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jackwashere 09-28-2012 02:53 PM

Regular not-treated lumber
What are the chances that regular not treated lumber will have the damaging kinds of termites that can destroy wood structures over time?

I'm building something that is on a concrete structure 4 feet off of the ground. I'm using regular old lumber. I'm worried about termites as a pre-existing condition in lumber. Are my worries correct or unfounded?

GBrackins 09-28-2012 04:44 PM

any wood in contact with concrete needs to be treated as concrete will wick moisture and can cause dry-rot in wood.

concretemasonry 09-28-2012 05:15 PM

The hyper mania about wood not being allowed is just foolish! - And it is simplistic "canned" observation spouted out.

Do you how many concrete structures have untreated wood walls and plates that have contact with the concrete. There, the only problem is the wood shrinkage as it dries out and not the fabled problem that really comes from the soil that supplies the moisture that may absorb moisture. Even a "wrinkled tin" steel stud can survive well. - Do you actually think someone would put a moisture barrier at every level?

If the concrete structure is 4' above ground, the biggest problem is with the moisture absorbed by the wood from the interior or exterior building envelope. Moisture does not travel very far once it is cured and the need for moisture is satisfied.

Also the concrete is not a home for termites like wood is.

At 4', I would suggest some PT at the bearing points or a moisture barrier and not worry about everything above unless it is termite food or subject to rotting from poor flashing and moisture control.


GBrackins 09-28-2012 05:29 PM


you are absolutely correct, I went back and read the code section and since he is more than 8" above the adjacent grade it is not required to be treated ...... thanks for catching my error

jackwashere 09-28-2012 06:23 PM


Originally Posted by concretemasonry (Post 1019455)
I would suggest some PT at the bearing points or a moisture barrier and not worry about everything above

My inspector said he doesn't care much for PT or moisture barrier that high up on concrete but he would like to see the wood that comes into contact painted.

However the question I had was not about exposure of wood to concrete and moisture. The ranch is in the high desert and it is rather dry up there. I am concerned about bugs that may be in lumber from the get-go. If I go to a lumber yard what are the chances the wood I buy might have termites in it already?

woodworkbykirk 09-28-2012 06:59 PM

what drives me nuts is how were required to put plastic under bottom plates that are in contact with basement slabs in new construction yet their is plastic under the slab to keep moisture out.. the problem with the additional layer of plastic is that it will sweat which will then rot the wood.. no 2nd layer of plastic= no sweating= no rot

GBrackins 09-28-2012 07:26 PM


see Figure 403.1(1) of the 2009 International Residential Code. There is a code requirement for a vapor barrier to be installed under a concrete slab with living space above. 6 mil polyethylene which is typically used is a class I vapor barrier.

woodworkbykirk 09-28-2012 07:58 PM

i know the code. i build and renovate high end customs. but theres always little flaws in the codes that can be argued

user1007 09-28-2012 11:26 PM

If you buy your lumber from a reputable lumber yard there most certainly should not be an issue with insect eggs, disease spores or whatever in it to start off with!

If you think the structure is going to be prone to such things I would spray or dust it with one of the different forms of Boron/Borate for the purpose once done with your construction. I liked to use it when I had walls opened up for restoration.

Boracare is one brand. It is relative harmless unless consumed by pets and kids in large quantities. If allowed to run off in concentrated form it can render soil sterile for a long time. Good old fashioned roach powder is mainly borate and cheap if you just want to lay down dust. Diatamaceous (sp) Earth common in compounds form swimming pools is also a possibility for insects at least.

Not sure why your inspector is harping about painting the wood in contact with the concrete but maybe I am missing something so will defer to others for reasoning on that. And if that is what it is going to take to get an inspection sign off best to comply.

You could hit it with a nice, quality, acrylic solid color stain like Sherwin Williams Woodscapes or primer and than paint. You could also use something like Benjamin Moore's porch, floor and patio paint. The oil is urethane reinforced and the waterbased epoxy reinforced. They are self priming.

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