The answer, of course, is yes they do. Log cabins are subject to all the same elements of weathering and the powerful rays of the sun which other houses must endure, and they require protection from all those elements if they are to remain weathertight. Here are some of the steps you should be taking with your log cabin to ensure that it stays in great shape, and retains its aesthetic appeal as well.
You should periodically inspect the exterior of your log cabin, in order to determine if there are any obvious signs of degradation. Specifically, you should check for any sign of decaying wood, especially for logs that are in direct contact with the ground. You should pay closer attention to those areas of your house which have the greatest exposure to weather. Keep a close eye out for carpenter bee damage or worse woodpecker damage.
Walls that face to the South or the West generally receive the greatest sun exposure, so look for some damage on these walls. Those walls which face the prevailing winds in your area will be more exposed to rain and wind damage. Take a close look at all the logs that receive water runoff from the roof or a heavy water hit area, as well as those which are beyond roof overhangs, since these are more susceptible to damage. Look for any signs of water stains inside, and for signs that the finish on your logs might be leaking.
When you’re thinking about cleaning the exterior of your log home, you can count on 1 of 2 ways that I effectively prep a wood surface by media blasting (sanding) or pressure washing. If the wood is bare from the elements, blackened by the sun, or just plan different from the rest of the logs then you should treat them as such. Sanding takes care of many imperfections within the top 5 millimeters but if it’s water damage deep in the wood then sanding will only help look a few shades better. Bleach and Tsp are some of the most effective but dangerous products. We do not clean with bleach unless we are absolutely sure what needs to be done. Log Washes are safer for the logs and would cause less chemical running and or bleach burn. Sometimes a Bleach wash is safe a d effective for the log if the conditions of the log are correct. Please test multiple areas with a 1/10 ratio first before using on the total home.
You should also pay close attention to the ingredient list on any wood or deck cleaners that you purchase from hardware stores because some of them actually include elements that interfere with any stain you might be thinking of applying to your log home. The safest cleaning products to use on your log home are those which specifically state on the label that they have been formulated for use on log homes. Any other kinds of products may actually cause damage to the wood or might interfere with the stain you intend to apply afterward.
Sealing and Caulking
Sealing is very important for any log home because it’s very possible that water and other elements can penetrate the log walls in between logs. That’s why chinking and sealing are necessary, and why you should check periodically to ensure that the spaces between logs have not been compromised in any way. If you do discover any gaps in your visual inspection, you should have a professional perform caulking and sealing, so that your home can remain resistant to all the weather elements.
Staining or preserving
Generally speaking, any Linseed or Tung oil stain with preservative which you apply to your log home should last for approximately five years before it needs to be reapplied. Linseed and Tung oil do not re-act well when double coated if the first coat has dried. If 5 years down the road if the stain in certain areas is unharmed then don’t layer it again. These oils will not dry properly and will begin to turn to black mildew that sits on top of the log until cleaned. You might be tempted to do this yourself, but be advised it’s a major job that requires specific tools and supplies, and it could end up costing you more money than if you paid a professional to do it. I have also witnessed the worst when clients hire the best price with no idea on how to refinish exterior wood.
When you’re trying to decide on a particular stain or finish to apply to your log home, you should choose one which is flexible, durable, protects the logs from ultraviolet damage, is water-resistant, and protects against mold and mildew. Of course, you’ll also want to choose a stain or preservative which enhances the natural beauty of your logs and keeps your home looking attractive for many years to come. My favorite product is Sikkens Cetol or door/trim and all my reps know this. This is an amazing product that my team uses every day. It’s a “true by hand” 3 coat process and when done properly can be the most protective and beautiful stain in the world. This is a pattern Alkyd-Oil that can be multi-layered and used to hid cabin imperfections. It is also super transparent compared to other products. The actual liquid is thicker in viscosity almost like syrup. Painters don’t suggest it because it is expensive, complicated, and even more expensive. The average price is in the mid $60 per gallon but I order 1 to 2 hundred gallons at a time to cut expenses. Other stains to mentions are permachink/Lifetime, Wood Guard, and Superdeck. Done of these stains can compare to a proper Sikkens job.
What to do when cleaning/stripping is needed
At some point, you may find that your log cabin needs a thorough exterior cleaning, or that you need to remove previous coats of stain or paint. In this situation, the best approach to take might be by making use of a technique known as media blasting. This method will remove any prior paint or stains, and is a better solution than pressure-washing because no water gets introduced into the cabin itself.
Immediately after this treatment, your cabin’s logs will be ready for staining, so they can be protected against all the weather elements which prevail in your geographic area. To find out more about the process, or to set up an appointment, contact WNC Blast/Wash and Staining, for all your log cleaning needs in western North Carolina.