How to get Bugs out of reclaimed wood

How to treat reclaimed wood for bugs

You should be aware that though reclaimed wood is eco-friendly and is very appealing to the eyes, however, there may be a real threat for no one knows what they house. This is due to the fact that planks are normally sourced from old structures. Pieces of old and unmaintained wood may be housing some unwanted organisms such as insects and you would not like to have that in your house.

There are a few ways to get those pesky bugs out of your reclaimed wood. You can use a chemical treatment to kill the bugs or use safe methods such as heating or freezing the wood.

Which ever method you choose it is important to know that rustic piece of reclaimed wood may be housing insects that can prove to be a nuisance. It is important to know some simple methods for removing bugs on wood.


Reclaimed wood

What kind of bugs live in wood?

You should be aware that many types of bugs can actually live in the wood that you have reclaimed and you need to be extra cautious. Here are some of the common types of bugs that can be in your wood and how you can detect them.



These are the most prevalent insects that are responsible for damaging the wood. Termites can bring down a wooden house if not properly watched and eliminated. There are more than two thousand different types of termites and the unique thing about them is that each type has a unique appetite on what it wants to feed on. The good thing is that there is a sign you can look at on your reclaimed wood and identify the presence of termites in them.

  • Mud tubes on the wood that is the size of a pencil, then it is definite the wood host termites and then you will be required to ensure you completely eliminate them.
  • Discarded wings around the wood that have been actually shed by some of the worker’s termites
  • If you find some insects on your wood that look like white ants, you should know that these are actually living termites. You should therefore immediately find the right means to eliminate them and save your piece of reclaimed wood.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant

The damage that is normally caused by carpenter ants usually is similar to what termites do. For you to identify if the wood is infested by these insects you should look if you can find wings present on the wood. Additionally, you will identify that these ants have created tunnels within the wood to travel. This is because they normally prefer the moist part of the wood especially if there is mold growing in it. If you notice any of the characteristics here then you should be aware that you are facing a wood infested with carpenter ants. You should therefore quickly use the appropriate method to eliminate them from your reclaimed wood and ensure they do not escape for they can spread to other furniture in your home and start destroying them too.



Beetles may also be found in reclaimed wood. There are several types of beetles and each of them is attracted to a specific type of wood. To be specific some are attracted to the sapwood of hardwood lumbers. One thing that is unique about beetles and is worth noting is that they can remain on the inside of your wood for a prolonged period of time. You should, therefore, use the best methods available to eliminate beetles from you reclaimed wood to avoid further destruction.

The methods used to reclaim wood against bugs?

One thing we should be aware of is that our furniture may house many insects and yet go unnoticed. A greater disappointment is that even if you try and sand your pieces of furniture you may still fail to reclaim it too. Here are the methods one can use to treat reclaimed wood for bugs.

1. Wrap wood in Plastic

Take your reclaimed wood outside and wrap it in a heavy plastic. Place it outside in the sun on a hot day. Certainly, the temperature inside the plastic will get hot enough to force the bugs out of the wood. Some will die inside the plastic while others will lay exposed and you can easily remove or brush them away.

2. Freezing the wood

If your piece is small enough or you have a big freezer we can try method #2. You can do this by placing the wood in a commercial freezer (if you have one) or a chest freezer and leaving the reclaimed wood for approximately 72 hours. When necessary you can thaw the item and repeat the freezing to kill bugs that may be resistant to this procedure. By doing so the bugs will be eventually die in the wood.

3. Fumigating the wood

Another procedure for treating reclaimed wood for bugs is fumigating the wood. You will cover the wood in plastic and introduce a “fogger” or “bug bomb” that sprays the insecticide. Containing it in the plastic will actually hinder the insects from spreading into the air. In addition, the insecticide will only work on the bugs that are on the wood and ultimately kill them.

4. Spray or sprinkle the insecticide

This is done for insects that are wood-eating or wood-boring on the reclaimed wood. For instance, precise foam or Tim-bor normally penetrates into the wood surfaces and gets at any bug that may be hiding inside the wood. You can also inject an insecticide known as Termidor into the wood and it will kill bugs.

You can also heat the reclaimed wood to around 140 degrees Celsius. This kind of extreme temperature will kill all sorts of insects and bugs in your piece of wood. Any insect even those hiding inside the wood will be forced to try and escape and will be terminated in the process. You can then remove the remnants of these insects by scrubbing the wood. You can then go ahead and sand the wood continuously and vacuum it to remove any sort of debris and dust.

The above discussion clearly shows the appropriate methods of reclaiming wood that is infested with bags. One should not let precious pieces of wood go into waste just because one fears they may be hosting bugs. These pieces of wood can be used for various purposes in our homes and therefore reclaiming them is important.