3 Ap­proaches to Safe­guard Your Log Home

What log main­te­nance projects can you tackle your­self and when should you call a pro? Log home stain man­u­fac­tur­ers and restora­tion ex­perts weigh in with their best ad­vice.

Log Home Living - - CONTENTS -

What projects can you tackle your­self and when should you call a pro? Log home stain and restora­tion ex­perts weigh in with their best ad­vice.

There’s no mys­tery to mak­ing sure your log home looks great and per­forms its best. It’s pretty sim­ple re­ally — take care of it. Think of it in terms of keep­ing your body healthy: Eat­ing right and ex­er­cis­ing helps avoid prob­lems, and over-the- counter medicine lets you take care of the lit­tle is­sues that arise your­self. But some­times you need to call in a doc­tor for the big stuff. Log home main­te­nance is much the same. Our three ap­proaches to main­te­nance and restora­tion will help you pro­tect your log home’s health. Ap­proach 1: Avoid­ance No, this isn’t to sug­gest a pass from ba­sic up­keep, but you can avoid a host of po­ten­tial larger is­sues by in­cor­po­rat­ing a few ba­sic el­e­ments into your log home’s de­sign at the onset.

Wrap-around porches and deep over­hangs keep rain from com­ing in di­rect con­tact with your logs. For ex­tra pro­tec­tion from mois­ture, keep ex­posed log ends prop­erly sealed. (They’re one of the most vul­ner­a­ble parts of the log, ac­cord­ing to Jim Mc­Cain, founder of Weather­all Com­pany, a stain and sealant man­u­fac­turer.) In­clude gutters and down­spouts to chan­nel pre­cip­i­ta­tion away from your home.

If you live in snow coun­try, build a foun­da­tion high enough so your first log course is at least 6 inches above your av­er­age ac­cu­mu­la­tion.

And be sure to ori­ent your house so it’s shielded from the sun’s harm­ful UV rays.

Ap­proach 2: DIY

To keep your log home healthy and happy, the most ele­men­tary thing you can do is also the eas­i­est and least ex­pen­sive — keep the ex­te­rior clean. “All you need is a gar­den hose, a sprayer and a bot­tle of gen­tle de­ter­gent, like Dawn dish­wash­ing liq­uid or Sim­ple Green,” says Tom Kuhns with Log Build­ing Main­te­nance and Restora­tion in Mil­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia. It only takes an hour or two, de­pend­ing on the size of your home, but it’s time well spent. “Do this on an an­nual or semi-an­nual ba­sis on a new log home, and you can pre­vent a lot of prob­lems from hap­pen­ing, like lay­ers of dirt from mow­ing the lawn or pollen buildup. This sim­ple job ex­tends the life of your fin­ish and your logs,” Tom says.

Ac­cord­ing to Tom, if you don’t keep your logs clean, dirt par­ti­cles will not only sit on the sur­face of them, but be­come em­bed­ded in the fin­ish, es­pe­cially in the sum­mer when the log ex­te­rior gets warm. Left unchecked, the sun can es­sen­tially bake the de­bris into the stain or top coat. If this hap­pens, a sim­ple clean­ing won’t re­move it. Don’t panic, though. Jim sug­gests a light sanding with a palm sander may do the trick. How­ever, if you do this, you will have to reap­ply a top coat to seal and pro­tect the wood. Be sure you the logs are sand-dust free, clean and com­pletely dry be­fore you re­seal.

An­other thing you can tackle your­self on the cheap is mild mold/mildew re­moval. A pe­ri­odic walk around the perime­ter of your home will clue you in. Pay close at­ten­tion to the logs clos­est to ground level and near the eaves/over­hangs, es­pe­cially on the north side of your home, which won’t get as much di­rect sun. De­pend­ing on the kind of mold it is, it can be al­most black, white or bluish-green and can be patchy or tex­tured. If you see it, deal with it im­me­di­ately. You don’t want it to get un­der­neath the stain/top coat.

To test, Charis Bab­cock with Coloradobased Sashco rec­om­mends a Q-tip test: Dip a swab in house­hold bleach and ap­ply it to the site of the dis­col­oration. If the bleach takes it off im­me­di­ately, the mold is on the sur­face and can be re­moved with a sim­ple clean­ing. If it comes off, but takes 30 to 60 sec­onds to do so, the mold likely has pen­e­trated the stain, which re­quires more work — maybe even stain re­moval and reap­pli­ca­tion by a pro­fes­sional. Again, ba­sic main­te­nance (and choos­ing a log fin­ish with a midew­cide ad­di­tive) will help keep these kinds of is­sues at bay.

Ap­proach 3: Call in the Pros.

Even if you’re the most diehard do-it-your­selfer, there are some jobs best left to the pro­fes­sion­als to en­sure they’re done right. Stain re­moval via me­dia blast­ing (us­ing high-pres­sure glass, corn­cob, soda or other ma­te­ri­als), chink­ing re­pair or re­place­ment, mit­i­gat­ing se­vere mold/ mildew growth, en­clos­ing holes made by pests like wood­peck­ers or car­pen­ter bees or log re­place­ment or re-fac­ing are all tasks that a true log home restora­tion pro­fes­sional will know ex­actly how to deal with. Their ex­pe­ri­ence is in­valu­able.

Though it sounds sim­ple enough, reg­u­lar stain re-ap­pli­ca­tion (based on your stain/sealant man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­mended sched­ule) also may be a job you’ll want a pro to han­dle. Some stains, es­pe­cially ones that dry fast, can be tricky for an ama­teur to ap­ply. A pro­fes­sional ap­pli­ca­tor will know how to pre­vent over­lap marks, dark patches, drips and other stain mis­steps.

Whether you’re giv­ing your home its an­nual pre­ven­tive wash or you see a po­ten­tial prob­lem and need to call for re­in­force­ments, don’t pro­cras­ti­nate. Things aren’t go­ing to mag­i­cally take care of them­selves, and the longer you let it go, the more time con­sum­ing, dif­fi­cult and costly it will get.

BOT­TOM: If you see signs of mold or mildew like this, don’t pro­cras­ti­nate! Clean it right away be­fore it gets un­der the logs’ fin­ish and into the wood fibers.

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