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Choosing Lumber for Your Cabin

When it comes to building a log cabin, you must think about the kind of logs to use. With the much debate surrounding whether to use dead standing or green logs, kiln or air-dried logs, it is easy to get confused. You may personally want a certain species of tree, or live in a climate that is better suited to certain types of logs over others. Below we’ll go over some pros and cons of the major lumber categories!

Green Logs

These are trees which have been harvested and cut into logs while still alive. They are usually high in moisture content. When used immediately for building, the logs tend to warp, shrink and twist which causes the log cabin to be less structurally sound. Therefore, they need to be dried before use through kiln drying or air drying. Green logs may look cool when they dry, but you really want to avoid them at all costs structurally speaking.

Pros

  • The quickest way to build cabins since their no drying process to wait for.
  • Good for testing or experimentation as a builder.

Cons

  • They will shrink sooner rather than later, leaving you with a home that needs intensive repair or total refinishing.
  • This cabin won’t be long-lasting, you’ll have to make heavy repairs very soon if you use green lumber.
  • Conclusion: You don’t really want to use these.

Dead Standing Logs

These are trees which have died through aging, infestation, forest fires, fungal diseases or any other similar problems. The cause for the death of the tree will determine whether it is suitable for log cabin building. A piece of wood with structural damage from a disease will, of course, be no good and be thrown out right off the bat. The best are trees that just died of old age and are sitting there untouched, but they are rarer.

Pros

  • They don’t need to be dried, at least not as much.
  • They are ready to use immediately after they have been debarked.
  • Dead tress usually have a couple of years to naturally dry out.

Cons

  • They could be insect or fungus infected, even worse if you don’t see them and only find out after you’ve used the wood.
  • They might not be structurally sound for building, it may be hard to find natrually dried wood that is.

Air Dried Logs

Live cut trees have a high moisture content and because cannot be used for building stable and long lasting log cabins in the state they come in. These logs need to be dried. Air drying is allowing the logs to dry out naturally over a long period of time. The logs are usually stacked with spacers in between to allow air to flow between them and dry out. The species and the age of the logs will determine how long they take to dry out and their strength afterward.

Pros

  • Logs should have little to no internal tensions since they are completely dried naturally.
  • They retain their original color and grains.
  • It is not a labor intensive process.
  • It allows the wood to dry slowly and naturally.

Cons

  • It takes longer to dry out the logs, months or even years sometimes.
  • It takes up more space overall to lay everything out and get it drying.

Kiln-Dried Logs

These are logs dried in a kiln. A kiln just speeds up the process of leaving them out to dry. The fans in the kiln circulate the heated air which forces the moisture out of the logs but doesn’t cause any damage. Yes it is just like your pottety kiln, the high heat draws out moisture and makes the wood harder and more rigid.

Pros

  • The high temperature ensures all fungus, eggs and insects in the logs are killed.
  • It speeds up the time of building a log cabin from start to finish.
  • Creates durable and long lasting logs that you can count on.

Cons

  • Kiln drying can bake a little bit of tension into the wood.
  • Can be fragile and chip easily when worked on with tools if overheated or overtreated.
  • Can lose some color and grain through the drying process.
  • Logs need to be kept in controlled environment after drying or they will reabsorb some moisture, it’s also an expensive process overall.

Every log cabin builder has different opinions on which lumber to choose. It all falls down to which method you prefer. Each one has its own positives and negatives and none is perfect. If you’re looking for real grain and depth in your wood you’re going to want something more natural. If you want strength, you want something with a bit more human touch. Check out our logs and materials here!

Log Homes Through Time

How Have Log Homes Changed Through the Years?

The very beginning of log structures remain a mystery but it is likely that they began being built in northern Europe around 3500 B.C. Barns are homes were the first uses for log structures. The use of logs was more prevalent in these areas because they had access to softwood timber which could easily be worked by hand tools. The Finns and Swedes were very good in manipulating the timber for use in log housing. They had also developed quite a number of methods to improve timbering in general.

Log homes were likely the first, if not some of the first structures built when the ner world was discovered. This includes the entire east coast, it’s hard to pinpoint the first but you can assume the first colonies built them first. The Finns and Swedes had immigrated and settled in these areas where they brought their knowledge of wood construction. The Germans also immigrated and brought with them the knowledge of log building as well. Those with little or no woodworking experience quickly taught themselves the ways.

The early settlers preferred log cabins because they were convenient for them. When they settled in forested areas, it made more sense to use the trees for building an initial dwelling. The other alternatives to log building were either very expensive or impossible to maneuver into those areas. With wood, you only have to wait for it to be felled. There were other benefits of log cabins. One, they did not need to be held in place with nails and two, they were very easy to build. Can you believe that one man working alone could build a log cabin in one or two weeks? That being said, it was much better and more efficient to do this work in groups.

The First Log Homes

The earlier log structures only had a single room, a door, and no windows. Where windows were cut into the wall, animal skins or boards were used as a covering. Most if not all log cabins had a fireplace for warmth, lighting and a place to cook. They also had a chimney. The walls were chinked with clay or cloth. These were truly built for survival, they had to be able to stand up strong to anything and keep the inhabitants safe and isolated.

Log cabins were not exactly permanent structures but log houses were. The latter were bigger in size and had more attention to detail. Essentially, they were built with the goal of lasting in mind. The first log homes were just built so people had a place to stay, it didn’t totally matter if they lasted all that long because they could just go build another.

Milled Lumber, Specific & Accurate Designs

When milled lumber started becoming more available than logs, hand-done log building started fading away. Log building was kept alive by the new designs in log-cabin living which featured architectural designs that were far from simple. One such structure was the Great Camps in the Adirondacks where the wealthy escaped during hot summers. The cabins had huge structures with many rooms and fireplaces.

Afterward, the National park structures also began using logs for the park lodges e.g. the Yellowstone national park. The great depression of the 1930s also worked in favor of log building driven by the government’s decision to build thousands of log structure throughout the national forests and parks. If not for this government decision, log building would have died a long time ago. Fortunately, people liked what they saw and begun building modern log cabins and houses which are self-sufficient. Today, log cabin remains a popular style for building.

Keep Your Log Home Animal Free

Keeping Animals Out of Your Cabin This Summer

As a log cabin owner, you’ve probably had issues in the past with animals either getting into your trash or even your home. Most of us love to have our pets with us at our homes, but we don’t want any other animals hanging out uninvited. A wild animal like a bear is far stronger than the average person can imagine, they can do extreme damage to your property with relative ease. Animals really couldn’t care less about your home unless they’re on the hunt for food, stocking up for hibernation is no joke or small feat at all. This article should give you some good starting points for keeping animals out and away from your home. Protect your investment and health by applying these practical tips!

Do a Deep Clean Before you Leave

The truth is that most of these animals are attracted to your premise by the dirt and leftover food that you are too lazy to clean or empty. You’re the one that knows where everything is in your home, so you need to be the one to clean it every time before you leave. Instead of hiring someone to do it, try cleaning your own mess for a change. It really is easier than you think, just set aside a few hours before you leave and get it done. The big thing is just ensuring that you get all of your recent trash or any food an animal may want out of your home. Cleaning is important but you don’t need to do that to keep animals out per se, just keep a base level on cleanliness.

Take All Trash Out / Get rid of Perishable Food

As you all know animals don’t have grocery stores like we do, they have to hunt and scavage for every single thing they eat. This means that to them, your garbage and old leftovers are priceless and they’ll do just about anything they can to get into it. Trying to keep it out of reach is not a good option, you need to take all of your trash with you when you leave or burn it completely. Animals have incomprehsibly better senses of smell than we do. It’s widely accepted that they can smell around 7 times as good as a bloodhound even, that’s truly incredible. All of that is to say that if you leave any old food, it’s going to be found by a hungry animal. Here are some of the most simple things you can do:

  • Seal Food Away: Stop leaving food lying around the house. Not only is this going to appeal to bigger animals, but you can quickly develope a rodent issue. Animals are smarter than we like to believe, they can learn our habits and act accordingly. Once they learn a pattern they’ll lay in wait so they can try to get some food for themselves. This encourages them to turn your cabin into their breeding ground. Either store your food properly or eat it all. This is the reason why the refrigerator or pantry was invented!
  • Be Mindful: Just think before you leave your home to sit there for a few weeks or months. Collect all of the trash you have before you leave, you either need to take it with you and dispose of it in the proper place or burn it all so that nothing is left to allure any animals. You also really don’t want to just leave trash out for them to get, they’ll never stop coming back for more and it will polute the forest and waters with all of your trash – nobody wants that.

These tips, though few, are very effective when it comes to dealing with pests. Just be mindful of what you’re keeping there and don’t keep any food that’s going to go bad while you’re not there and keep everything else sealed up well, take your trash with you and you shouldnt have any issues. Now if an animal is hungry engouh they may try to break in just to search, and you can’t avoid that. What you can do though is make it harder to get in that it’s worth for them. It may sound inhumane but a lot of people leave boards with nails sticking out under all windows and doors so a bear can’t even think about busting them out to break in. If you need a log cabin or more tips for keeping yours safe, talk to us over here at Log Home Builders!

Renting Out Your Log Home

All You Need to Know About Renting Out Your Log home in NC

Renting out your Log home in NC can be a good way of earning some extra money away from your usual job/business. However, before you decide to rent it out, you should know that you have to set out a plan. You need to plan and know the type of people you plan on inviting and making sure that your insurance policy covers any damage that the cabin encounters during the lease. This guide will help you plan efficiently before you lease out your cabin.

Tips for Lease Preparation

  1. Lay out some rules: This is a very crucial step and should actually be the first thing you do. You need to understand that you are inviting strangers into your home and will thus need to regulate how they operate within your property to prevent damage and injuries. The most reliable guests you can invite are; colleagues, friends, friends of friends, and relatives. You need to prepare an agreement and make your renters sign the agreement before they arrive. Make sure that your words are clear and concise.
  2. Welcome book: Since your guests have never visited your property, you need to prepare a welcome book to help and guide them through your property. This will eliminate any confusion and help them familiarize themselves with the area. Things that you could outline include ways of operating appliances, locating and resetting the smoke detector, locating the life jackets and safety equipment, and even the mode of disposing of garbage. Do not assume that they will know these things just because you do, share things that even seem redundant. Do not forget to include your contact info to enable them to reach you at all times.
  3. Clean and in tip-top shape: If you want the people who rent your home to leave it clean and tidy, then make sure they find it like that. They will be more obligated to clean up when it was clean in the first place. Make sure all the appliances are working and ready for use. Test them out just to be sure. Check if the doors and windows are functional. This will make their stay much better and more comfortable. Make sure that you’ve got plenty of cleaning supplies about. This will make it easier for the renters to use before they leave. Just be sure you outline leaving a clean space in your welcome book.
  4. Expect a little damage: Things happen, people will at times accidentally cause damage or issues. Just make sure you stay on top of these things and hold people accountable if you need to. You can expect little thing every now and again, don’t worry too much about that stuff. As long as people are generally respecting all of your things, you’re good to go.

Maintaining Your Log Home Over the Summer

Tips to Help You Maintain Your Log Home over Summer

If you play your cards right, your log home can last you your entire life with very little headache. It is important that even if you’re not there much this time of year, you take care of your log home. Simple maintenance can go a long way toward avoiding future headaches. Summers may come with vacations, sunshine, and green leaves but they also bring about dry spells and scorching heat. If you do spend time in your log home still, good for you! Either way, we’ve got some big things you need to be on the lookout for.

Even though logs are natural insulators of heat, your log homes still require some kind of preparation before summer comes along, to keep the home as cool and comfortable as possible. Here are some log home tips that’ll help you keep your log home happy and healthy even during a scorching summer!

Repaint with Light Soothing Colors

You may want to consider repainting your log home if you have not done so in a long time. Colors to consider include white, coral, lime, pastel pink, sky blue, and sunny yellow as any of these colors can help to create a calming and soothing atmosphere and also won’t absorb much heat. It’s not imperative that you paint, as logs are naturally not that dark, but it’s an option.

Door Stoppers

It is advised to install door stoppers once your log home is ready to go. Door hooks keep the doors from swinging open from things like big gusts of wind and can help to keep unwanted visitors like bears out if they were to try to get into your home any time of the year. The wind coming off of the mountains can be extremely fast, that’s something you need to be on the lookout for.

Gravel

Placing a layer of gravel around the base of your log home will provide extra protection to your home from water and erosion. The rocks are able to really slow down and disperse water, and they hold things together which are all great for slowing down any erosion. This also helps to keep the timber dry and thus prolongs the durability of your log home. Gravel is just very handy overall, it’s a great base for a driveway even.

Ventilation

Ventilation may be the last thing that comes to your mind when thinking about log home maintenance but it is actually very important in any home. Ventilation prevents the formation of condensation inside your log home, which of course isn’t particularly good for wood and many other materials. Install one ventilation grate on the back of your log home and another on the front for more effective aeration, this means the air will cycle through the entire house well. Nobody wants to walk into a place that hasn’t hair air circulating around it for a while, it’ll smell bad and musty and that could take some work to get rid of.

Treating Your Log Home

If you want to protect your log home against the elements i.e. rain, wind, and sun, then you need to treat your wood as soon as you can. You can treat your log home in many different ways depending on what your budget and preferences are. Options to consider include:

  • Pressure treating to protect from fungus and insects
  • Water-based treatment for weather protection
  • Spirit and solvent-based treatments
  • Oil-based treatments for weather protection and UV protection

If you need any advice or help with your log home, contact us and we’ll see what we can do to help you out.

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