How to Maintain Comfortable and Healthily Humidity Levels in Your Log Home

When you own a log home an essential aspect of caring for it is maintaining proper humidity levels all year round but more so during the winter months. Monitoring safe humidity levels can prevent loose joints in wooden furniture, static electricity, and other health related problems. Especially in newly constructed homes humidity levels are often quite high for the first few years because the masonry releases an abundance of moisture as it cures, which builds up as condensation on the windows.  Stabilizing the levels of humidity in your log home can be achieved by following certain tricks.

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Log Home Maintenance: Prepping Your Log Home For Summer

Lazy summer days are upon us and it is time to open your summer log home for the season but before you do it may require some maintenance work. The warm weather makes summer a perfect time to concentrate on getting essential maintenance and repair jobs done either by you or a log home professional, to keep your log home durable and attractive for years.  You can have your vacation home prepped and ready for some summer fun and relaxing by following these tips:

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6 Spring Maintenance Tips For Log Homes

Beautiful view of the log cabin house porch.

We have seen the last of winter and with the arrival of warm weather, it is time for a little spring cleaning. Now is a good time to go out and perform an inspection for maintenance on your log home.  In order to help you complete all of your maintenance items, it is best to be systematic and follow a checklist of items to complete.

Here are some recommendations for caring for your log home this time of year:

Inspect Your Logs

Though wall logs usually have some measure of roof protection overhead, by the time spring arrives, your log walls might have endured months of freezing and thawing or prolonged periods of rain and cold, which all take a toll on wood and seals.

Examine potential problem areas needing attention like log rails and rail posts. Sometimes log rails even if they are protected by porch roofs above, are often directly exposed to the elements.  With such constant pounding from ultra-violet rays, snowstorms and wind, railings are often one of the first components of a log home to begin to fail.  Watch for up-facing checks and consider having them sealed to prevent water intrusion.

Likewise, the base of porch posts can often see a greater weather exposure rain and UV rays seldom fall in an exclusively vertical manner and down low the posts are less protected from the roofline above.  Wall logs most often are elevated above the ground but posts are regularly mounted directly to a hard surface such as deck or patio material and it’s the resulting water splash that, over time, can create a potentially troubling situation.  Be sure to inspect these areas carefully for possible development of rot and create a more aggressive plan for maintaining the protective finish.

With rail posts you need to watch for porous end grain that seeks to absorb moisture more than any other part of the log.  There is chance of tangential shrinkage which causes checks to open up and funnel water deep into the log, where it is difficult for the moisture to evaporate.  Third, the horizontal surface itself lacks the ability to shed water complicating the first two issues.

Trim Vegetation

Landscaping that is too close to the home can potentially be damaging to a log home. The lower log courses of your walls can experience greater weather exposure and the effects of vegetation around it can add to the damage, as it limits air circulation. Plants and shrubs tend to shade and trap moisture in an area where you don’t want it.  Use common sense to trim back the shrubbery as far as possible.

Inspect Your Sealants

Review any applied sealants including caulking and chinking.  Make sure that no new significant skyward-facing checks have appeared or that previous applications have torn or pulled away from their bonding surfaces. Check caulk and chinking joints between logs and around windows and doors for areas that may have torn loose or stretched during the winter months.

Check Your Gutters

Gutters and downspouts are central to maintaining a dry basement, which might have been clogged with ice, snow and leaves for several weeks. Clogged gutters, or gutters that do not extend far enough to capture all cascading rainfall from the roof, will concentrate water exposure and limit the ability of your logs to dry out.  If not immediately addressed, such long term exposure will be quite negative in its effects.

Wash Your Logs

Over time, your home’s logs will collect dust, pollen, and good old-fashioned grime that can set into your log finish and actually develop damaging mildew.  To prolong the life of your log home finish, wash it with an ecologically-sound cleaning solution and mild scrubbing tools.  The benefits of an annual wash may be significant for your log house.

Inspect Your HVAC

With the advent of spring, it is important to inspect your HVAC system and prepare it for cooling your home this coming summer. Hire a professional to determine if the unit’s coolant charge is correct. Change filters and shift registers from their heating to cooling settings. Many systems include duct dampers that have winter and summer positions.

You can easily adopt these recommendations to avoid potential problems for your log home.  However, should you require an application of a new finish or other protective materials, please do not hesitate to schedule an inspection and obtain a free quote for services from Performance Log Home (800) 781-2551.

 

Protect Your Log Home from Fungi

Each year more wood is destroyed by decay than by all fires, floods and termites combined. The secret log home destroyer and the ultimate master of disguise is fungus! Fungi are responsible for a majority of rotten logs on log homes. In favorable environmental conditions, fungi will essentially eat the wood of your home, leading to decay and rot.  Fungi use a straw-like structure called hyphae to release digestive enzymes into their environment that break down wood so that the fungi can readily absorb the nutrients from the wood, causing rotten logs.

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Watch Out For Log Home Pests

beetle, log home insects

If you have a log home, you may have already encountered the problem of pests and insects. Even if you haven’t, keep an eye out for them and regularly check your wooden surfaces for tell tale signs of pest infestation. They are a nuisance and getting rid of them can be a breeze or a nightmare, depending on the kind of pest. Read on to learn more about common pests that can invade your log cabin. Adult insects lay eggs on the wood surface.

Freshly cut logs or dead trees have insect larvae that tunnel into them, weakening the fibers and opening the wood to moisture and rot fungi. The larvae feed on starch reserves in the wood that were formed when the tree was alive. Most of these insects cannot infest live trees because of their natural defenses. Trees that are destined to be logs of a log home can become infested while they are still in the forest. Or in other cases logs become infested after they are debarked and used in construction.

Either way the problem of pests must be addressed with every home before extensive structural damage is done. Fortunately there are relatively inexpensive ways to prevent this damage. Some of the common log home pests are:

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Choosing the Right Log Home Stain

Choosing the Right Log Home Stain

Log homes are built for both comfort and style. To keep your log home looking new, you may choose to enhance the color of the wood or bring new life back to older wood, by applying a coat of stain. When choosing log home stains you have to consider what log stains perform the best, based on the surrounding environment, and why log home stains perform or fail. Selecting the right log home stain can make life easier but if the wrong materials are applied, it can become very costly to remove and start over.

Characteristics of a Quality Log Home Stain

While there is no one ‘best log home stain’, there are many great options available now. But a good log home stain will have some general characteristics like -

  • Breathability
  • Low Maintenance
  • Not harsh on applicator
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Easy Clean-Up
  • Flexible
  • High UV Protection
  • Warranty

The most important thing to remember is to never use paint on your log home. Paint does not allow the logs to “breathe” like latex stain does. There are many checks and cracks on the surface of the logs that allow water to find its way behind a log home stain. When a log home stain cannot breathe, mildew will form beneath the finish and this will eventually lead to rotten logs. Breathability also ensures low maintenance costs because the log home finish has a stable and dry surface to adhere to versus a constantly moist surface. When moisture finds it way behind a finish that cannot breathe the stain will crack, peel, or flake away. This means having to fix the problem by applying a log home borate preservative, and then allowing proper dry time before applying the finish again. These steps should not have to be taken every year, when a quality log home stain is purchased and applied properly.

Finally a good log home stain should be able to flex with the logs through the seasons for better protection of your logs. A good stain actually expands and contracts when the logs get warm and cold throughout the day and during the transition between seasons. This ability to flex reduces the amount of micro-checking in the logs which helps keep water infiltration at a minimum and also extends the life of the log home stain.

Important Factors to Consider When Selecting Log Stain

Old or New

An older stain establishes itself in the fibers of the material, having had a chance to soak into the wood. As it fades with time and weather, it leaves blotches of lighter and darker sections, which can be a challenge to re-stain. The thing to remember when choosing a stain color to go over an existing coat is that the more times you stain a piece of wood, the less of the original wood color and grain definition you retain. Stain used against bare wood is absorbed more evenly. Lighter-colored sections of wood on a re-stain project require additional coats of stain to bring them up to the same shade as darker sections.

Wood Color

The wood’s color and substrate texture will affect the appearance of stain products. Lighter woods are easier to color and the darker the wood, the less influence stain will have on it. Porous wood will absorb more stain and allow more of the substrate to show through. If you are looking to enhance the natural beauty of the wood as opposed to covering it up, go with a lighter color of stain. If you are looking to significantly darken a lighter wood, such as pine, use a darker-colored stain.

Oil or Latex

The natural expansion and shrinking of wood, due to environmental changes, causes cracking and peeling in low-quality oil-based seals. Oil adds stickiness to the logs, which attracts dirt and debris over time. Latex seals allow for elasticity, which keeps the stain from damaging over time.

Subcoats

Since stain is applied in layers you cannot go back to a lighter color with stain. Each additional layer adds more depth of color and masks the grain of the wood even further. So you have to start off with a stain that is two to three shades lighter than your final selection, as you may find that one or two coats is sufficient to reach the shade you desire.

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when selecting a log stain-

  • The color samples that you see in your hardware store are only an approximation of the final color you may end up with
  • The actual color will often look darker when applied to a large surface. So don’t go blindly with a small chip to determine your final color choice.
  • Store-matched colors may not perfectly match a manufactured ready-mix color.
  • For best results, apply a sample of the chosen color on the surface
  • Colors change as they dry; therefore, no color decision should be made until the sample board is completely dry and top coated.

Hopefully this article will help you make an educated choice of stain or finish to use on your log home.  For extra help or questions regarding any log home stain project, contact Performance Log Homes.

How to Care for Interior Log Home Walls

Carcass_rounded_timber_alyans

 CC BY-SA 3.0

Wood is one of those materials that just looks better the older it gets. That said, it still requires adequate care in order to maintain its good looks and keep homes clean, secure, and properly insulated. Old, damaged, dry-rotted wood doesn’t do anyone any favors– if you have interior log home walls, it’s important to properly care for and maintain them.

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© Depositphotos.com/bradcalkins

Two Advantages of Chinking on Log Homes

When you are thinking about different materials that you can use on your home’s interior or exterior, chinking remains a popular option for log cabin style homes. This is a material that is commonly used for both its aesthetic and functional benefits because of its affordability and relative ease of use. With a closer look at what these advantages are, you may decide that applying chinking on your log cabin home is a great option for you.

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Guide to Carpenter Bee Prevention and Treatment

carpenter bees Carpenter Bees are a common problem for owners of log homes and controlling them is an even bigger challenge.  Most people know very little about carpenter bees and are even intimidated by these intruders. This is a guide for log home owners to deal with carpenter bee problems. Continue reading