You did it! You finally took the leap and purchased your own log home – congratulations! At some point, though, it’s normal to start thinking “I’ve got a log home, now what?!” As the owner of a log home, it’s important to understand the unique needs for care and maintenance for your new home. Log homes are unique – and some of their needs are unique too when compared to “traditional” homes. While it’s always best to consult with professional log home restoration or maintenance experts for anything that falls outside your comfort zone, here is a quick starter guide to help familiarize yourself with how to care for your log home.
This is a simple step, and yet the best one for proactively helping hold off many of the issues listed below. Cleaning the exterior of your log home annually with appropriate treatments or a power washer helps negate mold and mildew buildup, deter insects, keep the stain clean and help new applications of protective coatings, stains or chinking last longer. While you can do this yourself, many find it’s easier to hire a professional. If you choose to do this, make sure they are experienced with maintenance and care for log homes.
Watch for signs of mold and mildew on the exterior of your home that can be caused by excessive moisture. If you catch it early and determine the cause, you can often wipe it out quickly. Some possible causes include sprinklers that spray directly on the logs, leaking gutters (or no gutters at all), splashing from downspouts, landscaping greenery placed too close to the house, and areas with very high humidity.
Address any signs of mold or mildew by adjusting sprinklers or other sources of water that could be the cause. Be sure to have gutters installed that keep water from running down the logs. Trim back your greenery to give the house at least 18 inches of breathing room. If you don’t see any signs of improvement within the next couple of weeks, consult with an expert.
Your logs should be treated with a professional stain that both protects it and makes it look great. Stain can peel, fade and wear off with time and exposure and will need to be reapplied as needed to keep your log cabin protected.
First, be sure to apply stain to logs that have been cleaned with a power washer in order to minimize the potential for peeling and accelerated wear-and-tear. Use only stains that are created specifically for log cabin exteriors. Also, consider protecting your home from UV exposure with strategically-placed shade trees, porches or overhangs.
The stuff between the logs that fills in the gaps caused by shrinkage or movement is called chinking or caulking. Sometimes you’ll see this coming loose or peeling off. This is mostly caused by either the logs not being cleaned before installation, or incorrectly applying it.
You can try to fix it yourself by removing the chinking, cleaning the area thoroughly and then reapplying it. You may need to install a backer rod, which will help with adhesion and keep the chinking from tearing.
As you check the exterior of your home, be sure to check for signs of insects making themselves at home. This can include carpenter ants, termites or beetles. Signs can include burrowing holes, small piles of sawdust and seeing the actual insects themselves. Check with professionals for the best type of product to use to get rid of these pests, and be sure to let them know what kind of stain or coating your logs have so that any products used don’t harm the logs or their protective coating. (For more details about insects that can invade your log home, click here.)
The key to keeping your log home is to stick to your list. Make it a habit to walk around the exterior of your log home at least once per season, making a visual inspection for issues like we’ve listed above. Take care of your log home and it will take care of you for a long, long time.