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Timeless Wood Care

  • 4 Steps to Safely Restoring Your Cabin or Log Home

    There are countless benefits to restoring a historic cabin or log home, but most people generally do it for two reasons: to save money, or for the sake of sentimentality. Maybe it was your great-grandparents home, or maybe you’re just starting a family and want to restore a log home because it will be cheaper than buying new. Regardless of the reason, restoring an old home can be a big undertaking, but the benefits definitely outweigh the costs. A log home is one that is built to last you for decades. Since you’ve decided to restore that old log home, here are a few tips to remember in the process:

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  • Savvy Insurance Considerations for Log Home Owners

    The fact of the matter is that your log home is much different from the standard, conventional stick-built homes. While this means a natural rustic feel and a dream home for many, there are some special considerations that go along with log home ownership.

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  • 4 Most Popular Roofing Materials for Log Homes

    Choosing a roof for your log home can be one of the most difficult choices of your construction process. Log homes require different maintenance than the typical house, and they’re stylistically much different. Sometimes the hardest part is even knowing what your options are. So, we’ve put together a list of the top four most popular roofing materials for log houses and explained their different attributes for you.

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  • 8 Things to Add to Your Log Home Spring Cleaning Checklist

    Spring is finally here! Though it may not seem like this winter has been all that bad, it’s time to get ready for warmer weather, and that includes spring cleaning. Since your log home takes winter a little differently than other homes, here are a few things to keep in mind when you go about your annual spring inspection and cleaning routine:

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    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

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