It is getting cold. It usually does that this time of year and, as in most years, I start getting calls from homeowners as well as contractors asking about what the temperature has to be to apply log home products. Seems everyone is trying to finish up before winter really sets in. The first thing to remember is that the air temperatures matter less than the SURFACE temperature of the logs. Log surface temperatures can reach to over 100 degrees on a 40-degree day due to the sun. A good rule of thumb is that you want a SURFACE temperature of 40 degrees and rising. Use an infra-red thermometer to check temps often. Second (especially with chinking and caulking) is the temperature of the product. Keep it warm.
I usually put my materials in a small room like a closet and put a small ceramic heater in with them. Remember, it can take several days to heat pails of product up to say 85 from 35 degrees. Another thing to remember is that cold weather drastically slows down the cure time of sealants. This means that it takes them a lot longer to become weather-proof. You should protect your work when you finish each day because a hard rain on uncured sealants can and will wash your pretty chink joint down the wall and cause one heck of a mess. As for stains, most of these same principles apply. Warm, dry, wood can be stained in cold weather if you are careful and watch the weather – especially with water-borne stains which typically dry fairly quickly in the low-humidity conditions we usually have this time of year. Just remember to check the surface temperature.
Oh – and one more thing- most log home products say FREEZE -THAW STABIL on the pail. This does NOT mean you can leave it outside for a couple of years and then use it. Most products with that label on them are stable through like ten freeze-thaw cycles. It is easy to freeze and thaw something 15 or 20 times in one winter. So, always remember to store your products in a place that will not go below 32 degrees often. Because everything is expensive nowadays.
– article by Paul Peebles, Sashco