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Making Your Log Home Stand the Test of Time
The Appalachian Log Care Manual

Once you have built your log home, you own a small piece of Americaís rich pioneer heritage. Todayís log homes are built with the same attention to detail that can be seen in the historic homes produced by the great craftsmen of the Colonial Era. Many of these historic log structures have been standing for more than 150 years. Your log home can survive for that long if you are willing to invest the time and effort required protecting and preserving it. Neglect is the greatest enemy of a quality log home.

Our companyís commitment to you, the buyer, doesnít end when we ship your products to your building site. We want to be sure the homes that todayís craftsmen and designers have helped shape stand the test of time. That is why weíve invested money, time and effort in researching and acquiring a complete line of quality wood preservation products that you can use to protect your investment for future generations. This manual will help you understand how to keep your log walls looking like new. Appalachian Log Care warehouses a wide assortment of products that you can rely on for the upkeep and maintenance of your house. What we donít have in stock, we can acquire for you.

Why Maintenance Is Necessary

Sometimes, log homeowners look at the walls around them and are carried away by how strong and solid they appear. They tend to forget that logs are just large blocks of wood, and wood is susceptible to decay if it remains exposed to the elements without protection. A conventionally built residence with wood siding needs to be painted or stained every three or six years to protect it from the elements and maintain a desirable appearance. The exterior of a log house must be given similar consideration and effort.

Wood has five major "enemies": mold, mildew, ultraviolet light, fungi and insects. The first three wonít cause structural problems in a home. Mold and mildew leave stains. Ultra-violet light from the sun has a graying effect on wood surfaces over time. Fungi, however, are the cause of wood rot. While potential log home buyers are often worried about the possibility of insects invading their homes, insects seldom cause extensive structural damage and can usually be handled by a professional pest-control specialist when infestations occur. Most wood preservation experts agree that much of the money invested in preventing insect infestations could be better spent controlling the spread of fungi. In fact, the greatest structural damage created by insects in a log home is when the tiny passages they leave behind become channels for decay-causing fungi to reach the heart of the log.

Fungi are microscopic plants that grow on and extract sugars from the cellulose structure of wood. This process causes the wood to deteriorate. While there are about 100,000 species of fungi, the decay they cause in log homes is usually categorized broadly under the headings of white rot, brown rot, "dry" rot, and bracket fungi. White rot affects the sapwood (exterior portion) of a log and causes the wood to shrink and collapse over time. The rotted wood has a light color and appears stringy. Brown rot also named for its color, cracks wood across the grain. Dry rot is actually a misnomer, since there is no way for dry wood to rot. This name is usually applied to dry wood that has been severely degraded by brown rot and appears fragile and powdery. Bracket fungi are akin to mushrooms. If a homeowner sees them protruding from a log, it could be a sign of extensive wood damage.

The two best ways to prevent wood from rotting are to keep it dry and apply preservatives and exterior finishes. Without water, wood-decaying fungi cannot live. Wood preservatives actually kill the fungi.

Unlike kiln-dried wood siding, logs should never be kept dry by coating the surfaces with an impermeable barrier of paint. When logs are cut in the forest, they contain a great deal of moisture and that moisture escapes from the logs over a period of several years. Moisture inside logs will cause paint to peel and chip or it may gather beneath the surface of the paint, allowing rot to begin.

There are a number of penetrating, water-repellent wood finishes specifically like human skin, allowing moisture on the inside of the log to escape but creating a barrier against rain, snow and ice. Some of these finishes contain chemicals that inhibit the growth of mildew or fungi or limit the damage caused by ultra-violet light.

With all the claims about the benefits and /or reliability of the host of water-repellent wood finishes on the market today, home owners tend to rely heavily upon the productís price tag as a key factor in their decision-making process. All too often, they end up being "penny wise and pound foolish," applying second-rate wood finishes that simply wonít do the job that was promised in the marketing material.

Appalachian Log Care is an international provider of wood restoration and preservation products available on the market today. Specially formulated products for application on log walls, sealants, finishes and preservatives we carry have proven track records. While they may be a little more expensive than some of the Brand Xs, weíve tested in the past; we have full confidence that these products will deliver on their promises.

We have also learned the hard way that there is much more to maintenance products than just the chemicals inside a can. Service is an essential element of any sale. All of the products that we carry are backed by qualified technical expertise and service that insures you get the right product for the specific needs of your log home.

Log Preservation

A wood finish is not necessarily a wood preservative. As mentioned earlier, wood preservatives actually kill fungi, mildew or insects that attack or damage wood, while finishes add color to wood and help repel water.

When it comes to protecting your log home, we believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Appalachian Log Care suggests several permanent treatments against damage caused by wood-destroying insects or fungal growth, all are borate based.

Manufacturers list:

Saver Systems - Timber Saver

Sashoc PeneTrete - powder

Perma-Chink Shell-Guard glycol based

Perma-Chink -Guardian glycol paste

Always follow manufacturer directions.

All of these compounds are the latest developments in the new environmentally friendly borate technology. PENETREAT by Sashco and TIMBER SAVER by Saver Systems is a powder that is mixed with water. GUARDIAN by Perma-Chink is a highly-concentrated paste formula to be used during the construction process. SHELL-GUARD by Perma-Chink, on the other hand, is a glycol liquid concentrate to be diluted with equal parts of water. Always remember to follow the manufacturer instructions.

Borates have been used as wood preservatives throughout this century but were relegated to a third-string position behind Copper-Chromated-Arsenate (CCA) and creosote treatments. However, in the last decade, borate treatment of wood has experienced a real revival in interest because borates are environmentally friendly and safe. However, borate salts spell death for fungi and insects.

CCA and creosote are forced into timbers by means of pressure-treatment. But either treatment penetrates the wood to only a shallow depth and both tend to change the natural color of the timber on its surface. CCA, for example, leaves a greenish tint. Borates, on the other hand, are colorless and water diffusible. In other words, they are carried through the cell structure of the log by the moisture present in the wood. This has a great advantage for log construction. If a borate preservative is present when rain penetrates a crack in a log, it will spread throughout the damp area, killing the wood-decay fungi that try to grow there.

Two decades ago, the British rail system discovered that the life of creosoted railroad ties could be extended by as much as a decade simply by drilling holes in them and inserting simple boron rods. As water reached untreated wood deep inside the ties via stress checks, the rods dissolved, releasing the anti-fungal element into the affected wood. PENETREAT, TIMBER SAVER, SHELL-GUARD and GUARDIAN are new-generation borate products and considerable more effective than this primitive process. Furthermore, they wonít damage the visual appeal of the logs by forcing homeowners to drill unsightly holes.

These products are all EPA-registered. They are completely safe for both applicators and homeowners.

We advise our customers to apply PENETREAT, TIMBER SAVER, SHELL-GUARD and GUARDIAN during construction of their log home for ease of application or before re-application of the new exterior finish. This is when the products will have the greatest effect and the center of the logs or in the corners as the package is assembled. If water were to penetrate the seal and reach these areas, the borates would begin to diffuse, preventing the growth of wood-decay fungi. Another application for these products is inside deep, upward-facing exterior checks where water can penetrate deep, inside the log. Application of these products into these large checks and then sealed over will prevent premature wood decay.

PENETREAT, TIMBER SAVER and SHELL-GUARD are applied by spraying a diluted solution over the log surfaces, inside and out. The wood must be unfinished and free from dirt or other materials that may prevent the application from coming in contact with bare wood.

Make sure to allow enough time for the product to dry, especially in cool, damp weather. The glycol based product will need much more time to dry than the powder, it could be up to six (6) weeks, this time assures that the active borate gets into the log. The glycol takes significantly longer to dry than does water. Failure to allow the product to dry before the application of wood finish may result in a failure of the finish.

A good way to tell if the glycol based product is dry is to feel the log surfaces early in the morning. If they seem exceptionally cool to the touch and somewhat tacky, you need to wait a little longer. Applications are possible on existing homes but they will be labor-intensive. You must first clean the logs and then strip away the old finish. A bit later in this manual, weíll talk about surface preparation for older log houses.

Understanding Sealant Systems

As was pointed out in the introduction to this manual, the twin keys to protecting a log home so it will stand for decades is to apply preservatives you can use to extend the life or your log walls. Now, it is time to talk about keeping moisture away from the log walls, and an effective sealant system is a key ingredient.

Where does wood decay tend to occur? Inside the log wall system! In other words, water from rain or melting snow finds a gap in the sealant system between the stacked logs (i.e., between log courses) or in the corners and seeps into the very heart of the wall. Since there is no ventilation to quickly dry the wood, it remains moist for a prolonged period of time. This permits fungi to grow unchecked since the decay is out of sight.

Again, this is why we suggest that you consider applying GUARDIAN during construction on the tongue and grove between the courses of logs as a safety measureóat the very least along the lower three or four courses. It is like an insurance policy against future rot and decay.

Green logs (timbers recently cut in the forest) contain water that is released into the air until the moisture content of the wood and the moisture content of the air around it reach equilibrium. This natural drying process allows a great deal of the moisture to escape before the logs are employed in one of your walls.

Still, the driest and most stable timbers will move to some degree when they are stacked in a wall. This is due to some additional shrinkage, seasonal changes in temperature and moisture in the air. But there is no need to worry about this. All log homes should be engineered to accommodate the small amount of movement that your log walls may have; and the sealant system should be flexible, moving with the structure and keeping the home weather-tight. Please remember this: the key consideration for any effective log home sealant system is flexibility!

The traditional chinked log system harks back to the craftsmen log homes of pioneer days but with significant structural and sealant system improvements. The stacked system employs a single or double tongue-and-groove joinery between the courses. An optional "cosmetic" chinking groove can be milled into the horizontal joints in most systems. If there is no chinking groove, then the Ĺ: V-shaped joint between the logs is filled with caulk. Caulk is also applied in the corners and along the tongue-and-groove joinery system.

In order to keep the log home maintenance process in its proper perspective, we are going to delay the discussion of sealant applications until later in this discussion. Remember that chinking is applied after your finish is on the wood.

Wood finishes for New Homes

Once your log home package has been erected, your thoughts should be turned towards finishing the exterior surfaces. Hopefully, you have already decided on the color you want your finished home to have.

Remember what we told you a bit earlier? Wood is wood, whether it comes in the form of shiplap siding or as a heavy timber. If it remains exposed to moisture for a prolonged period of time, decay will set in. The reason people paint exterior wood siding is to keep it dry and it will usually require repainting every three to five years.

Depending upon the environmental conditions affecting your log homeói.e., exposure to wind, rain and sun, etc.óyou will need to periodically treat your logs with a water-repellent wood finish. Many of the "horror stories" about the log houses built 15 or 20 years ago grew directly from the fact that people were often left with the impression that log homes were "maintenance free." Thus, they didnít see the need to protect them. Before long, mold, mildew and decay infestations began. Log homes must have proper maintenance and with proper maintenance, your home will stand the test of time.

There are as many choices of products for your exterior finish as there are trees in the forest, not to mention the many "home-made" concoctions that have existed for years. While there are several good products on the market, we have tested many over the years and have found the following list to provide the best protection and value:





Remember always follow the manufacture instructions completely.

It should be noted here, that not all of these products should be used on every style of log. For example we feel that oil based products should not be used on chink styled homes because some of the oils won't allow the chinking to bond, and there is a chance that the chinking might not adhere correctly. At the same time some water based film forming finishes don't work as well on mill logs because of log movement, and the way the sun hits the upper part of the log. I make this point to show that not all finishes perform well on all styles or types of logs.

These systems have been specifically formulated for use on log walls and gives them a rich, warm look while shielding them from the elements.

These are a new-generation systems that combines water repellents, mold inhibitors and UV screens as the base coat. Some handle the log movement (some better than others) that takes place due to seasonal changes and will not interfere with the adhesion of acrylic caulks and chinking. That cannot be said for some types of oil-based or wax-based finishes that may not allow proper sealant adhesion.

Natural wood finish highlights the grain and brings out the texture of logs. It forms a breathable barrier of protection, weathers gracefully, and returns to its original beauty when the time comes for a maintenance coat. They are available in five- or one-gallon containers and there are enough standard colors to please even the choosiest decorator.

Another reason we selected this products for your homes is that they are environmentally and user friendly and are non-flammable and practically odorless. They donít contain caustic dryers and are VOC (volatile organic compounds) complaint for all states.

Application for all of these products is very easy and user friendly, but always follow the manufacturer directions. If your log home is newly erected and you opted for the borate protection, make sure the preservative is dry and your home is free from any existing mold, mildew and dirt before applying the finish. Exterior finishes can then be applied easily with a brush or an airless sprayer.

Plan for two thin color coats on some products and one on others, the directions will tell which and back-brush as you go. Back brushing is required to work the product into the wood and to cover any area that you may have missed. Back brushing will also help to prevent "lap" marks when brushing from a wet edge to a dry edge. If lap marks are present, these can usually be removed with a little additional brushing so long as the product has not dried.

Coverage rates for each of the products is different, and will range from 250 to 450 sq. Ft. per gallon, depending on the product, the age, porosity, and condition of the wood. Drying times will vary with temperature and humidity, but normally, you can expect the product to become dry to the touch in about an hour. Dry does not mean cured. The curing process may take three to four days, depending upon weather and environmental conditions.

The standard application can be easily accomplished in a short period of time, as the second coat may be applied over the first almost immediately. The water repellents normally take up to 72 hours to form and chain and reach maximum efficiency, so donít wait too long to apply the second coat if required. You might find yourself unable to complete the second coat, plan on a little extra brushing to get the job done.

Some finishes require a third coat for your logs protection, the application of a water-repellent topcoat. This product is much like the clear coat that is put on fine automobiles and boats. It becomes the first line of defense in protecting your log home against the elements and helps to protect the base color coat of the walls. All of these products have a balanced mildewcide and UV inhibitor package to add to the protection of your finish, extending the duration between re-coats.

Decks and Railings

The majority of log homes today are designed with elaborate decks and railings that catch the worst Mother Nature has to offer. Not only do they face rain, snow, ice and harsh sun; they also suffer abuse from foot traffic, spills and heavy furniture being drug across the surfaces.

Most decks and railings are made either from cedar, redwood or pressure-treated materials. While these wood species and treatments offer extended life, decks and railings must also be maintained through the years; and usually they require much more frequent attention than log walls due the abuse they must endure. UV and scuff inhibitors will protect your deck from the abrasions caused by foot traffic and deterioration from harsh weather and sun. The water resistance minimizes the splintering; warping and twisting caused by repetitive wet/dry cycles. Homeowners should never apply anything to a horizontal surface like a deck or rail that is not specifically designed for that purpose!

The products that we suggest are as follows:

DEFY by Saver Systems, Inc.

SRD by Sikkens

Always follow the manufacturer directions.

These products haven proven track records and proven performance. The biggest mistake people make is to expect too much from a deck finish, if you can get 18 to 24 months with out having to recoat the product is doing it's job.

To apply these products you can use the same type of sprayer that you had for your walls. As with your exterior finish, back-brush to work the products into the wood and eliminate pooling of the product. Properly applied, a deck finish will allow you to see the woodís grain and texture. Excessive coats are prone to failure. You should wait a minimum of 24 hours before walking on surfaces with freshly applied coats.

Periodic application is as easy as cleaning the deck to remove dirt, mold and mildew, then applying a new coat. Do not apply a deck finish on pressure treated wood for at least six (6) months, this allows the chemicals in the wood time to leach out of the wood.

Finishing Interiors

Many people donít bother to apply protective coatings over the interior surfaces of their homes. There is nothing wrong with this so long as the wood is not exposed to high levels of humidity, such as might be experienced in bathrooms or kitchens. However, UV rays and "air pollution" (such as smoke from cooking or fireplace) will darken logs over time. Also, unfinished wood is subject to the accidental stain that can only come out with extensive sanding. This is why we encourage our customers to consider an interior finish.

We recommend the following natural interior finishes.


ACRACLEAR by Saver Systems

LIFELINE interior by Perma-Chink

Always follow manufacturers directions.

These finishes form a breathable protective layer over the log that is tough and can easily be cleaned and dusted. Like its exterior counterpart, these products are non-yellowing, non-flammable, non-toxic, and virtually odorless. They allow the natural beauty of any wood species to shine through and can be applied on any log wall surface, new or old, so long as the wood is clean and dry.

These products, also come in one or five-gallon containers. It can easily be applied with a sprayer, brush or roller. Again, back brushing is recommended during application.

Protecting Millwork and Cabinets

Finally, if you want to protect millwork or cabinetry in your log home, you can apply polyurethane-enhanced finishes to eliminate concerns about accidental spills and/or water marks. These are furniture-grade finishes that offer many of the application advantages of lacquer while providing the toughness, beauty and durability of polyurethane. Used as topcoats for sealed or stained wood, the products spread evenly, dry fast, and have a diamond-hard finish that can be cleaned with soap and water.

The real advantage to these products over many of the other cabinet finishes weíve tried in the past is that they contain no high levels of toxic solvents or dryers. In other words, you donít have to worry about the physical dangers posed by solvent fumes or the productís flammability. They also meet the VOC restrictions established in most states.

These products can be brushed on, wiped on with a sponge-type applicator or applied with a sprayer. Coverage rates for these products are excellent when used on previously sealed or stained wood surfaces. Clean up is also a snap, a little soap and warm water usually does the trick.

The following products we have used and can recommend highly:

SYMPHONY by Sashco


Always follow manufacturer instructions.

Applying Sealant

Earlier we discussed in general term's sealant systems for log homes. But since chinking isnít applied until after preservatives and wood finishes are sprayed or brushed onto walls, we chose to delay our discussion of sealant application.

There are five proven sealant products we recommend to customers. Not only are they flexible, they are also incredibly durable and stable.

The first is normal chinking system, the product is another 100 percent acrylic product that protects and beautifies your log home. Chinking is a textured material that looks and feels like traditional mortar. However, unlike rigid mortar, it adheres tightly to logs and stretches to follow log movement. The product comes in five-gallon buckets or in tubes of 11 ounces and 30 ounces. It is available in five or six standard colors. The reason it is applied after the home has been properly finished is because itís difficult to remove stain from chinking.

We have used and recommend the following:

LOG JAM by Sashco

PERMA-CHINK by Perma-Chink

Always follow manufacturer directions.

Caulk is a versatile, durable, long-term product particularly suited for log home construction. It meets or exceeds all federal and local building specifications. It is apply it in the corners, along the horizontal or vertical exterior joints, and at window and doorjambs. Caulk has superb color stability and is resistance to ultraviolet rays, ozone and airborne contaminates. It is mold and mildew resistant and is completely compatible with quality latex and oil-based paints and stains.

Most caulk comes in 11-ounce and 30-ounce tubes or five-gallon containers and is available in many colors or a clear mixture. It is a breeze to apply and smooth with a trowel or wet finger. The contact area should be clean, sound and free from oil, grease or tar. We recommend that caulk be applied when temperatures are 40 degrees F or above. No surface priming is necessary and because this is another latex product, cleanup is fast and easy with only soap and water.

Sealants in general are the newest products we have found and are extremely effective for the internal joints of chinkless log systems. They have unsurpassed elongation and adhesion and is designed for large-scale application. They are an excellent choice for use around doors and windows of traditional chinked homes as well as milled log homes, it complements the appearance of the chink-joints in the walls. It can be applied with a gout bag, air-powered gun or high-volume pump and easily tooled with flexible trowels, using ordinary tap water as a release agent. These new sealents are available in several standard colors and comes in five-gallon pails and 30-ounce tubes and 11oz tubes.

We recommend the following products:


ENERGYSEAL by Perma-Chink

Always follow the manufacturers directions.

For log homes that have been standing for several years and may have developed gaps in the joints or deep cracks (checks) in the timbers, we recommend the above products to prevent dangerous water infiltration. This products combine the application properties of caulk with those of a waterproof adhesive to form a tough, elastic filler and coating. The worst checks usually occur on the side of the home exposed to excessive sunlight or harsh weather. These checks may be quite pronounced in order to maintain a proper seal on larger checks, the sealant should be applied over a backer rod. Backer rod is an effective, inexpensive, spongy material used to fill the gaps between logs or inside deep cracks. It is available in different sizes and forms a area across the face of the joint to make the sealing job easier and more professional.

Application Procedures for Sealants

You donít have to hire a professional to apply chinking or caulk to your home. But if you intend to do the work yourself, here are the basic principles you must understand.

Principle No.1: Two-point adhesion. The acrylic material should adhere to the top and bottom wood surfaces of the joint into which it is being troweled, but not to the back. That is why you need backer rod. This is first inserted into the gap that is to sealed. Then, the acrylic compound is applied over it at the recommended thickness. Caulk and chinking will not adhere to a closed-cell, polyethylene material, only to the wood above and below it. That is two-point adhesion! If you have three-point adhesion - where the caulk or chinking also adheres to the wood surface at the back of the gap being sealed - log movement will, more than likely, cause the material to crack.

First, select the proper size backer rod - one that fits flush with the logs inside the gap you want to seal. Be sure the edges are flush with the log surface and donít protrude at this could cause weakness in the seal. Press the rod into place and either staple it or glue it. If you use glue, donít get that on the parts of the wood where the acrylic material must adhere.

You will probably need more than one size of backer rod during the course of a project since all checks arenít uniform in size. To determine the amount of rod necessary, calculate the linear feet in your log home, the number of gaps to be sealed, and the average width of these gaps.

In a traditional chinked system, expanded polystyrene blocks are cut to fit into the gaps between the courses of logs. The chinking is applied over this. The chinking will not adhere to the expanded polystyrene blocks, that are cut to fit into the gaps between the courses of logs. The chinking will not adhere to the expanded polystyrene surface, thus two-point adhesion is maintained.

Principle No. 2: Working with clean surfaces. Wood that will receive chinking or caulking, must be clean, dry and free from loose or foreign materials (like sawdust) in order to ensure proper adhesion. If you are working on an older home, be sure is no rotted wood in the are that needs sealing. Also, caulk or chinking should not be applied on oily or glassy wood surfaces. You may need to take an orbital sander with coarse grain paper or a wire brush and lightly buff the surface for best results.

There are some paraffin-based stains and sealants that give acrylics fits. If your log home is older and you are unsure of the type of finish that was used on it, you may first need to test the caulk or chinking on small areas to see how well it adheres, we can provide you with a test sample of product. If it seems like nothing will stick to it, your sealant probably wonít either.

Principle No. 3: The magic number is ľ" cured. The first question most applicators ask is, "How much material do I use?" The magic number is ľ" of "cured material" over the backing that is in place. Anything less will result in a weak membrane that can easily be damaged or even fail since there is not enough mass to absorb the movement of the logs. At the top and bottom, where the sealant adheres to the wood, the caulk or chinking can be thicker.

As the chinking and caulks are acrylic, there will be a certain amount of shrinkage as the material dries and ures. A good example is as follows, if a material is said to be composed of 70 percent solids, then there will be 30 percent shrinkage. Given these numbers, you need to have a wet thickness of about 3/8" in order for your chinking to be cured to a finished depth of ľ"

To start your application, fill your grout bag, pump or gun and apply material to only as much area as you can reach from one position. Now, using a mist sprayer filled with water, lightly moisten the material and trowel carefully to a uniform 3/8" thickness. The water will act as a releasing agent, preventing the acrylic material from sticking to your trowel. (If water runs down readily onto the lower surface of the work area, cut back on your spraying.) Keep a supply of damp rags on hand to regularly wipe your trowel clean and wipe up spills. Material that has cured is very difficult to remove.

When troweling the sealant into place, it is essential to form a solid seal with the wood. Here is a suggestion you can follow if you are applying chinking over the large blocks of expanded polystyrene in a traditional chinked system. Use the rounded back of a clean spoon to trowel extra material into the upper and lower edges of the sealant area. This results in extra thickness at the critical two points of adhesion. It is important to pay special attention to the lower edge. Water from your mist sprayer tends to cause acrylic sealants to run down onto the lower log, making it difficult to verify that a tight seal has been established. Check your former applications from time to time to see that a proper seal has been made.

Important tip! First-time applicators should initially practice on least noticeable areas of the structure.

Principle N. 4: "Curing" problems. These acrylic sealants will dry to the touch in two to three hours, depending upon air temperature and humidity. However, complete curing takes place over a considerably longer period of time. You must not touch the sealant until it is completely cured! If you do, unsightly indentations will mar the beauty of your finished job.

Keep plastic tarps handy in case of rain. You want to keep rain from coming in direct contact with acrylic sealants for two to three days after application. The tarps should be attached to the wall in such a way that air circulates to speed the curing process and that the tarp itself doesnít come in contact with the sealant.

It is also easy to "cure" unsightly application mistakes that happen even under the best of circumstances. All you need to do is run a small bead of new material over the area and smooth it out with a wet paint brush. Once cured, only you will know where the problem was.

Principle No. 5: "Blister". As we said earlier, it is essential to apply any chinking over backer rod or some other proper substrate like expanded polystyrene. As more and more customers opt for a "Full log Wall" system, also known as the "Log on Log" system with an optional chinking groove, results are sometimes less than perfect. Since the chinking grooves are normally quite shallow (little more than cosmetic in some cases) often no backer material is employed. You must use painters masking tape in these joints; without this, there is no way to get proper two-point adhesion for the chinking. Log movements can create cohesive failures at the horizontal joints between the log courses.

There is another situation: small "blisters" in the chinking or caulking may appear and mar its appearance. While blisters arenít a cause for concern when it comes to the integrity of the seal, they detract from the professional appearance of the application. The reason blisters pop up is that moisture and resins are sealed inside the logs by the chinking material. The sun or warm temperatures heat the logs releasing resin and moisture gasses, so don't apply products in direct sunlight. Since the chinking is impermeable but flexible, it traps this gas and a bubble or blister appears, usually about the size of a quarter.

A cohesive failure is of much greater concern as this provides an opening where water can seep into the joint. This must be fixed either with corrective applications or by completely removing the affected area and re-chinking.

Both of these conditions can be greatly reduced with a simple application of the masking tape to the back of the joint only, prior to applying the sealant. In utilizing the masking tape, there are some procedures that must be followed carefully. Make sure that the tape does not creep down onto the log surfaces where a seal must be maintained. Also, donít stretch the tape tightly as it may shrink back after the chinking is applied. Wrinkles or tears should be avoided.

Appalachian Log Care can provide you or your builder with a list of tools or additional supplies that will be necessary to complete the sealant project. Weíll also help you calculate the amount of sealant and backer rod that youíll need for particular project. Just give us a call.

Renewing Old Wood

In the event that you have an older log home or failed to keep a regular maintenance schedule for one of our structures through the years (for shame!) you may be looking at some logs that have grayed badly or been stained by water and dirt. Never fear, these can look like new again. It just takes some effort, the right equipment and the right products. (It also helps to have the right attitude).

The first step is to assess the condition of your home. Are there any rotted areas of wood that are cause for concern? The area that have been previously chinked or caulked, are they still in good shape? Since the first thing youíll probably use is a pressure washer to clean the surface of the logs, you might want to visually inspect the integrity of your caulk and chinking. Pressure washing will definitely test the integrity of your sealant system.

As a cleaning agent for logs, many people mix house-hold bleach with equal amounts of water and then add about a half cup of Tri-Sodium Phosphate as a detergent. This is sprayed onto the walls and then thoroughly rinsed off after 10 to 15 minutes with clear water. This bleach mixture reduces mold to its spore state and the detergent loosens dirt and brightens the wood.

There are some disadvantages to using bleach, however. First, you must work quickly as household bleach tends to lose its potency in less than an hour. Second, it cannot be left on the walls for very long or streaking is likely to occur and nothing but dutiful sanding will remove that. Bleach is a strong, caustic chemical that not only destroys some of the lignin in the wood but also raises the level of PH on the wood surface. It often causes the surface of the logs to deteriorate slightly, giving it a fuzzy appearance. Some researchers claim that bleach causes wood fibers to become less porous, inhibiting the penetration of stains or finishes. Certainly, the high level of PH on the wood interferes with the curing process of most finishes, which can result in early stain failures. So, if youíre set on using bleach, dilute this formula to one part bleach to four parts water.

Donít try to prevent streaking by starting at the top and working down. You have to work on one area of the wall and then rinse the bleach off to completely lower the PH of the wood. To be on the safe side, neutralize the bleach with an Oxalic Acid was such as TIMBERBRITE or OXCON. This products are concentrated Oxalic Acid that is diluted with water. Apply this solution and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, rinse well. Oxalic acid will also act as a "blonding agent" to the wood and should be used anytime a caustic product like bleach or strippers are used to neutralize the wood.

Homeowners should consider a safer approach to cleaning their log walls or deck, a biodegradable, non-toxic wood cleaner. Based on household detergent chemistry, it uses percarbonate to create a oxygen bleach, as opposed to chlorine, bleach. This is a very safe and aggressive cleaner that loosens dirt, soot and mold so it can be removed by first scrubbing with a medium-bristle brush and then rinsing with a pressure washer. It dramatically brightens grayed or weathered wood and is so easy to use that anyone can undertake the task.

The products that we recommend are:

CPR by Sashco

TIMBERWASH by Saver Systems

HOUSEPREP by Perma-Chink

Always follow the manufacturers directions.

These product come in a powdered concentrate, which is mixed with water. All that you have to do is wet down the surface you intend to treat, mix the concentrate with water and spray it on the wood. Immediately, it will begin to fizz and foam as it attacks the grime on your logs. In about 10 minutes you scrub the surface and then you rinse it off. And that is all there is to it!

This product has another advantage. It wonít damage your acrylic chinking or caulk.or your pets, children or shrubbery.

If you are refinishing you log walls, youíll need to get rid of all the old finish in order to have a uniform appearance for the new finish. Cleaning solutions wonít normally accomplish this. There are only two effective ways to remove old finishes. The first is to sand the logs, the second is to use a chemical sripper. Because all logs are different, you need to test a small spot before starting.

When you are deciding on a stripper for your home, there are two factors that need to be taken into consideration. The first is the overall safety of the product. The second is how quickly you want to get the job done. Once logs are dry from the cleaning operation, use a paint brush to apply the stripper about 1/16 to 1/8" in thickness to all surfaces to be stripped. In about twenty minuets, test the surface with clean water.

For speed, you might want to consider another type of stripper, if you are familiar with commercial applications. However, a serious word of caution is needed here. These compounds contain chemicals that can harm you if missed used. They need to be handled and applied wit extreme caution. Exposure to the skin can cause burns. Eye protection is required as well as rubber gloves and protective clothing.

All instructions and manufacturer precautions need to be followed to the letter.

Once your logs are stripped and ready for re-staining, it would be an excellent idea to apply a wood preservative like any of the borates, we talked about earlier. As we pointed out earlier, these products should only be applied to bare wood. Old finishes keep the borates from penetrating the timbers. If your logs are catching a good deal of rain due to site orientation, this would probably be a wise choice. Also, you need to seal upward facing checks with backer rod and Log Builder or EnergySeal before putting on a coat of water repellent wood finish, as we mentioned earlier.

The finishing touch for your home, if you really want to overhaul its appearance, is to rejuvenate the chinking. After several years of exposure to the elements and possible stains from application of finishes, your chinking probably isnít the color that it should be. There are two excellent products to make this task easy and painless.

We have used and recommend the following:

BRUSH OVER by Sashco

CHINK PAINT by Perma-Chink

Always follow the manufacturers directions.

This is a textured latex finish that enables you to mask old, discolored chinking or to completely change the color scheme of the wall. The elastic qualities of this product, enable it to expand and contract with the chinking without cracking or peeling.

Available in several standard colors, this can be a real time and labor saver. Rather than cover your chinking during the staining process, simply wait for the stain to dry and then apply a coat of BRUSH OVER or CHINK PAINT.

These are all of the products you will need to protect your home through the years. Remember, the greatest enemy to a log home is neglect, so keep a regular maintenance schedule that includes applying preservatives and/or finishes every three to five years, depending upon conditions.

Donít be afraid to call us. Once youíve purchased product from Appalachian Log Care, we consider you a lifetime customer. We are your one-stop shopping center for all of your log home needs.

You can call us toll free at 1-800-726-0708 or email us at with any questions you might have about an existing home or questions about getting started on your new dream home.

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