Woodworm is a common problem affecting many wooden aspects of homes across the UK.
Despite their name, woodworms aren’t worms at all – they’re the larvae of several different species of beetles, including the common furniture beetle, the house longhorn beetle, the deathwatch beetle, and powder post beetles, among others.
Other species of beetles like the waney edge beetle also cause woodworm but are unlikely to affect homes because they only attack unseasoned timber.
The costs of a woodworm infestation can be immense, not only carrying the risk of damaging your furniture but carrying the potential to attack the timber structure of your house.
In this article, we’ll be exploring how much it costs to treat woodworm, what affects the cost of treating woodworm, how to save money when treating woodworm, how to know if your house has woodworm and how to find and hire a woodworm treating specialist.
If you’ve spotted some tell-tale signs that woodworm is present in your home, it’s essential to stamp out the infestation as soon as possible. Let’s get into it.
How Much Does It Cost to Treat Woodworm?
Understanding the type of problem you’re dealing with is the key to resolving a woodworm infestation once and for all – but how much you pay for woodworm treatment will depend on the type of treatment you choose. The main options of treatment are:
|Woodworm Treatment||Estimated Cost||Time Required|
|Professional Survey||£100 to £250||1 to 4 hours|
|DIY Liquid Treatment||£12 to £50 per 5L||1 hour plus drying time|
|Fogging or Fumigation||£500 to £1,000||1 to 3 days|
|Loft or Roof Treatment||£400 to £900||1 to 2 days|
For a professional survey, you’re looking at costs between £100 to £250, taking between one to four hours depending on the size of your home and the scale of your woodworm infestation. The surveyor will:
- Perform a woodworm survey with a detailed report
- Diagnose the insect
- Inspect the roof void and basement
- Inspect all flooring timber
Getting a full survey taken out is an essential step in overcoming woodworm infestations, as without it you might end up applying the wrong treatment in a quick DIY endeavour, which will only end with you spending more time and money on getting the right treatment.
Once the type of woodworm has been identified, you know which type of treatment to use. If a DIY liquid treatment is applicable, this will cost you between £12 to £50 per 5 litres, taking one hour for application plus drying time to complete.
For fogging or fumigation, you’re looking at far higher costs of between £500 to £1,000, taking between one to three days to complete.
If you find you need to undertake loft or roof treatment as a result of your woodworm infestation, the costs will range from £400 to £900, taking between one to two days to conclude.
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What Affects the Cost of Treating Woodworm?
Since there are three common types of beetles that cause woodworm, there are different approaches to dealing with each one. Some beetle problems can be dealt with by taking a DIY route, but others will require professional advice and treatment – and as we can see from the comparison table above, some carry far higher fees than others.
Here are the most common elements that can affect the cost of treating woodworm in your home.
The Size and Age of Your Home
The larger your home, the more chance there is that the woodworm infestation has spread to the entirety of it, making the removal a lengthier process than that of a smaller property.
The older your property is – especially in the case of period properties – the higher the chances that it will have seen some damp issues during its lifetime, a setting in which woodworm thrive.
The Scale of the Infestation
It’s a well-known fact that the sooner you can contain your woodworm problem, the better it is for your property, your possessions, and your wallet. The more widespread the infestation becomes, the more work needs to be done to eradicate it from your home.
Your Choice of Woodworm Treatment
In general, a 5-litre container of liquid woodworm treatment should cover between 15 and 25 square metres, but always check before you purchase.
Boron surface agents include water-based solutions or gels which are applied onto the affected surface. Surface treatments will work if you have correctly identified the type of beetle – and you can expect to pay around £30 per 25 square metres for the treatment.
If you find yourself consistently needing to deal with damp, then leave-in boron rods will protect the timber for years. These rods cost between £10 to £40 for a pack of 10 rods, depending on the size.
Cheaper DIY fumigation agents commonly use a chemical called Permethrin. This is not recommended unless you take relevant safety precautions and protect fish, pets and children from coming in contact with it.
This treatment involves putting the treatment agent under floorboards, letting the fog penetrate the timber from beneath. It’s a less disruptive method, allowing the space to be inhabited within a few hours.
Fumigants are harmful to health and the property may need to be empty for a few days before it is safe to occupy again.
UV Insect Killers
These are useful for killing adult beetles once they emerge, costing between £40 and £230 depending on quality and how many square metres they cover.
These are useful for killing adult beetles; they contain a pheromone to attract the beetles and an insecticide to kill them. These are very affordable—usually less than £5 per pack.
Whether Your Home Has Damp Issues
Beetles favour areas in the home that are damp, and if exposed timber has more than a 20% moisture content, then beetles are drawn to this environment. Woodworms thrive in these conditions also, so the best option may be to treat the source of damp before treating the infestation.
The Common Furniture Beetle is known to lay eggs on timber and once the eggs have hatched into larvae they will begin to damage the timber by burrowing beneath the surface and eating through the wood.
They will leave holes in the timber and this can weaken it, potentially causing structural problems as the integrity of the timber is compromised.
Whether You Need to Replace Timber
If the woodworm infestation is severe, it may cause structural damage and you may need to replace timber floor or roof joists in your home to maintain structural integrity. This can cost anywhere from £250 to £500 per beam.
Finally, your location always plays a part when it comes to any home renovation or treatment works, bumping the price up or down depending on whether you’re in a capital city or not.
How Can I Save Money When Treating Woodworm?
Seek Professional Advice
Although there are DIY options available on the market, the devastation woodworm may inflict on your property is a cause for concern. Seeking professional help, to not only identify the correct beetle responsible for your issues but also eradicate it in the recommended way.
How you deal with woodworm today may affect the selling price of your home further down the line if you wish to move, so it’s best to get the most effective treatment possible to ensure the problem is taken care of once and for all.
Depending on the type of beetle you have, the treatments will differ:
Common Furniture Beetle – this is the most common woodworm causing agent and often does not cause structural damage.
The popular way of dealing with the Common Furniture Beetle is to apply at least two coats of a treatment agent containing boron. This is an odourless, vapour-less and water-based agent which you spray or brush on the affected wood.
The House Longhorn Beetle – if you suspect your home has been raided by this pest, you will require professional help to eradicate it and prevent costly damage.
Deathwatch Beetle – this beetle can burrow deep into the wood and can cause structural damage.
Surface treatment will not do the trick because the beetle is often deep inside the wood, and the assistance of a surveyor is essential to determine the extent of the infestation. Treatment will often involve injecting the timber with a boron solution.
Catch The Problem As Soon As Possible
Beetles will be most active from April to October, so if you expect your home to have a woodworm problem, keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of their presence – which we’ll go into in the next section of this article.
Realising there’s a problem as soon as possible can help to stem the infestation and stop it before it stretches to all corners of your home.
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How Do I Know If My House Has Woodworm?
Luckily, there are a few ways to find out if your home has the presence of some unwanted guests.
|Beetle Species||Signs of Infestation|
|Common Furniture Beetle||Short tunnels along the grain|
|Round exit holes|
|Gritty borehole dust|
|Deathwatch Beetle||Long, deep tunnels towards the centre|
|Round exit holes|
|Wood Boring Weevils||Superficial tunnels along the grain|
|Small, uneven exit holes|
|Gritty borehole dust|
|Likes damp skirting boards and joists|
|Powder Post Beetles||Superficial tunnels along the grain|
|Small, round exit holes|
|Flour-like borehole dust|
|Loves young hardwood timber like oak|
|House Longhorn Beetle||Deep, hidden tunnels can cause severe damage|
|Large, oval exit holes|
|Mainly found in Southeast England|
If you suspect a problem, it should be fairly easy to see if there are any signs of an infestation in your home. You’ll be mostly looking for borehole dust or frass – the name for woodworm droppings.
Although seeing the tell-tale exit holes in your wooden items may lure you into thinking the problem is dealt with and the beetles have left, they will have just moved on to find another suitable host in your home. It’s essential you get a professional in to survey your home to find out the scale of the problem, and crucially if there is any structural damage.
How Do I Find and Hire a Woodworm Treatment Specialist?
As with most home projects, we recommend that you seek out trade recommendations from your friends, family and neighbours in the first instance. This is the best way to find a trusted, reputable trader as you have a word of mouth testimony to go by, and will help you to avoid time wasters.
The properties in your area will be of a similar age, and if that’s a period property, in particular, they’re bound to have had some dealings with woodworm specialists, so it’s a great idea to get in touch with those neighbours to find out who they used. This can help you make contacts of your own, as well as know who to avoid if they weren’t so good.
Alternatively, using HouseholdQuotes can help to save you up to 40% on your project’s fee by consolidating your search results on one website, saving you the time and hassle of switching between tabs to find the best deal and availability.
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Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
Before you settle on any agreements, you must get a written quote from your trader to ensure that both parties know what’s included in the set fee. Within this quote, you must find out if there’s a minimum call-out charge, as for smaller jobs (such as applying a liquid treatment), there may be.
Whether your trader has come from a friend or family referral or not, it’s important to find out what their experience is and to seek out any relevant references from their previous projects. This will help you to understand if their skills are a match for you, as well as if they’ve had success in eradicating similar issues in the past.
It’s also a good idea to see any photos or videos of previous jobs to see what kind of results you can expect from your trader.
All traders should carry their own insurance, but it’s always best practice to double-check this before signing on with them to save you from being liable for any problems that occur during the project.
To settle your woodworm infestation once and for all, it’s best to get the professionals in sooner rather than later. Here’s our final checklist to make sure nothing’s missing when you get started on your project.
- Look out for tell-tale signs – holes, dust, debris
- If you suspect a problem, get in touch with a professional to carry out a survey
- Find out if there’s a minimum call-out fee, and get a written quote for the work
- If you have woodworm as a result of damp problems, you’ll need to rectify the damp before tackling the infestation
- Be prepared for a little disruption and to vacate your home if necessary depending on the treatment type
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Woodworm Treatment Necessary?
Even if woodworm is present in decorative furniture, it can still cause major issues as once it has finished its lifecycle in that one piece, it will move onto the next thing – which could be your floorboards or joists.
Can I Treat Woodworm Myself?
If you’re unsure, it’s best to get a professional in for an expert assessment and handling of the infestation. It’s also good to note that if your DIY treatment fails, you have no company to come back in to re-try the job – it’ll just be an expense coming out of your pocket.
When attempting any DIY treatments, it’s imperative to remember the importance of always reading the manufacturer’s label, as well as wearing protective clothing, gloves, and a face mask and ventilating the room during and after treatment.
Special care should be taken if you have pets or children at home, and you shouldn’t allow pets or children to touch the treated areas. Keep in mind that some solvent-based woodworm treatments can have a high volatile organic compound (VOC) content, which impacts air quality.
How Long Does It Take for Woodworm Treatments To Dry or Cure?
Can Woodworm Come Back After Treatment?
How Do I Know if the Woodworm Treatment Has Worked?
What Time of Year Do Woodworm Beetles Emerge?
How Long Can Woodworm Stay Dormant?
How Can I Stop Woodworm From Spreading in My Home?
Woodworms thrive in damp conditions, so keeping rooms well-ventilated, and treating any damp problems as soon as they arise are all good ways of combating potential invasions.
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