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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.
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.
With your checklist in hand, you can get to work! Start your inspection with looking at your roof, gutters, and downspouts. Your 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.
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.
The stain has gone dull. As time passes, the stain will wear down and lose its sheen.
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.
The color isn’t what it used to be. Some slight fading is to be expected but if the discoloration is more significant than it is time for another coat of stain. It is a good idea to restain before any significant color fading to better match the original color.
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.
If you're looking for a company to handle all of the maintenance work on your log home then look no further than Homestead Timbers! If you provide us with pictures and dimensions, we can provide you with our recommendations of the work that needs to be done and a rough estimate of what it will cost.
If you’re keeping up with regular maintenance, a 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. By doing this once per year, it will help your stain last as long as possible because you’re removing 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. This is more costly to do and will require two coats of stain as it will be like-new wood. Unlike power washing, which you could do yourself, you should leave media blasting to be done by professionals. There are a few different materials that can be used in media blasting, it is best to have a conversation to determine what type is best for your situation and preferences. We will warn you, media blasting can get expensive. Just another reason that you should stay up to date on your maintenance. The longer you go between maintenance coats, the more your maintenance will cost you in the long run. That’s why it is important to develop a plan to stay on top of it. Check out this video on media blasting.
Secondary prep is done to take off wood fuzz that would diminish the stains ability to soak into the wood. You don’t want the wood perfectly smooth but you also don’t want anything sticking off of the logs.
Power washing to just clean off the logs won’t require 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 for stain.
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 18%. 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 your logs meet these conditions, it’s time for stain!
You’re almost there, all you have left is staining then caulking! To stain you’re going to want to work in sections. Here’s an example of how you could do it. 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, you can spray a little more on so you're able to back brush. If this is happening, try working in smaller sections at a time.
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.
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.
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.
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.