You’ve probably seen products at your local big box store that say they can treat wood or lumber and thought, “I bet I can use that on my log home.” Well, you can’t. Or, at least, you shouldn’t.
Big box stores and hardware stores sell products that can treat wood generally, but they just aren’t made for logs or log cabins. Logs are a very specific type of wood, and they need a very specific type of treatment; the type of treatment they can only get from products that are specifically made for log homes.
Why logs need specific products for treatment
Unlike other wooden objects like furniture or even floors, logs move. A lot. And when your home or cabin are made out of logs, that means your home or cabin move. A lot.
Let’s back up. All wood moves in response to changes in temperature or exposure to moisture. We’ve all walked on a bad deck that had warped planks thanks to overexposure to heat and not enough care.
Logs are more likely than wooden furniture inside your home to be exposed to temperature changes and moisture, which is why they’re more likely to move than other types of wood. And unlike decks, which are made out of 2×4 flat, straight planks, logs have a much larger mass. This means the effects of temperature and moisture changes are much more pronounced. We’re talking about warping, cracking, and even breaking.
How products made for general lumber are designed
When logs move, their surface gets stressed. And when that surface gets stressed, the products that have been applied to them get stressed too.
Products that are made for general lumber aren’t designed to deal with the extreme movement that logs experience, so they aren’t made with a whole lot of elasticity and flexibility. This is fine for regular lumber, but not for logs. General products can’t move along with the logs when they move, which leads to cracking and peeling.
How products made for logs are designed
Products that are made for logs, on the other hand, are designed with this elasticity and flexibility because they are meant to move along with the logs when they’re exposed to moisture and temperature changes.
This is particularly important for sealants, such as caulking, if you want your log home to stay insulated and have minimal cracking.
Stains have varying degrees of elasticity. Stains designed for log homes should indicate how much elasticity they have so you can determine which one is best for your log home.
When it comes to choosing products to protect your log home, make sure you use those that are specifically designed for logs instead of general lumber. The manufacturers of log protection products understand the dynamics of logs and create formulas to meet your log home’s needs.
Your local home improvement or big box store just doesn’t have the products you need to protect your log home, so seek out specialty products that are specifically designed for logs and log homes.
Or, install steel siding. Who wants to mess with all that stuff anyways.