How To Avoid Log Cabin Issues

Log cabins can last for hundreds of years when they are well-maintained. The bad news is we can shorten their lives by neglecting them like any other style of home. There are ways to avoid running into these types of issues:

  • Moisture
  • Insects
  • Critters
  • UV Rays
  • Low Maintenance

The following ways to protect your log siding or full-log cabin have worked well for decades. Don’t take your wood for granted by neglecting it. Take the time to keep your cabin in top condition and it will hold or exceed the market value.

Log Cabin Issues: Moisture

Moisture is one of wood’s enemies even in dry climates. Rain, snow, sleet, and humidity can cause wood damage. Too much moisture can eventually rot wood, produce water stains, and induce mildew, mold, or fungus to grow on wood. These ways protect your log cabin:

  • Caulk all joints where water can rest or seep into gaps
  • Use high-quality stain/sealers right from the start
  • Use high-quality chinking material if you chink between logs
  • Clean and restain wood as needed over the years
  • Avoid planting bushes or plants close to walls – 5’ to 6’ minimum
  • Drain water away from walls with gutters and sufficient roof overhang

An issue that is sometimes overlooked is protecting your log walls from ground moisture. To prevent this potential problem, build a foundation that is no less than 2 feet high and well drained. Check the bottom logs twice a year for dirt or moss that have accumulated, and clean it off if found. This article explains more about caring for your log cabin.


Log Cabin Issues: Insects And Critters

Insects and critters need homes too but we don’t want them living with us. Their presence can increase due to where you live and if you neglect your log cabin. They include:

  • Insects – Insects harmful to wood include beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and termites. Most of these can drill small holes inside logs, log siding, and wood around doors, eaves, and windows. TIP: Do not use mulch near the cabin that can attract them and spray a quality repellant on wood if insects are present. Also, don’t stack firewood close to the cabin.
  • Birds – The main bird to watch out for is the woodpecker that drills holes in wood looking for insects. TIP: Keep insects away from the cabin and place fake owls in strategic places to scare them away.
  • Animals – The main culprits are mice, raccoons, and squirrels that can enter holes in your eaves and are attracted to dog or cat food left on a deck or porch. They can damage wood, wires, and ductwork. TIPS: Periodically check for holes in your eaves, do not leave pet food out, keep birdfeeders away from the cabin, and do not let tree limbs touch the roof.

“Log cabins can last for hundreds of years when they are well maintained.”

UV Ray Damage

Sometimes we forget how powerful the sun’s rays can be. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun can break down the outer surface of wood such as logs, siding, trims, soffits, and eaves. As wood begins to decay from these rays, micro fungi start to feed on the damaged wood which increases the rotting process.

Hints: To prevent UV ray damage to wood, create more shade on the sides of your cabin when the sun hits directly on logs for extended periods. You can create more shade by planting trees, making wider overhangs, and building decks with a shade cover. It’s critical to clean your logs or log siding as it needs it, keep the stain up to date, and add a UV protectorate to the stain.

Failing To Maintain Your Logs

We have already mentioned a few ways to maintain your logs or log siding such as cleaning it as needed and restaining over the years. These two simple processes can:                             

  • Keep your wood from turning a dark and ugly color
  • Protect it from the elements and negative effects of climate
  • Reduce or eliminate warping or cracking of wood

You can also properly ventilate the attic and crawl space as well as apply boric acid (borate) during the initial construction of the cabin. It’s easy to see who maintains their log cabins and who does not when driving through a log home neighborhood.

Avoid Log Cabin Issues With Pine Log Siding

The easiest way to avoid most of the problems we’ve discussed is to build with log siding instead of full logs or timber frames. You will appreciate log siding’s advantages, such as:

  • No gaps between the layers of pine or cedar wood siding because they fit snugly together with the tongue and groove/end-matching system
  • The siding is kiln-dried to the correct moisture content and hand-inspected for quality
  • There is little expansion or shrinkage with log siding that prevents gaps from opening
  • There is no settling of logs because the siding is attached to conventional framing with long sturdy screws

By following these simple but effective ideas, you can avoid most of the issues with log homes and, in many cases, avoid them all together.

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