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Thursday, 25 August 2011 16:17

Get Your Log Home or Cabin Ready for Winter


Technical Tip:

Winterize your log home.

Most people are accustomed to spring cleaning, but if you are a home owner, you know that your house needs attention year-round. Fall maintenance is much like spring house-cleaning, but more preventative and less “cleaning. And its much easier to do it now rather than wait till the weather turns nasty.

Fall means leaves and plenty of them. You will certainly need to clean out your gutters. A word of caution: most of the automatic guard systems only screen out large leaves while allowing gunk and small sediment to accumulate. You still will have to routinely clean the nasty rotting gunk out of your gutters! So an alternative is to have your roofer regularly come and clean your gutters every fall. You should make sure that the drainage area around the downspout is functioning properly as well. The roof area should also be checked for any leaks around the flashing at the chimney and around the vents for the heating or sewer system.

While inspecting the roof area its important to check for any holes or access spots where squirrels, raccoons or bats can enter your home and make themselves a vacation home for the winter. Clear away all debris from around the foundation of the house.

Caulking around all exterior areas is a must. You probably won't find but a few areas where the caulk needs replacing, and its not a big job to replace old caulking with a fresh bead where needed. Weather stripping also should be examined and replaced if you find any that is curled or coming loose. Neither the caulking nor weather stripping replacement is a heavy job. It just takes some care and close examination. This can usually be done in a day for a moderate-sized home.

Your exterior walls should get a good cleaning. In addition to making your home look great, a wash-down with Log Wash will get rid of the dust, dirt and grime. Freezing weather is especially hard on log exteriors and a little bit of upkeep now may prevent costly repairs next spring.

Once your walls are clean, go around your home looking for signs of worn stain and failing sealant. If the stain looks faded or dingily, you should consider applying another coat of Lifeline stain and Lifeline Advance topcoat. Don't forget, the topcoat is an integral part of the system and will help protect your home and extend the life of your stain.

While you are at it look for any new checks that may have opened up, especially on the top half of round logs where water can enter. Our Check Mate 2 comes in a variety of colors and is the perfect solution for closing up those potentially damaging checks.

Properly sealed joints and gaps go a long way in preventing cold drafts during the winter months. In these days of rapidly rising fuel prices it is important to keep cold air from entering your home. Energy Seal is specifically designed for this purpose. Pay special attention to places where wood meets masonry. Reseal with Energy Seal. In addition to saving you money on heating bills, it will help to keep your home warm and comfortable.

Many log home owners have fireplaces or wood stoves that they use to create an attractive atmosphere or as a source of heat. Typically fall is the time of year that most people build their inventory of firewood to carry them though the winter. Here are a few things to keep in mind when storing firewood: Never store firewood on your porch or deck or next to your home. One thing is for certain, along with the firewood comes a whole community of insect pests. Although some like wood roaches, pill bugs, centipedes and ground beetles are harmless, infestations of wood boring beetles, termites and frequently carpenter ants can start from stored firewood piles.

Store your firewood at least two feet away from the side of your home and keep it off of the ground. This helps keep the firewood dry and allows air to circulate throughout the wood pile. When you bring firewood inside, only bring in as much as you plan to burn in a day. Firewood stored by the fireplace may look attractive but once the logs warm up and the bugs start to emerge, you may think otherwise.

Preparing your home for winter in the fall can make life so much easier for you in the cold, dark winter weeks ahead. You'll rest easier knowing that you won't have to fight the elements when the inevitable emergency or problem crops up, as it always does. You can sit back in front of your fireplace with your family and enjoy those cold months secure in your well-protected home!

Log homes and autumn leaves seem to go together. Enjoy the season and don't hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions about maintaining your log home.

Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

East: 1-800-548-3554
West: 1-800-548-1231

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"

Thursday, 25 August 2011 17:01

Stain and Topcoat Additives



Perma-Chink Stain and Topcoat Additives

Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"


NBS-30 is an oil-based insecticide additive for paints and stains. Pure and simply, oils and water do not work together and we DO NOT approve the use of NBS-30 in any of our finishes.
Bug Juice
Bug Juice is also an insecticide additive consisting of a suspension of Deltamethrin in water. Since it is water-based it is chemically compatible with our finish systems but when added to Advance Gloss, it significantly reduces the transparency and gloss of the topcoat. One of the questions regarding Bug Juice is, does it work? First, insects like carpenter bees, lady bugs, boxelder bugs and other annoying log home pests are not included on the Bug Juice label. In fact the only labeled target pests are cockroaches, ants, silverfish, mosquitoes and weevils. Second, according to their web site no efficacy studies were conducted longer than 48 hours after application. The bottom line is that there is no data to support the notion that Bug Juice deters carpenter bee infestations nor does the manufacturer make any claims to that effect.
Bitrex is a bittering agent occasionally used to discourage wildlife from gnawing on logs and other wood members. Its major use is as an additive to liquid household products to keep young children from tasting them. Although it is occasionally added to paint, Bitrix is not compatible with LIFELINE Advance and should never be mixed together with any our finishes. It can be used in a water solution on top of our finishes once they have cured but it must be reapplied after a heavy rain since it is easily washed away.
Stay Clean
In high humidity environments that are prone to heavy mold growth we do recommend the addition of Stay Clean to give the finish an added boost of mildewcide. Stay Clean is only effective when added to the last coat of finish that's exposed to the atmosphere. Adding it to our color coats does no good at all. However there is one situation where the addition of Stay Clean to Prelude should be considered. Occasionally we get a call from someone who has built a new home or is in the process of refinishing an older home in the fall of the year. The onset of cold weather may interfere with completing the exterior finish work so they want to protect the exterior log surfaces until spring. A coat of Prelude will help keep the walls clean and prevent UV graying through the winter months. But since Prelude does not contain a surface mildewcide the addition of Stay Clean is recommended.

The only negative impact the addition of Stay Clean has to our Advance Topcoats is that it reduces the transparency and gloss of Advance Gloss by about 30%.

"Vince Palmare"
Thursday, 25 August 2011 15:22

Glossary-of Wood Terms glossary of wood terms.


At we are building a glossary of wood terms. The information and photographs contained our glossary of wood terms are provided by our subscribers.


"Vince Palmare" of "Perma-Chink Systems, Inc." made the first submission.

Hardwood and Softwoods

Trees are typically categorized into two major families, hardwood species and softwood species.  Hardwood refers to trees like oak, poplar, maple walnut, etc. that have broad leaves which usually drop off the tree in the winter.  Softwood trees like spruce, pine, hemlock, fir, etc. have needle-like leaves all year round, the reason they are also called evergreen trees.  On average, wood from hardwood trees has a higher density and hardness than that from softwoods but there is considerable variation in actual wood hardness in both groups and some hardwoods are considerably softer than some softwoods.  A bit confusing, isn't it?
Bark, Cambium, Sapwood and Heartwood
If we take a look at the cross-section of a tree we can usually see four discernable layers (there are more but four will do for our purposes).  The outer layer is the bark which helps protect the tree from injury from fire and insects and helps the tree maintain moisture. Under the bark is a thin layer called the cambium.  It is typically green and is responsible for most of the growth of the diameter of the tree.  Bark and cambium should always be removed from logs used in the construction of log homes.  If left intact they can provide a home and food for a wide variety of pests and their presence hinders the drying process.  We next encounter sapwood, living wood in a growing tree. All wood in a tree is first formed as sapwood. Its function is to conduct water from the roots to the leaves and to store nutrients generated by the leaves.  Since sapwood is moist and contains many nutrients, it is the section of the tree that is most susceptible to decay and insect attack.

In the center of older trees we'll find heartwood, wood that is no longer living. woodHeartwood is typically resistant to decay and insects since it contains a high concentration of naturally occurring pesticides. In some tree species it may appear in a cross-section as a discolored circle, following annual rings in shape.  Usually the older a tree is the more heartwood it will contain.  Years ago few people constructed a log home using sapwood.  They only harvested older large diameter trees and then hewed off all of the sapwood. That's how the log home “hand hewn" look came about.  The heartwood, being naturally resistant to insects and decay, was used to construct the home which is why many of the log homes constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries still exist. Today, it's virtually impossible to obtain logs with a significant amount of heartwood.  That's why Perma-Chink borate products play such an important role in the preservation of a modern log home.


Clients and educators may submit wood terms, a brief description and photographs to be included in this Glossary of Wood Terms at



Thursday, 25 August 2011 15:06

Parasitic Wasps

Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"

Parasitic Wasps

Here are three Types of Parasitic Wasps

wasp3 wasp2 wasp1

Every summer we receive calls about small flying insects making holes in the exterior surfaces of logs.  They are usually described as tiny flies, bees or flying ants but in fact are small parasitic wasps that are about the size of a fruit fly or large gnat.  There are literally hundreds of parasitic wasp species and some of them specialize in parasitizing beetle larvae including wood boring beetles.  They can be seen going in and out of existing beetle emergence holes looking for live beetle larvae to lay their eggs on.  People assume that these insects are actually burrowing into the wood since they often see frass or sawdust being pushed out of the holes they'e entered.  In their search for live beetle larvae the wasps clean out the tunnels by kicking the frass out of existing beetle emergence holes.  Since the wasps can't tell if the hole was made recently or ten years ago they tend to clean out every hole they can find.  Since they do not consume wood none of the borate treatments have any effect on them.  In this respect they are similar to carpenter bees.

Some people get excited when they see 20 or 30 of these wasps flying around their log walls but they are harmless and do not sting.  They do no damage and are, in fact, beneficial insects since they reduce the population of wood boring beetles.  Most of their activity occurs in the hot, summer months.  Once the weather starts to cool a bit they usually disappear.  If you are really upset by these insects you can spray your walls with Ortho Home Defense, Spectracide Bug Stop or similar products but being somewhat adverse to the broadcast use of contact pesticides we believe the best solution is to just ignore them.


"Vince Palmare"


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"


Tuesday, 19 October 2010 18:15

Women Are Up To The Task

Project Management, "Women are up to the task."

 They Don't Build 'Em Like They Used To

By: Judy Flanagan, Cedar Homes of Washington, Inc.

It's well known that project managing the construction of a home will save you money and give you more decision making control. What is less widely known is that many successful project managers are women who have no construction experience whatsoever.

My company has been selling cedar homes for 18 years. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with all kinds of home buyers. Their backgrounds and experiences are as varied as the houses they build. However, I've noticed that the women who elect to project manage the construction of their homes share similar characteristics that uniquely qualify them for the job.

What women lack in home construction knowledge, they more than make up for in natural curiosity and organizational skills, or as some prefer to say, multi-tasking abilities. Anita Legaspi and her husband Ray (neither of whom had construction experience) built a 3,600 sf custom cedar home near Lake Stevens, WA about 5 years ago. At the time, Anita was a stay-at-home mom who enjoyed sewing and Ray was employed at Boeing. They realized early on that they could get more house for their money if they did it themselves.

Of the pair, Anita had more time available to organize the project and research their options. She realized that her experience with soliciting items for school auctions would also be helpful in obtaining subcontractor bids for their home. I wasn't afraid to talk to people and ask questions. I had the ability to communicate on the phone, commented Anita.

With the help of a timeline (outlining tasks and deadlines), Anita obtained bids and contracted out: the foundation, shell construction, electrical, plumbing, roofing and deck installation. Anita, Ray and their son Christian did much of the painting and finish work themselves.

Anita admits that the time spent building the home was difficult for their family. Ray and Anita chose to live on-site by utilizing their small trailer and a camper. She remembers the initial fun of camping, complete with bonfires (to burn up the stumps) and hot dog roasts. However, the summer fun dissipated when wet weather set in. Ray and Anita realized that their trailer was becoming more claustrophobic than cozy, and it wasn't very well insulated.

Looking back on their house building days, Anita offers this advice:
Decide what's important to you.
(1) If you really want that special kitchen, go for it.
(2) You can never go wrong with quality.
(3) Develop a cost breakdown sheet to help you compare bids and expenses.
(4) Big name companies don't always offer the support you'll need.
You need to be able to communicate with a dealer, subcontractor, etc.
You should feel like you can call them any time.

Nancy and Paul Davis knew that they wanted a cedar home for their mountain retreat near Cle Elum, WA. Neither Paul nor Nancy had bought property before and the whole process of developing the property and building a home was new to them.

In an effort to learn more about the process, Paul and Nancy attended a Log Home Seminar and also researched companies and products on the Internet. According to Nancy, The seminar was good for us. It brought up all the things we hadn't thought about.

Prior to staying home with their son Cory, Nancy had been a foundry supervisor and had also worked in a human resources department. She knew a few things about interviewing, hiring and managing people. She also knew that if she and Paul were to build the cabin themselves, "it could take years!" Their solution was to put Nancy at the helm and have her manage the construction of the cabin.

Paul and Nancy elected to undertake the finish work themselves, but hired separate subcontractors to handle the foundation, shell construction, electrical, plumbing and roofing. At one point, Nancy put together a work party with three girlfriends. Together they installed the wood flooring in the great room and kitchen. However, Nancy noted that this was done only after we had dinner out on Friday night to discuss our approach, and of course, a great breakfast with lots of chit chat before we actually began.

A low point for Nancy came when she was the only person on-site and the cabinet people dumped all our kitchen cabinets right in the middle of our driveway. It was up to Nancy to figure out how to get them all inside by herself. Nancy called for back up and said, I had to be really assertive, which is totally out of my personality.

Today, the Davis' are very proud of their 2,300 sf cabin retreat. We knew we could do it with the support of knowledgeable people in the industry. Based on her recently acquired construction management skills, Nancy offers the following tips:

Find your own system to stay organized. Nancy used a notebook divided into tasks, i.e. electrical, plumbing, and roofing, etc. Network with other people within the construction community and seek their advice It's OK to be assertive, especially when you are trying to track down answers and make decisions.

Everybody is blown away by how beautiful my home is, says Diane Weibling who project managed the construction of her own 1,200 sf cedar home in North Bend, WA. For ten years, Diane, a family support worker for the Seattle public school system, read how to build your own home books at the North Bend library. The librarian finally told her she was going to have to stop reading and start building her own home. And that's exactly what she did.

In addition to her library research, Diane attended open houses and talked with other homeowners. She says that the idea of project managing the construction her home evolved slowly. I felt like if I wanted it done right, I'd have to do it myself.

She obviously did a lot of things right. Her home has a panoramic view of Mt. Si, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. People drive slowly past her home so that they can appreciate her unique setting and beautiful home.

Diane took time to look for bargains on cabinets and appliances for her new home. She said, I got all my solid maple kitchen cabinets for $1,200. Someone had ordered these and never picked them up. I went to the Sears Outlet and checked out their scratch & dent models. I bought a fridge with a broken plastic handle that I easily replaced. I bought a demo wood stove at the fair and saved $600.

Her project managing experience has taught her a few more things, including:
Try not to micromanage the subcontractors. It'll drive you (and them) crazy. Ask the builder how many projects they have under construction. It may mean they won't have blocks of time to give to your project , and this could extend your timeline. Ask for contractor prices

Each of these women brought unique skills to their home projects, none of which was a background in construction. What motivated them to manage their home construction? Certainly money was a factor. By project managing the construction of their own homes, each woman realized many thousands of dollars in savings. The savings could result in a lower mortgage payment, or it could mean having a larger home for less money, or both! In some cases, project managing is a way for the homeowner to maintain more control over all aspects of the home's construction.

Project managing home construction is not an option for everyone. The state of Washington allows homeowners to serve as their own general contractors (or project managers), but not all states will permit this. Bear in mind also that not all banks will finance owner-built homes. Lastly, remember that when the plumber doesn't show up on schedule, you're responsible for keeping the project moving forward and on budget. Some subcontractors are aware that your home is a one-time project for them, whereas a contractor will be calling them for other jobs in the future. This may affect the quality and timeliness of their work which in turn may adversely affect your timeline and budget.

None of the women interviewed for this article had building background and none of them had ever project managed the construction of a home. However, all three women had a natural curiosity about the process and were willing to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. Certainly, the end result for each of these project managers is a beautiful home and many thousands of dollars saved. The most unexpected outcome has been a change within each woman. When asked, "What did you learn about yourself"; all three women project managers responded, I learned I can do anything I set my mind to.

Judy Flanagan, along with her husband Mike, were first time owner / builders of their own cedar home 26 years ago, in Snohomish, WA. She and her husband have owned Cedar Homes of Washington Inc. for 18 years and use their own home as a model. In addition to Cedar Homes of Washington, Judy also serves as an industry consultant to new dealers and conducts informational cedar home seminars for home buyers.

For more information and / or photos contact:
Judy Flanagan
Cedar Homes of Washington, Inc.
23209 131st Ave. SE
Snohomish, WA 98296-5420


Thursday, 25 August 2011 12:52

Dealing with natures pests - the Woodpecker



Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"

Woodpecker Damages

"Woodpecker Nesting Holes"


Woodpeckers can't tell the difference between the wood in your home and dead trees in the forest so they occasionally cause damage to logs, siding or fascia boards.  Many people attribute this damage to woodpeckers pecking for grubs in the wood but that is not always the case. There are three main reasons that woodpeckers peck on wood; one, they're looking for something to eat, two, they're defining their territory and three, they are making a nest. It's usually the second reason that creates the most damage.

"Drumming Damage"


Woodpeckers are very territorial. In order to let other woodpeckers know that this is his (or in some cases her) territory, it flies around the perimeter of its territory, usually in the morning, and initiates a series of raps on hollow trees or other wood members that have the “right sound."  This behavior is called “drumming" and consists of two or three long brrrrrrrrrrrps.  The woodpecker will typically drum in one spot for a minute or so, day after day. It does not take long before a large, irregular hole appears at the drumming site. If the site is a log or siding of a home, it can become a real eye sore.


"Feeding Holes"

woodpeckers_page1_image5 woodpeckers_page1_image4

When a woodpecker pecks for grubs in wood it acts differently and makes much smaller cone shaped holes. If you have ever seen a woodpecker searching for grubs it will constantly turn its head as if looking for something on the wood.  It is actuality listening for grubs feeding in the wood. All it needs to do is make a hole large enough for its tongue.  woodpecker's tongue is long and thin and that's what it uses to catch a grub in a gallery. The holes woodpeckers make searching for grubs are usually no more than an inch or so in diameter. Occasionally a woodpecker will attempt to excavate out a round nesting hole in a log, but it's rare and if the wood is sound it will usually give up after a few days.


"Solving the Problem"

One thing you can try to discourage drumming woodpeckers is to put a piece of metal window screen over the area where the woodpecker drums.  This often discourages it enough that it will go elsewhere. Fake owls, snakes and other scare devices may work for a little while but it does not take very long for the woodpecker to discover that if it just ignores it, nothing happens.  Trapping and releasing woodpeckers does not do much good either. They can fly and unless you release them many miles away, they'll return to their home territory within a few days.

For feeding woodpeckers the only solution is to kill the grubs in the wood and the best way to do that is treat the wood with a borate. This will kill the beetle larvae and if there are no grubs for the woodpecker to search for, it will move on to better feeding sites.

"Three Woodpeckers That Can Cause Damage to Log Homes"

woodpeckers_page1_image1 woodpeckers_page1_image2 woodpeckers_page1_image3

Flicker                         Piliated Woodpecker              Red Bellied Woodpecker




"Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"

Thursday, 11 November 2004 05:44


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