Maintenance is a crucial determinant of the longevity of a log cabin. Check the status of your logs in the Spring and Fall. The following are tips for maintaining the integrity of your logs.
Cleaning - Clean the logs once a year. A hose rinsing with the assistance of a soft brush will suffice.
Re-stain – Water based stains should last about three to five years while oil based should last five to seven years. If the water doesn’t bead up the logs when cleaning, it’s time to re-stain. Make sure that you can recoat the existing finish. Apply and remove masking tape to the finish. If little finish is stuck to the tape, it should provide a good base. Otherwise, remove the finish with a chemical remover.
Cracks - Logs may crack and check as they achieve their moisture equilibrium level. Any cracks over a quarter of an inch should be sealed to prevent insect and water infiltration. Large checks should first be filled with foam strips (backer rod.) The cracks should then be sealed with caulk made specifically for logs. The caulk will handle the stretching and compressing of the log without cracking or pulling away. Caulk is also available in colors to match the stain.
Decay Fungi - Fungus can do serious damage to logs. Excess moisture is a common cause of the problem. Besides moisture control, wood should be treated to inhibit fungus. Boric acid, or borate, is an excellent fungicide that controls fungus. Borate also prevents insect damage. To promote penetration of borate into wood, it should be applied before water repellant treatment or after the finish has been removed from the logs.
Insects - The main wood boring insects that attack log homes are long horned beetles, flat headed wood borers, powderpost beetles and carpenter bees. As mentioned above, borate is the recommended treatment for treating or preventing insect infiltration.
Moisture Control – Prevent excessive moisture from logs. Cut back plants or trees that are close to or touching log walls. Good airflow helps prevent mold and mildew. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and properly directing water away from the foundation.