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Is Spray Foam Insulation Bad For Termite Control?

You think you’re keeping your home warm but spray foams, no matter if they’re polyurethane or cellulose-based, have a serious downside when your home is dealing with a termite infestation.

In terms of home construction, spray foam insulation is directly applied to horizontal and vertical surfaces – how it expands lets you fill in small gaps and crevices. In turn, it acts as an effective air barrier that generally doesn’t attract insects and rodents. Long-term, spray foam insulation also cuts down on energy costs and lowers utility expenses.

Initially developed by the military and used for aircrafts, spray foam usage in homes started in the 1970s and picked up in the 1980s. As such, homes built during this period often use the material, but homeowners are typically unaware of its existence – until a termite infestation develops.


By nature, spray foam’s dense, spongy composition should act as a deterrent, particularly if it’s made of polyurethane or another synthetic material. Yet, while the foam itself won’t attract termites, it doesn’t block them either. Instead, pest control professionals find these pests chewing or tunneling through, nesting inside and forming colonies inside spray foam.

Spray Foam Obscures an Infestation

Although you can spot termites eating through beams and supports, insulation may cover up their presence. Even back when rigid cellulose insulation lined a home’s perimeter, termites would still eat through it or continue consuming any structural supports behind the foam. As such, unless the tubes and tunnels went from one side to the other, the material essentially shielded the destruction – until it was too late.

This issue isn’t exclusive to older insulation methods. During construction, spray foam is applied at least 3/4 of an inch thick. As termites can burrow holes just 1/16 in diameter, their presence goes undetected.

In either case, the infestation progresses from your foundation and basement to other, more visible parts of your home.

Spray Foam Creates a Pathway

The termites progress through a home’s structural timbers, often out of sight during an inspection. However, just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. As a result, the foam often forms a direct pathway to window sills, frames and doors. Beyond these factors, cellulose composes several common aspects of your home, including drywall and paper. Consequently, the infestation may spread up the interior, to the attic or through your walls.

In spite of this risk, spray foam continues to be an efficient insulation method. As you update your home for winter, consider consulting a pest control professional to rule out any potential risks. If you suspect termites are tunneling through your spray insulation, reach out to Eliminate ‘Em’s termite control professionals for a full assessment. To learn about our services or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today.