As a log home owner, you probably already know that your home will require just a bit more maintenance than a traditional home. Most professionals recommend log homeowners inspect and perform general repairs every two years, and that's a pretty good rule to live by. And while you know you need to perform these inspections and make the necessary repairs, it can be tough to know where to start.
No matter how long it's been since your last inspection, and no matter how much damage your home has sustained, log home repair almost always follows the same five steps: inspect, clean and restore, preserve, stain and finish, and finally, chink and seal. So, regardless of how much work you have to do in each stage, know that your regular maintenance should include all of those steps, in that order. Here's a bit more info on each step of repairing your log home:
As you might expect, you can't make repairs if you don't know what's wrong. That's where inspections come in. As basic as it sounds, a good inspection starts by lightly tapping each of the logs of your home to check for rotting wood. A dull, thudding sound typically indicates the presence of rot, while a bright, echoing tap means your logs should be clear. It's a good idea to start with logs under windowsills, and any overhanging ends, as those are the areas of your home that are the most exposed to wind and water. When you find a log that is beginning to rot, be sure to mark it with a bit of duct tape, so you can return and make the necessary repairs. While this isn't a very scientific way to check for log rot, it's pretty accurate about 90% of the time, and it's a non-invasive way to monitor the status of your home. Obviously, if you see any signs of rot or mold on the exterior of the home, that's another indication that it's time to do some maintenance.
#2 Clean and restore
Whether you've found rot in your log home or not, it is a good idea to give your log home a clean. Regular exterior washing staves off fungi and mold and helps protect your home from any other unwanted pests. We always recommend you use one of the pre-formulated cleaners specifically for log homes, like Log Wash, because other solutions can be too harsh, and eat away at the wood of your home. Be sure to follow directions closely, and never use a pressure washer on your log home—the pressure is too great and can destroy the sleek look of polished wood, leaving you instead with a "fuzzy finish" where the fibers of the exterior of the wood stand up, and make your logs look a bit hairy. After cleaning the exterior of your home, you can work on restoring any problem areas.
If you did find rot, this typically means cutting out the parts of the log that are rotting and finishing them with a special finishing solution to dry up any additional parts that might be rotting. There are a variety of ways to fix rotting logs, so you'll want to consult with your log home professional before you begin cutting up any of the logs on your home. If you're stuck for an option, we love the Abatron LiquidWood 2 part restoration kit. It's easy to find, and easy to use. Once your home is spic and span, and rot free, you can move on to the preservation step of log home repair.
Whether you found rot or not, it's a good idea to apply a wood preservative, to discourage rot from starting to show up or to stop it in its tracks. The best materials on the market to preserve your log home are borate preservatives. Found in either a powder or a pre-mixed solution, any borate preservative can be applied to areas that have just started to rot, and the rest of your rot-free log home. Borate dries out the wood, and protects it from dangerous moisture that forms rot, as well as many pests that can invade log homes.
Borate preservatives can be sprayed or painted on logs, and in some cases where logs are extremely saturated, it can also be injected into the wood. As it slowly absorbs into the wood, it stops rot in its tracks, and also puts up a strong defense against pests like termites and fungi. Remember that borate preservatives must go on before you finish or stain your log home. If you apply the borate after you've applied your stain, the borate won't be able to be absorbed into the wood, as most stains and finishes create a watertight surface.
#4 Stain and finish
Next up, stain and finish. Once you've taken the necessary preventative measures to make sure your log home is clean and rot-free, it's time to make it look beautiful again! Staining your log home is a great way to bring back that natural luster, in addition to protecting your home from harmful UV rays, water absorption, and organic growth. There are a variety of stains and exterior finishes out there, so if you're having trouble deciding, be sure to talk to your local log home professional for a bit of advice. We always recommend our clients go with penetrative stains and finishes, since they get down a bit further into the log, keeping wood safe from water and organic growth like mold and rot.
#5 Chink and seal
Finally, it's time to make sure your home is 100% sealed against the elements. That means replacing any cracked or worn chinking with new sealant, and making sure any areas where water may have gotten in before are covered up and leak free. If you do make log home inspections a regular habit, you probably won't have to do much sealing at any one time, as it takes a while for quality sealant to crack or wear out. Typically, you'll just have to touch up a few problem areas, again the windows and overhanging ends of logs at the corner of your home.
While it's possible to do log home repairs in cooler weather, most manufacturers recommend you do these sorts of repairs in weather that's dry and over 60°F. These warmer, drier temperatures will give you maximum efficiency, and will ensure that each step of the repair process goes as quickly as possible. It's easier for most products to absorb and dry quickly at these temperatures, which will ensure maximum performance from your repairs. So, if you're the type of person who likes to keep a calendar, be sure to put your home inspection on the calendar for the summer every other year.
And as always, if you have any questions about repairing your log home, addressing any log rot concerns, or finding the right product for your log home, be sure to ask the experts at Timeless Wood Care Products. We've been in the log home care business for decades now, we know just about every product on the market, and we'll be happy to answer any question you've got. Check out our full line of products at timelesswoodcare.com, or drop us a line with any of your log home repair concerns here.