Some pest control experts consider termite shields to be the oldest type of physical barrier to termites. Contrary to their name, termite shields are not designed to shield or protect your home from termites. When installed correctly, termite shields can force subterranean termites to build mud tubes in visible locations where they are more easily detected.
In other words, the primary benefit of termite shields is making it more likely that a pest control expert will be able to identify a termite infestation, not preventing an infestation in the first place.
What Is a Termite Shield?
A termite shield is a metal barrier that is installed around potential subterranean termite entry points into the home, including foundations, piers and pipes. Common installation locations include between the lower masonry wall of a home and the wooden components that are joined to the masonry wall (e.g. between the top of the basement wall and the start of the main floor), or directly on top of the foundation (typically for solid, poured concrete walls).
Termite shields are made of durable metals that will not corrode, including galvanized steel, galvanized iron and copper. These non-cellulose materials are not attractive to termites and cannot be penetrated by termites.
Are Termite Shields Effective?
When installed correctly, without any tiny gaps or cracks, termite shields can make it difficult for subterranean termites to find entry points into your home. However, termites can explore along the shield looking for any minute holes where the shield is not sealed properly and can try to build mud tubes on and around the shield.
If termites build a mud tube around a termite shield, you should consult your pest control expert for an inspection as soon as you notice the mud tube.
Termite shields can be a beneficial termite detection tool when built into new home construction. It can be difficult and expensive to install termite shields in existing homes.
Unfortunately, the general consensus in the construction industry is that it is difficult to properly install a termite shield. Since termite shields only highlight warning signs for activity, you should not rely on termite shields to protect your home from termites. Termite shields should be combined with other subterranean termite prevention methods, including regular inspections and termiticides and monitoring and bait devices, when needed, to help protect your home from infestations.