the beauty of natural wood but costs less than natural wood. It is popular for furniture, decks, and siding.

Composite lumber does not warp as natural wood does, and the manufacturing process makes it extremely durable against insect infestations.

What types of wood do termites eat?

Termites stay away from White oak, but Red oak and Birch attract termites. Subterranean termites eat the soft cellulose fibers of Springwood and Pine and leave the tougher Summerwood and Bamboo alone. Bamboo has a brittle outer shell that termites will avoid.

How Long Does Pressure-Treated Wood Last Against Termites?

Pressure-treated wood is embedded with chemical preservatives in the wood pores during production. The chemical barrier in the wood becomes resistant to termites, rot, and fungi. This slows down the natural decaying process making the lumber longer-lasting and stronger than standard lumber.

Termite-resistant wood has been around for over seventy years, yet few people are aware of this type of construction building materials. Untreated wood contains cellulose, attracting termites. Termites will not cause the same damage to termite-resistant lumber as they do to untreated wood. It will last around five years.

This type of lumber is extremely tough and long-lasting and ideal for use in construction in areas of high termite colonies. It can also be used as a protective material.

What can Pressure Treated Lumber be used for?

If you want to build a fence, want some outdoor furniture, or mend the facade around the roofline, choose pressure-treated wood. Pressure-treated pine is one of the most popular wood species used to prevent termites from damaging wooden items.

Heartwood grade Lumber: The Best Defense Against Termites

Some wood species are better at deterring termites than others. Cedar and Redwood are two popular choices when it comes to choosing termite-resistant building materials for the exterior. These two wood species have natural insect repellents. Cedar and Redwood are two wood species best used at ground level.

The Teak wood species is another termite-resistant option against a termite infestation because it is a dense wood species making it difficult for termites to chew through.

Protect Your Building From Termite infestations

You should take reasonable precautions to minimize the risk of termites and termite-proof your home.

Fix leaks in pipes, leaking faucets, gaps, and cracks in walls and the foundations of your home. Make a property inspection regularly to check for the need for repairs. Damage will allow insect infestations into your home.

Sealing wood on your property will prevent water damage which can weaken the wood, and moist wood makes it more appealing to termites.

Use Melaleuca mulch around the yard; it has termite-repelling properties. Keep mulch away from the foundations.

Keep piles of logs and tree stumps as far as possible away from the home and foundations.

Use pest control methods such as a good barrier method with termiticides around your home to prevent a termite infestation. Some can be effective for up to fifty years.

Termite Treatment plan and full property inspection

If you need help to decide if you have termite activity, call a pest control specialist who can provide a termite inspection of your home, usually free of charge. If you do have a termite infestation, the pest control specialist will provide you with a pest control plan for treatment.

And finally,

We discussed ‘Termite-resistant wood.’ Overall, termite-resistant building materials like pressure-treated wood and naturally resistant lumber are essential in preventing termites and damage to commercial buildings or homes.

Termites are a worry for new and existing homeowners, which means it is a good idea to keep them in mind when constructing a new home or adding to an already existing home.

Good luck!






Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

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