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Technical Tips

  • The Anatomy of A Tree — And Why It Matters for Log Homeowners

    People in the log home construction industry often throw around terms like hardwood and softwood, but there isn't much information out there that really breaks down the differences and educates people about the parts of a tree we use for the log homes we find so beautiful and timeless. In case you've been wondering about what really makes up a log home, and what parts of a tree are used in the construction of your log home, here's exactly what you need to know.

    We'll start with the most common question: What's the difference between hardwood and softwood?

    Hardwood

    The term "hardwood" refers to wood and logs that come from trees that shed their leaves in the winter. Maple, oak, poplar, and other trees with broad leaves that usually drop off in the winter are considered hardwood trees. On average, hardwood trees have a higher density and hardness than softwoods do.

    Softwood

    Softwood trees are perhaps better known as evergreens. Most softwood that you see in home construction comes from trees with needles that remain on the tree even through winter. Spruce, pine, fir, and hemlock are all great examples of softwood trees commonly used in log homes.

    Generally, softwood trees are softer and have a lower density than hardwood trees, but it's important to remember that hardness of all wood types is measured on a spectrum, and it's possible to have a very hard softwood tree that's denser than a very soft hardwood tree. Measuring and understanding hardness across different tree species can be a bit confusing, but now at least you know the basic differences between hardwood and softwood.

    Anatomy of the Tree

    In the construction of a log home, only certain parts of a tree are used. To understand which parts of the tree are used in construction, and why, it's important to understand what the parts are in the first place. Every tree is made up of at least four discernable layers. (Most trees have more than this, but these four general layers are the most relevant to the log home building process). Those four layers are called bark, cambium, sapwood, and heartwood. Each layer serves a different purpose for the tree and has varying degrees of usefulness for log home construction. Let's dive into each layer:

    Bark

    This isn't exactly rocket science, but the bark is the outer layer of the tree. It's usually very hard and durable, and it functions to protect the tree from all sorts of potential hazards, like insects, fire, and abrasions, and it helps the tree keep moisture inside the trunk. Think of bark sort of like human skin, keeping the complicated inner systems separated from the outside.

    When it comes to construction, bark is always removed from logs before they're used to build a home.

    Cambium

    Cambium is a thin layer just below the bark that facilitates the majority of a tree's growth. Cambium must also be removed from a tree before the wood can be used for construction, because it retains a lot of moisture, and provides an attractive home for insects and other pests. Without the cambium and bark layers, wood will dry much more quickly and will be less susceptible to insect infestations.

    Sapwood

    After the cambium, you'll find the living sapwood within a tree. If you cut out a cross section of a tree, sapwood would make up the majority of a tree's rings. It's typically a lighter color than the thin layer of cambium and is easily distinguished from the rough texture of the bark. All wood within a tree is first formed as sapwood, and this is the part of the tree that conducts water from the tree's roots out to the leaves, and that stores the nutrients the leaves generate from photosynthesis.

    Sapwood is moist and contains many nutrients that make it highly susceptible to decay and insect attack. This is why any home construction materials made from the sapwood of a tree must be dried thoroughly and treated with chemicals before they're suitable to build your home.

    Heartwood

    Finally, at the very center of the oldest trees, you'll find the wood that is no longer living — called heartwood. Heartwood contains a high concentration of naturally occurring pesticides, making it resistant to insects and decay. Heartwood is only found in older trees; the older the tree, the more heartwood it will contain.

    Centuries ago, most people only built their log homes from heartwood. They would select the oldest, widest trees, hew off all of the sapwood, and construct homes with "hand-hewn" logs. Because the heartwood is naturally resistant to pests and decay, many of those homes built, even those constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, still exist. Today, because of the overharvesting of trees in earlier industrial decades, it is virtually impossible to obtain logs with a significant amount of heartwood.

    The modern log home is primarily constructed of sapwood that is felled, dried, treated and cured. Then, we treat log homes with borate products and stains that make them impervious to infestations and inclement weather, ensuring our modern log homes can last for years to come.

    So there you have it! The anatomy of a tree — bark, cambium, sapwood, and heartwood, and what we do with each layer of the tree to make it into the rustic log homes America has long been in love with.

    Whether you prefer hardwood or softwood, you can't beat a log home for charm and character. If you're building a new log home, or you're looking to take care of an older log home you love, Timeless Wood Care Products has everything you need to keep your log home looking beautiful for years to come. Check out the products we have to offer and don't hesitate to give us a call at (800) 564-2987 with any questions about maintaining your log home or cabin.

  • Easy Renovations to Improve Your Log Home's Value

    Whether you're fixing up to sell now, or you're just preparing for the future, log home renovations can be extremely rewarding. You'd be surprised at how a few, relatively small fixes can boost your log home's value, especially these days when more and more people are seeing the benefit and character of a log home.

     

    If you're looking for a few simple log home renovations to boost your log home's value, you've come to the right place. Here are five renovations that won't take too much work, and can seriously improve the amount your home is worth.

    #1 New Windows and Doors

    Installing new, energy efficient windows and doors can mean value in two ways. 1) You'll save money on those energy bills, because they retain the heat or air conditioning you use to keep your home comfortable. 2) They'll boost your home's value. New windows and doors look good, and they perform well, which are both major selling points. Even if you're not selling — these are log home renovations that will improve your log home's overall worth.

    #2 Energy Efficient Appliances

    In the same vein, energy-efficient appliances can help improve your log home's value when you're renovating. New home buyers love to see new appliances, and they're also great for you while you're still living in your log home. Again, energy efficient appliances will save you money on those energy bills, because they take less electricity to run, and they'll look really good on a realtor's sell sheet as well.

    #3 Reapply Log Cabin Stain

    Looking for some extra curb appeal? A fresh coat of paint or stain can go a long way, and it won't cost you more than a few cans of stain and a weekend. Beyond the fresh color on your home, a quality log stain can help protect your house from the elements. It seals in the wood, repelling water and any other elements, ensuring your log home remains beautiful and safe for years to come. That adds a lot in value, and in peace of mind.

    #4 Hardwood Floors

    If there's one surefire way to make sure your log home's value goes up, install hardwood floors. Sure, it might not be the easiest renovation on this list, but compared to a full kitchen overhaul or a master bedroom re-do, it's still a pretty small renovation. When people think of log homes, they think of hardwood just about everywhere, which means they're willing to pay for it. The added bonus is in the longevity of hardwood floors. They can last for decades, and they look beautiful. A key selling point that's functional, and that boosts your log home's value.

    #5 Give the Kitchen a Touchup

    If a kitchen renovation isn't in the budget, consider a touchup. You'd be surprised at how much of a difference a few small changes can make. Painting your cabinets, changing out your countertops for quartz or marble, and even just changing the hardware on your cabinetry can give you a new look, and a higher value. The kitchen is the best room in your log home to renovate for a high return on your investment, and even a small change can make a big difference.

     

    If you're looking to renovate your log home to improve it's value, whether for your own benefit or to sell later down the road Timeless has all the materials you need! We've got construction tools, maintenance products, stain and sealant. Give us a call at 800-564-2987, stop in, or check out our website!

  • 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:

    Continue reading
  • 10 Easy Steps for Log Home Restoration

    Old Home It’s not too late to add a task to your list of New Years Resolutions! Restoring your log home can seem to be a daunting task. It doesn’t need to be! We’ve brought together everything that you’ll need to do to make your home like new, just in time for the new year!

    Repair rot spots and damage – Chiseling out rotten wood spots and adding filler will prevent rot from further damaging your log home.

    Apply Energy Seal around windows, doors, butt joints, and between logs – Just one application of Energy Seal will make your home weather-proof while seamlessly blending in with your stain of choice.

    Clean or strip old finish – Remove any dirt, dust, or grime that’s collected on the exterior of your home. You might even want to completely remove the finish that’s on your home, if it’s worn, and apply a new coat.

    Borate treatment – Use borate treatments to repel organisms that can invade and destroy your log homes. Allow this treatment to dry before moving on to further steps.

    Apply more Energy Seal where needed – Anywhere that water or other medias enter your home should have Energy Seal applied around them. This will act as a preventative to any damage that could occur to your home.

    Apply Checkmate 2 – If you have cracks and/or checks in your logs you’ll want to apply Checkmate 2 to prevent them from getting worse. This will need to cure for at least 3 hours before applying stain.

    Stain Logs – Choose a stain that enhances your home and apply it to your logs. This will give your home a fresh new look that you were looking for.

    Repair or restore chinking – If your chinking is worn and torn now is the time to fix it.

    Apply log end seal and chink paint – These will prevent your logs from becoming affected by rain, snow, and other harsh weather conditions. Don’t let your logs fall victim to degrading and use log end seals and chink pain to make them less vulnerable.

    Use advanced topcoat – Advanced Top Coats will be the final touch of protecting and restoring your log home. Top coats help keep color looking beautiful and gives your logs an extra bit of protection.

    If you have any more restoration needs or any questions be sure to give timeless a call at 800-564-2987!

  • Eliminates and Prevents Wood Destroying Insects and Fungi - What is the Best Choice for your Log Home

    Which product is the best to preserve, prevent and eliminate wood decay fungi, and wood ingesting/destroying insects? They are all equally as effective. You just need to know which is best for your particular situation.

    I will go over three of the most popular sellers, Armor Guard, Cobra Rods, and Shell Guard. Armor Guard

    You should use this product to protect wood that has not been compromised with decay or wood destroying insects. The concentrated powder is to be dissolved in water, stir the solution until it is clear and all powder is dissolved. You may then apply it with a low pressure sprayer.This must be applied to bare, clean, dry wood.

    Cobra Rods

    Unlike Armor Guard, Cobra Rods can be used after the wood is finished. The rods are used as a spot treatment to eliminate active decay and fungi. The chemical complex will activate once the rods are inserted into the wood. Moisture in the wood is the activator, and will continue to eliminate decay fungi, and prevent it for a good 8-10 years.

    Shell Guard

    Shell Guard is available in a concentrate or ready to use formula. Shell Guard will provide protection from, and eliminate existing wood destroying/consuming insects, and wood decay fungi. It must be applied on bare wood surfaces in order for it to impregnate the wood fibers with the active borate solution. You may drill a hole(s) in affected area(s) and inject the solution, you may then plug the hole and make it blend with the surface using Energy Seal or a comparable product. Shell Guard Concentrate, and Shell Guard RTU are both available in 1 gallon, 2.5 gallon, and 5 gallon containers.

  • How to Keep Moisture Out of Your Log Home

    Log home

    When it comes to log homes, too much moisture can be a bad thing. Log homes can be a bit of an investment, so it makes sense that you want to do everything in your power to prevent your home from falling victim to log rot, mold, mildew, and any other negative side effect that comes from overexposure to moisture. If you’re building a log home and you’re worried about keeping moisture out of your home, there are a few things you can do. Use completely dry timber when building Making sure your home’s logs are dry before your home is built is an important step in preventing overexposure to moisture later on. When choosing materials, many builders will air dry or kiln dry logs to make sure logs are dry before building. While this is usually effective, the best bet for making sure your logs are completely dry is to use dead timber. That way, you know there’s absolutely no moisture in the logs.

    Preserve your logs properly When building a log home, it’s important to take preventative measures by applying a wood preservative to your logs. Wood preservatives keep water, and therefore mold, fungus, and insects, out of your home’s logs. We recommend using Armor Guard, Shell Guard Concentrate, or Shell Guard Ready to Use for your project.

    Make sure your home is well-designed Your home’s design can have a large impact on whether or not your logs take in too much moisture. Including large roof overhangs, correctly sized gutters and downspouts, proper flashing around windows, doors, and other exteriors, as well as drainage plains around the house can help keep water from getting into your logs and your home.

    We hope these tips help you as you build your dream log home. For more information about our wood preservatives and our waterproof seals and finishes, visit our online exterior products or give us a call at 800-564-2987.

  • Carpenter Bee Identification, Damage they Cause, Removal and Control

    Identification

    Carpenter Bee Diagram

    In the late-spring and early summer, homeowners often notice large, bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are probably carpenter bees, searching for mates and sites to construct their nests.

    At a glance, a carpenter bee resembles yellow and black female bumble bees, which are social and more closely related to honey bees. Closer observation reveals the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black; bumblebees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings.

    Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are near the nest. These males are harmless and they have no stingers. Since these bees are not social, there are no workers to protect the nest. Stings from females are painful, but rare.

    Damage They Cause

    Damage

    Carpenter bees will bore into wood and make a long tunnel for egg laying. They prefer to attack unpainted wood and commonly tunnel in eaves, window trim, fascia boards, siding, wooden shakes and decks. They will also go into painted wood especially if any type of start hole is present.

    New females reuse old tunnels year after year; they are also attracted to areas where other females are tunneling. Egg laying and tunneling occurs in the spring. Males hover around the tunnel entrance while the female tends the nest and lays eggs.

    This tunneling can destroy the wood and help the onset of wood rot and water damage. Another problem with carpenter bees living in your home is the attraction of Woodpeckers. Woodpeckers will feed on carpenter bees and their eggs, but in order for the woodpecker to feed on the bees and eggs they must peck out the wood to gain access to them.

    Carpenter Bee Removal and Bee Control

    Tunnels

    Dusting an insecticide into the tunnel opening is the best treatment for nests which have already been excavated. The hole should be left open for a few days after treatment to allow the bees to make contact with and distribute the insecticide throughout the nest gallery.

    After proper treatment the entrance hole should be plugged with a piece of wooden dowel, caulk, carpenter’s glue, or wood putty. This will protect against future utilization of the old nesting tunnels and reduce the chances of wood decay and/or wood rot.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent or deter carpenter bees long term. A reactive approach is required to keep carpenter bees from causing more damage to your structure. The best method is to treat the wood in the Spring with a residual pesticide. Also any new holes must be treated and filled as they appear.

  • Consequences of using chlorine bleach

    For many years the product of choice for cleaning bare wood surfaces was a solution of chlorine bleach and water, perhaps with some detergent or TSP (trisodium phosphate) added to help clean the wood. When correctly applied and well rinsed, bleach solutions can work fairly well most of the time. However household bleach does not come with a set of directions for using it on wood and even within the log home industry there is no agreement as to how to properly use bleach. Consequently homeowners as well as professional applicators end up misusing chlorine bleach solutions which can result in several problems with both the appearance and performance of the finish system. But even when used correctly chlorine bleach solutions can create discolorations that may not show up for weeks or months after a finish is applied.

    Chlorine bleach destroys lignin, a component of wood that hardens and strengthens the cell walls. Once the surface cellular structure loses its integrity film forming finishes like LIFELINE have no sound wood to bound to and can peel off. The picture at right is a typical example of what can happen when a high concentration of chlorine bleach is applied to a home. Before a new finish can be applied the damaged wood fibers must be physically removed by sanding, media blasting or aggressive pressure washing. If the bleach solution dried on the wood, sodium hypochlorite crystals will form in the top layer of wood. They are extremely difficult to dissolve and rinse away. If a water-based finish is applied over the bleach crystals it would be the same as trying to apply the finish on top of bleached wood that has not been rinsed, and problems with finish adhesion will probably re-occur.

    Discolorations The use of bleach can cause several types of discolorations on both bare and finished wood. If the wood is bare any discolorations that may appear can usually be corrected either chemically or by physically removing the discolored wood. However if the discolorations show up after the finish has been applied the only way to eliminate them is to first remove the finish.

    Iron Tannate Stains These types of discolorations may appear days, weeks or even months after a finish is applied. They are the result of of bleach bringing tannins to the surface of the wood where they can then react miniscule steel particles remaining on the surface form the sawing, planing or milling process. The finish must be removed in order to treat these iron tannate discolorations with Oxcon oxalic acid.

    Brown Stains, Black Marks, Etc.

    All wood contains a multitude of chemical components. Some of them may be present in the sapwood, others in just the heartwood and still others throughout the entire tree. They can vary from species to species and even within the same species they can vary from log to log depending on the nutrients that may have been in the surrounding soil while the tree was growing. If the chemistry of the wood is not disrupted these components usually stay in their natural state but when subjected to highly alkaline chemicals like chlorine bleach they can become quite dark. This process may take several months to occur but, once the wood has discolored there is nothing that can be done without first removing the finish. Even then it may not be possible to completely remove these types of discolorations if they go deep into the wood.

    The best product that we've found for treating these discolorations once the finish is removed is a two cups per gallon solution of Log Wash. Although it may not completely eliminate the discolorations it may lighten them enough so that the use of a darker colored stain will hide them.

  • Use our guides to improve and protect your wood home

    Nothing says coziness like a wood home. To enjoy a wood home for a long time, it's good to know how and why to care for it. The How-To Guides found here will do that, and the reader will find information specifically intended to educate about all aspects of log homes.

    How-To topics include: design strategies, basic maintenance, safe surroundings, water protection, controlling fungi, combating weather damage, insects and other pests, preservation and cleaning, finishing and sealing, troubleshooting, roof systems and interior work.

    Topics like design strategies and safe surroundings contain information intended to encourage the reader to make good decisions when planning the building of their log home. The right choices in the beginning can save headaches later. For instance, log home owners are encouraged to build far away from areas with lots of pests or wildfire risks.

    Moisture control is a concern with log homes, and the guide on controlling fungus explains how to avoid and deal with this area of concern.

    The guide on preservation and cleaning walks the reader through the variety of factors that will determine their best course of action in protecting the house long-term.

    Many of the topics explain settling of the house and how to watch for issues regarding this process - a process that is inherent to log homes. The guide explains problems to look out for, and how to treat them.

    Reading and following the suggestions contained in these guides will enable the reader to get the most satisfaction out of their log home, for years to come.

  • Freeze/Thaw Stability

    Winter Home

    Without a doubt it is always best to prevent any of our finishes and sealants from freezing. They all contain water and the formation of ice crystals within the products can separate the water from the other components. In some products once this occurs it becomes impossible to regain the properties of the original formulation even after thawing and vigorous mixing. These type of products are not freeze/thaw stable.

    With a few exceptions most of our products are freeze/thaw stable but if a product becomes frozen it needs to be thawed slowly, preferably at room temperature. Speeding up the thawing process by heating the container can seriously damage the product making it unusable. If the product is in pails or containers, once it has completely thawed it will require a thorough mixing.

    Any finish or sealant that has been frozen will never completely regain all of the initial properties that it had before it was frozen but it may still be usable. However, if a product is subjected to multiple freeze/thaw cycles each cycle will contribute to the degradation process until it is no longer suitable for use. If a product does become frozen it is better to allow it to stay frozen than it is to bring it inside to thaw and then store it where it may freeze again. It's the succession of freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw sequences that really destroys the integrity of a product. Before applying any product that's been frozen be sure to test a small amount to see if it is still usable.

    To reiterate: It's best to protect all of our products from freezing. If it does get frozen, thaw it slowly at room temperature then thoroughly mix it. It's better to keep it frozen than to subject it to multiple freeze/thaw cycles. Before applying any product that's been frozen be sure to test a small amount to see if it is still usable.

    Perma-Chink System products that are NOT freeze/thaw stable: Chink Paint Log End Seal Oxcon

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