Termite Infestation Is Imported Plywood to Blame?

Termites need a source of water to survive, so they are unlikely to arrive in plywood shipped from overseas. August 19, 2013

For years we in the Bahamas have been using a specific material to construct our frameless cabinet carcasses. It is 11/16" thick virola plywood with a sheet of thin white Formica pre-adhered to it. This stuff is imported from China and sold here like crazy. We found over the years that most clients prefer a white plastic interior. Thing is, we have been getting quite a few call backs saying that there are termites in our cabinets. Sure, there are a lot of other factors involved, like were there termites in the building before. But I need to find out - is virola more prone to termites? Could these insects have been in the wood from China? Lastly, does anyone sell 3/4" birch pre-laminated with Formica? I don't want to use melamine/particleboard crap.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
Wow, does this strike a chord with me. I've got another cabinet shop just up the road from me that really, really, really gets me ticked off.

We are a custom frameless shop (but did face frame for 15 years, so no real issue with that) and this guy is of course a frame shop, and always running that big mouth, constantly bashing my product. I have no issue with a properly designed and executed face frame cabinet. I don't even mind losing a job to a face frame shop, if that is what the customer wants.

This guy used, in the past, 1/2" virola or okume, depending on lowest price available in the market, and has recently used 1/2" CDX for case materials, butt joined staple construction, fixed shelves, with 1/8" luan plant on backs.

I build a confirmat screwed particleboard or PBC or MDFC thermofused melamine case, dado captured 1/4" back, hot glued with 3/4 concealed nailer strip and box mount hinges and slides. Is the average customer too stupid to noticed the difference? How do you get to be 40-50-60 years old and able to afford custom cabinetry and be so gullible and blind to fall for the "all wood" pitch, and be unable to see a clear difference in products?

He had one that got a plumbing leak and they couldn't figure out it was bacteria in the okume plywood stinking to high heaven (I guess that prompted the move to the CDX). They assumed a dead animal in the wall, I guess as big as a human body, decomposing, and tearing cabinets and drywall out to try and find it. How's that "all wood" working for you, now?

From the original questioner:
I know exactly how you feel. I lost count the amount of times we bid on jobs and lose them to the other guy who is building cabinets like he would a crate! I have seen everything - roofing plywood for frames and doors was the funniest! Of course in many cases, these same clients called us back a year later to tear out that piece of crap!

I want to find a supplier who sells good quality 3/4" birch pre-laminated with white vinyl liner or something similar that I can use for frameless cabinet interiors. The only supplier I have seen for this type of product came as 3/4" virola with thin white Formica already adhered to 1 or both sides. I'm trying to stay away from the China stuff.

From Professor Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
Virola has no natural decay resistance. It is not known to be more attractive than any other wood without natural resistance. Termites need a water source, so was there a leak in or near the cabinets? Material from China would not have a water source, so no termites coming over or when you are making.

From contributor M:
This isn't exactly what you asked for, but may work for you. I have used all three with good results.

Olympic Panel Products cabinet liner plywood
Tim ber Products ProCore
Roseburg Forest Products CFC Veneer Core

I have gotten the ones from Timber and Roseburg with melamine faces and they have worked great and been very durable.

From the original questioner:
Thanks Gene! Wish I could get you to tell my clients that directly! Do you have any literature that says that, something I can take to my clients?

Contributor M, these products seem to be exactly what I have been looking for. I am checking out the Olypanels now. What kind of prices were you getting from them?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I would be glad to send you or them an e-mail answering any specific questions - no charge.

From contributor M:
I actually buy through one of my distributors here that stocks it. Last time I bought some it was $54 for G1S and $65 for G2S. That was for the basic white.