The natural beauty of log homes attracts many of us to build one, but they also require more maintenance than a typical home. When you know what’s needed, there are ways to minimize the maintenance.
When a log home is properly maintained, its longevity is pretty much assured. Some of the oldest buildings in the world are made of log.
Everyone wants to minimize the maintenance of their home and with a log home we need to be concerned about protecting the logs where possible from the sun, rain, wind, and snow. Some of the decisions that you make when you are designing your new log home can make a world of difference.
With a typical home, it’s common to have overhangs that range from six inches to 12 inches.
For a log home, we usually recommend 2 to 3 foot overhangs on the eaves and 3 to 4 foot overhangs on the gables. Gables require more overhang because the peak of the roof is further away from the logs.
Covered porches on the south and west-facing sides are practical as they keep the elements off the logs almost entirely, further protecting the stain and allowing for easy maintenance.
Maintaining a log home starts with the stain. We are frequently asked, “Do I need to stain my home?”
If the home is built with deep overhangs, technically stain is not required, but if a log home is not stained it will be very difficult to keep clean and looking beautiful. Without stain, pollen and dust and dirt will stick to the logs and quickly turn a work of art into an eyesore.
There are two main types of stain on the market, penetrating stains and surface coatings. These stains can in turn either be water-based or oil-based.
It is best to avoid oil based stains because they quickly evaporate, requiring more intensive maintenance. You might find that you have to re-stain every three years.
It is also best to avoid surface coatings. Many of the stains on the market are chemically designed to bond to the wood, which doesn’t sound harmful, but the risk of peeling or fading over time is increased. Either way, it’s almost guaranteed that the stain will darken, potentially reducing the aesthetic appeal of the log home.
The easiest way to protect logs is to choose a water-based penetrating stain product. These types of stains have longevity because they are water-based and they maintain aesthetic appeal by penetrating the wood, allowing the pigment to be absorbed by the wood deeply. This enables the colour to remain consistent. Follow these tips:
- with a quality stain product, a single coat of stain every 5 to 10 years is often all that’s required
- typically it will be the the sides of the house with more exposure to the sun (west and south) that fall on the shorter end of the scale (5 years) and those with the least sun (east and north) that can stretch to 10 years
Protection for the Bottom Course
The bottom course of a log home or building is vulnerable to splashing rain and snow. A few measures are recommended:
- extend the foundation higher. Building code says that a foundation should be a minimum 0’6″ above grade but for a log home the minimum should be 1’6″ and preferably 2’0″
- any open deck or porch should be positioned lower than the bottom log, at a minimum of 0’4″ and preferably 0’6″
- the home/building design should ensure that no valleys drain onto the deck
Protection for Corners
Log homes should not have eavestroughs. There are other ways to deal with rain, and with a log home, eavestroughs introduce a potential problem: the downspout.
You might think that if the installation is done properly, there won’t be a problem, but there is usually is at some point, we have seen it firsthand with our restoration service. Corner repair is inevitably required because of leaking eavestroughs which allowed water to get into cracks, which in turn led to decay.
Protecting the Checks
The natural drying process of a log results in a number of checks (cracks). These checks vary in quantity and size depending on wood species. Sometimes they need to be protected from the elements, and sometimes not.
The vulnerable checks are the ones in the top portion of a round log because they do not allow potential water or moisture to drain. We recommend sealing these checks with a proper log home sealant that will remain pliable overtime.
Find Out More
If you are in need of restoration services and staining for your log home in Ontario, or are considering the best way to realize your dream of a log home, call the experts, Kealey Tackaberry Log Homes.