4 Steps for Log Home Restoration

Due to the amount of care required to properly maintain a log home, they can easily become neglected causing them to look shabby or fall into disrepair prematurely. Log home owners need not worry however. There are a few simple restoration steps that when followed can ensure that their log home is always looking its best.

1. Restoring Log Surfaces

Guaranteeing that the surface of the home has been properly prepared is an absolute must and if done correctly, will prevent many issues from occurring in the future. First and foremost in surface preparation is making sure that the natural wood of the home is thoroughly cleaned and dried before anything else is done to it. Wood that is not dry before other products are applied have a higher chance of growing mold or rotting. The wood also needs to be cleaned because too much debris or contaminate can compromise the effectiveness of the applied products. This step of the process is most important for new homes that have yet to be caulked or stained. It involves not only cleaning and drying, but understanding which areas of the house may present the most problems, including hot and cold spots, air leakage, and potentially weak logs.

For raw wood, pressure washing is sufficient for cleaning however homeowners should be aware that although bleach is commonly used, it can damage the cellulose in the wood and is not always easy to wash off again. Bleach residue can hinder how well stain is later absorbed by the wood. Overwashing unprotected wood can also do a certain amount of damage and homeowners must be mindful of this. Fortunately there are several store bought products available to log home owners that contain buffer ingredients to protect the wood.

Older Log Homes

For owners of older homes, they may notice that this initial process was not strictly adhered to and will encounter problem areas that can be highlighted by a presence of film on the wood, build up of old finishes, or cracked and peeling finishes. In cases such as these, stripping may be needed to repair and restore the wood, and can be accomplished in several ways. Hand sanding is always an option if the affected area isn’t too large. Power washing or chemical stripping can also be used but again, homeowners should keep in mind not to use anything damaging to the wood. Lastly, corn-cob, walnut, soda, and dry ice blasting are all common methods for stripping old finish.Once stripped, the wood will need to be cleaned and dried to prevent the same issues from reoccurring. Products containing the chemicals sodium percarbonate, sodium hypochlorite, and calcium hypochlorite are known to rinse off easily and so won’t negatively impact the laying of finish afterward. Once stripped, if there are sections of older wood showing discoloration, products containing oxalic acid are effective in restoring the wood’s natural color regardless of whether the discoloration was caused by water stains, metal stains, or natural weathering.

2. Log Preservation

The next step in the restoration process once the wood has been dried and cleaned, is preservation. Preservation is done before any stain is applied and guards the wood from any potential pests. The fact that preservation must be done before staining is crucial otherwise the preservative will have no effect as it cannot soak through the stain. Preservatives known as borates are among the most effective in warding off damaging molds and insects. They essentially cause the wood to become toxic to wood-consuming organisms, including beetles, termites, and various fungi. Borates are water-soluble so the wood must be completely dry when applying or else you will risk the chance of leaching, weakening the preservative. However once the preservative has been correctly applied and after being allowed to fully dry, a layer of water-repellant finish can be used to lock it in.

3. Log Staining

After the preservation process has been completed, the next step for a log home owner in restoring their home is the stain. Stain is available in a multitude of colors and finishes, giving log home owners a wide variety of choices when it comes to how they want their finished home to look. It is important to choose a stain that brings out the best in the wood, showcasing its natural beauty while also protecting it. One fact that log home owners ought to pay attention to is the base used in the stain.

Typically, stains are offered with either an oil, acrylic, or latex base. Each has their pros and cons and which you choose depends on the desired effect. Latex and acrylic stains are newer to the market than traditional oil stains and offer advantages such as increased breathability, flexibility, and high UV protection. Oil based stains, although they can weather more quickly due to their brittleness, are excellent for highlighting the grain of the wood and are easily applicable. The main purpose of a stain, apart from adding a desired color to the wood, is to provide all-encompassing protection from any number of detrimental processes. This is accomplished by the ingredients in the stain collectively known as its solids content. The solids content is calculated by percentage and determines the effectiveness of the stain. It is comprised of active ingredients including pigments, binders, resins, and fungicides, among others. The higher the solids content percentage, the higher the quality of the stain therefore the general rule of thumb is to never use a stain with a solids content below 30%. Paint on a log home should be avoided at all costs! It is ineffective and damaging to the wood.

4. Sealing Logs

The last step in the restoration process is to confirm that the log home is properly sealed. Sealing prevents air and water leakage, and is most prevalent in areas such as corners, doors, windows, and the tops or bottoms of walls. Essentially anywhere in which two different pieces of material meet causing a potential gap.

Sealing is generally done from the outside using one of two methods, known as either the Professional Grade or Contractor Grade method. Both use high quality caulking or chinking, however the Professional Grade method relies on backer rods in the log joints which provide room for the caulking or chinking to expand and contract as needed. The backer rods are connected to the logs by two points for stability and is done on ¼” wall thickness which has been properly tooled for better adherence. The Contractor Grade method does not rely on backer rods, leaving it to use varying wall thicknesses which can in turn cause inconsistencies in how the caulking or chinking lays. This method leaves more room for error and can prove to be less efficient in the long run.

Although it may seem like a long process, taking these necessary steps will ensure that your log home is well-protected and stays looking new and beautiful. Our company is highly experienced in every aspect of log home restoration and would be honored to assist you in making your log home shine. Call us today to see how we can help!