If you own a log home or a log cabin, you know that it is not maintenance free. Like most homes, it requires a regular schedule of maintenance to keep ahead of the abuses of sun, wind and water. If you want your log home to last through many generations, a consistent approach to maintenance is a must. Here are five log home maintenance tips to help you stay ahead.
Do a Yearly Log Home Inspection. The best time to do this is in the spring, when any issues that you find can be corrected during the warm weather. This inspection can be fairly simple. Walk around the outside of the house and look closely at the condition of the log walls. Also inspect your log to window connections to be sure that they are tight.
Watch your Plantings. Shrubs and trees which are allowed to grow too close to a log home can create long term problems. Although these plantings may provide protection from the sun, they can also lead to issues with moisture. Closely growing plants will hold moisture too close to the logs which can create mold and mildew issues. They also prevent air circulation which the logs need to stay dry. For this reason, all plants should be cut back to a minimum of 18-inches from the outer walls of the log home.
Stain as Needed. To determine if the house needs to be re-stained, spray the exterior walls with water from a garden hose. You want the water to bead-up on the log walls. This means that the current stain is still protecting, keeping the logs dry. If the logs absorb the sprayed water, the stain is no longer providing adequate protection. It may be time to reapply your stain.
Don’t be surprised if the stain condition is not the same on all sides of the house. Walls which face south and west will likely get more sun and may require more frequent maintenance than those facing north and east. Also, log cabin walls protected by covered porches are sheltered and will therefore need less maintenance.
Recognize vulnerable areas. Pay close attention to vulnerable places where water damage can occur. Vulnerable areas include logs set close to the ground or just above deck or stairway areas. These are spots that can become wet and stay that way over a longer period of time. Water damaged logs will be discolored compared to the other wall logs. Other areas to look at include logs around porches, bulk heads and shrubs. Basically, any logs exposed to water splash should be inspected and protected.
Caulk the Check Cracks. During your inspection look for checks in the logs. Checks are openings or cracks which run horizontally along the grain of the wood. Log checks are a natural part of the drying process. However, if the check is large (1/4” or more) and on the upward curve of the log, it should be maintained.
Maintaining log wall checks consists of filling the check with a log home caulking. Prior to caulking, backer rod can be placed into the check to help with the adhesion of the caulk. Backer rod is closed cell foam material available in many different thicknesses. Because it is less expensive than caulk, placing the foam into the opening first will reduce the amount of caulking needed to fill the check. If your inspection reveals any insect holes, they should be treated and caulked as well.
In the long run, preventative log home maintenance will save you time and money. It is far better to deal with minor issues before they become major ones. The corrective measures needed for a poorly maintained log home can be very expensive. Follow these log home maintenance tips and you will receive years of worry-free enjoyment from your log cabin home.