Furniture can be infested by subterranean termites or by drywood termites. Usually, if furniture is infested with subterranean termites, the termites gained access coincidentally through termite tubes from the structure. As most furniture is hardwood, the furniture is not the preferred food source for subterranean termites.
Drywood termites, however, will readily infest furniture, so most infested furniture observed is likely being attacked by drywood termites. The tell tale sign of drywood infestation is drywood termite pellets or small ridged droppings of the color of the wood being attacked. Drywood termite infestation can also occur in furniture which has been transported from regions which have drywood termites and this can lead to an infestation of the structure.
Most infested furniture can be treated by surface treatment provided the product will penetrate into the wood. This treatment will control both subterranean and drywood termites.
Another method is the use of heat. Using this system, the furniture is heated beyond the point where termites can survive. This works well provided that care is taken to make sure that glue joints will not fail. If glue joints fail, the furniture must be reglued. Also, certain types of furniture may have plastics which may distort on heating.
A third method of treatment is fumigation. Fumigation involves the use of penetrating gas lethal to termites. The furniture is typically removed and placed into a container or chamber which can be sealed. An EPA registered gas such as sulfuryl fluoride is introduced and the gas penetrates the furniture, controlling the termites. Special precautions must be taken to make sure that there is no access to the container during fumigation. Special licenses and training are required to fumigate and is not something that a homeowner can do. After the proper time has elapsed, the container is opened to allow air to enter. After it is determined that there is no more fumigant present, the furniture is removed. As the fumigant is a gas, there is no residual in the furniture. Reinfestation is possible.