Are Steel Frame Houses Termite-Proof?

Are Steel Frame Houses Termite-Proof?

Are Steel Frame Houses Termite-Proof?
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Many people think steel frame homes fully protect you against termites. However, while the structural parts are safe from termite damage, other parts of your home remain vulnerable. Let’s have a look at why these homes are not entirely safe from these destructive pests.

The short story: although termites can’t eat the frame of a steel frame house, there’s plenty of other timbers they can eat and the cost of termite treatment and repairs is still there.

Termites Still Pose a Risk to Steel Frame Homes

Termite mud tunnels along a steel frame house bearer in a subfloor.
Termite mud along a steel bearer underneath a house in Wodonga, VIC. Termites can still travel along the frame to get to other timbers.

Yes, termites can’t chew through steel, so your home’s main structure stays safe. But modern construction with steel frames still uses timbers in skirtings, kickboards, cupboards, cladding, sliding doors, furniture, and door jambs or architraves.

There’s plenty of timber around in a modern building for termites to attack. Termite baiting or chemical control is still necessary in these situations.

Concrete Floors Attract Termites

Most likely, your new steel frame house has a concrete slab under it. Concrete floors create a problem for termites too. The cold concrete causes precipitation around it, which makes the surrounding soil constantly moist. Termites thrive in moist conditions. So even with a steel frame, your concrete floor can still draw termites to your home.

The National Construction Code Recommendations Aren’t Enough

Termite damage to a window frame in a steel frame home in Albury, NSW.
Termite damaged window frame in a steel frame home in Albury, NSW.

The National Construction Code (NCC) requires termite barriers only when termites could threaten the main structure of your house. Unsurprisingly, the NCC is written by builders, not by pest controllers.

Cheaper builders often care more about ticking the box for the NCC and council regulations than they do with the longevity of the building in a high-risk termite area.

With a steel frame, budget builders will say it is safe. However, a good builder will go the extra mile to protect your entire home with a termite management system, not just relying on the structure.

Ensure you check the inclusions list if you’re building a new home. Ask your builder if there is any additional system protecting your home aside from the the frame material. Often builders will only bother with protecting slab penetrations (pipes and electrical) and skip the perimeter system.

You Still Need Protection for a Steel Frame Home

Even with a steel frame house, you can’t ignore termite protection. You should still use methods like chemical treatments, termite monitoring/baiting systems, or physical barriers to manage the risk of termite attack.

Termite inspection being conducted on a steel frame home.
Regular termite inspections are still necessary for steel frame houses.

Australian Standards strongly recommend at least 12 monthly termite inspections of all buildings, regardless of what the frame is made of. Getting a regular inspection is required to minimise the damage caused by termites by catching them before they spread too far.

Don’t forget, termite damage isn’t something your home insurance will cover. So, you have an even greater need to defend your home against termites, regardless of its construction material.

In my experience, when termites enter steel frame homes, they tend to spread very fast through timber joinery and furniture. I assume the reason is there is not a lot of timber in these houses, so they need to spread fast to consume timber more quickly.

Get Professional Advice When it Comes to Termites

If you have a steel frame or treated timber frame home, it’s worth consulting with a local pest controller about what your best option is.

Our local area is Albury, Wodonga, Rutherglen, Corowa and surrounding areas. Your local pest controller may know more about the construction methods of your local builders and their advice may differ.

You can call us on 02 6032 7137 or contact us via email, Facebook, or on our Contact Us page.

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