You’ve decided to build that log cabin home. You’ve decided that decks are a necessity. Furthermore, you’ve wisely concluded that log railings are the only way to maintain an authentic log cabin look. Having chosen log railings, you will have to address the maintenance issue. Like the rest of your log cabin, you have made an investment in wood. Left to its own natural course and without intervention, it will deteriorate and need to be replaced. Don’t let that happen.
Moisture is the number one enemy of wood. Railings, being on the outer extremity of a log cabin will be subject to a lot of moisture exposure. There are two major points of exposure, the top of posts and the top edge of the bottom rail where the railing spindles enter the rail. The posts are vulnerable since the wood post grain runs from top to bottom and allows the water to access the entire post through capillaries. Secondly, water will run down the spindles and collect in the spindle holes of the bottom rail.
How do you protect your railing against this potential water damage? Clearly, with all external wood surfaces, you need to apply an ongoing finish. This is not an easy task as railings have a multitude of surfaces. Nonetheless, you have wood to protect and protect it you must. You will need to maintain a quality stain/preserver coating. Do not ignore this requirement unless you expect to replace the railings.
There are additional preventative actions that can be taken to address the specific water problems mentioned above. The top of each post can be covered with a cap, copper being an excellent choice. Glue these caps to the post rather than use screws. Another protective measure is to use stand off post bases for attaching the bottom of the posts. The bases provide a space that allows air to dry out the post.
You can also drill ¼ inch holes on the bottom of each spindle hole on the bottom rail. The holes will allow the water to drain from the rail.
You’ve decided to build yourself (and others) a great log cabin. Don’t scrimp on the railings or the necessary maintenance. You will profit from both.