How to maintain a log home


Log homes are beautiful, and you want yours to look its best. Because of this, a question that has hopefully crossed your mind is, how to maintain a log home? Whether you’re looking at buying an existing log home, building a new one, or maintaining your current one it is important to have a maintenance plan in place. This maintenance plan will help you protect your investment as well as save you cash down the road from costly repairs when left un-maintained. The first step in maintaining your log home is knowing how to inspect it! We will walk you through it in the next section and provide you with a useful checklist to help you with the process.

Contact our log maintenance specialist, Joe, at (616) 677-5262 now if you want to know how we can help! Check out Joe’s top 5 tips for log home owners.

Before Log Home Maintenace

Before

After Log Home Maintenance

After

How to inspect a log home

To start off, you should inspect your log home at least once per year. A good standard practice we would recommend to all log home owners is to clean and inspect your home every Spring. This makes sure you stay aware of the condition of your home and can catch issues before they turn into major problems.

To do an inspection, first grab this handy checklist from our friends at Sashco.

With your checklist in hand, you can get to work! Start your inspection with looking at your roof, gutters, and downspouts. A main concern here is how the water is coming off the roof. You don't want it running down your logs, or where it could between them. Also be sure to keep an eye out for any upward facing cracks that could hold water. Through proper planning and maintenance you can ensure that your logs don't suffer from rotting due to water.

How to know when it’s time to do log home maintenance

As a general guideline, most log homes will need a maintenance coat of stain every 2-5 years. This is just a rule of thumb and you’ll find that some portions of your home may need to be stained more frequently than others. For example, if one wall gets full sun and is exposed to the elements it will need more frequent maintenance than a wall that doesn’t get direct sun and is protected from rain/snow. We can help you determine your unique needs and situation for maintenance.

Tell-tale signs that it’s time for a fresh coat of stain?

  1. The stain has gone dull. As time passes, the stain will wear down and lose its sheen.
  2. Water no longer beads-up
  3. Surface contaminants have been left on the surface for a long time. Bird poop, dirt, pollen, mold/mildew. These will degrade your stain and need to be removed. In the case of mold/mildew it may mean the stain has already been degraded and there may be a moisture problem in that spot that needs to be addressed.
  4. Cracks and checks, as your logs age it is natural for more cracks to develop. However, you don’t want to leave these exposed without any stain or caulk. Especially if they are on the top side of the log, which would allow water to sit in the crack. In small cracks, stain should be brushed in. If the cracks are larger or on the top side of the log, then they should be filled with caulk.

Looking for the top maintenance products? Here's what our experts recommend!

Log Home Stains:

Sashco Transformation Stain: This is an oil based stain that provides a beautiful semi-transparent glossy finish. This is our go-to stain as it has excellent perfomance and can be applied over most previously used stains.

Sashco Capture and Cascade System: Capture is the colored stain and Cascade is a clear coat that you put over it. For maintenance coats you only need to reapply the clear coat.

Colorfast: This is a prestain base coat that prevents yellowing of the wood, reduces blotchiness for a more even stain application.

Symphony: This is an interior clear coat to enhance woods natural beauty and create a durable, easy to clean surface.

Log Home Caulks:

Log Builder: "Ultra flexible and elastic – won’t crack or pull away
Tested and trusted by you – go-to product for log home manufacturers throughout the US, Water-based for easy application and clean-up
Freeze-thaw stable" -Sashco

Log Jam: "Stretches up to 250% of original joint size without tearing – moves with your logs when they move, Textured to simulate old-time mortar, Easy to smooth and cleans up with water, Superior early water resistance" -Sashco

Conceal: "You want to see your logs, not shiny caulk lines, but caulk is necessary to keep the weather and bugs out. It’s lightly textured to simulate the natural roughness of wood and extremely elastic to maintain a yearslong seal that keeps weather, bugs, and moisture out." - Sashco

 

Log Home Cleaners:

CPR Wood & Log Cleaner: CPR cleans / brightens logs and wood, restoring its luster and vibrancy when used for routine log home maintenance. It is a gentle log home cleaner with an oxygenated bleach formula that will not weaken wood fibers. Effectively kills mold and mildew, while also removing dirt, dust, pollen, and other surface contaminants. Mix with water, brush or spray on.

Outlast Kleen Start: Outlast KleenStart is a biodegradable, non-toxic concentrate that gently lightens grayed UV damaged wood, removes mill glaze and brightens/cleans all types of wood surfaces. Apply through a pump sprayer.

Safe Strip: Safe Strip is an eco-friendly product that removes exsiting penetrating stains without the harmful toxic effects. It is easy to use and will provide a quick and effective solution to getting your exterior wood ready for a new finish.

 

Additives:

Outlast "No Bug Stuff": NBS 30 is designed for use in exterior coatings. It will deter and inhibit insects from burrowing through or crawling on exterior coatings. NBS 30 Additive is effective in controlling crawling and nesting activity on painted or stained surfaces to which it has been added.

Outlast Mold Buster: Additive to control Mold, Mildew and Algae growths. Add to oil, latex, water based and solvent bourne Paints and Coatings, Pre-measured dose for 5 gallons of paint or stain, Low odor - Low VOC


Would you like a little guidance from the experts? Fill out the form at the bottom of the page to schedule an appointment with our maintenance coordinator to discuss your log home! Whether you have specific questions you want answers on or if you want someone to walk you through the whole process and give your some tips, our maintenance coordinator is here to help!


The Maintenance Process

Your process should start with the inspection we talked about above. This will ensure you know what's going on with your log home and what needs to be done. First you're going to need to determine if lightly power washing your logs will be sufficient or if they will need to be media blasted down to bare wood. There are some factors Time since past maintenance, environmental conditions, and previous products used should be taken into consideration. The more time has passed since the last coat of stain the more likely it is that you will need to have some of the wood media blasted off so there is sound wood for the new stain to soak into.

1. Power washing / media blasting

If you’re keeping up with regular maintenance, an annual light power washing to clean the surface will do just fine. You may want to use a log cleaner such as Sashco’s CPR. We recommend utilizing a pump sprayer to soak the logs with CPR before power washing it off. Doing this will help remove the surface contaminants that cause the stain to break down and wear away prematurely.

If the logs have been neglected for a while then, you may need to have them media blasted to remove the old stain and damaged wood fibers. Unlike power washing, which you could do yourself, you should leave media blasting to be done by professionals. We will warn you, media blasting is expensive. Just another reason that you should stay up to date on your maintenance.


2. Secondary prep

Secondary prep is done to take off wood fuzz that would diminish the stains ability to adequetly cover and soak into the wood.

Very light power washing to just clean off the logs won’t require much, if any secondary prep. However, a more aggressive power washing will require secondary prep, similar to the amount needed with media blasting. This is because an aggressive power washing will create wood fuzz or felting. A great option for secondary prep is an Osborn brush which you’ll attach to a variable speed grinder. Another option is to use the backer pad, grabber pad, buffy pad system. Both of these will get your logs ready to take on stain and make sure that your stain lasts as long as it can.

3 a. Conditions

The stains we recommend should be applied to dry wood, you can use a moisture meter from a paint store. For most areas it should be below 19%. If it has just rained it will require at least a full day if not 2 days of no rain to dry. The wood that you’re applying stain to should have a temperature between 50 and 90 degrees, that’s right the temperature of the wood, not air. If you have done the proper prep and you meet these conditions, it’s time for stain! Keep an eye on the weather forecast as well, you don't want rain in the forecast 2 days after staining.


3 b. Staining

To stain you’re going to want to work in sections (see image below). By working in sections it will help you achieve a more even stain color as it is easier to back brush before the stain starts to dry. Back brushing is important as this will push the stain into wood and help it soak it up. If you're spraying the stain on with a pump sprayer or airless sprayer, apply it until it is just starting to run. Then vigorously back brush over what you just sprayed on. Repeat this going section by section and you'll have some great results. Quick tip! Pay attention to the stain, if it's a hot day it will cause the stain to dry faster. If the stain is getting tacky before you can back brush it, try working in smaller sections. Apply a little more so you're able to back brush the tacky stain.

If you're not spraying it and just brushing, apply it liberally so it is starting to drip and then continuously brush it in until it no longer is dripping. Let this first coat completely dry before applying the second coat. For the second coat, go on lighter so that it does not run.

Stain Log Home In Sections

4. Caulking / Chinking

This is an important part of maintaining your log home as it will seal air leaks and keep rain out of your home. Proper caulking or chinking will help prevent water from getting between the logs which overtime will cause them to rot, not something you want to deal with! We have a few options for caulk and chinking. First, we have Conceal, which is a lightly textured caulk. It is available in 7 colors to match some of the most popular log stain colors. Next, we have Log Builder, which is a great option for sealing up your log home. It is designed to move with your logs due to shrinking, swelling, or settling. The last option we have is Log Jam Chinking. This is a great product for wider joints and features a texture that mimics old-time mortar. However, the material has great elasticity to handle joint movements without tearing or peeling.


5. Enjoy your hard work!

Once you've accomplished all of these things, kick back and enjoy! You've earned it with all of the hard work you put into your log home. You can rest easy knowing your hard work will keep your log home in excellent condition so that it will last a long time time.


If you would rather have someone handle all of this for you and you're in the West Michigan area, Homestead Timbers would be happy to help! If you're located outside of our service area we may be able to refer you to a reputable company we've worked with in the past.


Want to schedule a consulation with our maintenance coordinator? Fill out and submit the form below!

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