If you want the look of a log home without all the wood on the interior or the expense of full logs, log siding offers an equally attractive alternative. When installed on a conventionally built home, log siding can add somewhat to its energy efficiency. Not hard to install, log siding doesn't weigh as much as logs, produces less waste and goes up quickly.
Regardless of the final siding you place on a home, a conventionally built home generally requires an exterior sheathing of oriented strand board or plywood for structural integrity. After installing the OSB or plywood over the studs, most building jurisdictions also require a vapor retarder installed over the exterior sheathing before you install the siding. Check local building code requirements for the nailing pattern.
Corner, Window and Door Trim
Before you add log siding to the home, add the corner or V-notched logs, window and door trim. Unlike traditional siding in which you add window and door trim atop the siding itself, log siding butts up against the trim instead of going beneath it. The reason is that log siding is too thick to have installed trim on top of it. If you have outdoor electrical outlets, install the J-blocks before the log siding as well. J-blocks are specially cut out boxes that fit around electrical outlets or vents.
Fasteners and Tools
Fasteners for a log-sided wall must penetrate the log itself, the exterior sheathing and the studs. The actual length of the galvanized fastener depends on the thickness of the log, as the fasteners have to penetrate the log and then the studs by 1 1/4 inch. You secure the siding to the studs through the sheathing at roughly a 45-degree angle, angled down, near the log's top and at the same angle, but pointing upward, near the bottom of the log. For full half rounds, install with screws and washers, otherwise use galvanized splitless siding nails to avoid cracking the wood. Tools needed include a chop saw, square, miter, level, tape measure, fasteners, drill or hammer.
Log Siding Installation
Work from the bottom up, staggering the logs in an appealing pattern to avoid having all the log ends lining up in the same place. As you install each log plank, place a 4-foot level on it before nailing. Install the log siding by fastening each board 16 inches on center through studs at the top and bottom of the log. Cut end pieces to fit against flat against the trim; they do not need to be beveled.
Tips and Tricks
If you use screws, you can countersink them into the logs and cover with wood putty or a wood plug to make them almost completely disappear. If one wall calls for one short and two long logs, start the next row by installing two long and one short, alternating each row. Make all the odd rows with the same cut pattern and all even rows the same, so that each row alternates where the logs land. Once you get the pattern down, the work progresses quickly. The last row may require a lengthwise cutting to fit the siding into less vertical space than that of a full log.