When it comes to designing and decorating homes, a trend that is becoming increasingly popular is upcycling furniture. Upcycling is environment friendly; reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and reducing the production of raw materials. It’s also become quite stylish, helping people to create a unique style in their home through attractive vintage furniture that can’t be seen anywhere else.

Aside from its environmental and stylish benefits, upcyling can be considerably cheaper too.  Instead of purchasing new overpriced furniture, upcyclers can buy older materials which they can then transform into beautiful furnished items, or so one would think.

Although vintage furniture can make a home look beautiful and unique, it also carries the risk of being infested with woodworm. Upcyclers should know how to properly examine woodworm prior to purchasing or salvaging vintage furniture. This is because once the wood boring beetles inside the furniture are ready to mate, they will emerge from the furniture and could possibly spread to other items of furniture and even the timber frame of your home and cause significant damage all over your property.

Woodworm is the typical name for the larvae stage of wood boring beetles. The wood boring beetles will lay their eggs within the timber. These eggs will hatch and the larvae within will eat their way through the timber for up to five years before emerging in search of an appropriate place to mate and lay eggs. After the beetle emerge, they may find a home in other vintage furniture in your home and start the process all over again.  Therefore, before upcyclers bring vintage furniture into a property, they must know how to identify woodworm and the damage it can cause to wooden furniture and timber frames.

woodworm signs of woodworm signs of woodworm


Dead or Alive Beetles

The greatest indicator that the furniture is infested with woodworm is finding beetles dead or alive emerging from or in close proximity of the vintage furniture. These beetles normally emerge between April and October so upcyclers should be on the look out for dead beetles anywhere near their furniture. One common “woodworm” beetle in the U.K to look out for is the Common Furniture Beetle. These beetles will die shortly after mating so it is not uncommon to find dead beetles near the furniture or in parts of the furniture such as drawers. The Common Furniture Beetle is small and brown in colour

Burrow Holes and Tunnels

Small burrow holes in the wood are a key indicator of a woodworm infestation. These exit holes are similar to those found in a dart board are evidence of where the beetles have exited left the furniture or timber frame in order to mate and find a new location to lay eggs.

Exit holes are not always a cause for concern as this is where beetles have burrowed out of the wood. Therefore, burrow holes confirm that there was an infestation at some point but it doesn’t determine whether or not the infestation is still active. There may or may not still be beetles within the wood.

Burrow holes may be paired with raised “tunnels” within the furniture. This is a clear sign of woodworm infestation as these tunnels are evidence of the beetle’s journey within the timber.

Crumbly Edges

The number of burrow holes in the timber will increase over time and this will cause the timber to appear crumbly as a result. This is down to wear and tear from the multiple exit holes near the edge of the timber. Crumbly edges are the result of a lengthy woodworm infestation that hasn’t been treated and should be treated immediately to avoid further damage to the furniture.

Fine Powdery Dust

Fine, powdery dust may be evident near the burrow holes, on the back of or on the underside of the furniture. This dust is known as frass and it is quite similar to moist sawdust. Frass is the faeces left behind by larvae beetles indicates the furniture is infested with woodworm.


If you notice evidence of a woodworm infestation in vintage furniture you were planning on purchasing, then it is advisable that you do not go ahead with the sale. This is due to the potential risk of the woodworm spreading to other items of furniture or timber frames if left untreated.

By Jake Ryan of Wise Property Care



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