Many log homes lose their sheen early due to lack of proper maintenance. But log home owners need not panic! Log home structures can go from looking worn-down and past their prime to beautiful and glorious, with a little restoration effort, involving four steps-
- Log Home Surface Preparation
- Log Home Preservation
- Log Home Staining
- Log Home Sealing
These four basic steps can help give your log home a cosmetic makeover and also protect it structurally. All the steps are equally important and if any are missed out, it could lead to multiple issues cropping up in your log home later such as – air/water infiltration, dust problem, mold and mildew growth, UV breakdown of wood and insect or rodent damage.
- Surface preparation
Log home restoration involves processes of caulking, log home chinking, applying borate preservatives, and log home staining. The first step of surface preparation takes a lot of work but is most critical in ensuring the stains and sealants work long-term. Logs need to be clean and dry or else it will not hold the new finish well. Preparation relies on a correct analysis of the location and surrounds of your log home to locate moisture problems, hot and cold spots, mold, mildew, log decomposition, air leakage, improper chinking/caulking that needs redoing..
Stripping may be necessary only when
- there is presence of any type of film or coating on the wood,
- there is build up of old finishes,
- if the old finish is peeling or cracking,
- in case of glossy finish on the house.
If, on the other hand there are penetrating finishes applied to the house, or it has never had anything applied to it, you can pressure-wash instead.
Bleach and water with a little detergent has long been used for cleaning dirty wood, as it is cheap and works fast but it can destroy the cellulose in the wood. It can also be difficult to rinse off from wood, inhibiting the wood’s natural ability to hold a finish. There are four recommended techniques for finish removal:
- Corn cob blasting, Walnut blasting, soda blasting, and dry ice blasting
- Chemical Stripping
- Pressure Washing
Prepared Cleaning Solutions- A prepared wood cleaning solution is also a form of bleach, but the store bough ones contain buffers to prevent any damage to the wood. They also have surfactants that can be rinsed off easily. Do look for the active ingredient sodium percarbonate, sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite. Where the wood is just discolored but has no mildew growth, choose a wood cleaner containing oxalic acid, to restore the original color of the wood by removing weathered, metal, water or nail stains.
Pressure Washing- Pressure washing rinses off the presence of any stripper or wood cleaner but do exercise caution as you can cause water damage to the logs from overuse.
- Wood Preserving
Any log home restoration process has to include preservation, especially if there is bare wood showing. Preservatives cannot soak through a log home stain and once dry, they are extremely hard to clean off. The best preservatives for house logs are borates, as they are deadly to insects, mold, mildew and rot. They make the wood toxic as a food supply for almost all wood-destroying pests, including decay fungi, beetles and termites. The wood does need some moisture to allow for proper diffusion and to prevent leaching. So it is best to apply a water-repellent finish over borate-treated wood. Borates are an inexpensive insurance against a host of insects and pests. It is advisable to apply any borates to the log home when it is dry, to enable the glycol preservatives to fully penetrate into the wood.
- Wood Staining
Never use paint on your log home, as it stops the logs from breathing leading to cracks and checks developing on the surface of the log. Log home stains too prevent water from finding a way beneath the finish, preventing mildew formation. Log home stains come in film-forming finishes, such as oil-based, latex-based and acrylic-based log home stains, or penetrating finishes, like oil-based semitransparent log home stain. There are as many types of wood finishes today in the market, serving multiple purposes from protection against organic growth, to quick water absorption and preventing UV damage. Most of them have solids content, which is the active ingredients left in and on the wood after the finish dries, such as resins, binders, pigments, fungicides, etc. For a quality wood finish look for at least 30 percent solids, or go for the premium ones containing over 60 percent. It is important to go for a high quality finish, to protect the wood for at least five years in between re-coating.
Lastly, it is essential to seal areas to stop air and water transmission. Leaks often occur around corners, doors, windows and at the top of the walls. These have to be sealed from the outside using high quality caulk or chink. There are two ways of caulking or chinking, such as Professional Grade or Contractor Grade. Professional grade log home sealant uses a backer rod in between the log joints which touches at 2 points on the log, to allow the caulking or chinking to expand or contract easily without tearing. Professional grade caulking and chinking is done on ¼” wall thickness with proper tooling for better adherence to the wood surface. There is no backer rod used for Contractor grade application of chinking and caulking and it has an inconsistent wall thickness. Chinking and caulking done this way fails faster and leaves your log home at risk for air, water, and pest/insect infiltration, eventually leading to log rot.
Restoration should only have to happen once, and with proper care wood can last indefinitely. Performance Log Homes are experienced in every aspect of the restoration process from log replacement, log repair, media blasting, stripping, staining, chinking and more. Call us at 800-781-2551 to find the log cabin restoration expertise you need to recreate an intricate log home, recover its structural integrity and to revive its beauty. Over decades of work, our team has expertly worked on hundreds of cabins, log structures, and log home restoration projects.