Log Home Maintenance Basics

 Log Options, LLCby: Tom Tydeman – Log Options, LLC

What happened to my logs?
If you ever visit a log home restoration company website and read their frequently-asked-questions, you will quickly see that there are many log home owners asking the same question, “What happened to my logs?”

These owners are often concerned with blackened logs, failed finish, bug damage, UV damage and the list goes on. Many log home owners are concerned with how to restore and maintain their log home. With so many log home owners searching for answers, they wonder “Is log home maintenance really this confusing?”

It can be confusing
The answer is yes, it can be very confusing, due to conflicting information and advertising claims. There are manufacturers claiming that their logs are chinkless, and coatings companies stating that no logs are chinkless. One coatings company believes an oil-based deep-penetrating stain is best and another claims a water-based film-forming stain is best. Some professionals prefer to caulk upward facing checks (cracks) and others say never caulk checks. To remove your existing finish some restoration companies only corn cob blast and say you should never power wash a log home. Other companies believe corn cob blasting is messy and leaves the wood pitted and prefer to power wash after using a chemical stripper. Why can’t anyone agree on what is best for my logs?

Understanding why
There are two answers to this question. One is that the industry is competing for your business and promoting their products. Even the most inferior product on the market will sound great after reading their marketing materials. The second reason is that there are several ways to achieve the same result. For example, there are several ways to remove an existing finish. Corn cob blasting, power washing or chemical stripping. So what do you do?

What to do
You should contact an experienced, reputable log restoration company that has many years of experience working with products specifically designed for log homes. These companies see the results of a poorly designed log home or an inferior coating.

Restoration companies may differ on corn cob blasting versus power washing and other issues, but the end result will be clean logs ready to effectively accept a stain. Even though there may be differences of opinion between companies, there are some industry-wide standards that most will agree on.

    • For best log stain performance, proper log surface cleaning and preparation are the most important factors. 
    • Apply Borate to logs after they are cleaned, to prevent mold, mildew and insects. 
    • Having wide overhangs, good drainage systems, adequate ground clearance, and keeping shrubs away from logs are very important for protecting logs from water damage. 
    • Use high quality products for best results. 
    • Use only coatings that are specifically designed for log homes — coatings that repel water, protect wood from sunlight, and allow logs to breathe.

Simple steps
So, if you are wondering how to take care of your older log home or want to know how to maintain your new log home, there is a way. The coatings industry, log home manufacturers, and log restoration companies are beginning to work together on what is best for you and your log home.

They understand that a 20 year old log home that looks like a 50 year old log home is not good for the log home industry. It starts with a log home manufacturer’s design that includes proven log protection features such as wide overhangs. Then, with proper preparation of the log surface, a high quality log stain must be applied. This should be followed up with maintenance inspections on a regular basis (once or twice a year) to address any potential problems. If these simple steps are followed, you and your family will enjoy many years of problem-free log home living.

This article was written by Tom Tydeman, Certified Log Inspector and owner of Log Options, LLC