To keep your log home looking beautiful and performing like the day it was built, you have to keep it well maintained. Here’s how.
Wood is strong and durable, but it needs to be protected. Because it’s a natural material, it’s subject to the other forces of nature. It’s main adversaries: moisture and sunlight. Though these two potent agents won’t significantly degrade the integrity of your logs on their own, they can set up conditions that can damage them — unless you take measures to stop them in their tracks. Here are the basic measures to take to ensure your log walls stand proud and stay pristine.
PROACTIVITY PAYS OFF
There are a number of things you can do in the design-and-build stages of your log home to help protect your log walls down the line. Here are four of the most important:
Foundation: Keeping your home’s foundation at least 6 inches above grade (experts recommend as much as 24 inches in some areas) before your first log course will help combat damage from pooling water or insects. Inorganic materials, like stone, will offer additional protection as well as natural beauty.
Grade: When the finish grade is applied to your land, be sure its slopes down and away from every side of your home (about 6 inches over the first 10 feet) to prevent surface water from cascading toward your foundation.
Eaves: Incorporate eaves and porch overhangs that are at least 24 inches deep (36 is even better) into your log home design plan. They will protect your log walls from excessive exposure to rain, snow and the sun’s UV rays. You’ll also create opportunities for fabulous outdoor living.
Gutters and Downspouts: Invest in the best gutters and downspouts you can afford to ensure that water runoff moves away from your home. Be sure to channel the water far away (6 to 9 feet is ideal) from your foundation.
Landscaping: Your yard can have a big impact on your log home’s integrity. To help reduce maintenance, remember to avoid ground cover (like mulch or pine straw) that attracts insects; clear stumps and fallen trees within 50 feet (wood-boring bugs love them); and keep shrubbery at least 3 feet from log walls to allow air circulation.
DEFEND YOUR TURF
Once a tree is felled, nature tells it to start its natural decomposition process. But with protection from log home-specific products you can beat Mother Nature. Here’s how:
Stains and Sealants: High-quality, breathable finishes will keep outside moisture from penetrating the wood while allowing the moisture inside the log’s cells to evaporate. (And they make your home pretty.) Additives like mildewicides, fungicides, ul-
traviolet blockers and water repellents ensure maximum protection against the threats to your logs.
Remember: Apply only products that are intended to protect log homes. Deck sealer is not sufficient protection. If you are in doubt about which products to use, check with your log producer or your local sales representative. And follow the sealant manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and re-application.
Caulk: Regardless of your log profile or construction style, you need to caulk the areas between log courses, corners and around windows and doors. Caulk comes in tubes or pails and can be colored or clear. It’s applied with a gun in a narrow strip or bead that dries to a tough but elastic coating.
Chinking: This is the band of f lexible synthetic material most often used in log systems where the log courses are separated by a gap of an inch or more, such as with some handcrafted log systems. Unlike historical chinking, which was rigid and could crumble, modern chinking moves with the logs to maintain a tight seal against the elements.
Foam Gaskets: Made from compressible, water-resistant foam, gaskets are used between courses to prevent air and water infiltration. Most tongue-and-groove systems use foam gaskets to seal the joints between adjacent rows of logs.
LEFT: Stains and sealants specifically made for log homes are a key ingredient to protecting your house from weather damage. But proper maintenance is essential to keeping it safe and sound for the long haul.