How often do I need to stain my log home? This question can be a little tricky for many homeowners because often times they are not sure what the finish is on the logs. We always reccommend to go with stain manufacturers timeline which ranges, more often than not from 3 to 7 years for a semi-transperant all the way up to 8 and even 9 years with a solid stain.
Should I use a transparent, semi-transparent or solid stain? Never use a transparent stain on the outside of your home. It does not protect against ultraviolet rays, and only lasts up to two years before seriously degrading. Semi-transparents work well in many applications but when there is excesive damage to the logs and discoloration it is time to move to a solid stain which covers and protects the best.
Should I use an oil base stain or a water base stain? There is a lot of information out there reagrding this very question. Our experience here at Superior Log Restoration points towards penetrating oil stains having the greatest durability, longevity and ease of use. Knowing that we typically use these types of stains on our projects except for when water borne stains have already been used.
Can I paint my log home? No. Logs are continually absorbing and expelling moisture as they are a natural product. A thick layer of paint seals the pores and does not allow the log to breathe and this will cause moisture to become trapped within the log. On a side note even certain brands of stain can cause the same problem. If the stain you chose does not absorb into the wood upon application than you need to choose a different brand. If the stain builds up on the surface it will eventually seal the pores and suffocate the logs.
How do I know when it is time for a new finish to be applied? Typically you can tell just by looking at the finish. If it appears dull, faded or is peeling and flaking than it is time for a fresh coat. However some products or certain color tones always appear dull or faded so the way to check these are to spray the home with water. If the water beads up and rolls down the wall than the finish is still in good condition.
Log Home Chinking
What is Log Chink? Traditionaly the ingredients used in log chinking often included dung, earth, hair and pine sap. Later log chinking utilized cement mortar, but today universal building code standards usually require polystyrene foam backing rods and flexible acrylic materials. Today when people chink a home, they are essentially doing large scale caulking. Many chinks are just the same as a textured caulk.
The logs in my home are tightly fit together, do they need chinking? There are "chink-homes" and "chinkless" homes built out of logs today. The difference is that "chink-homes" are designed in such a way that they are required to be chinked because of the large gaps intentionally left during construction. "Chinkless" homes are another story because there are many different styles of "chinkless" homes built today, many of which can very large gaps between the logs which require chinking. Chinking will increase the energy efficiency of every log home, but if your log home is very well built the cost of chinking may not outweigh the benefits recieved.
Do I have to chink my home or is caulking ok? If the gaps are less than 3/8” than a high elastic silicone caulk is just fine but for gaps or cracks larger than 3/8” we recommend a synthetic chink.
Log Home Restoration
I have a rotten area on one of my logs, can I fill it with a wood filler? No, Rotted wood must be cut out and replaced with wood. The problem with putty or epoxies is that once dry they become rigid. The wood around it still shrinks and expands with changing humidity causing the putty/epoxy to break loose and allowing for water infiltration and further problems. It is also important to first find the cause of the problem and fix that first so it does not happen again.
I have bug holes in my logs, what can I do about that? In the early stages of a log home you may have bugs coming out of your logs. These could be bugs that were already in the wood and are coming out now, there is nothing you can do about them, they need to come out. New bugs typically get into wood that already has some rot occuring, so first the rot needs to be addressed. Once addressed there are products available to deal with infestations. We always begin with a Borate treatment to prevent against wood ingesting insects, and then assess the situation and go from there. There are also additives that can be added to finishes to aid in pest prevention. Figuring out the pest that is in your home is the first step and then addressing it is generally pretty simple.
How do I know if I have a rotted log? Typically when a log starts to decay it darkens in color or has mold and mildew present but that is not always the case. We see in a lot of instances that a log will have an upwards facing crack that allows water to enter deep into the log. This is the worst case because the problem will go unseen for many years. The best way to check for internal rotting is to tap the log with a small hammer. I solid log will have a definite ring while a log with a rotten core will have a dull thud or hollow sound.
I have rotten deck posts, can these be fixed? Yes. In most instances the post are too close to the ground or have vegetation growing around them causing the rot. The options for fixing normally include cutting the rotten bottoms off and pouring a taller footing or inserting a section of treated wood.
Why have my windows and doors become stuck or difficult to open or close? There are 3 probable reasons for this issue. (1) All log homes undergo some amount of settling (shrinkage and compression) during their first 4-5yrs of existence and if not properly accounted for there can be disastrous effects which will require re-cutting of the openings. (2) Sometimes foundations will shift over time which cause the openings to become out of square. This also requires removing the window/door, re-cutting the opening if necessary or just re-plumbing the unit in the existing opening. (3) In some instances, where rot is present, we’ve seen that a load bearing log will rot enough that it causes the whole wall to compress.
Why are there humps in my second floor? Log homes settle (shrink in height) over time. This means that any stick built walls or posts within the home need to have adequate clearances between them and the second floor or there needs to be wedges or jacks that allow for lowering. If the jacks were not lowered or adequate clearance was not allowed than as the outer walls reduce in height the inner walls end up pushing upward on the second floor causing the humps your experiencing. This can be fixed.
Why is there a hump at the top of my stairway? Log homes settle (reduce in height) over time. This means that stairways need to be able to slide as the second floor drops in height. In a lot of cases we see the stairs fastening rigidly which causes the top of the stair to push up on the flooring causing a dangerous hump. This can be fixed.
What is cob blasting and is it required? Cob blasting is the process of shooting finely ground corn cobs thru a hose at high pressure which will remove old finishes without destroying the wood. This is done in instances where paint has been applied or there is a build up of stain that needs to be removed.
Do you offer free evaluations? In many instances yes, but depending on the location of your home or cabin sometimes we need to charge a fee up front, never more than $300. If you decide to have us complete some work for you than we deduct this fee from the job price so it still ends up being free.