The first step to a successful restoration is determining the scope of work needed to bring the cabin up to an easily maintainable home. Your home may need rotten areas fixed, chinking repaired or freshly installed in between logs and gaps, deck railings repaired, stain removed and re-applied, or any combination of these to bring your cabin up to snuff. The order of what’s most important to tackle first now to what can wait a year or two can be a bit tricky to figure out. We offer free in-person consultations, or, if easier, email us pictures and an explanation of what’s going on and we’ll give you recommendations as to where to start.
The methods for removing stains or paints from log homes range from pressure washing with chemical strippers to hand sanding the old fashioned way. We have had most success over the years with media blasting followed by sanding. We prefer this method to remove log home finishes.
When thinking about the removal process, it is most important to remember the goal; get the best bare wood possible for the stain to adhere properly. What we find to be the best methods to do this are:
Blasting with ground walnut shell then sanding. The walnut media is biodegradable, gentler than sand or glass, and if done properly and the wood isn’t too soft, not very damaging to the wood. After blasting, we sand the wood using 6-inch random orbital sanders with 60-80 grit depending on the condition and species of wood. The sanding process is the most important step prior to any stain.
Grinding with mechanical grinders. Sometimes a finish can be real difficult to remove with just blasting and sanding alone. We use angle grinders with an 80 grit pad to gently remove the stain. We then go back over the home with random orbital sanders to ensure a smooth, no-swirl finish in the wood.
Just sanding. Often times the wood is too soft or the stain comes off easy enough to just sand. In these cases, we prefer to lightly blast areas that are difficult to reach with a sander then focus most of our labor on the sanding process.
After sanding (which is part of any method of removing stain or paint), we clean and prep the wood for stain. We mask all windows, decks, rocks, etc, which usually takes about a day. We then apply either an oil based or water based stain depending on the environment, customer’s preference, or condition of wood.
The types of stain to use can be confusing. We primarily use TWP 1500 series, Sashco and Perma-Chink exterior stains, and exclusively Permachink Lifeline Interior for interiors of homes. They each have their benefits and the stain of choice is a decision we discuss in depth with each client on each project.
Unfortunately, if a log home has been constructed without thought to environmental factors or if a log home has been neglected over the years, rot can and will eventually occur. Some of these construction issues can be inadequate overhangs (should extend at least 3 feet from the wall), poor weather-wall alignment (lots of logs exposed to high amounts of direct sunlight), logs too close to the ground (first log on top of foundation should be at least 16″ off the ground), logs protruding beyond the overhangs, no gutters, poor roofing jobs, etc. Some maintenance issues that may cause rot over the years include letting vegetation grow too close to the walls (leave at least two feet between any plant and logs), poor flowing gutters, no stain maintenance, etc.
There are many ways to repair rotten logs, but most of the time the best way is to remove the rot entirely and either replace the log in full or with a half log. We employ a variety of techniques and skills to give home owners the most cost effective and long lasting solution to rotten areas.
Rot is usually the first thing a log home owner should tackle before anything else in the restoration process. If left alone, rot can spread and affect the structural integrity of a wall, corner or deck and turn to a costly fix.
The common phrase in the log home industry is, “A log home either needs chinking, or will need chinking.” Scribed log homes are either built full scribe, meaning each log is scribed to the next creating a tight fit, or “chink style” where the logs are scribed only at the corners and a gap is left in between the logs. The “chink style” homes always need chinking, however even the full scribe home may eventually need some chinking. As logs dry out and settle over the first years after construction, they shrink and adjust. This settling can create gaps that insects, water, and heat/cold can travel through. To prevent this, we apply a latex based, gritty caulk called chinking. It allows the logs to still flex throughout the day and seasons with temperature changes but maintain a tight hold on the logs to seal the gaps.
Even milled homes such as “d-log” homes can need some kind of chinking. Usually in these homes, and sometimes in full-scribe homes, the gap is too small for regular Permachink chinking. We use another product called Energy seal for these situations.
Both products come in a variety of colors to match the logs or get that classic log home contrast sometimes desired.