How to Maintain Log Homes


If properly designed and built, handcrafted log homes are one of the most beautiful and enduring forms of home construction. Unfortunately, without proper maintenance, age and natural elements can take their toll. Antique and aged log homes can be restored to their original beauty and newer homes preserved by annual inspections of the logs, routine cleaning and protective maintenance.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Household bleach
  • Bio-degradable liquid dish soap
  • Pressure nozzle and garden hose
  • Shingle or log oil
  • Log stain
  • Chinking compound

Cleaning the Logs

  • Use a stiff-bristled broom to sweep off exterior logs to remove dust and debris. Be sure to get up under the eaves and remove any old wasp or bird nests. (Wearing gloves, so as not to leave your scent, bird nests should be transported and firmly placed in a nearby tree.)

  • Prepare, in a 5-gallon bucket, a mixture of a 1/2 cup of household bleach, a 1/2 cup of bio-degradable dish washing soap and warm water. This mixture will work well on lightly soiled or stained logs. Antique logs or those that are severely weather-damaged may require the application of commercial products. Consult with a professional to discuss the best choices and follow package directions carefully.

  • Scrub the logs with the liquid using a stiff scrubbing brush. Start at the top of the wall and work down.

  • Use a pressure nozzle attached to a garden hose and rinse the logs thoroughly. Allow to air dry. Log home experts suggest washing your log home twice a year to remove dust and pollen build up.

Basic Repairs

  • Inspect the logs. Check for new splits or cracks or spots where the logs have shrunk away from the chinking sealant or window and door frames. Carefully inspect the logs for mold, mildew or insect infestation.

  • Chink the logs as needed. There are many varying and fine products available from log home builders, hardware stores or building supply centers. Consult an expert on which to choose for your type of log home, cabin or outbuilding. Follow package instructions carefully.

  • Seal the logs with shingle oil or a commercial product designed specifically for that purpose. If you wish, stain can be added to the oil or preservative. Consult with a professional log stain or paint store to determine the type of product to use on your logs. Pine, oak and cedar all have different degrees of absorbency. Try a test spot in an inconspicuous location and allow to dry before applying to the entire structure.

  • Apply a second coat if required. Additional coats will help preserve the logs that have strong sun or rain exposure.

  • Protect the foundation. If not on a concrete foundation, skirt the foundation with weather proof tin siding or a comparable product. The foundation of a log home can be severely damaged by snow build up around the base of the home. In areas of heavy snows, shovel the snow away from the foundation.

  • Call a professional for major repairs such as replacement of rotten logs. This is a major undertaking that requires experienced craftsmen.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear rubber gloves, eye protection and old clothes when cleaning to avoid splashes from the bleach, soap and water mixture.

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