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Timeless Wood Care

  • INTERIOR LOG HOME CHECKS

    1. Watch for mold or mildew damage to log walls in high-moisture areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.

    2. Vertical posts with settling jacks installed at floor level are often used in log homes to shoulder the weight of the second floor or roof system. Talk to your builder to find out the rate these jacks should be lowered.

    3. watch for settlement issues wherever the log walls attach. This can include interior partition walls, floors, cabinets, shower enclosures, stairs, chimneys, porches and garages.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • CHECKING YOUR LOG HOME ROOF SYSTEMS

    1. Inspect flashing in the valleys of the roof, around the chimney and enclosing plumbing vents to ensure a tight seal against water. Use roof tar to seal any edges that have lifted up.

    2. Visit your attic and inspect the under side of your roof system for water stains, as well as matted or mildewed insulation. If you have a cathedral ceiling, look for water stains on the drywall or on the tongue-and-groove paneling.

    3. If you have exposed timbers on the underside of your eaves that extend flush with the overhand or protrude past it, the ends of these logs are susceptible to rot. Treat with Shell-Guard then sand and seal with Log End Seal.

    4. Did you see ice buildup (ice dams) on your roof last winter? Prevent warm-air build-up in your attic during winter months by increasing the amount of insulation (less heat will enter your attic). Or improve ventilation so warm air escapes quickly.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • TROUBLESHOOTING COMMON ISSUES

    1. Is mold/mildew growing on your logs? First determine whether it is on top of the stain or underneath by dabbing it with a swab soaked in chlorine bleach. If it is on top of your finish, it can be washed off the walls using Log Wash. If it is underneath, you must remover the finish in order to remove the fungal stain.

    2. Decay-causing fungi occur in wood with moisture contents in excess of 30 percent (the wood-fiber saturation point). Since moisture must be present to give fungi a chance to grow, a good, water-repelling, breathable finish applied to the surface of the logs will combat this.

    3. If rot does take root in your logs, drill holes into the affected log, inject Shell-guard on each side of the problem area and then caulk the holes. The borate dissolves and begins to diffuse throughout the wood, killing the fungi on contact.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • FINISHING AND SEALING NEW LOG HOMES

    1. Remove mill glaze, road grime and other foreign substances from the logs. You can do this by using a log wash solution (Wood ReNew), sanding, power washing or corn-blasting, depending on the condition of your logs.

    2. If you elect to wash your logs with a cleaning solution, always remember to apply cleaners from the bottom of the walls upward, then rinse from the top down. Always make sure to thoroughly rinse cleaning solution off the walls. Follow manufacturer’s directions when using cleaners.

    3. After waiting for the logs to dry, apply a borate preservative (Shell-Guard or Armor Guard) and allow to dry. Next apply your interior and exterior stains. You may want to apply your exterior clear-coats after chinking, to improve appearance and make cleaning easier. The final step is to apply external sealants and chinking if your house requires it.

    4. All log homes will need some amount of sealing – regardless of the log profile or construction style – in between log courses, at corners and around windows and doors. the sealant or chinking you use must be compatible with whatever stain you apply to your log home. If you are not sure, call the manufacturer.

    5. To test your finish or stain, use a spray bottle to mist the logs with water. If the water beads up and runs off like a freshly waxed car, then it’s doing it’s job. If logs soak up water, then you’ll need another application of finish.

    6. How soon you will need to re-apply stains to your log home depends on many variables. Severity of weather exposure, care during preparation and stain application, the quality of the stain used and amount of pigments in the stain are the primary factors. You should expect 4-7 years or more when using LIFELINE stains, especially if the house is sheltered from the sun.

    7. Graying wood (especially on the topside of round logs) is caused by UV damage to the wood substrate. To fix this, you must remove the stain to get at the wood underneath, by stripping or sanding. Treatment with Wood ReNew, OxCon or sanding removes this damage. This UV damage can be significantly delayed and reduced by use of UV-Boost in the first coat of LIFELINE finish on the logs.

    8. If your finish loses its adhesion, it can start to peel, blister or crack. To avoid this peeling, only use one coat of stain to finish on logs that have more than 20 percent moisture content. Use a moisture meter to determine this. Once your log falls below 19 percent moisture content, you should apply multiple coats as per manufacturer recommendations.

    9. Can you feel drafts at corners? Use Energy Seal or Perma-Chink to seal horizontal and corner joinery wherever needed. Seal upward facing checks larger than 1/8″ wide with Check Mate. These can trap and hold water and should be weather-tight.

    10. Check flashing around the windows to ensure that all water is being channeled out and down the exterior walls. Water stains on the logs or drafts around the windows or doors indicate that air and water is infiltrating your home. The right sealant is the solution for this problem.

    11. If blisters appear in chinking that has been applied in direct sun, puncture them with a knife tip and flatten them out against the uncured chinking.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • PRESERVING AND CLEANING YOUR LOG HOME

    What should I put on my log home to protect it?

    Preserving and cleaning your log home is essential for longevity of your home. It’s imperative to understand the intimate connection between a building’s location & design and a coating’s performance. The location and design of a log building is a key contributing factor to long-term maintenance costs. This very important detail is too often overlooked. Different locations will frequently require different building designs. If the building is not properly designed for its location, then surface maintenance inevitably becomes a more regular task no matter what brand of exterior wood coating is used. And when a coating fails to live up to expectations because of location and design factors, it usually gets the full blame. The wood finish becomes an easy target because its breakdown is so obviously visible and is regarded as the cause of failure instead of a symptom of deeper underlying causes. A quality log home finish, although it will certainly perform better than the cheaper varieties, will never achieve its full performance potential when design considerations have been overlooked. A wood finish alone can never remedy design deficiencies, no matter how good it is! Nevertheless, the type of coating to use on a log home should possess the following characteristics:

    - Exceptional Water Resistance - Shield the Wood Against the Sun’s Harmful Rays - Prevent Graying and Hold Color Longer - Discourage the Growth of Mold & Mildew - Protect Against the Abrasive Elements of Weather - Allow for Some Degree of Moisture Vapor Transfer - Have Minimal Impact on Air Quality

    A Unique Challenge

    Log homes pose a unique challenge, for any type of exterior wood coating because the mass and surface of a log will vary from log home to log home. Each individual log can contain varying moisture contents, differing amounts of resin, a predominance of bark, cambium, sapwood or heartwood surfaces, and different densities of growth rings. In addition, log products are skip-peeled, draw-knifed, finely milled or somewhere in between and also come in various sizes, shapes and profiles. And let’s not forget all of the numerous types of species of wood. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to design a log home coating that will wear in a similar manner over such a wide range of variables.

    Finishing touches

    Prior to coating with a wood finish, a new log home normally requires a seasoning period to allow moisture within the logs to be released to the outside environment. The moisture content of a particular log building will vary from one manufacturer to the other, so it is best to consult with your log manufacturer for advice on when to first coat the exterior logs. Generally, it is recommended to wait a minimum of 6 months after the home has been built before applying the first coat. This allows the log’s surface to open up and dry which in turn makes a better surface for a wood finish to absorb into and bond to. To play it safe, apply only one coat of stain on your new home. If too much stain is prematurely applied, moisture-related coating problems such as mold, mildew, and peeling may occur. This initial single coat should provide adequate protection on the log walls for the first year. Normally another single or double coat will be necessary the following year.

    Before coating, spray the logs with the bleach solution mentioned earlier and pressure wash clean at 500-750 psi. Additional surface preparation may be necessary on logs that contain mill-glaze, bark, cambium, or are altered by a draw-knife. On such logs, scuffing the surface with a non-ferrous wire brush or with medium to coarse grit sandpaper will help to insure a better performance of the coating.

    Once the home has seasoned, the performance of subsequent coatings should improve considerably. The frequency of reapplications will depend on climate, location, extent to which surfaces are sheltered from weathering, nature of the wood, quality of the finish, and application techniques. If the logs are checking and cracking exposing untreated wood, or if the finish shows signs of wear and is not providing an adequate water barrier, it’s time to recoat. Also, the Southern and Western exposures absorb the full force of the elements more directly, so expect to recoat those areas more often.

    Your Ends Are Special

    Special attention should be given to exposed log ends. End grain absorbs twelve times more water than the rest of the log surface. If left unprotected, end grain is particularly susceptible to fungal attack. To prevent such an occurrence, periodic inspection and treatment of the log ends with a quality water-resistant finish is advised. In addition, waterproofing the end grain will significantly reduce checking of the log ends.

    An Internal Dilemma

    Many new log homeowners desire a transparent, cleanable surface on the inside log walls that only a varnish type coating can provide. Because varnishes are basically a clear paint that forms a film, it is important that the logs are adequately dry before applying such a coating. Otherwise, as previously discussed, moisture-related coating problems could occur. Since the amount of moisture in the logs will determine the length of time required to wait, it is best to consult the manufacturer of your logs for their recommendations regarding a time frame for applying an interior varnish. If any doubt, wait at least 6 months and through a heating season before coating the inside logs with a varnish. Never apply a varnish on the outside logs!!!

    Check It Out

    Another area of concern is the formation of cracks or checks in the logs. Although there is a variety of factors that cause checking, our concerns are checks caused by moisture. There are two sources of moisture that contribute to log surface checking:

    - Internal - Environmental

    Internal moisture is the water inherent in the tree when it is freshly cut. This water is located within the wood cells and in their cell walls. The moisture within the wood cell is known as free water and is the first to be eliminated in the drying or seasoning of the wood. Free water is eliminated when the logs have reached around 30 percent moisture content. All moisture located in the cell walls is known as bound water and does not begin to leave the wood until all the free water from the wood cells is eliminated. As the water in the wood drops below 30 percent moisture content, the release and elimination of bound water begins. It is during this stage that log shrinkage and checking occurs.

    Ideally, in the “seasoning” stage, moisture in the logs should decrease at a steady, even rate. The more rapid the rate of moisture release, the greater the probability of checking. Consequently, a slower release of moisture will reduce checking and provide a more uniform shrinking and settling of the logs. Since numerous variables contribute to the rate and volume of moisture exchange from the logs to the environment, control of this natural process by the homeowner is best achieved by the maintenance procedures already discussed.

    Environmental moisture is caused by moisture from the external surrounding environment such as snow, rain, lawn sprinklers, etc. As the wood surface becomes wet, it swells or expands, and as it dries, it contracts or shrinks. When the wood is subjected to a number of these wet and dry cycles, and in winter climates freeze/thaw cycles, the stresses that result cause cracks in the wood. All the precautions and methods mentioned earlier in relation to controlling fungi apply here. Once again, the whole object is to keep the logs dry. That is the reason it is so important to apply a good quality, water-resistant wood finish. Such a finish will provide the necessary water-repellency needed to minimize moisture-related cracks.

    Finally, don’t overlook upward facing checks. They can be a nagging source of air and water infiltration. The wider and deeper they are, the greater the potential for problems. Sealing the checks with a caulking material will usually remedy the situation, but it’s a smart idea to saturate them first with a wood preservative before caulking. This precaution will greatly reduce any chance of rot. Before proceeding, contact your log home manufacturer for advice on the type of caulking to use and the best procedure to follow to properly accomplish the job.

    This sections content was provided by The Continental Products Company.

  • OTHER PESTS AND YOUR LOG HOME

    1. Woodpeckers can cause damage to log surfaces, chinking, window frames and trip. Make sure that you do not have insects living in areas where woodpeckers strike. Contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more information.

    2. Swallows can damage log homes with their nests and droppings. Because these birds are federally protected, consult with the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service for a permit to remove their nests. Installing nylon netting and long nail-like strips (Nixalite) can prevent their return. Scrub affected logs with a mild bleach solution, rinse and reseal.

    3. Squirrels can cause damage with their gnawing teeth, so seal downspouts and chimneys with screens. Eliminate tree branches that lead to the roof.

    4. Mice can be problematic, especially if you have bird feeders. Move these away from the house, and set mouse traps in the basement, crawl space and attic.

    5. While many eat their weight in insects each night, bats also can cause problems for log home owners, damaging wood with their excrement. Install screens over chimneys. Seal all cracks and gaps around the roofline. install bat houses nearby to draw them away.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • SIGNS OF INSECT INFESTATION

    1. If you see signs of termites or other wood-boring insects, call a pest control professional. Signs include frass (a sawdust like substance) and tunnels in the wood.

    2. If your home is infested in the winter and fall months with cluster flies, use a vacuum cleaner, pest strips or fly-swatter to eradicate them. the best method for control is to keep them out by sealing their entrance points with Energy Seal

    3. If carpenter ants have set up shop in your home, locate and destroy their nest with Shell-Guard. Call a pest control professional.

    4. Ambrosia beetles leave white toothpick like extrusions from tiny pinholes in the wood. If they have attacked your home, inject Shell-Guard and seal the holes with caulk.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • COMBATING WEATHER DAMAGE

    Up to now, our attention has been focused on methods for controlling fungi and insects. The other area of concern is weather. The four weather factors (sunlight, water, temperature, abrasion) also play an important role in creating the necessary environment for fungal growth. By protecting your log home against the adverse conditions of weather, you will also be employing the fundamental maintenance strategy against fungi, which is to reduce the effects of moisture.

    Many treatments have been proposed to protect wood against weathering. Of all the various coatings and treatments available, paints containing UV absorbing or screening pigments provide the most protection to wood. However, most people who choose to purchase a log home don’t wish to paint their logs and hide the natural beauty of the wood. Leaving aside the artificial appearance of a painted log, there is a more serious problem with using paint on a log structure. It has to do with the mass of the logs and the moisture contained within them. Because paint is designed to encapsulate and totally seal the wood fibers from the elements, it can and will trap the moisture that is naturally trying to escape from within the log to the outside environment, This is especially true with new, greener logs. This condition can lead to wood rot and a whole host of moisture-related coating problems. Kiln-dried clapboard siding and other conventional types of wood siding don’t usually encounter these particular kinds of problems because the moisture within the wood section has been sufficiently reduced.

    Protecting Your Log Home Exterior Against Ultraviolet Radiation(sunlight)

    By itself, UV causes wood to darken and gray and over a long period of time will break down the structural components of the wood (about a 1/4 inch per century). However, UV rarely works alone but in combination with moisture, fungi, and other factors that together accelerate the destruction of wood. To protect wood from UV requires shielding the surface with a coating that contains UV blockers. The longest lasting and most durable UV blockers are found in special types of pigments. Consequently, the degree of UV protection provided by a wood coating is largely in proportion to the amount and type of pigments used. Regrettably, stains with higher levels of pigments ruin the natural look of the log by creating an artificial painted appearance. Significant improvements have been made with natural wood finishes but it is unlikely that they will ever achieve the UV protection of highly pigmented solid colors. However, new technology and formulating breakthroughs have led to improved UV performance and increased service life of transparent and semi-transparent stains, especially several developed for the Log Home Industry. Unfortunately, UV will degrade any type of protective wood coating and is a major reason why additional applications of stain will be required periodically.

    This sections content was provided by The Continental Products Company.

  • CONTROLLING FUNGI AROUND YOUR LOG HOME

    FUNGI – Methods of Control

    During the construction phase, it’s important to control fungi around your log home. If you see any evidence of mold and mildew it MUST be removed. As mentioned in our fungi article, mold and sapstain increase the wood’s capacity to hold water. A greater absorptive promotes the pick-up of rain water, thus increasing the chances of decay.

    If mold and mildew are present, treat with the following solution:

    - 1/2 cup Trisodiurn Phosphate (found at your local hardware store) or non-ammoniated detergent - 1 quart of household bleach - 3 quarts of warm water

    This solution is caustic. Wear goggles, rubber gloves, and necessary clothing to prevent eye and skin contact. Also shield plant and shrubs from contact.

    Apply the solution onto the infected area with a hand-pump garden sprayer. Allow the solution to set for 5-10 minutes and pressure rinse thoroughly clean with fresh water. This treatment will kill the fungal growth as well as clean the log surface. However, it will not prevent the future occurrence of these organisms if conditions are suitable.

    Attempt to keep the logs as mildew-free as possible while the home is being built. Some manufacturers pretreat their logs with a wood preservative to minimize any major outbreaks of fungus during the construction phase. Even if they are pretreated, when the logs are delivered, prevent them from touching the ground or each other by placing stickers (spacers) between them. This procedure, by allowing air circulation between the logs, will help relieve any build-up of moisture and heat caused by the drying logs, thus reducing the chances of fungal attack.

    During the building process, it is advised to thoroughly inspect each log for evidence of mold and mildew. Clean any mildew-infected logs with the bleach solution mentioned above.

    This sections content was provided by The Continental Products Company.

  • PROTECT YOUR LOG HOME FROM WATER

    1. To manage water runoff, make sure the grading around your foundation slopes away from the home – usually a minimum of 6 inches in the first 6 feet away from the foundation.

    2. Even if your builder sloped the soil during construction, this grading can settle and become flat or even slope toward your home. Don’t use topsoil to increase the slope of the grade, which will only act as a sponge. Use rock or gravel instead, which will shed water.

    3. If you have installed a sump pump, check it regularly to make sure it will cycle on automatically when needed.

    4. Keep gutters and downspouts clear, since debris can cause gutters to overflow. Make sure your downspouts or splash blocks divert rainwater at least 6 to 9 feet away from the home.

    5. Ensure sprinkler heads haven’t been redirected since last summer. They shouldn’t spray your log walls or foundation.

    6. Monitor basement windows and window wells. Either one of these, if improperly maintained, can collect and direct water into your basement.

    7. Install a French drain to keep water hazards away from your home. These flexible pipes – set into trenches filled with gravel – draw moisture from the surrounding soil and channel it away.

    8. Make sure your home is insured against water damage and remember to specify replacement value of all materials and possessions.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

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