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It may be a thrilling endeavor to build your own cabin. Yet, many of us new to the building industry aren’t aware of the best material or how expensive it may be. We all desire a more affordable yet workable choice in light of the escalating cost of wood.

While planning your timber frame home, there are numerous factors to consider. In addition to the house’s style, you also need to think about the type of wood you’ll use in the construction, and this is arguably the most important choice.

What Types of Wood Can Be Used for Log Home Building?

There is a lot of discussion around the best logs to use while building a log cabin, including which tree species to use, whether to use dead-standing or green logs, or whether to use kiln- or air-dried logs.

With their high moisture content, green wood or fresh logs are prone to warping, shrinking, and twisting when used to build a log home. As a result, the log cabin will be less structurally solid. That is why most people dry their logs before constructing a log cabin, giving them time to stabilize. This can be accomplished through various methods, including kiln and air drying. The alternative approach is to utilize the dead standing immediately after being harvested.

But which one is the best option?

Each log type has its benefits and drawbacks. Before deciding, you should consider what kind of wood best suits your needs, location, and price. Luckily, we’ve broken down each type of log so you can weigh the pros and cons before building your dream home.

Green Logs

Green logs, also known as green timber, are wood that hasn’t been dried or seasoned before being used for a timber frame building. It is a popular choice among some individuals, particularly when utilizing the butt-and-pass technique, which employs substantial amounts of rebar to hold the logs together.

Because of its malleability, ease of sawing, and low cost, it is frequently utilized in rustic or outdoor furniture. As the moisture in the wood helps resist cracking and warping, green wood is usually the best choice for outdoor buildings.

However, it’s essential to understand that as the wood dries, it may expand, contract, and warp, causing the project’s joints to loosen and necessitating extra upkeep. To preserve the life of green wood projects, seal and finish them with weatherproof sealants and finishes and protect them from the elements as much as possible.

Benefits of Using Green Logs

  • Compared to very dry wood, wood with a high moisture content is considerably simpler to cut and shape.
  • Since there’s no drying process, using them is the quickest way to construct a log cabin.
  • Green wood is perfect for butt-and-pass.
  • It’s relatively inexpensive.
  • There is no need to dry them, which is time-consuming and energy-consuming.

Problems with Green Logs

  • It is most likely that green logs will shrink and check, resulting in an unstable house.
  • Butt and Pass green log cabins have not been around long enough to determine if they are durable and long-lasting.
  • Mold could start to develop on green wood even before it is used in buildings.
  • Painting or staining is challenging.
  • Sap or other liquid substances can leak from the wood’s interior and cause discoloration.

Dead Standing Logs

Dead standing describes trees that have perished due to old age, pest infestation, wildfires, fungal diseases, or another similar cause. The benefit of using dead trees is that they are already dead, making them more ecologically friendly and preventing the loss of healthy trees and the biodiversity of the forests.

Whether the logs are appropriate for building a log home depends on the cause of their death. To prevent the spread of rot, dead, standing trees should be felled within a couple of years of dying. Long-standing trees are more prone to decay the longer they are left standing.

Benefits of Using Dead-Standing Logs

  • There’s no need for a drying process. Most of the time, they have had time to dry out naturally.
  • They are immediately ready for use after being debarked.
  • Standing dead wood is either free or extremely cheap, which reduces the overall cost of the log cabin kit.
  • The tree won’t go to waste if you use standing dead wood, and you won’t need to take down any living trees to create your cabin.

Problems with Dead Standing Logs

  • They can have an insect or fungal infestation.
  • They might not be structurally sound.

Air Dried Logs

Air-dried logs are often dried naturally by leaving them outside and exposing them to the elements. A good position would be where logs are exposed to the sun and wind, usually high on a hill. Under ideal conditions, this should take at least 12 months.

The goal is to lower the moisture content (M.C.) to about 25% or less. This will vary in some cases depending on the species. For instance, Northern White Cedar dries quicker than Eastern White Pine. The producer is likewise at the mercy of the weather and climate they find themselves in.

As there is no need for a significant upfront investment or ongoing kiln operating expenses, air-dried logs might cost up to 20% less than kiln-dried counterparts. Some of the oldest log homes in America were constructed in an era before kilns were commonplace, so they had to be air-dried and are still going strong today.

Benefits of Using Air Dried Logs

  • Because the logs are cured naturally, there aren’t any internal stresses.
  • The majority of the original color and grains are retained.
  • They may be a less expensive alternative to kiln-dried timber.
  • They’re lighter and more portable.
  • Have a more consistent look than kiln-dried timber.
  • Reduces the cost of constructing a wood home
  • Because air-dried wood contains less moisture, it is less prone to deteriorate or get infected with insects and other pests.
  • Are more extensive availability

Problems with Air Dried Logs

  • It takes a long time to dry out the logs.
  • They may become damp and split if not adequately covered and sealed.
  • Compared to kiln-dried wood, the air-drying method takes up more area.
  • If the temperature of the wood hits a new high, pockets of pitch may liquefy.

Kiln Dried Logs

Natural air-drying of timber can be a lengthy process. Therefore, lumber is frequently kiln-dried to expedite the process. Kilns are large ovens, and the logs are placed inside, progressively raising the temperature to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Fans in the kiln circulate hot air and ensure a consistent drying rate, removing moisture from the logs. Kilns also use dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air.

Depending on the type of wood, drying time might range from ten hours to a few days as a result of the process’ fast removal of moisture from the wood.  The remaining moisture content in the logs should range from 6 to 10% at the end of the treatment. It’s crucial to keep a close eye on how quickly the logs are drying so that serious cracking won’t result from the outside perimeters drying quicker than the middle. The logs must be kept inside and away from moisture until suitable for use.

Wood suppliers believe that kiln-dried logs are superior to air-dried logs for a number of reasons. Due to the intense heat, kiln drying eliminates all insects, their eggs, mold spores, and fungus from the wood while also drying the resin, which would otherwise become liquid at an average temperature. It also cleans the wood, eliminating the need for harsh chemical treatments.

Benefits of Using Kiln Dried Logs

  • The logs are heated to 170°F to guarantee that any fungus, bug eggs, and insect larvae are destroyed.
  • Building a log cabin can take a long time, so this process speeds up the length of the build.
  • Sterilizes the timber without the need for harsh chemicals.
  • The logs are long-lasting, sturdy, and less prone to shrink or break.
  • Because of the more uniform dryness, staining and wood protection operations may permeate the wood more deeply.
  • Because the procedure is quick, less space is required for maintaining logs.
  • Before constructing the log cabin, defective logs exposed to high temperatures can be easily identified and removed.

Problems with Kiln Dried Logs

  • Logs dried in kilns may occasionally develop internal stress.
  • Using tools to manipulate the wood may be more brittle and chip more easily.
  • Up to 20% of the color and occasionally some grain might be lost.
  • After being kiln-dried, wood needs to be stored in a climate-controlled setting so that it may gradually reabsorb moisture from the air.
  • This is quite an expensive process, meaning the logs will be costly.

A Skilled Builder Knows What Logs to Use

If you are building your own log home from the ground up, the logs you use absolutely matter. When you partner with an experienced log home builder like Frontier Log Homes, though, you can enjoy the benefits of our knowledge and expertise without worrying about the basics.

Our log cabin kits include all structural logs, which we handcraft in our assembly yard before delivering them to your building site. We only use the best logs for the job, and our reputation speaks for itself.

Whether you are just beginning to dream about your custom log home or ready to purchase, we’d love to speak to you.

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