Thursday, December 4, 2008

How to Pick A Good Log Home Finish and Apply it Properly

How to pick a good log home finish and apply it properly.

The Truth about Log Home Finishes

Some say you have to refinish the outside of a log home every year. Others say 3 or 4 years and a few will tell you 6 or 7 years. What really is the truth about log home finishes? There are many exterior finishes that work well with log homes and each one will last different lengths of time.
Proper application is one of the biggest factors in longevity of log home exterior finishes. Three-coat systems are better than two, and two-coat systems are better than one. The finish that I have had the best success with is the three-coat system. Some of them, when properly applied, will last up to ten years. I have one home that I helped put a finish on over 12 years ago and its still looking good. Home location also plays an important part.
So what is the secret for lasting finishes? The first and most important thing is log profile or how the log itself is manufactured. Hand scribed log homes will not last as long as milled logs. (Check your insurance companies; some will not insure a hand scribed log home.) A Swedish coped log will last much longer because it allows the water to run off the logs and not set between the logs causing damage.
The home on which the finish has lasted the longest is a Lodge Log Home with Mesmers Timber Flex. Lodge Logs also puts a saw cut in the top of the log. This allows the log to dry without cracking as much, in the top ¼ which eliminates most water penetration; which in turn, allows the finish to adhere better and stay on longer. I have applied finishes and refinished many different kinds of log homes, but Lodge Log homes have held up the best in both wet and hot climates. Finish application and log prep makes a big difference in longevity of finishes. There are, of course, many different ways to do things. Money and/or time influence these ways; however, as one person put it, “cheap is expensive because you have to come back and refinish it sooner”.
In so many cases cheap will actually cost you much more!
Log preparation is very important. Even though the logs may look clean from the factory, milling them causes a glaze to form on the surface so it keeps the stain from penetrating. When finishing two brand new homes, I compared pressure washing to sanding the logs before the finishes were applied, and with the logs that had been sanded the finish lasted much longer.
An existing log home being refinished may also need extensive cleaning. Sanding, pressure washing or corncob blasting are ways to prepare the logs for finishes. My favorite still, is sanding or lightly grinding the exterior with power grinders that have a special type of steel brush on them. (Perma-chink Co. sells them and they work well.)
Here is an example to help you appreciate my point: A person called me and said, “I just can’t keep the finish looking good on my log home and I have to apply a new coat every year”. So I went to his house to access the problem he was having and boy, was it a mess. I then asked him how he had prepared the logs when they were new. Well, He said, “they looked pretty good so I just applied the one-coat finish because it was easy and cheap. Then each year when it started looking bad I simply painted over it again”.
Looking at it closely you could see light footprints, dirt and stains where he had never cleaned it, even between the yearly coats.
Figuring up the cost for the finish that he applied for eight years, along with the labor, the CHEAP finish cost him $12,000.00 more than if he had gone with the three-coat expensive system, besides the fact that it was a small home. What is more, it needed to be completely refinished again. The moral of the story: Take the extra time to find out the best way to put the best finish on your log home!
Another person called and said, “His finish just would not stay on, and it was turning black”. Taking a look at his log home, there was black mold in some places and other places the log oil was just rolling off.
There were three underlying problems:
1. The logs were not properly prepared before the finish was applied.
2. The finish was sprayed at high pressure, which caused it to separate.
3. The finish he had bought was a bargain and did not have mildew resistant chemicals, etc.
He showed me the brochure that came with the finish, which stated how long it should last, not would last, and so forth. Reading about a product from a brochure that is written by the manufacture is usually biased just like talking to a salesperson. They are after the money! When you select products never listen to any salesperson, always check on satisfied customers and not just one or two, because they could be set up by the company as the only satisfied person that they had.
Always check with the state attorneys office and the Better Business Bureau to make sure that the company you are working with is in the Black. (See next article on selecting your log home.)
Do you know the truth about log home finishes?
By: Dan Barnett
Trails End Log Homes, Redmond, Oregon


Sites owned by Dan Barnett the Log Man.


Saturday, July 12, 2008



Many people do not take the time to study logs, log siding or log homes.
The properties of logs and what they do can literally destroy your home or at least cause tremendous problems.
They look for low cost, short cuts and simply listen to smooth salesman from log home companies that tickle their ear. Others seem to think if I pay a lot it will be a good log home. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
But there are a few log home companies and their product that will last for a long time and will be well worth your investment.

Simply put there are 10 things that will lead you to a good log home:

  1. Buy only in the country you live in.
  2. The company you choose must be 15 years or more in business.
  3. Check the companies rep with the Better Business B. and state Attorney Generals office.
  4. Buy logs that have been dried to 15% moisture content to the center of the log.
  5. Buy only TIP Select or better logs. (that is graded logs)
  6. Log profile (shape) is very important and that should be Swedish coped logs with a stockade corner.
  7. Use only a through bolt system that is hooked to the foundation and extends to the top of the log wall.
  8. Find a qualified dealer near you of the company that you choose, never buy directly from the factory.
  9. Make sure the company has a 30 year warranty or better.
  10. Buy only from companies that put some type of drying cut in there logs

This really narrows it down but you will be glad you did.

And if you have any questions just ask the log man Dan.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pros and Cons of Log Homes and Log Sidings = ANSWERS

Pros and Cons of Log Homes and Log Sidings.
We will be exploring many topics of Log Homes.
Ask Dan the Log Man, YOUR concerns and questions, with unbiased answers.
Bad experiences / Good experiences and YOUR experiences with log homes, You Tell It.
How YOU can pick the right log home manufacturer.
How to pick the right builder / dealer.
10 ways to a better log home.
Why it is not good to consider the price for a log home but the quality of the log.
Watch out for the cons, the money grabbers.
How to pick a professional log home dealer / builder.
How to pick a good log home finish and apply it properly.
Moisture content of log home logs and the pros and Cons.
Log home terminology and the proper questions to ask.
How to come out with a good experience when you are building your Dream Log Home.

After 30 years of dealing with different log home companies it is still evident that they want to keep you guessing about who really is right.
For an example at one log home show a supposedly knowledgeable company salesman rep stated, “ all log home corners are good, there is no superior corner system.” I have always considered that the corner that does not rot is the right one to use. I have repaired many but and pass corners but never a stockade corner.
Another time a company rep stated we dry our logs to 16%, better than the industry standard. But he did not tell them that it was only surface dried to one inch in.
And still another person stated our company uses “Standing Dead Trees”, they are already dried. Who is he kidding? The average butt log has around 23% moisture content, the next log has around 18% MC and the top log has 12 to 13% MC. I built one log home that had too many butt logs and shrank about 8” on one side and 4” on the other equals a lop sided home with tremendous problems.
Listening to salesman is the first thing you DO NOT, do..
How people say things will make you believe things differently even if the info is the same. For example a Russian newspaper stated, “The United States runner came in next to last place and the Russian runner came in next to first. But they did not explain that there were only 2 runners in the race. The US newspaper stated the US runner beat the Russian runner. Both were right and yet what did you believe
The SECOND thing is basing your decision on cost.
Here is one example that really shows you need to base your decision on HOW LONG WILL THE LOG HOME LAST? And AT WHAT KIND OF COST to get to the finished product?
Years ago a couple came in with a log home plan they wanted and I gave them a cost for logs and setting them up. Later I found out that they decided to buy from another company. There logs were simply trees cut flat top and bottom and nothing else done. They even still had the bark on the logs.
There cost was half but really was it?
They could not lift any log by hand because they were green. The crane cost them $60 per hr and by the time they had the home stacked to 8 ft high walls their cost was $16,000.00 more than mine. Later there was even more problems. The home shrank or settled 8”. This caused them to change the trim and replace several windows that were broken from the logs pushing down on them. They also had to re-calk and chink most of the home every 2 or 3 years. Then because the logs were simply cut flat there were shelves or flat places for the water and snow to set on. With-in 8 years they had rot and eventually the home was tore down -
Which log home cost more the one that had a life time warrantee or the half price one?
Now that we have gotten the cons out of the way what should we really base our selection on?
There is basically 5 things to look for in the logs themselves:
1. Log profile = a Swedish cope with a tong and grove. This basically will allow the water to run off not setting on any flat surface.
2. Stockade corners = This allows for a solid corner so water and other things can’t set on the logs.
3. Dried logs to 15% = That is dried to the center of the log. Most log home companies only dry one inch into the log.
4. Drying kerfs’ = The one that is placed into the top of the log is the best. It allows for the air to dry nearly to the center of the log while eliminating most of the warping and twisting and cracking of the log. This also allows them to test the log for moisture content to the center of the log.
5. A Life time warranty.

There are very few log home companies that meet these standards or for that matter even meet 3 of them.
I used to say that when you look at the various warranties offered the longer the warrantee the better the log but there is one company that offers a life time warrantee without meeting the other requirements I have listed. But it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to even read the fine print and make anyting out of it. And it is virtually impossible to collect on the warrantee.
So again watch out for the con artist the log home industry is sadly full of them.
I have outlined the requirements for you to pick out the best log home for your dream home.

PS: please Email me with any questions:

Also to help with decorating your new home or an existing one go to:
Have a great day,