New Service Opportunities Using Physical Pest Barriers

We know that humans have been competing with insects for millions of years as indicated by fossils, fables and forensic science. Early humans adapted to using layers of clothing and setting up indoor living accommodations, or caves, to protect themselves and their possessions from insects. These principles of human harborage have evolved into the free-standing structures we know today, but the hope of building out insects is still present. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, we compete daily with insects for food, fiber and forestry products. In our homes, termites are one of the more prevalent threats. Advances in the use of physical pest barriers to effectively exclude subterranean termites have made it possible to add new dimensions to integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for both pre-construction and post-construction implementations. For more than 20 years we have been evaluating physical and chemical barriers against termites and other structural and household pests. Products such as particulate barrier systems have applications on the exterior of structures, and in and around interior plumbing penetrations. Sealants, membranes and wire meshes can be used as effective barriers to invading insect populations at the soil, concrete slab, veneer interfaces, as well as soffit and roof areas. Development of elastomeric membranes and advances in their use provides opportunities for pest management professionals to effectively solve problems with cracked slabs, cold joints and other construction abnormalities, which in the past have resulted in the incursion of pest populations. Sustainable building practice is the use of environmentally responsible processes that are resource-efficient. These are not new concepts, but hold a great deal of promise in ensuring the building is efficient during design and construction, as well as in operation and maintenance for the life of the structure.

Physical Pest Barriers

Figure 1. Trench installation of particle barrier.

It is known that there are several requisites for life that are required for animals, such as insects, to survive. Heterotrophs must harvest food for energy and growth and have access to oxygen to be successful. Additionally, water, a favorable environment that provides the appropriate temperature and humidity, shelter from elements, and others of the same species to advance the population are required for success of an organism. To effectively control a pest population, reducing or eliminating access to any of these conducive conditions is key. Use of sustainable building practices in an IPM program results in effective pest exclusion with long-term efficacy. Building materials used in this type of control are environmentally sound and generally require little maintenance.

An Aggregate Barrier 

One material that is at the forefront of pest exclusion, without the use of pesticides, is an aggregate barrier. These also are referred to as particulate termite barriers and are made up of specifically-sized aggregate. Particulate termite barriers have been widely and successfully used in other parts of the world since the 1980s. However, they have never been commercially available in the mainland United States. The principle behind particle barriers has been well researched by Ebeling and Pence (1957)1, Su et al. (1991)2, Su and Scheffrahn (1992)3, Yates et al. (2003)5 and Keefer et al. (2013)4. Research with particle barriers for the mainland United States was initiated at Texas A&M University in 2003 at the request of a Texas pest control professional. Various particle characteristics were evaluated, including size, angularity and interstitial space between particles. Results showed that a particle blend of aggregate sieve sizes 8, 10 and 12, as well as a mean angularity of 3200+ and 40% interstitial space, was most effective against tunneling subterranean termites4. This material is generally installed in a wedge formation that measures 4 inches across and 5 inches down, directly against the foundation.

Particle barriers were initially installed in 15 homes in South Texas in 2005. Each of the homes were infested with subterranean termites prior to the start of the experiment. Homes in this study were monitored for 10 years and the pest control professional monitoring reported no occurrences of termites during this field evaluation. Particle barriers were then reduced to practice in seven Texas homes in 2015. Each structure was initially infested with termites, but to date, none have shown evidence that termites have breached the particle barrier. Aggregate barriers have also shown success when installed in bath traps or slab leave-outs. During construction and after the foundation is poured, cardboard and other debris is removed from bath trap areas and the particle barrier is installed. Application of this material protects the structure from termite intrusion in these vulnerable areas. Implementation of particle barriers has expanded across the United States and serves as a reliable supplementation to termiticide use around new and existing structures.

Protected wood sample

Figure 2. Wood samples wrapped in membrane remained undamaged by termites for the five-year experiment, while unprotected wood was completely destroyed.

A Membrane Barrier

Another new material that can broaden the scope of service for pest control professionals is a membrane barrier. Membrane barriers are elastomeric, meaning they move when the structure moves without tearing, and are available in a caulk tube or adhered to a high-strength backing. Texas A&M University began testing on sealant barriers in February 2000 and continues to help improve them to this day. A field study was initiated in 2003 to evaluate the effectiveness of these elastomeric membrane barriers to protect wood against termite damage. Aged Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) boards were cut into billets. The treatment billets were completely covered and sealed with membrane barrier, which is self-adhering, while the untreated control billets were not covered with treatment materials. Sets of treated and untreated control billets were buried together in five different Texas locations with demonstrated subterranean termite activity. A total of 10 billets, 5 treated and 5 untreated controls, were buried on the same date and location. The protocol called for exhuming and removing one each of the treated and untreated billets, from each site on or about the annual anniversary date. The test units were to be taken back to the laboratory, carefully washed to remove soil and termite mud tubes, air dried, and then the amount of damage done to them by termites or other factors was estimated. Each of the extracted billets were visually inspected and the damage was rated using the ASTM scales (D3345-08), in which a rating of 10.0 meant “no damage” was observed, while a rating of 0.0 indicates the wood sample was “destroyed.”

Four samples of wood that were left untreated were completely destroyed by year 2 and the fifth sample was destroyed by year 5. Alternatively, samples that were wrapped in membrane barrier were rated at a 10.0, or undamaged, throughout the five-year field experiment. Membrane barriers are adhered to high-strength backings and are used to protect the below grade foundation. This material also operates as the waterproofing or vapor barrier, covers 100% of horizontal surface (penetrations, joints, and future cracks) above the slab, and seals all vertical seams, crevices and cracks. Additionally, membrane barriers have been adapted into a caulk sealant formulation that can be used to protect vulnerable intersections between pipe penetrations and the foundation that can be avenues for termite intrusion. When caulked around the plumbing penetration, sealant barriers adhere to the pipe (PVC, copper or others), and to the concrete. As the structure moves during settling or due to expansive soils, the sealant barrier material maintains a barrier that is impenetrable by termites and other urban pests.

TERM® Membrane Barrier protects against termites

Figure 3. Membrane barrier designed for termite exclusion is installed on a below-grade concrete foundation in Hawaii.

Screen Them Out

Screens with apertures small enough to block termites were developed in Australia and have been widely used in the United States, mostly for plumbing penetrations, since the 1990s. One of the early uses of screens for pest exclusion was the implementation of screen doors and window coverings in the 1860s. Screen used to mill grain were repurposed to cover windows to keep pathogen vectors, such as mosquitos, from entering homes.

Today, building codes require insect screens at vent openings, but entomologists know that smaller ones are often needed. Most insects can be excluded with screens measuring 1/16 inch (1.59 millimeter) in aperture size, but to effectively exclude termites, required screen apertures measure 1/55 inch (0.46 millimeter). Application areas for screens in the building envelope include weep holes, soffits, gable and ridge vents, among others.

The building envelope is a physical barrier between the interior and exterior of a structure that has been proven to keep energy in and environmental elements out. Each of these materials are upgrades to the building envelope that have shown to keep termites and other pests out. The goal of these types of materials is to build out pests with sustainable systems and exclude pests for the life of the structure. Each of the pest exclusion materials discussed herein are free of pesticides and are classified as “devices” or barriers by regulators.

Integrated pest management tactics employ the use of physical and mechanical barriers to control pests, along with chemical, biological and cultural, or sanitation, methods. In addition, federal and state governments emphasize sustainable systems as part of sound and effective IPM programs. An example of such initiative would be NPMA’s QualityPro Certification Program, a service option and certification developed by the National Pest Management Association that is awarded to companies that provide service options that are least-risk to people, property and the environment.

TERM® Bath Trap Barrier System

Figure 4. Membrane barrier may be installed as part of a bath trap barrier, along with screen and particle barrier, to exclude termites and other pests at concrete leave-outs.

Sustainable Solutions

Our goal as pest control professionals is to protect the health and property of our clients. We know that pesticides are effective for months to years, but buildings are built to last for decades. Termiticides are often reapplied during the life of the structure to protect against foraging termites. It’s important, as an urban pest management professional, to explore the use of proven non-chemical approaches such as mechanical and physical barriers to supplement pesticide use.

Sustainable approaches to IPM are part of the future for professional pest management. Through the use of aggregate barriers, elastomeric sealants and screens, we can solve difficult problems with pest incursions. Sustainable technologies such as these are excellent opportunities for add-on services. Resistance to chemical-only approaches and early adoption of physical barriers can put a pest control company ahead of the curve.



1Ebeling, W.J. and R.J. Pence. 1957. Relation of particle size to the penetration of subterranean termites through barriers of sand and cinders. J. Econ. Entomol. 50: 690-692.

2Su, N.-Y., R.H. Scheffrahn, and P.M. Ban. 1991. Uniform size particle barrier: a physical exclusion device against subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 84: 912-916.

3Su, N.-Y. and R.H. Scheffrahn. 1992. Penetration of sized-particle barriers by field populations of subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 85: 2275-2278.

4T. Chris Keefer, Dan G. Zollinger, and Roger E. Gold. 2013. Evaluation of aggregate particles as a physical barrier to prevent subterranean termite incursion into structures. Southwest. Entomol. 38: 447–464.

5Yates, J.R., J.K. Grace, and J.N. Reinhardt. 2003. Installation guidelines for the Basaltic Termite Barrier: a particle barrier to Formosan subterranean termites (Summary). Sociobiology 41: 113-114.

Krejci is lead research & technical sales associate for Polyguard Products’ TERM Barrier Division. Gold is former professor and endowed chair for Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University.

Building Out Bugs: Sill Plate Barriers

Hello and welcome to discussion #9 of the TERM® Barrier System blog series! This week we will be

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph. D.

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

continuing our summer blog series titled Building Out Bugs by highlighting a way you can block pests on the horizontal surface, starting with TERM® Sill Plate Barriers.

TERM® Barriers are a collection of products that work together to complete the building envelope and block out insects. There are several products that complete the horizontal barrier for a slab-on-grade structure, including:

TERM® Sealant Barrier,

TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier,

TERM® Sill Plate Barrier, and

TERM® Flooring Underlayment Barrier.

We have talked about the TERM® Sealant Barrier and TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier in previous posts, so today we will continue with the TERM® Sill Plate Barrier.

TERM® Sill Plate Barrier is an adhesive membrane barrier designed to prevent termites from accessing wood framing members from a concrete crack or joint in the floor. TERM® Sill Plate Barrier adheres to the subfloor and blocks termite access to the sill plate. The Sill Plate Barrier may be installed under exterior and interior sill plates.

Concrete cracks and joints are one of the main access points for subterranean termites into structures. A TERM® Sill Plate Barrier installed underneath the sill plate provides 5 advantages:

  1. TERM® Sill Plate Barrier is a non-chemical barrier to subterranean termites. The barrier has been tested against termites since 2000 by Texas A&M University and is classified as a non-pesticide “barrier” by EPA regulators.
  2. TERM® Sill Plate Barrier provides a full waterproofing and vapor proofing barrier for wood framing against moisture from the concrete.
  3. TERM® Sill Plate Barrier blocks moisture and cold air from the exterior, and energy leaks from the interior.
  4. TERM® Sill Plate Barrier excludes foraging insects, such as termites and ants, from entering at gaps between the sill plate and the not-quite-level slab.
  5. TERM® Sill Plate Barrier provides supplemental protection to sodium borate treatment of wood framing.

Installation of the TERM® Sill Plate Barrier is simple.

For interior sill plates, it is ideal for the membrane barrier to overhang each side of the sill plate by 1”. This is recommended so that the sill plate barrier will tie-in to the flooring underlayment membrane, which we will discuss in the next blog post.

TERM® Sill Plate Barriers Interior Framing

TERM® Sill Plate Barrier

For exterior sill plates, it is recommended that the membrane barrier be 3” wider than the sill plate itself. This is to tie TERM® Sill Plate Barriers in to the TERM® Flooring Underlayment membrane on the inside of the structure, and the TERM® Base Flashing membrane on the outside.

TERM Sill Plate Barriers Exterior Perimeter detail

TERM® Sill Plate Barrier Exterior Perimeter

Once all sill plates have been protected with the TERM® Sill Plate Barrier, any posts or penetrations and that fall within the area should be sealed with TERM® Sealant Barrier.

TERM® Sealant Barrier seals around penetrations TERM® Sealant Barrier is used to seal around penetrations

It’s important to note that TERM® Sill Plate Barriers are intended for new construction.

The following is what TERM® Sill Plate Barriers looks like when installed and the structure has been dried-in. While the sills are protected from beneath, there is still visible light coming into the structure from the exterior. Don’t worry! With the TERM Barrier System, that light will not be visible in the finished structure, thanks to the TERM® Base Flashing Barrier. Energy will stay in the home, and air and insects will stay out.

TERM® Sill Plate Barrier after dried-in

Check us out in two weeks for the next blog of the series, Building Out Bugs: Windows & Sheathing where we will talk about all the flashings that can keep bugs out and energy in.

TERM® Sill Plate Barriers are a component of the pesticide-free TERM Barrier System which, when properly installed as part of the building envelope, acts as a barrier to almost all pests.  Because almost all pests are excluded for the life of the structure, the need for pesticide treatment should be permanently and drastically reduced.

To inquire about TERM® Sill Plate Barriers for your next home or building project, or for additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at


Building Out Bugs: Bath Traps

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Hello and welcome to week 8 of the TERM Barrier System blog series! This week we will be continuing our summer blog series titled Building Out Bugs by highlighting a way you may block pests in bath traps and slab leave-outs.

In our last Building Out Bugs post, we talked about plumbing penetrations and the ease of protecting the structure with TERM® Sealant Barrier. After sealing plumbing penetrations, you would next want to look at your bath trap areas and leave-outs in the slab. These are sections of the slab that are left unfilled with concrete so that plumbing penetrations may be manipulated and so that the structure may drain in the event of any future leaks.

Bath traps and leave-outs can easily provide access to the home or structure.

Think about it:  Leave-outs can be as large as 2’ x 2’ and scattered around the footprint of a home or structure. What is in place to stop a subterranean (i.e. tunnels below ground) termite from coming into the home if given the opportunity?

TERM™ Bath Trap Screen Barrier

I will be honest; before starting with Polyguard, I had little knowledge of the building industry. As I investigated areas of the building envelope that we could improve, in terms of termite and pest exclusion, I was first surprised by the bath trap. As I walked out on the job site, I see this:

Bath Traps

A bath trap formed with a cardboard box.

Subterranean termites consume cellulose for nutrition and cellulose is the main compound of trees, paper, and cardboard, among other derived materials. Essentially, leaving the cardboard box in place after the bath trap is formed is like setting up a deer feeder for subterranean termites. If you build it, they will come.

Stories aside, we at Polyguard recognized the need for a bath trap solution that would keep termites and other pests out of the home or structure. After much research, we developed the TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier. When integrated into the building envelope, this barrier allows the structure to drain as it is intended to, while excluding the pests from this critical entry point.

The TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier is a combination of materials and installation is simple.

  1. Any wood or cellulose forms should be removed from the inside of the bath trap. The bath trap should be cleaned of any concrete debris, and any dirt on the walls of the trap removed.

    Vertical portion of pipe penetration should be clean and dry.  Any protective sleeve on the pipe should be removed. Use sandpaper or other abrasive to roughen the surface of the pipe.

Bath Traps


  1. Pour TERM Particle Barrier into the bath trap until the top of the particles are even with the top of the slab.

Bath Traps

  1. Cut the stainless-steel wire mesh to size so that it extends completely over the bath trap and 2” beyond onto the horizontal concrete surface on each side of the mesh.

    Cut an “X” shaped opening in the wire mesh where the pipe penetration is to come through.  This opening should be placed so that the wire mesh maintains the 2” overlap onto the concrete perimeter.

Bath Traps

  1. Spray apply TERM 343 Spray Adhesive or brush apply Polyguard 650 LT Liquid Adhesive. Adhesive should extend 4” from each edge of the bath trap cavity.

Bath Traps

  1. When the adhesive/primer is tacky, place the wire mesh over the bath trap. Install the mesh over the penetration pipe and extend the wire mesh 2” onto the horizontal perimeter of the slab.

Bath Traps

  1. Cut four strips of TERM Flashing Barrier. The length of each strip should be 2” longer than the side of the wire mesh which that strip is to seal.

    Seal the wire mesh to the slab with TERM Flashing Barrier by peeling away the paper release liner, exposing the adhesive, and installing the flashing 2” over the wire mesh, and 2” onto the concrete perimeter outside of the mesh.  Flashing should extend a minimum 1” past each end of the wire mesh being sealed.

    Roll the flashing, applying pressure so that good adhesion is created between the concrete and flashing, and between the flashing and the wire mesh. When finished, there should be no gaps anywhere around the perimeter.

Bath Traps

  1. Apply TERM Sealant Barrier with caulking gun or trowel to seal all gaps where the pipe comes through the wire mesh. Any gaps should be covered with a minimum 3/8” coating of sealant.

Bath Traps

All the materials for the TERM All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier are shipped in an easy-to-use kit. After these steps have been completed, you will now have an all-pest bath trap barrier in place. These materials allow the bath trap to drain as it is intended to, while still blocking the intrusion of unwanted pests.

Bath Traps

It’s important to note that the TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier is intended for new construction products, but may be an option for existing structures dependent on the ability to access the area.


The TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier is a component of the pesticide-free TERM Barrier System which, when properly installed as part of the building envelope, acts as a barrier to almost all pests.  Because almost all pests are excluded for the life of the structure, the need for pesticide treatment should be permanently and drastically reduced.

To inquire about the TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier for your next home or building project, or for additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at

Polyguard Expands to New Manufacturing Facility in Corsicana, TX

Polyguard - 2017 New Corsicana facilityDALLAS, TX – Polyguard Products, Inc. is proud to announce that it has more than doubled its manufacturing capabilities by moving a majority of its operations to Corsicana, TX.

In March 2016, Polyguard purchased the former Anchor Glass building in Corsicana and has spent several millions of dollars renovating that space to accommodate increased manufacturing demands that have resulted from 24 consecutive years of sales growth. The new facility, located near the intersection of U.S. Hwy 287 and Interstate 45 in Corsicana, is 380,000 square feet and has been modernized to accommodate the growth seen at the company, which is expected to continue. Polyguard projects to double in size by 2021.

“We have more than outgrown our current facilities in Ennis and this new building will allow us to continue to expand,” President Shawn Eastham said. “Moving to Corsicana will allow us to keep our existing staff of employee owners intact and will allow us to grow organically as our business grows.”

The company’s existing headquarters will remain in Ennis, with some manufacturing continuing at that location. The Ennis location will also include a training center to be used by its Architectural Division.

“This will allow us to conduct hands-on training at our facility, where our expert technical team can show existing and potential customers about our products,” Eastham said.

Founded in 1953, Polyguard Products specializes in products which protect surfaces and structures from moisture, water, or other undesired substances. Polyguard is an industry leader in the production self-adhesive protective coatings for engineering and construction. Polyguard is also a 100% employee-owned ESOP.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Tre Bischof at 214-515-5000 or email at

Building Out Bugs: Plumbing Penetrations

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Hello and welcome to week 7 of the TERM Barrier System blog series! This week we will be kicking off our summer blog series titled Building Out Bugs. Throughout the series, I will be highlighting areas around your home or structure that can be potential pathways for termites and other pests. Additionally, I hope to show you products that be integrated into your home or building to close off these pathways.

It’s important to note that most of the products you will see throughout this blog series are intended for new construction products, as it is difficult to install a complete pest barrier envelope after the structure is built.

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep insects out of your home or structure is to protect the plumbing penetrations above the slab using TERM® Sealant Barrier.

TERM® Sealant Barrier around plumbing penetrations

Plumbing and pipe penetrations can provide access to the home or structure through the miniscule openings that occur between the pipe and concrete. I like to refer to this area as a “super highway” for pest intrusion because there is little to stand in the way of a determined pest.

Plumbing penetrations are access points for insects to enter your structure

Subterranean termites will be the biggest offenders of the plumbing and pipe penetrations, though it is possible that other pests will also use it for access into the structure. While termites do not eat concrete or PVC pipes, the opening that occurs naturally, or over time because of settling, will create a pathway for termites to get into the structure. As were have discussed, termites only require 1/55th of an inch to gain access to a structure.

Seal and protect plumbing penetrations with TERM® Sealant Barrier

The process of protecting plumbing penetrations is quite simple and may be completed by your pest management professional or construction crew.

  1. If a sleeve is present around the pipe, cut sleeve and remove, or slide up.

Step 1 - Remove sleeve from around the pipe penetration

    2. Roughen the pipe surface using sand paper or a sanding block.

Step 2 - Roughen the pipe surface

    3. Clean the pipe, removing all dust and debris from the concrete and pipe.

    4. Apply adhesive primer to the pipe and concrete and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Step 4 - Apply adhesive primer to pipe and concrete

    5. Dispense a ½” bead of TERM® Sealant Barrier on the pipe-concrete intersection using a caulking gun.

Step 5 - Apply 1/2" bead of TERM® Sealant Barrier around base of pipe-concrete intersection.

    6. Use a flat tool to smooth the dispensed TERM® Sealant Barrier to gain sufficient contact with both the concrete and pipe surfaces.

Step 6 - Use a flat tool to smooth TERM® Sealant Barrier to ensure contact at both concrete and pipe surface

You will now have a physical barrier in place to protect your structure from termite intrusion!

Once pipe penetrations are sealed with TERM® Sealant Barrier your  structure will be protected from insect intrusion at pipe penetrations

TERM® Sealant Barrier is a component of the pesticide-free TERM® Barrier System which, when properly installed as part of the building envelope, acts as a barrier to almost all pests.  Because almost all pests are excluded for the life of the structure, the need for pesticide treatment should be permanently and drastically reduced.

To inquire about TERM® Sealant Barrier for your next home or building project, or for additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at

Polyguard Welcomes 17 to Employee Ownership

Polyguard ESOP 2017

Polyguard ESOP 2017

ENNIS, TX – Polyguard Products, Inc. recently held its 30th annual Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) dinner at Winding Brooks Event Venue where 17 new employees received their first account statement.

Polyguard’s ESOP is a broad-based ownership plan where employees become owners with no out-of-pocket contribution of their own. Polyguard is a 100 percent employee-owned ESOP and currently has two ESOP millionaires currently working with the company, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. An ESOP is a retirement plan which is in addition to the 401(k) and matching contribution already offered by the company. Its value is based on the stock price of the company, which is up more than 300 percent since 2010. This year’s ESOP contribution is roughly 15 percent of eligible employees’ salaries.

“We take pride in the culture we’ve developed here at Polyguard, and we’ve been able to do that because we are an employee-owned company,” President Shawn Eastham said. “It’s great to see our employee owners are working together to build on their futures. This is a rare opportunity that only a small portion of American workers can benefit from.”

Polyguard, with 24 consecutive years of sales growth, currently employees 13 owners who own 1 percent of more of the company and has over 100 total employee owners. Polyguard recently began limited production at its new Corsicana facility, which more than doubles the company’s manufacturing space. Most of Polyguard’s production and shipping will be handled in Corsicana by the end of summer 2017.

“Our strategic plans include doubling the size of the company by 2021, and that will directly benefit those who will help us get there – our employee owners,” Eastham said.

Polyguard’s ESOP began in the mid-1980s after John and Kathy Muncaster bought the company and wanted to build the type of culture where employees have a direct impact in not only their own personal success but also that of the company.

[Read more…]

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Tre Bischof at 214-515-5000 or email at

Termite Barriers: Who Broke the Ice?

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Hello and welcome to another week of the TERM Barrier System blog series! Week 6

This week I would like to take a step back in time and write about the origin of termite barriers. The TERM® Barrier System is founded on the concept of using physical and mechanical devices to exclude termites without the use of pesticides, but from where did the idea arise?

termite barriers

In previous blogs, we have talked a lot about integrated pest management (IPM). One pillar of IPM is the use of physical and mechanical devices to control the target organism, such as a termite, in a balanced approach.

Termite particle barrier research originated with Dr. Walter Ebeling in 1957 at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ebeling studied the penetration of subterranean termites through sand and cinder barriers of measured particle sizes. Effective substrates for stopping termites were as follows:

B. 10-16 mesh sand *untamped*

C. 6-16 mesh sand *tamped*

D. 10-16 crush volcanic cinders

termite barriers

Research has continued since the inaugural study by Dr. Ebeling to arrive at many conclusions related to particle size. However, in 2013, Keefer et al. collaborated the expertise of entomologists and engineers to identify specific characteristics that made particle barriers effective against tunneling termites.

Their conclusions were as follows:termite barriers

Particle size combinations of 8, 10, and 12 mesh were most effective.

Particle hardness should be measured & scored as ≥6 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale.

Particle angularity should measure 2700+ as determined by the Aggregate Image Measurement System.

Interstitial space between particles should include 35-45% voids as determined by a displacement test.


There are many scientific articles that have been published between the two articles that I have written about today, including, but not limited to:

While the history of termite barrier research focuses primarily on the use of aggregate stone to impede termite tunneling, Polyguard has improved our building materials to function as termite barriers, as well. Membranes traditionally used for waterproofing and vapor barriers have been upgraded by Polyguard as part of the TERM® Barrier System to exclude termites in addition to their normal function. Research on our membranes and sealants began in 2000 and continues to this day as we aim to improve pest exclusion.

Reports of independent research projects completed on TERM® Barrier System products may be found on our website.

TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap

The TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap uses a combination of materials to exclude termites and other pests.

For additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at

Polyguard’s Progress

Corsicana Meets Needs of Growing Company | News |

Polyguard Corsicana Plant Polyguard Corsicana Plant Polyguard Corsicana Plant Polyguard Corsicana Plant

Polyguard President Shawn Eastham and Director of Marketing Tre Bischof, invited the Corsicana Daily Sun inside its Corsicana plant recently for an exclusive update on the companies’ progress.

While Eastham admits plans have been hindered because of the rain, much work has been done inside and outside the building and the warehouse area is already in use.Last year Polyguard Products, Inc. out of Ennis purchased the 380,000 square foot former Chattanooga glass plant on Highway 287 in Corsicana with plans to expand its manufacturing capacity.

The expansion is expected to bring a $10 million investment to the community and create an additional 80 jobs over the next few years.

Polyguard specializes in products which protect surfaces and structures from moisture, water, or other undesired substances. The company exports to over 30 countries and its products have been used in projects as big as Disney World, The Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park in Arlington and the Perot Museum.

It plans to increase its production capabilities, and its research and development capacity, and the new building more than doubles the company’s current building assets.

“We had outgrown our Ennis facility,” Eastham said. “The expansion of our manufacturing capacity and addition of new technology will help us maintain our leadership position of providing the highest quality products to the industries we serve.”

In addition to expanding its manufacturing and warehouse space, Polyguard also needed more space to create new products.

“All our research and development is now done in Corsicana,” Bischof said. “We needed to expand our lab as well.”

Eastham said the company invented 60 percent of the products it makes.

A two-story glass office is planned for completion by next year. The finished grounds will include an eight-foot fence with three controlled access gates. The entire area will be landscaped with a pond and pavilion to provide an appealing “gateway to Corsicana” for drivers exiting from Highway 45.

Interior amenities include a huge employee lounge area which will have vending machines and a big-screen television with an Xbox. Tile floors and wood ceilings give the break room a “lodge” feel and should be a welcome change from the otherwise industrial surroundings.

Polyguard tries to use local materials and contractors when possible.

“Watkins Development has been fabulous,” Eastham said.

“We use a lot of Corsicana labor,” Bischof said. “We use local hardware stores and lumber yards.”

Polyguard is a 100 percent employee-owned Employee Stock Ownership Plan and currently has two ESOP millionaires working with the company, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years.

An ESOP is a retirement plan which is in addition to the 401(k) and matching contribution already offered by the company. Its value is based on the stock price of the company.

Juan Alvarado, who has been an employee with the company for 30 years, has over half-a-million dollars in his ESOP and owns more than one percent of the company.

“Polyguard’s ESOP allows us to create a culture based on teamwork and pride,” Eastham said. “All the employees get a chance to share in the success of the company. Our employees act like owners because they are owners. They don’t have to contribute anything but work.”

Most operations will be moved to Corsicana by the end of June, with everything but the office moved by the end of 2017.

 The company plans to show off its finished plant with an open house toward the end of this year or the beginning of 2018.

“Our financial performance has been really good the last few years, but I believe it will be even better in the years to come,” Eastham said. “Our strategic goal is to double the size of the company again by 2020 through acquisitions and organic growth, and we’re well on the way to making that goal a reality.”

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Phenolic Insulation

Polyguard PolyPhen® Insulation as featured at IEEE GlobalSpec – Engineering 360 Direct:

Phenolic Insulation – A Wise Choice For Chilled Water Piping

PolyPhen Phenolic Insulation

Chilled Water Systems: The Basics

Cool water is circulated to an electric chiller that lowers water temperature to around 45ºF or less. The chilled water is pumped to an air handling unit, where it captures ambient heat and disperses cool air. Large commercial and industrial systems may feature chillers weighing several hundred tons and a vast network of piping. By equipping each room with its own air handler, each area of a large building can be precisely cooled using a single chilled water system.

What is Phenolic Insulation?

Phenolic insulation for use in chilled water applications is produced in large buns. These buns are cut by insulation fabricators using automated computer profiling saws into pipe insulation sections to meet the required R value for a given project. Phenolic foam is a predominantly closed-cell material. Pairing closed-cell phenolic insulation with a good vapor barrier can result in a permeability rating of nearly 0.0, an ideal target for applications like chilled water where condensation is a concern.

Making Sense of Insulation Materials

The end result of these characteristics determine if a product is ideally suited to chilled pipe insulation. But every chilled water system varies, so when selecting insulation, a range of materials should be considered.

Thermo Resitance vs Vapor Permeablility Chart Graph

The chart above shows the balance between a material’s thermal resistance value (R=1/k, where k=thermal conductivity) and vapor permeability. High thermal resistance and low vapor permeability is desirable.

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How to Identify Termite Problems

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Welcome to Week 5 of the TERM Barrier System blog!

We have a saying in pest management in the south and southeastern areas of the United States:

“It’s not if you get termites, it’s when!”

As I talk with homeowners, builders, and architects about the importance of including pest solutions from the beginning of the home planning process, I stress that termite problems are a major issue that will eventually need to be addressed. Termiticides, pesticides targeted for termites, are traditionally relied upon as the only form of termite control. However, research shows us that even with optimal application of a termiticide before the structure is built, the protection will not last the life of the structure.

TERM Barrier Sealants

For this reason, it is important to include barriers, like the ones we manufacture as part of the TERM® Barrier System, for long term protection of your home or structure against termites and other pests.

Prevent Termite Problems

Today, I’d like to outline a few signs that can be specific to a termite infestation in your home or building. If you think that you may have termites, please contact a licensed pest management professional. In many cases, your first termite inspection may be free!

Inside the home

  1. Suspected water damage

Suspected Water Damage    Suspected Water Damage

Once termites have entered the home, they can cause expensive damage to the home’s structure before the tenants even know there is a problem. Even without wood framing to consume, termites will consume anything that contains cellulose. This includes cabinets, flooring materials, furniture, and even the paper on the back of sheetrock. Signs of termite damage inside the home may initially appear to be water damage in the form of buckling, engorged floors or ceilings. This is due to termites consuming cellulose and subsequent weakening of the building materials. Termites will eat a piece of wood all the way up to the paint layer, leaving it to collapse if touched. Often, your fingers are great tools for “feeling out” weakening in the walls, floors, or furniture.


  1. Termite Droppings

Termite Droppings

Drywood termites leave fecal pellets, or frass, behind wherever they go and this is often a sign of an infestation. Drywood termite frass resembles small pellets, are around 1/25” long, and have elongated ridges. Fun fact: The ridges in termite fecal pellets are unique and a biological adaption developed by the termite to retain as much moisture as possible for nutrition. Be careful! Drywood termite pellets are often mistaken for sawdust and cleaned up without a thought. However, fecal pellets can be a sign of a full-blown drywood termite infestation.


  1. Termite Wings

Termite Wings

When termites swarm, the alates leave an existing colony, fly to a new location, and create a new colony. Alates are a particular life stage of male and female reproductive termites. Termites swarm once or several times a year, depending on species and environmental conditions, but in the south, we can always count on termites swarming around Mother’s Day. How nice, right?

When alate termites get to where they are going, they will lose their wings. Signs of a new infestation in the home can be seen when termite wings, which resemble transparent fish scales, are found near windows and doors.

Termite Wings 

Outside the home

  1. Mud tubes

Subterranean termite mud tubes are the most telling sign of a termite infestation in and around the home or structure. Mud tubes will be located on the surface of the vertical foundation and run from the soil in to the home. For a structure built with a crawl space, it is important to inspect the interior of the foundation wall, as well. Mud tubes are essential for subterranean termites, as they must maintain contact with the ground. These tubes allow the termites to regulate the temperature and relative humidity as they travel to and from the colony. Mud tubes can be disrupted by simply using a wire brush to clean the surface of the foundation, and then contacting a pest management professional for treatment options.

Finally, it is important to note that mud tubes are common both inside and outside the home.

Termite Mud Tubes

There are additional ways in which a pest management professional may locate a termite infestation, but these are the easiest to observe by home and property owners. While termiticide pretreatments and remediations are excellent forms of control, Integrated Pest Management is key to long-term termite management. Physical barriers like the ones we have developed in the TERM® Barrier System can provide long-term protection to the home building materials against termites and other pests.

For additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at

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