In an effort to combat the Formosan subterranean termite, which is decimating New Orleans' historic houses, Louisiana-Pacific Corp. and Osmose have created a line of protected building products.
"Formosan subterranean termites are spreading, leaving a trail of catastrophic damage across the country and especially here in New Orleans," says Charles Bradford, business director, wood siding for Louisiana-Pacific. "It's caused a lot of devastation in that particular area." The damage is not limited to Louisiana, however. "If you look across the United States, termites are really bad around 14 states, Formosan specifically," he says. Termites cost about $3 billion per year in cost and control. In addition to termites, about 33 states fall within what Bradford calls a decay zone. In these areas of high humidity, houses may deteriorate due to decay.
The new line of products, known as SmartGuard, consists of sheathing, flooring, dimensional wood framing, insulation and siding products. A study conducted by NAHB on behalf of Louisian-Pacific determined that building a house with the SmartGuard system would cost $1,800 more than traditional building products. "For about an extra $1,800 you can build you home framing package out of SmartGuard products, and you don't have to worry about termites or decay," says Bradford.
To provide a barrier from termites or decay, SmartGuard products incorporate Borates into the treatment process. Borates, a naturally occurring compound, interferes with a termite's metabolic pathways when they are ingested through feeding or grooming. Any surviving termites will then avoid the protected wood products. The product's advantage is its proactive approach to these problems.
"Termites get in your walls and they are not quite easy to see," says Bradford. "Many times they are in there eating on the framing structure. By the time you really realize there's a problem, they can really have done a tremendous amount of damage."
After termites enter the home, the homeowner can use a baiting system or have the house tinted. "Those are not cheap options," says Bradford. Depending on the area, a typical baiting system can cost around $1,000 to $1,200 to install and then must pay for yearly maintenance, according to Bradford. Tinting a house can cost just as much to do one time. "By the time you put in the dollars to do that, for the same money, you could build your framing package out of our products in the beginning and not have to worry about it," says Bradford.
Although the product is most effective in new construction applications, remodelers may want to consider using the treated product line. "For the small additional cost, if I did any additional repairs or particularly if I built on an addition, I would certainly use these because it's a situation where you're not ever going to have to worry about termites or decay in that particular area [of the house]," says Bradford.
The company reports brisk business for the product line, which was introduced in April. "We've seen very robust sales," Bradford. He predicts a strong future for SmartGuard. "The durability of homes is something that homeowners are demanding to have."