Free Information Request

Free Information Request

Left Column Ads copy

Friday, 06 January 2012 13:11

Log Home Inspection Tips

Inspection Tips for Log Homes


Prior to repairing, preserving, maintaining or protecting, it's always best to take some time walking around the house twice per year, looking for areas that need attention.  Drawing a simple diagram of your house and marking areas of concern is also a good idea; this way you won't miss any of the areas when it comes time to fix them.  Things to look for include:

Open Checks or Gaps Between Logs

If you have a chinkless style house, make sure it remains chinkless. As tight as the house was when it was built, at times you'll notice separation between the logs. Perhaps your home doesn't need to have all joints chinked, but make sure the areas where air infiltration exists are attended to.

Cracks in Chinking (or separation)

If you're seeing hairline cracks on your chinking either it was applied too thin (thickness) or the application wasn't wide enough to absorb log movement.  These are easily repaired.  Apply some Perma-Chink over the area that needs repair and feather in with a proper stainless steel trowel.  Unlike stain, which is difficult to match up, blending in Perma-Chink is quite easy.  If you have areas where the chinking has come loose from the wood, this can only mean there was something on the log (mill glaze, dirt, oil, etc.) that prevented it from permanently sticking when it was applied, or enough pressure wasn't used when tooling the chinking after it was applied.

Water Stains (Interior or Exterior)

A good wood cleaner (or blonding agent) can remove water marks.  But more importantly, find out where the water is coming from and resolve the problem so there are no long-term effects.

Faded Finish

It isn't unusual for the top half of the logs to be a bit more weathered and sunburned than the bottom half since the upper half is exposed longer to the sun while the bottom half gets some shade.  Faded finish is caused by the sun.  This isn't causing damage to your lobs, it's just unsightly.

 Loss of Water Repellency in Stain

Faded finish doesn't mean it lost its water repellency although it may have.  Simply splash some water on the area.  If it beads up and trickles off, you still have protection.  If it seems to soak into the wood, the water protection is gone.  Pretty basic stuff, but important. If you like the color of your wood 12-18 months after staining them, it's always a good idea to put on another protective clear coat.

Dusty / Dirty Logs (including mildew)

The picture below is a good example of how unsightly pollens and dust can make your logs look in 6 months.  Luckily these logs had a clear coat finish over the stain making it very, very easy to wipe clean (using only water) with a sponge.   Simply using Log Wash and hosing down your home once or twice a year will help keep it clean and won't give the contaminants a chance to embed themselves in the stain, which will mean more work later. At times, a mild log cleaner may be needed, but make sure it isn't so abrasive that it removes the stain.

 Soft & Rotted Wood

Rotted wood is only caused by moisture.  Remove all saturated, spongy wood and treat with liquid epoxy and wood filler to build the log back up.  Use your judgment (or the judgement of a professional) if the log needs to be replaced.  99% of the time, it doesn't unless your home has been a victim of total neglect.

Small Holes in Logs

You'll normally find a small sawdust pile directly under these holes which are normally caused by carpenter ants or beetles.  Noticing a few small holes does not necessarily mean you have a major infestation or that your logs are about to loss structural integrity. Isolate the problem and treat with borates.

Snow Drifts

After a significant snowfall you should shovel it off your deck and make sure it's not drifted up against your log wall.   Keeping them continually wet is only welcoming potential mildew and loss of stain protection.

Other Observations

In addition, make sure your gutters are secure and in good operating working order. The lack of gutters, or downspouts or those working improperly can cause long term concerns with leaks and overflows causing damage to your logs (or deck) by keeping them continually wet.

It's best to keep your firewood pile a short distance from your home.  Especially if you keep your firewood uncovered (keeping it damp), making it a prime target for termites, beetles and carpenter ants. Leaning your wet firewood up against your house makes it that much shorter of a distance the pests need to travel.

Keep brush and foliage off your logs.  Keeping landscaping trimmed back and not in constant contact with your logs will keep water off your walls during rain or when watering. is accepting log home maintenance articles from our subscribers and from log home owners. Contact us for details.

Published in Maintaining Log Homes
Thursday, 25 August 2011 15:55

Removing Water Stains

Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"


Removing Water Stains

Some of the most challenging discolorations on wood are water stains. They can run the range from light brown to jet black and can appear on both interior and exterior surfaces. How do water stains form? All wood contains a number of components that are grouped under the category of “watersoluble extractives." In other words, they can dissolve in water and as the water within the wood evaporates they can be carried along to the surface. Generally if wood is exposed to water for only a brief period of time the water does not get a chance to penetrate deep into the wood and dissolve these water-soluble components. However, if the wood is exposed to water for days, weeks or months, the water can pick up a high concentration of these components and deposit them on or near the surface of the wood.

Exterior water stains typically occur around checks, fissures and other openings that collect rain water. The water soaks into the wood and as it evaporates out of the wood it brings along the colored extractives which can then become visible on the surface. In some cases water-soluble tannins may react with minute particles of steel on the surface forming dark iron tannate stains. This process may occur on bare wood or under an existing finish. Interior water stains typically develop during construction before the home is sealed or from an ongoing water leak. They can be particularly ugly and may cause a lot of distress.

Getting Rid of Water Stains
The first step in determining a course of action is to find how deep the stain goes into the wood. Remove about a 1/16  thick sliver of the discolored surface with a sharp knife and if the discoloration comes off with the sliver the discoloration can usually be sanded off or treated with products like Log Wash, Wood ReNew or Oxcon. Since there are a number of components involved with water stains it's impossible to predict which product will work best. We recommend starting with Log Wash and if that does not work move to Wood ReNew and finally Oxcon. The problem is that even these products don't always work and sanding may be the only solution. If the discoloration goes deep into the wood and is still visible after the sliver of wood is removed it will be virtually impossible to either sand or chemically remove the water stain. In this case there are only two options, either replace the discolored wood or hide the stains.

Hiding Water Stains

Although Perma-Chink Systems manufactures and sells transparent finishes, some of our colors are fairly pigmented which gives them some hiding power. On interior bare wood surfaces Butternut color is a good choice since it is very close to the color of bare white pine. It may take several coats depending on the darkness of the discolorations. If a colored stain is going to be later applied it would be a good idea to first use Prelude over the entire wall to even out the absorption of the stain and obtain a uniform color. For hiding very dark discolorations one or two coats of Kilz primer will hide virtually anything. Kilz is available in both water and solvent-based formulations but only comes in white. The best way to hide exterior water stains is to use a dark colored finish like Walnut or one of our gray colors. If this is not to your liking you can try using the same hiding procedures as stated for interior stains but on exteriorwalls the opaque finished areas tend to be more pronounced than on interior surfaces.


"Vince Palmare"

Published in Maintaining Log Homes