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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 14:22

Wood Mold and Mildew

Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"

Wood Mold and Mildew


mildew mold

Examples of Mold Growth on Logs

Mold and mildew are terms that are used interchangeably since they refer to the same living organisms.  For simplicity we'll refer to them as molds.  Molds encompass a wide range of fungal species that can live on the surface most materials, including wood.  They require air, water and food.  Their color is usually white or black but can be just about any color.  If the growth is green, it's probably algae.

The molds that concern us live on wood fibers or even on finished surfaces. Bare green wood is very susceptible to mold growth since the high moisture content provides lots of available water and the wood's nutrients are readily available as food.  Many types of mold grow on green wood.  They vary from black spots to white tendrils (commonly called dog hair).  All mold growth MUST be removed before any of our LIFELINE finishes are applied.  While it may not be clearly spelled out on our labels, our instructions and timelines are intended to provide you with the best knowledge that we have about preventing the growth of staining molds underneath our finishes without having to use potentially toxic and caustic cleaning chemicals.

It is fairly easy to remove mold from bare wood surfaces.  Cleaning products like Wood ReNew and Log Wash do an excellent job.  Many companies recommend bleach and water solutions but we know that caustic bleach solutions destroy wood fibers and create iron tannate stains. So, we looked for cleaners that would work without bleach's damaging effect on wood. One result of that effort was Log Wash, a low pH cleaner that is compatible with woods natural chemistry.

All of our exterior stains and topcoats contain mildewcides that help prevent the growth of mold on the surface of the finish. They do not prevent the growth of mold on the substrate under the finish. That's why its so important to thoroughly clean the surface prior to applying the first coat of stain or primer.  Mold spots forming under a finish is an indication that the surface was not properly cleaned during preparation. The only way to remove them is to strip the finish down to bare wood to get at the mold.

Occasionally shaded, warm, moist environments can create conditions so conducive to mold growth that they can overcome the mildewcide additives contained in the finish.  One way to handle this type of situation is to thoroughly clean the walls with Log Wash and then apply a coat of Advance Clear Topcoat mixed with Stay-Clean additive.  Just be aware that the addition of Stay Clean will diminish the glossiness of Advance Gloss.

A final thought about maintenance of exterior finishes.  When you apply a maintenance coat of LIFELINE Advance, you are renewing the water repellants, the UV inhibitors and the mildewcides on your exterior walls.   Maintenance of that exterior clear coat has many important functions that protect the wood and maintain the appearance of the house, including making it easy to keep clean and free of mold.


"Vince Palmare"


Published in Maintaining Log Homes