A “landslide” of snow up against the logs is a recipe for future rot.
Here is a problem with log homes we see from time to time. Metal roofs have become very popular in the last ten years for a number of reasons: cost and longevity being the main reasons homeowners choose metal roofs.
Imagine yourself having to shovel this snow away from your logs. No thanks!
Unfortunately, we are starting to see some problems on log homes with metal roofs that may need to be addressed. In these pictures you can see that when the snow slides off this metal roof, it piles up against the logs of this porch.
This is not a good situation because the snow is holding moisture up against the logs. It is my opinion that an asphalt-shingled roof with eve troughs or gutters is the best type of roofing for a log home. Metal roofs seems to create more log home problems than they solve.
This is a classic example of logs that have rot and are in need of blasting and re-staining.
This project in Eveleth, MN was completed in 2012 at Camp Warren, one of the Greater Twin Cities YMCA camps. These photos show the typical progression of how we restore a log home from beginning to end on one particular wall.
The “art” of masking.
We often get asked if we power wash homes to remove old finish and our answer is “no”. Over the 35 years we have been in the log home restoration business, we have found the blasting off old finish using either sand, crushed glass or corncob is the way to go. Click here for why we choose sand blasting over power washing.
New cedar logs installed. Next step – staining.
On this particular project, we replaced rotten logs, blasted the wall, treated the logs with a borate solution, applied Sansin brand stain, and finally – chinked the logs with Perma-Chink brand chinking.
Our crew does an excellent job of protecting windows, doors and trim by careful masking before we start sand blasting. We have gotten very good at being able to match new stain with what is currently on the building so that our repairs blend in as much as possible.
Repair complete! New cedar logs blend in great with existing logs. Matching stain is an acquired skill.
If you home could use a “facelift” give us a call at 877-378-4403 and let us give you an estimate.
Coming to a neighborhood near you.
It is the time of year that many folks head up to their cabins to open up for the summer. For many areas of the Upper Midwest, this winter/spring has hung on all the way through April and into May.
But make no mistake – the warm days of spring and summer WILL come and this is the calm before the storm in terms of planning for log home maintenance. Best to get a plan in place before the season gets away from us.
We are out and about looking at projects for the summer and maintenance of log homes is the topic each time I meet with a new potential client. Because we are restoration specialists, many times we get asked to come in when the maintenance routine has failed.
I do not consider replacing rotten logs to be “maintenance”. Rotten logs are most likely the result of a failure to do routine maintenance.
Having said that, it does not mean that rot and repair of logs is inevitable; it just means we need to be ever vigilant and flexible in our maintenance plan in order to get the best results.
It is important to make it an annual routine to look at all areas of your building for signs of problems. Most times, if log home maintenance issues are caught early, they can be corrected with minimal effort and expense.
Link about maintenance of log homes and cabins
Cedar logs are what we use for replacing rotten logs in homes. Back around 1995, we began to see the advantages of using cedar in our log home restoration business.
We were noticing that on some homes, logs that were replaced with pine were rotting for a second time in the space of as little as ten years. Most of the time, this on-going log rot was the result of some condition on the building (i.e. roof lines that drop a stream of water on a particular corner) that created the ideal conditions for rot to begin.
In other words, there was something with the design of the building that allowed the logs to be exposed to moisture repeatedly and over time.
For this reason we started to use cedar logs and have kept with it for the last 17 years. Why cedar? Cedar has superior rot resistance compared to pine logs.
Planing down one of our dried cedar logs.
Matching the stain: We often get this question: “Can you match up the stain on new cedar logs when the rest of the house is pine? The answer is yes. It is almost impossible to match 100% any new log to older existing logs even if they are the same species.
With a combination of stains we can make the logs look at least 90% like the surrounding logs. Also – cedar offers us the ability to warranty our log replacements for up to ten years! Assuming that stain is kept on the log, this means we will come back and replace the cedar log again if it were to rot.
Here are some links to more information on the materials we use and why:
Our cedar Logs
Why do logs rot?
The newly installed chinking really makes this log home look fresh and well maintained.
Some log homes are designed to be chinked, for others it becomes necessary over time as the logs move/shrink, and draftiness becomes an issue.
This log cabin had mortar chinking. We removed it and used latex chinking, which is flexible.
Still – other homes were chinked with mortar-based chinking and getting rid of this type of chink is the reason for “re-chinking”.
This is a good example of chinking that was stained along with the logs. Notice how well it blends in.
Whatever reason, modern chinking is extremely durable, very adhesive and really sharpens up the look of a log home. It comes in a variety of colors and it can be stained to blend in better with the logs.
Here are some links and photos that will help you start “thinking about chinking”:
How do you get your building chinked and what does it look like?
Two companies that sell chinking:
Tell tale signs of trouble. Notice the circular holes. Those are from carpenter ants and the larger hole is from a woodpecker looking for the ants.
There are a variety of problems associated with any type of construction and log homes are no exception. Just last week, I looked at this home near Clam Lake, WI where the owners had noticed that woodpeckers were damaging their logs. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the log rot was the root cause of this kind of damage.
When rot begins to take hold, insects (such as the carpenter ants) are attracted to this resting and food source (i.e. your HOUSE!) and then predators of the insects (woodpeckers) start pecking away looking to feed on the insects.
So… you can see where I am going with this: The log rot is the root cause of the problem. We take away the food source for the ants and in turn, we have eliminated the food source for the woodpeckers.
Log rot happens because of the logs getting wet so the ultimate cause of all these problems is moisture.
Here are some links to more information if you would like to keep reading about log rot, insects and woodpeckers.
Why logs rot: http://www.restorelogs.com/why_do_logs_rot.htm
We periodically get calls from people who say they are considering covering up their rotten logs with some sort of siding to avoid having to replace the rotten logs. Just yesterday a man emailed saying he was considering purchasing a log cabin that had vinyl siding on it and wondered if there was anything he should be concerned about.
On this home they used metal to cover up rot on the bottom logs.
Obviously, we are in the business of restoring log homes by replacing rotten logs so we definitely have a certain perspective on the subject. Our take is that covering up rotten logs is literally covering up a potential long-term problem.
Rotten logs attract certain types of insects that feed on decaying wood such as carpenter ants and powder post beetles. Sometimes there is confusion when a log home owner finds the signs of these insect in their log cabin. They think the bugs are eating their logs and causing them to rot.
Well the opposite is true in most cases. Rot begets bugs in many, many cases. So the answer about covering up rot with siding is this: It may be creating a long-term problem with bug infestations as they continue to find the decaying wood and set up home there.
Beware of a log home that has been sided over. It may be hiding a problem that you won’t be able to ignore.
If you are concerned about insects in your log cabin, give us a call and let us help you determine the best course of action. 877-378-4403
Damage caused by truck. Oops!
Repairing log homes is what we do all the time but here’s a new one:
One of our favorite customers just had a friend accidentally back up into his garage with a truck. As you can see, the bumper of the truck struck the bottom log at the transition where the foundation starts. It punched the wall in almost three feet! Then… mercifully – it bounced back almost to plumb once the truck moved out of the way. If this had been a conventionally built house, the damage to person and property would certainly have been worse.
Had to remove the garage door and the framing around it.
On this log home repair, we straightened up the wall, replaced the bottom log, and repaired the door frame. Once the log repair is complete and the new garage door is installed, it should look good as new.
Ready for new garage door to be installed.
We will post more photos once the new door is in. Log home repairs come in all shapes and sizes but not typically as a result of a truck ramming the logs. I doubt that is what the automaker had in mind when the truck was given the name “ram”.
This is a classic area for rot – underneath a window.
Half Log Repair – Log home repairs come in all “shapes and sizes” but one of the most common ones we do is what we call half log replacement. Generally, we replace a log with a “re-facing” or half log if there is at least 50% solid wood left in the section of the log needing repair. Our replacement logs are dried cedar and we use these logs because of their natural resistance to rot. Replacing a half log, or “re-facing” the log, has a number of advantages:
The rot is carefully cut out. Once this is completed, the new wood is treated with a borate treatment.
Primarily, it is good to save the interior of the log wall to preserve the look of the interior logs. The interior of a log home is very difficult to match in terms of the color and patina of the original wood. Adding to the difficulty in matching stains on the interior is the fact that many times, stains were never used and the logs were simply allowed to age. So in this case, we end up trying to match the effects of time, not any certain color of finish. Replacing half of the log is a cost savings over replacing an entire log in terms of materials. If the log is more than 50% rotted, we recommend replacing the whole log.
At first glance – things look OK.
On this beautiful log home near La Crosse, WI we ran into some of the worst decay related to leaky windows that we had ever seen.
This home is located on the bluffs looking over the Mississippi River and consequently, it gets storms coming out of the valley with great force.
Now you can see the decay at the bottom of these huge windows!
The upper windows on the gable end of the house were leaking and after years of this, the logs around the base of the windows became so rotten they needed to be replaced.
The rot is removed and we’re ready to install new logs.
As you can see – we had to remove whole logs in this area. In conjunction with replacing logs, we worked to make sure the windows got flashed and caulked properly.
This was an unusual project and it was interesting to see it come together. Leaking can be a big problem with log homes. Make sure these issues are noticed and remedied quickly, even if it means getting up on a ladder to check out problem areas. Call 877-378-4403 and let us help solve your log home problems.
Rubberized ice and water shield needed to be installed to keep leaking from happening again.
New logs installed. Good to go.