A natural log cabin gives you unbounded freedom and you can enjoy a rustic experience. Log cabins are all about bringing the feel of the ‘outdoors’ in your home through natural light, spectacular views and use of wood. But while enhancing this rustic feel of your log home, it is equally important to weatherproof your log cabin against wind, cold air and moisture. The best insulated log homes may still have gaps that let in these wind, cold air or moisture. The cracks do not have to be big for drafts and big heating bills. Protecting and maintaining the logs is an easy job, but it is often neglected, which can be detrimental to the condition of your property from log rot, mold or decay. There are simple steps to check for any trouble areas that may have developed so you can weatherproof your log home and ensure it stands beautiful for years to come.
Large Roof Overhangs
Dampness can cause damage in log cabins. Having a large roof overhang ensures that rain water lands far away from your cabin. It keeps water from coming in contact with the logs to a minimum so that the moisture content of the logs is not disrupted. Large overhangs also ensure that harsh sunlight does not affect the logs by providing adequate shade in the hot months. A properly designed roof overhang can save lots of trouble over the years. Do not make the overhang too short to save on construction costs as it may lead to premature log failure, multiple ingress points and increase maintenance costs. It is better to use rain gutters when constructing your overhangs to mitigate log rot and strengthen the structure of your log cabin.
Sealing and Staining
Moisture is enemy number 1 for your log home. Your logs should ideally have moisture content around 14-15%.and anything above it will cause mildew, mold, blistering and log rot. When weatherproofing your cabin, you have to consider the natural climate, cabin size and also your budget. There are two basic forms of sealing- caulk and weather stripping. With caulk, which is a flexible compound, you can fill cracks in any construction material. It can also be used to seal gaps between different materials like window frames and siding. Today you can make caulk choices from silicone, acrylic, polyurethane, latex, or even hybrid mixes depending on the surface(s) you’re caulking. You can read product labels and visit manufacturer’s sites for more information on the caulk. Where gaps are more than ¼ inch to 3 inches wide, foam sealants can be used as an alternative to fill these cavities. Foam sealants can also be used around windows, chimneys, ducts, vents, and faucets. There are two kinds: water- based latex (less likely to warp) and polyurethane (water-resistant). Weather stripping is used to supplement caulking and in this process a strip of vinyl around moveable doors and windows. Adding weather strips to windows and doors plugs air leaks, which makes your log cabin more energy efficient and comfortable. Weather stripping may be made from vinyl, metal, adhesive-backed foam or tape, foam, rubber or a combination thereof.
The next step in weather proofing your log home is choosing the right stain. Dark stains provide better protection from weather because of additional pigmentation, whereas lighter tone stains may be affected by the sunlight easily. Even the interior needs staining too but if you want to leave the logs used indoors as it is, at least ensure that certain interior rooms in your cabin that are more prone to damp are stained, such as the bathroom. You should stain your log cabin as soon as you have constructed the cabin, with the weather permitting- ideally within the first week of construction. After the initial six months the warping and shrinkage of the logs should settle down. You log home will likely see warping and shrinkage if not sealed and stained properly immediately after being built, which may allow small ingress points for water to penetrate your cabin.
A Solid Foundation
Incorrectly laid foundations for your log cabin can also transmit moisture into the base of your cabin, making it vulnerable to damage from dampness. Waterproofing your foundation can help reduce water seepage and can minimize transmission. The best way to mitigate water seepage is by placing a membrane between the foundation pad and your cabin, which can be done through two approaches:
You can place insulation in the base of your cabin, which acts as a membrane between the log cabin and the concrete pad.
Those on a budget can also place plastic bags or plastic liners in the base of your cabin home for effective insulation.
Maintaining a log cabin is essential in order to preserve it for generations to come. Maintenance involves keeping the effects of the sun, water damage and insects to a minimum. Simple measures like cleaning the exterior of your log homes, removing insects, pollen and dust from the logs each season is a very good start. The focus of maintenance work is more on the south-facing side of your cabin, which is more prone to the elements. Besides routine cleaning, annual staining is important too. The staining and chinking process is not a one-off, rather it is a continuous process. Keep an eye out for caulking which has come adrift so that you can cut the remaining caulking with a knife, before applying a new layer of caulking and staining the cabin. You can avoid costly repair work by staining the logs in your property every few years. You can use oxygen bleach in powder form mixed with water for a good cleaning solution. Always clean the logs from the bottom-up and rinse from the top-down to prevent uneven application of cleaning solution.
For log cabins that are used all year round then the constant opening of windows and doors can provide suitable ventilation for proper air-circulation in your cabin. But if you use your log cabin as a holiday or seasonal retreat then ventilation becomes very important. Not having adequate ventilation can lead to pressure and moisture builds up internally in a log home. Proper ventilation also helps to mitigate potential problems of damp and cracking from pressure differences between the outside and inside of the cabin. You can help your logs breathe by purchasing and installing a few natural air vents. The best way of improving ventilation is by installing two air vents facing opposite each other with one near the floor and one near the ceiling.
When building your log cabin, ensure proper construction using design elements like roof overhangs, rain guttering and air ventilation. Clean and regularly maintain your log home by removing mildew, pollen and dust. Use the best stain and use good chinking internally and externally. Following these five simple steps will help preserve your log cabin for longer. Please call Performance Log Homes at 800-781-2551 for more information on log home design and construction.