Caring for a log home is no different than caring for a conventional home or a car. Every season there are a few maintenance items that will protect your log home for centuries to come and will also act as preventative maintenance to avoid costly damages or repairs down the road.
Work With A Log Home Builder or Professional
When dealing with a professional log home builder, they will be aware of certain aspects of building a log home that should be considered and discussed with the home owner. Ensuring a proper roof overhang (all our log homes are built with a 3 foot overhang) to ensure the logs underneath have less exposure to rain, snow and sun. Also where the "footprint" of the home is in relation to the elements (water, wind, sun) will play a big role in the maintenance schedule you will need. For example a log home tucked away in a forest will be less affected by the sun and perhaps snow compared to a wide open lot. Same with the exposure of your log walls. Walls facing south will generally have more sun than other walls so it's important to consider the exposure as well as make note of which walls could be affected.
Start with a good assessment of your log home
If you are reading this blog and are extremely puzzled on the status of your log home, the best way to remedy this is to call your log home builder (or contact us !) to have a thorough inspection and assessment done on your home. We typically checkup on our clients every 3-5 years and thoroughly check paint/stain, cracks, splitting, gutters and other log home maintenance items during the visit. Some of these tasks could be done by the homeowner and others we'd recommend working with your log home professional.
Log Home Maintenance Items Checklist
Here is a list of the most common "wear and tear" items that can affect your log home. Check back often as we will keep on updating this list to provide you with more useful log home maintenance items!
Light Wash every other year
This is by far the best way to prolong the quality of your log home. Not only does a power wash help get rid of debris, cob webs and mud, it also takes you through the motions of going around your home to do a visual inspection. Pollen is also a major culprit that layers year after year and can harbour mould and retain moisture which will degrade the quality of your home. As you're washing you can inspect how well your stain is holding up, check for cracks, rot or any other issues. Properly washing your home with a log wash will also help maintain the appearance of your stained logs.
Generally speaking your log home should have a maintenance coat applied every 3-5 years. This could be more or less, depending on the elements surrounding your log home and how they affect the walls of your home. Before we stain, we do a light pressure wash with a log or timber wash to help get rid of any debris and dirt. We then treat the timber with a shell guard prior to staining. This helps prevent insects from burying into your logs (such as the famous Carpenter Bee!) and also feels unappealing to other bugs landing on your logs. All our stain are breathable which is very important to allow moisture to escape and not be trapped inside; thus helping prevent decay/rot from starting.
What most log home owners don't realize is that your logs are a living object that are constantly changing with the seasons and the elements. Depending on when the logs were felled (That's industry lingo for "chopped down") there will most likely still be moisture in the log which will expand and shrink with the seasons affecting all the logs linked to it. Quite often as the logs age and moisture dissipates, it will cause cracks that can grow over time. We typically address any crack larger than 1/4" by cleaning it, filling it and pay special attention to any upward cracks which will gradually hold more and more moisture.
Addressing Rot on your log home walls
Due to neglect or wear and tear, rot and fungus growth can set into the logs. This can appear on the surface in different colours and shapes and can even seep all the way into the inside walls as "dry rot." Cracks of any size, due to the fact they absorb water and retain more moisture can be "ground zero" for the rot to begin. Again a proper stain coat can address and deter fungus/rot from increasing as most stains penetrate a few inches into the wood. In some cases, the affected log(s) should be replaced to prevent spread and also ensure the durability and insulation factor of the rest of the wall.
Check Log Chinking
Log chinking is a sealant for the gaps between your logs. Hundreds of years ago natives used mud and moss to fill the gaps between logs as often they are never the same size from top to bottom. Chinking progressed to be done using mortar or cement and eventually into a longer-lasting, synthetic product. Most high quality chinking materials expand and contract along with the wood throughout the seasons. This product is specifically built to adhere to logs better than regular caulking and has the elasticity to move with the logs. Like any product though, over time chinking can peel, crack or deteriorate and addressing these is crucial to avoid internal damage, decreased insulation and again, prevent critters from sneaking in! Using special tools, we can cut away the damaged area and patch it to create a seamless restoration.
Depending on the level of tree coverage and foliage over your log home, it's possible that seasonally, your gutters will fill up and prevent proper water drainage from your roof. On a heavy down pour, the draining water will spill over the gutters splashing onto the ground, kicking debris up on the nearby logs. Installing gutter guards is a great way to prevent buildup however, we still recommend a thorough cleaning as grime, mildew, pollen and other debris can accumulate even with gutter guards. In some situations, gutter guards get clogged themselves so nothing beats getting up on a ladder (safely and where possible) for a thorough cleaning.
Once your log home is complete, of course you'll want to beautify it with landscaping, gardens and trees! However, any vegetation touching or adjacent to your home can become an issue. Bushes, grasses or shrubs that grow to "touch" your log home can become a high area of traffic for critters, retain moisture and even some plants like ivy or creeping thyme can grow on your logs! This will be a perfect environment for causing damage to your logs. We don't have any hard and fast rules regarding how to landscape but rather use a common sense approach. When purchasing any vegetation/plants/trees and shrubs, consider the growth and spread rate to see how it affect your structure 5, 10, 20 years after your landscaping is complete.
Over the winter, as snow accumulates around the base of your log home, it can cause a freeze/thaw cycle than can damage the lower logs forming your home. Snow directly touching your log home will also cause the wood to absorb moisture as naturally, wood is a porous material. We recommend clearing any snow directly on your home as part of your winter snow removing routine. The main areas are always the lower logs, however window sills, balconies and even higher logs could hold snow.
Hopefully you now have a thorough understanding of basic log home maintenance. With minimal work season after season, addressing the above-mentioned tips will help prolong the duration, quality and the appearance of your home. It is highly recommended to contact your log home builder or give us a call should you have any concerns regarding your log home.