Q&A / 

Log Homes & Sealers

Log Home Companies &
Synthetic Water Repellents

What a popular topic! There are lots of folks who are in love with log home building. I can understand why. The look, feel and warmth that a log home projects is enormous. Massive logs give a subliminal feeling of security. Visit a model home and I'll bet that you can catch new log home fever quite easily. Be careful when you go. Ask for a mask!

Builders, Builders Everywhere

When you see the list of log home companies and builders that are a part of this bulletin don't think for a minute that it represents a majority of log home builders. In my own city, deep within the heartland of the USA, there are 4 or 5 listed in the Yellow Pages! There is a very good chance that log home building is alive and well in your area, it is just a best kept secret.

If you begin to talk with a local builder, ask about experience, association membership, and what the builder does to say in tune with industry changes. A good way to keep abreast of change is attendance at the annual log home building conventions and conferences. A paid subscription to several of the log home trade publications is also a good way to keep current.

Before you buy a log home, visit 3 past customers. Get ones who have lived in their homes for 3 to 5 years. Ask them how things have been. Ask what they might do differently. Listen to what they say, not what you want to hear.

Design is Everything

You can make a big mistake when you build your log home if you jump in too fast. The most critical phase of the entire job is the actual design of the structure. Take time to do an analysis of your wants and desires and you will reap huge dividends. Do you need help thinking of what questions to ask? If so, many have already been written. They are located in a fantastic publication called Log Homes - From Land to Lockup. This booklet is available from the Canadian and American Log Builders' Association. Be patient, you will hear more about them in a few moments!

One mistake new log homeowners make is to use too much wood inside the structure. If you do this, you minimize its impact. Large logs look best when they are mixed with complimentary materials. Look for this mixture when you visit model homes.

Synthetic Resin Sealers

The logs that make up your home will need protection from the elements. Many highly advertised products contain natural oils that are food for algae and mildew. The manufacturers add water soluble fungicides and mildewcides to stop your house from turning black and green, but rainfall leaches these chemicals from the sealers.

The better choice is a synthetic penetrating water repellent. This product is not a food source for organisms. Here are two that I know work well on log homes:

  • Defy 800-860-6327
  • TWP 800-297-7325

If you clean the logs first with an oxygen bleach solution, you will get better penetration. This fact was determined by an independent test performed by the Earlham University several years ago. You can purchase oxygen bleach at some Sherwin Williams paint stores sold as a deck cleaner called Cuprinol, at home centers that sell Wolman's deck brightener, and from me at:

www.stainsolver.com

Message from Tim:

Years ago while researching a column about cleaning decks, I discovered the wonders of Oxygen Bleach. It is perhaps the 'greenest' cleaner I know of as it uses oxygen ions to break apart stains, dirt and odor molecules. There are no harsh chemicals, and it works on just about anything that is water washable.

I decided to create my own special blend using ingredients made in the USA. In fact, the raw materials in the active ingredient are food-grade quality registered with the FDA. I call my product Stain Solver. I urge you to use it to help clean your log home. You will be amazed at the results!

The life expectancy of a log home sealer is much longer than that on a wood deck. The primary reason is two-fold:

  1. Water does not collect on vertical surfaces.
  2. The ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the logs at a shallow angle when they are most intense. A horizontal deck surface, on the contrary, takes a direct hit during the high noon hours when the sunlight is penetrating the least amount of atmosphere.

I have seen synthetic sealers perform very well for up to 6 years on vertical wood surfaces. The trick is to keep up with the maintenance. Don't let the penetrating water repellents wear away completely before you apply a new coat. You will find the logs will be easier to clean if you stay up with the maintenance.

Always, always stain the logs a light color. The logs naturally darken over time. You can always go darker but it is hard to go from dark to light!

Take Your Time

Before you start to build, you must educate yourself about log homes and their characteristics. The log home associations have vast amounts of literature. I also urge you to interview 5 current log home owners. Ask them what they like, what they did wrong, and what surprised them one year after they moved in. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Ask questions!

Log Home Building Literature and Resources

There is so much information available about log homes, that you simply can't believe it. I feel the best place to get started is with the two associations that represent the log home building industry. They each offer some helpful free literature and point you towards additional resources. Their websites are also helpful.

The Log Homes Council offers the following pamphlets and research report at no charge. You can get them by writing to them at:

Log Homes Council
1201 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
800-368-5242 Ext. 576
www.loghomes.org

Here is what you can ask for. Be sure to ask if there is any other great free information that just became available:

Log Homes Council Full Membership List

Ethics Code - Most Frequently Asked Questions

Log Grading Program

Research Report on Energy Efficiency of Log Buildings

The Canadian and American Log Builders' Association has some very wonderful information. The best thing they have is a 70 plus page booklet called Log Homes - From Land to Lockup. It is a collection of articles, checklists and the Log Building Standards! This booklet will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I believe it can be purchased for less than $25.00

If you contact them they should send you at no charge two cool little pamphlets. The one describes all of the books, booklets, and newsletters they have. It also talks about their annual conferences, log building schools, and more.

The second pamphlet is a resource list of log home sealants and finishes, gadgets, services, magazines, schools, log building tools, etc. You will go crazy when you see this pamphlet.

You can order the pamphlets and the booklet from their website or write to them at:

Canadian Log Builders Association
P.O. Box 28608
Bellingham, WA 98228-0608
360-752-1303
www.logassociation.org


Companion Articles: Log Homes, Log Home Associations

Column B263

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