Log homes provide a viable building option for primary residences and vacation getaways. Contractors and homeowners construct log homes of woods such as western red cedar and pine. Log residences range from simple rustic cabins to elaborate multiple-floored structures with soaring ceilings and expansive decks. Log homes feature wood’s rich visual appeal, and offer thermal mass heating and cooling benefits, Log homes also have their disadvantages, which deserve consideration.
Your log home’s structural integrity largely depends on the logs' soundness. The manufacturer may deliver rot-containing logs to your work site. Use of these compromised logs often leads to future structural problems. For example, rot on vertical logs’ bottoms causes eventual weakening of the logs. Log and chimney intersections frequently exhibit rot, as do poorly flashed roof structures. Excessive amounts of exterior finish also prohibit the wood from breathing, which traps rainwater inside logs and potentially causes them to rot (See References 2).
A log home requires ongoing maintenance that begins when construction ends. You must first remove mill glaze and construction dirt by sandblasting, power-washing or cleaning the logs with a special solution. You must also apply a borate preservative to the home’s exterior. Caulk the spaces between logs, around windows and doors and where visible gaps are present. A whole-house exterior stain application follows, and some log homes also require exterior sealants. Plan to periodically reapply the exterior stain to the entire house.
Insect infestation is a well-known log home hazard. Termites often establish colonies inside log home structural components, and consume the wood from the inside out. This means damage may not be apparent on the home’s exterior. Carpenter bees typically build tunnel-accessed nests inside log homes, and progressively weaken the wood as they expand the tunnels. Powder post beetles are another notorious insect culprit, as they repeatedly bore holes into seasoned wood. Holes can lead to structural damage or water entry.
Animals seeking cozy nesting locations frequently damage log homes. Squirrels often chew rounded holes in fascia, soffits and blocking between rafters above exterior walls. Once inside, squirrels leave droppings and other debris. Larger raccoons are even more destructive, as they bite and tear six-inch holes into wood-shingled walls. Log-sided homes may also be susceptible to this type of damage. Raccoons also destroy moisture-weakened roof sheathing to get inside the home.