A log home is a major investment in your life, so it is important to maintain it properly from the beginning. The steps below will help you protect and maintain the beauty of your home.
PREPARATION / CLEANING
Wood Surfaces: Here, the objective is to clean off any surface grime and residue and prepare the wood to receive protection from the finish you will apply later. For years, people have use a straight household bleach solution to clean their wood, this is one of the worse things that you can do. The chlorine in bleach destroys the lignin in wood and lignin is the glue that holds the cells of your log together. It creates a fuzzy look on the surface of the wood. If you decide to use this method you will need to remove the fuzz by scrubbing with a soft bristle brush. To replace the bleach, we carry several products to help you, CPR Log Cleaner, Timber-wash, Timber-Brite, House Prep, all work just as well as bleach but with out ití side affects. You apply these products using a brush or sprayer, agitate gently and rinse off. A garden hose works great for rinsing, a pressure washer works for tougher jobs.
- A word or two needs to be said about removing mill-glaze from milled wood. This occurs because new planers can produce lumber at extremely high speeds and the result is fused wood rosins and compacted wood fibers. You'll find this most often on deck material and milled logs. This surface makes it very difficult for the finish you apply to do its job.
For wood that has a finish/stain applied that is in good shape: Your goal is either to maintain the beauty and functionality of the finish on your home and deck or to prepare the food to receive a fresh coat of finish. The cleaning solutions mentioned above also work well for this purpose.
For gray/weathered wood without finish or wood whose finish has failed (severely degraded): These situations first require the removal of mold, mildew, water stains, tannin bleeding, discolored wood fibers and perhaps the balance of finish/stain remaining. The second step involves the application of a neutralizer and brightener.
Try the products listed above for best results and use as follows. Apply the product using a plastic garden sprayer. Saturate the area and leave on for 5-15 minutes. The time varies depending on the product and the condition of the wood. Rinse well with a pressure washer (see explanation below). You may find a few areas that need additional work. Repeat the procedure above, taking care to keep the surrounding work area saturated with water so your cleaning solution will only work on the area you want it to. REMEMBER; ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS DIRECTIONS.
Pressure Washing: Rinse thoroughly using a pressure waster capable of generating 1000 to 2500 #psi. If it's too powerful and is damaging the wood, hold the wand further from your work area and/or use a wider spraying tip. Start with a 25-degree fan tip and hold it approximately 18" from the surface. Make even, sweeping motions, it is better to pass over the same area, overlapping slightly. Periodically check the logs to make sure you are not being too aggressive and damaging the outer layer of wood. If so, it will have a fuzzy look similar to the bleach-treated wood discussed earlier. This fuzz is loose wood fibers and needs to be removed from the finish to adhere properly. Try a Scotch Brite pad or bristle brush; never use steel wool or any type of metal on wood. You can get any you missed after the wood has dried. The pads can be used by hand or a similar pad can be purchased for use on an orbital grinder, a slow speed works best
A Failed Finish: The remaining finish must be removed by a pressure washer and/or stripping solution. The type we would recommend will depend upon the type of finish that was on your house or deck. Please contact us for details. The procedure for removing is similar to cleaning gray/weathered wood.
Step Two for both weathered wood and wood whose finish has degraded: Products containing sodium peroxides, such as those described in step one, need to be brightened and neutralized. These products are generally sold attached to the containers of the first solutions and usually need no scrubbing but plenty of rinsing. The reasoning behind the two step process is to bring the wood back to a neutral pH prior to applying the finish. The sodium-based products are alkaline and raise the pH. The brighteners are acid and restore the pH to neutral. Many professional companies doing cleaning, maintenance and finishing will test the wood using a pH test strip to verify the pH is close to neutral before applying the finish.
Again, regardless of what cleaner you use it is important to thoroughly rinse the wood to remove all traces of chemicals. Finishes need a clean, dry, neutral pH, well-prepared surface to work best. Too many people have found out the hard way that finish failures are often due to improper preparation or application.
There are several types of finish and at least as many opinions as to which are the best. We will briefly try to explain the major differences below. Most finishes can be broken into oil-based, water-based and emulsion (a mix of oil and water) types. These can then be distinguished by those that penetrate the wood, those that form a protective film on the surface, and those that do both.
For Exterior Application: To protect your wood from the sun's UV rays, exterior finishes must have a tint/color of some sort. They should also have mold, mildew, and insect inhabitable ingredients. If you apply a clear exterior finish to your wood it will be protected from mold, mildew and bugs but it will still turn gray, which is fine if that's the color you want. Otherwise, you can choose from a wide color tinted selection.
For Interior Application: Here, the use of clear finishes is fine. Remember that wood gets touched a log on the interior (especially around light switches) so if you have decided on an oil-based product make sure you choose one that dries to a positive dry or your walls will start to look dirty.