Stand Guard

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.

Log Home Living - - 2018 ANNUAL BUYER'S GUIDE -

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.

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