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Log homes are beautiful and bring a unique rustic feel to any location. Additionally, they provide outstanding insulation in cold climates. However, like all woods, the logs may deteriorate from exposure to sun, wind, and rain unless treated with sealants or preservatives.

It is essential to protect your investment by making sure you know how to treat your log home’s exterior walls. Here are some tips recommended by our experts to help you do that.

1. Clean the Exterior Before Anything Else

The first step in maintaining your log home’s exterior is to clean off dirt, mildew, and other debris that may have accumulated on the surface over time. This is a great way to help reduce mold, dust, and pollen buildup and protect your logs from weathering and other elements. It is essential if you plan on applying any finishes or treatments to the wood.

Use a hose or a gentle pressure washer with a wide fan tip at low pressure to avoid damaging the wood. A mild detergent and warm water will help prevent stripping away any existing sealant or preservatives from the wood’s surface.

While cleaning the logs, inspect for any signs of rot, decay, insects, or fungi that may need to be addressed before restaining.

2. Repair Any Gaps in the Chinking

To protect the integrity of your logs and keep them dry and free from rot or damage, you must ensure there are no gaps in the chinking.

The first step is carefully inspect your logs for cracks or gaps. Once you have identified such areas, use a putty knife to scrape off any loose or deteriorated material from the site and clean any debris.

Next, mix up some latex or silicone caulk with water until it forms a paste-like consistency. Apply this mixture into the cracks and use a trowel to smooth it out and ensure you have filled all air pockets.

Finally, let the mixture dry completely before applying a second coat if necessary. Wear gloves and safety glasses while working with caulk, as it can be very sticky and messy.

3. Caulk Cracks in Individual Logs

Proper sealing of external seams is crucial in treating your log home. Caulking any open seam or joint between individual logs helps prevent moisture buildup behind your wall system. Furthermore, weatherproofing also plays a vital role as it insulates against cold air that comes through cracks in your walls and causes condensation.

Thankfully, when it comes to caulking cracks in individual logs in log homes, the process is relatively simple and similar to repairing gaps in the chinking.

First, using a putty knife or other tool, scrape away any loose material or filler that may be present.

Next, apply an elastomeric sealant to the logs and use a putty knife to smooth it into place. You will want to start from the middle of the crack and work your way out in order to ensure even coverage.

Finally, let the sealant dry before applying a final coat of clear protective varnish or paint.

Following these steps should help fill in any cracks in your logs and leave your home ready for restaining.

4. Check the Topcoat and Reapply to Needed Areas

Checking the topcoat in log homes and reapplying it if necessary is important in preserving their longevity and beauty.

How to Check the Topcoat

The most effective way to inspect the topcoat of a log home is to use an electronic moisture meter. This device will allow you to measure the moisture content within the logs, telling you if they absorb too much or not enough moisture. Additionally, it will help you detect any weaknesses in the protective layer that might be allowing water infiltration.

Once you have determined the moisture levels being absorbed, take the steps necessary to correct any imbalances, including improving ventilation and replacing any inadequate protection layers.

If you have no electronic moisture meter, you can visually inspect the logs for any signs of damage or wear. Look for cracking, peeling, fading, etc., and pay close attention to areas where records meet windows, doors, and other often-used fixtures. Ensure all accessories, such as shutters and trim, are secure and free of peeling paint or wood rot.

How to Reapply the Topcoat to Needed Areas

Once you have inspected the surface of the logs for any areas that need repair or replacement and made any necessary repairs, you are ready to reapply the topcoat.

Reapplying a sealant or stain to your logs can help protect them from water damage and other elements. Choose an appropriate stain or sealant for your log home, as some may not be compatible with certain types of wood. Follow all instructions carefully to ensure you are applying it correctly and evenly.

Clear finishes are often used because they do not alter the natural shade of the log’s texture, allowing homeowners to maintain their desired style during use. Protecting your logs from likely pests is essential for keeping wooden structures over many years. Fortunately, readily available products offer a range of protections necessary to support an enjoyable experience with naturally beautiful logs throughout any season and weather conditions.

First, reapply the topcoat, and ensure the logs are completely dry. If possible, cover any surrounding non-wooden materials or plants in plastic sheeting. Use additional coverage behind any doors or windows to protect from drips or runs of stained materials.

Then, apply a quality exterior stain on all visible surfaces with an even stroke and uniform coverage, especially on textured surfaces such as curves, corners, and edges. Allow enough time for drying between each coat of stain applied—typically, around 12 hours per coat.

Once the desired opacity level is achieved, apply a heavy-duty polyurethane sealant as your topcoat for optimal protection against water damage and UV exposure. Again, allow ample time for drying between each coat used. Usually, 24 hours per coat is ideal in order to achieve superior results in color clarity and longevity.

Finish off with applying protective wax to finalize your beautifully re-stained log home. When done correctly, your log home will have a beautiful finish lasting for years.

Restaining Tips

Generally, it is always good to pay attention to environmental factors such as temperature and humidity when dealing with wood—and staining. Such factors can affect how quickly or slowly the wood dries and impact the finished product, which could have adverse consequences if not handled properly.

Remember the pro tips below when applying stain to give your log home an impeccable finish regardless of temperature or the humidity conditions outside.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Staining a log home in direct sunlight is not advisable, especially during summer. The intense heat can cause the stain to dry out too quickly, resulting in imperfections such as brush marks, lap marks, and inadequate adhesion to the logs. This will create an uneven finish that may need to be rectified later, costing additional time and money.

To successfully apply a stain to a log home and ensure a smooth and even finish, it is best to work on it during the coolest times of day when the sun’s rays are weakest. It is also crucial that the wood itself is cool to touch before attempting any staining process.

Working late in the afternoon gives any staining project an extra margin of safety, as sunshine intensity drops off while temperatures remain relatively warm enough for successful application. However, when applying a finish to exterior log walls, it may be best to start early in the morning before any dew has evaporated from the logs. This allows for an even application as the house’s exterior has not yet been exposed to direct sunlight, thus keeping temperatures cooler and avoiding surface evaporation. The finish will also have more time to penetrate the wood pores and cover any spots that could turn gray due to UV exposure.

Use the Shade

Start by staining areas of the home in shaded locations first to get a feel for your staining technique and product coverage. As the sun rises and areas of your house receive more sunlight, move around your home and apply stain to any newly shaded areas.

Plan accordingly, as beams will cause random shadows. Overhangs or tall trees will also create shade while rotating east-west every hour. This will allow you to complete most of your job in a single day instead of spreading it out over a few days. This way, you will be able to properly treat each side of each log—something that may otherwise be overlooked when divided into multiple days.

Restaining and Humidity

While you may think from the above that a cloudy or even rainy day may offer better conditions for restaining your log home’s exterior, the effects of humidity on the drying process of stained logs are an essential factor to consider.

Keeping the relative humidity between 40-70% is recommended to achieve the best drying results. Heat also affects how quickly or slowly the stain on logs will dry. An ideal temperature for staining would be 70 degrees with a relative humidity level of around 50%. Additionally, it is best practice to stop a couple of hours before sunset to avoid any dew and condensation that would create an uneven sheen.

Restaining in the Summer

From the above, it becomes clear that applying stain to a log home in hot weather can be challenging. This is sometimes unavoidable, such as when you rest in the summer.

To get the best results and avoid lap marks in the summer, you must work quickly and always maintain a “wet edge.” This means you must use heavy-duty brushes that can hold a lot of stains, like professional-grade 4” brushes.

You should also avoid direct sunlight as much as possible to help the stain adhere properly and to keep it from drying too quickly. If this is impossible, try to move around the house as described above to stay in shady areas throughout your staining process. Taking extra time and using the best tools will ensure a flawless look after staining your log home.

The way you apply the stain can make all the difference when working in hot weather: applying too little or too much stain can be disastrous. That is why professionals typically recommend that you constantly keep moving with plenty of stain on your brush for the best results in warmer weather.

5. Apply Insect Repellent

Besides making your log home look pristine, reapplying your topcoat will help fight fungi—an often-ignored danger to your home’s integrity. Fungi feed on the sugars and starches found in wood, so they can quickly weaken the wood structure if left unchecked.

In addition to fighting fungi, a good wood finish applied regularly will help repel wood-feeding insects such as termites, carpenter bees, or wood-boring beetles. A clear sealant with fungicide and insecticide components will help guard against these threats and control moisture levels, providing a hospitable environment for insects and fungi.

For extra protection, you can apply insect repellent. Before you start, check the back door and porch, basement windows, and corners where insects might find a hiding place. With a flashlight, look for spider webs, eggs, or any other nest that might be out of sight. Also, scan each light fixture, door frame, stair banister, drainpipe, etc., for eggs and indications of past webs and nests. This way, you will know which areas insects frequent and where you need to concentrate your efforts.

6. Trim Plants and Trees

An often overlooked log home maintenance aspect concerns the adjacent plants and garden area. Make sure to regularly trim any plants, trees, or shrubs that are near your log home’s exterior. This will help reduce the amount of debris that collects on the walls and prevent them from becoming overgrown and unkempt.

7. Prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes, and this is certainly true when it comes to treating your log home’s exterior! Carry out annual maintenance, such as removing debris from roofs or decks and washing surfaces to remove dirt and mold, and perform regular maintenance inspections throughout the year.

Establish a preventive maintenance system before your logs dry out and lose their luster. Regular inspections of the log home exterior will help you identify potential problems or areas that need attention before they worsen. Check for signs of water damage, rot, mold, insect infestations, or other issues, especially around doors and windows. If you spot an issue, address it immediately to keep your house in good condition and avoid costly repairs in the future.

Keeping your logs smooth and clean at all times will help preserve their natural beauty. Keep the logs in good shape by cleaning off dirt and mildew from the wood surfaces a few times a year.

Furthermore, one needs to consider that some wood used for log homes may not display characteristics of the living tree once it has been cut and dried to allow for proper construction. This means that homeowners should know about decay-resistant woods if they want to reduce maintenance requirements.

Treating Your Log Home’s Exterior

The most critical aspect of log home maintenance is treating the exterior wood consistently to prevent weathering and moisture infiltration. Proper treatment of a log home’s exterior can significantly increase its lifespan, as exposure to the elements and bug infestations can cause severe damage to the logs if not adequately treated.

The log homes we build here at Frontier Log Homes withstand time and testify to our experience, professionalism, and outstanding craftsmanship. Keeping a log home in peak condition, however, requires regular maintenance.

If you want ways to keep your log home looking great year-round, follow our tips above for treating its exterior without damaging the logs or spending much money. They should help you keep your log home looking its best for years!

Frontier Log Homes have created dozens of log homes around Montrose, Colorado, and beyond. Our customers recommend us for our dedication to delivering the finest log cabin kits and homes and our attention to detail.

Contact us at 970-249-7130, and let us build the log home of your dreams!

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