By Greg Crider, owner/operator of Renew Services LLC, Guest Columnist
There is much to be said in terms of variables associated with the endless scenarios of what makes good or bad maintenance and how to best go about it. Remember, the most important point is to stay current on the preservation of your logs and timbers.
I’ll touch on a couple of things that will help you understand how wood reacts to the environment it is placed in, what to do or not to do and what your contractor may be considering when he or she looks at your home.
Lets explore the life cycle of your home a bit to establish a timeline. When your home is new, no matter of the log species, a good log supplier will dry the timbers first – air dried and then finished in a kiln to an acceptable moisture content. After the drying they are milled to a specific log style like D-log, round, square, etc.
At this point, how the logs are handled is very important. You certainly don’t want them to get wet and go through a wet-dry cycle while stacked on a skid. You will have a bad case of mold and water staining to deal with.
After milling, the logs are cut, shipped and stacked into your home. This is where the maintenance starts from the owners’ perspective.
Since the logs are already dry, it becomes very important to get a sealer applied as soon as possible. The longer it goes from the time a log is exposed to the weather, the more involved the cleaning process will be to prep for stain and sealer.
Lets take a detour and explore a home our company was directly involved with – lovely new log home with hand-hewn chink style logs. It was a DIY project by a very capable owner-builder. However, with his job and family constraints it took too long to get the roof on the stacked logs. After a number of wet-dry cycles, mostly wet I think, the mildew and tannin stains were very pronounced.
We were able to remove about 99 percent of the staining, but it could have been avoided by simply covering the logs with tarps to keep them dry.
Back to the stain finish. Logs are stacked, home is dried in and then the stain and sealers are applied. The initial coat is the most important, but the second (maintenance coat) when applied on schedule and on time provides even more life than the first coat, because the maintenance coat has the base of the first coat to build on.
Here I will leave a word of caution: be careful not to over apply the stain. With most penetrating stains, over application will leave a high build up of color pigment, and the logs will darken dramatically. With some of the newer coating technologies, they will build up on the log surface and peel when over applied.
The old adage “A little is good, a lot is better” doesn’t hold true for log finishing! Always follow the manufactures’ guidelines.
The stain is the first line of defense. The sealant around windows and doors or any place the logs have moved is vital to keeping your energy consumption as low as possible. (Never use silicon caulking on a log home).
Consult your log home supplier for what is best in your application. I have found Perma-Chink Systems to be a great company to call on with great customer service.
Checking (which are the cracks that show up in the face of the log) needs some attention. The more the checks are filled) the better performance of your stain system. This holds especially true for the check that faces up and will not drain when filled with rainwater. Use the proper backing material. Don’t just pump them full of whatever was left over from the bathtub installation!
So it all boils down to staying current with the stain system and keeping the joints and checks properly filled.
At least once or twice a year, wash your home. There are cleaners available to help make this less of a task. And while washing will give you a clean home, it will also give you the opportunity to inspect your finish and sealant.
Vacation in your own Honest Abe Log home today and live happily ever after!