As with every item we own, if not maintained, they break. So is with log cabins: they must be maintained to serve you well for many years to come. In this post, we will cover some of the basic things you should watch out for and actions you can take to maintain your cabin. None of them are particularly tricky and can be done by yourself. However, if you’re ever unsure, you can consult with your producer or an expert on the subject.
The most important part to think about when preserving a wood cabin – preservation of timber. To know when the wood is damaged, first you have to know how to check if your varnish or paint products are working. The easiest way to do this is by taking a water bottle or a hose and spraying some of it on several places of the outer walls. If the water beads up immediately, you’re golden – the products are working. If they form dark stains anywhere, you will need to reapply some of the products as soon as possible.
First and an essential product is the preservative. An additional layer, that should be applied right after the log cabin has been constructed. Make sure you’re not working in a weather that’s too rainy or too sunny when applying. It will protect the wood from rot and all sorts of elements and keep it strong longer. On top of the preservative, you can apply stain of any colour.
Stain – the most popular timber product to use. It’s a solution that protects wood against the elements and gives it any colour on the palette. Stains can be oil-based, water-based or a mix of the two. You can consult the local shopkeep to advise on the best option for your type of wood cabin. They will need to know the type of wood it’s built out of. Make sure that all stains and/or preservatives have a sunblock effect. Just like your skin, the wood reacts to the sun and UV radiation damages its cells.
Sealants are usually applied when the cabin is constructed. However, over several years, if you feel that the joints of the cabin are loosing their integrity, or you’re planning to do some modifications to the cabin, you will need to use sealants. The choices are between liquid or caulk sealant and foam or butyl rubber, which are solid sealants. All of them are designed to keep the water from running through the joints and cracks of the cabin.
Lastly, you will need to keep your cabin clean. No matter where it’s situated, the dust and dirt and leaves will slowly change the colour of your cabin and leave it looking darker and dusty. There are several products to use for cleaning inside and outside walls, however, the best option is a pressure with a fan tip. Make sure you keep it moving up and down and go through the entire wall.
Landscape & details
The landscape for your cabin can either help preserve it or be detrimental to its long-term use. Make sure to pick a more sloped location, if you’re building your log cabin out in the wild. This will prevent rainwater from accumulating around the base of the cabin and causing damage. If over time the soil has collected around your foundation and causes too sharp or not big enough slope, you might need to correct it with fresh soil.
Another good way to keep the drainage running is to cover the gutters with mesh. It will keep leaves and grass from falling into the drainage while keeping the water running. Also an easy way to protect your log cabin from excessive rain and sun damage is oversizing the overhangs. Talk to your producer when purchasing a prefabricated log home or a bespoke one to include this in the plans.
Inspect your cabin regularly. Walk around it with a critical eye every spring and autumn, looking out for mould and rot. Keep an eye on gaps in chinking and sealant, both outside the hut and in – these are prime places for moisture to accumulate. Open the windows and check for pealing paint and gaps between logs and frames. Don’t forget to check the foundation, as well as the roof.
The roof should be sloping, so there wouldn’t be any space for water to accumulate. Also, when picking the location of the timber hut, make sure there aren’t a lot of trees above, to limit leaves falling on the roof. If left unchecked, leaves can increase the chance of moisture breaking through the roof tiles, as they keep it very well when it’s raining. Make sure to remove excess leaves and install good roof drainage system.
Just like everything, wooden log houses require our love and attention. They’re alive and breathing, changing with age and seasons. Make sure to give your log home proper care and it will serve you for a long time. Good luck!