Log cabins with extensive or irreparable damage will need to often need to undergo restorations. Log home restoration describes the process of inspecting the house and replacing damaged logs, often due to rotting or other moisture-related issues. Although the majority of older or neglected log homes will undoubtedly need to be restored, even fairly new homes may still require a restoration if damage has occurred.
Inspecting and Evaluating Your Log Home
The very first step in a log home restoration is a meticulous inspection and evaluation of your log home. While you can perform your own annual inspections as part of regular log cabin maintenance, it’s highly recommended that if any damage is suspected, you have a professional contractor inspect the building.
Aside from noting where damage has occurred and whether logs can be repaired or must be totally replaced, a professional inspector will also determine how deep the damage is, if damage has reached the interior of your home, and also whether there are any air leaks or other issues.
Why Log Homes Experience Rotting
By far the biggest enemy of wood in general and the most common reason for a log home restoration is moisture damage.
Logs will begin to rot when the moisture content falls between 30% and 60%. Without being able to properly air out, rot will eventually set in and quickly degrade the wood, spreading surprisingly quickly along the individual log as well as to any other wood that it contacts.
Moisture can invade a log home a number of ways, including –
- Bushes and plants in direct contact with log siding
- Lack of rainwater control (i.e. no gutters or downspout)
- A roof with a minimal overhang
Insects and wildlife can also wreak havoc on log homes, either by boring holes and weakening the structure or by leaving openings in which moisture can get in and sit.
Repairing and Replacing Damaged Logs
Ideally, any damaged logs on your home will only require a repair rather than a full replacement. Logs with moisture damage limited to the surface can often be repaired by chiseling out the rotted areas, treating with a quality wood preservative, and finished with a sealant.
Replacement of a neglected log is more expensive and time-intensive. First, you’ll need to source replacement logs from the original supplier, especially if the original logs feature any type of unique installation (i.e. Tongue-and-Groove). You’ll need to totally remove the damaged log, replace with the new log, and then chink around it. Be sure to properly seal this new log.
Since you’re already undergoing a log home restoration, it’s worth it to also re-chink your exterior and replace worn trim and seals around exterior windows and doors. Consider replacing older windows with newer Energy Star models as well, especially if your log home isn’t well-insulated.
Although you can periodically repair or replace damaged logs as your home ages, if you want to put an end to the trend for good, your best bet is to look into steel log siding.
A Permanent Solution to Damaged Log Siding
Although it seems counterintuitive, the best way of protecting your log cabin home from damage is to replace real timber with a steel log siding alternative. This allows you to keep the aesthetic appeal of a log home while negating the inherent weakness of wood.
Steel log siding looks deceptively realistic, complete with grain and hew lines as well chink lines. You’ll be cladding your home in one of the most impressively resilient siding materials and won’t need to deal with rotting, damaged logs or expensive restorations. Steel log siding requires only occasional cleaning to keep it looking great, which is often limited to a simple hosing off. You’ll find beautiful, warm color options and will no longer need to worry about fading, cracking, or time-consuming staining and sealing maintenance.
A log home restoration is often a time-intensive, expensive process, but one that must be done if you’ve noticed damage to your log home or have purchased an older log home that needs a facelift. Ensuring you properly maintain your log cabin and perform annual inspections will help keep future problems at bay. However, re-siding your home with steel log siding is an excellent alternative route to strongly consider.