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Wooden cabin – which type of timber is the best?

Posted Mar 31, 2020, Category: Advice

Best timber for your log cabin production. Like many things, the answer to this question has many variables. A lot of it depends on your location and which type of tree is available near you. Up north, it’s likely to be pine or cedar, while down south we’re looking at cypress or other, more exotic timber.

Whichever you choose, consider the following criteria when deciding on your timber. First, if the wood serves the purpose of the type of log cabin you’re looking to build. Then, see if the type of wood is accessible in your area and has a fair price. Lastly, if you’re ecologically conscious, make sure the wood is produced in a sustainable way and comes from sustainable sources if you need to ship it to your location.

In this blog post, we will cover several types of wood that is commonly used in production of standard log cabins and bespoke log cabins alike.

Pine and Spruce – probably the most common types of wood used for contemporary log cabin home manufacturing. In the northern hemisphere, it is also widely accessible type of wood, including North American and Europe. Strong and rigid, both pine and spruce give a lot of room for builders to work with on a variety of projects. However, we at Eurodita prefer to exclusively use the Siberian pine. In contrast to its southern cousins, the Siberian pine grows very slow, produces less resin and most importantly, it retains a very light colour, both in wood and resin.

Cedar –  more exotic and pricey choice of wood. Cedar is light, compared to other trees, due to low moisture content in the wood. This low water content reduces the natural shrink factor of wooden homes, because there isn’t much left to evaporate. Cedar is easy to stack, so is naturally preferred for log-only custom made homes. As opposed to pine, however, cedar gets very expensive when ordering in big quantities, as trees themselves are much harder to maintain and grow. It may also need additional layers of varnish for stain protection. Overall, it’s an exotic choice and definitely not a bad one, if the price is attainable.

Cypress – a very aesthetic choice of wood that originated from southern regions of Europe. Cypress trees boast a beautiful pattern that varies in colour when turned into planks or milled into logs. The planks can range anywhere between light amber, to gentle rose, to moss green shades. They can create very interesting and unique styles for your made to measure cabins. However, cypress trees need a lot of water to prosper and hence become very heavy to work with. There are techniques to evaporate most of the moisture before construction, but it is time consuming and gets very costly very fast. Cypress planks and logs also need additional care during first few years of cabin use: the moisture content is so high that it creates greater risk of deep moulding than any other tree. Great care and a watchful eye is necessary until cypress homes settle and evaporate their moisture.

Oak – a strong and durable choice for contemporary residential log cabins. It’s a very solid tree, naturally protecting itself from insect damage and decay. Oak requires much less investment in anti-decaying measures that other trees may require. However, oak, while strong and beautiful, darker wood, is much less insular in terms of retaining heat and may need more sealing measures. Even though some manufacturers use oak for their contemporary log home kits, the tree itself is not readily available everywhere. It’s relatively slow growing, loves temperate climate and certain types of soil that are not available everywhere in the world. This makes oak an expensive option for a full log home construction, but if the price is attainable, it could make a sturdy bespoke home.

Walnut, poplar, cherry and other hardwoods – just like oak, which is a more popular hardwood for construction, all hardwoods have the same pros and cons. They’re durable, resistant to decay and insect damage and have unique aesthetic, made more prominent due to the rarity of their use. But they are also heavy, less insular than pine and other more common woods, as well as harder to attain, unless growing in abundance near you.

Whichever wood you choose, it’s always best to research the most abundant wood in your area. It’s likely that local sources will be more sustainable, less expensive and producers will know how to build with them. Look for good quality, price and sustainability ratio, as well as suitability for your specific project. If in doubt, always consult producers first. Good luck!

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