What Is A Log Cabin?

Log cabins dotted the landscape from the early 1700s to the early 1900s. They were popular because they were fast and economical to build. Most people cut down nearby trees and constructed their cabins with the help of family and friends.

Most home builders think of a log cabin as a smaller version of a larger log home. Whereas log homes are typically occupied full-time, log cabins can be used as vacation or weekend retreats or lived in full-time. Cabins are also options for sleeping in tents, campers, or RVs for outings. Today, we see many cabins that are rented out on a short-term basis.

Log Cabins Are Typically Scaled-Down Log Houses

Most of us think of log cabins as smaller structures of 750 – 1,200 square feet, although there is no correct definition. Cabins essentially serve the same purposes as log homes but they tend to be cozier and more intimate versions. Here are some more differences in them:


  • Cabins may have multi-use areas and shared spaces
  • Cabins have smaller bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens
  • They generally don’t have a second floors but may have lofts
  • You may experience less privacy than in a log home
  • Cabins tend to be rectangular or square in shape
  • You will probably be closer to a fireplace or wood-burning stove
  • Closets tend to be smaller and a room or two may have curtains instead of doors

Although they may be smaller in size, a log cabin may fit your needs well.

Log Cabins Cost Less To Build

Log cabins cost less to build than full-size log homes whether made from wood log siding or full logs. Other reasons they cost less to build or live in include:


  • Less materials and labor are used to build them
  • Less expensive materials may be used for construction
  • Some cabins have fewer modern conveniences
  • They may have simpler heating and cooling equipment
  • Some off-grid cabin owners used composted toilets
  • Utility costs are lower than in larger homes
  • Their lots may be smaller or less expensive


Many people like cabins that are more rustic and outdoorsy than suburban dwellers. They like to get away from it all and enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature when they can.

“Most home builders think of log cabins as a small version of a larger log home.”

Cabins Have More Rustic Elements

Log cabins tend to have more of a relaxed atmosphere with a simpler lifestyle. Instead of a traditional HVAC system, they may have a fireplace or wood-burning stove and use fans for cooling. Other differences may include furniture made of logs or hand-crafted rather than mass-produced in a factory.

Cabins tend to have a fireplace that is centrally located with a woodpile nearby. The fireplace area may be decorated with country-style artwork or natural elements. Kitchens may be simple rooms with fewer luxuries than log homes. Instead of running water, a cabin may have a well or pump water from a stream.

Most cabins use an open space concept for easy access to other rooms or areas. Rugs and lighting may stand out as different from log homes. The décor is completely up to you.

Many Log Homes Are Custom-Built

While many of today’s log homes are custom-built, most cabins are constructed from stock plans or simple owner-designed plans. Owner-designed log cabins are not fabricated in a mill or factory like mobile or modular homes or log cabin kits. They range from off-grid styles to those with most or all modern conveniences.

While log cabins are thought of as small houses, log homes use more large timbers for support and visual effect. Modern log homes are more about personal preferences rather than using a standardized design. Log homes have more bedrooms and bathrooms than cabins, larger great rooms, and larger kitchens. Several species of trees are used to build cabins and homes while pine remains the most popular and affordable choice.

Log Siding Cabins Versus Full Log Cabins

Two favorite ways of building log cabins are using wood log siding and full logs. Why go to the trouble of buying expensive full logs and the issues that go along with them? You can have the full log look with pine or cedar siding. Why is this option a good decision?


  • Material and labor costs are much less
  • Log siding simulates full logs quite well
  • Log siding is virtually a “no-waste” product
  • It has the tongue and groove/end-matching design
  • Log siding, corners, and trim install faster and easier
  • There is less time spent measuring and sawing


Another advantage of using wood log siding is that it is mounted on conventional wall framing and high R-value insulation is placed in the walls. Homeowners skilled in basic woodworking can install siding on the outside and inside walls and save even more money!

Resources And References: