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What are the benefits of using a top quality finish on a log home?

ext4Whether you’re currently building your dream log home or simply checking off tasks on your annual home-maintenance “to do” list, we’re always looking for ways to skimp on expenses around the house. But when it comes to putting your best foot forward with a beautifully stained home that’s also protected from the exterior elements, you might want to think twice before being lured in by the lower price tag of a middle-of-the-road finishing product.

Think about it: Not only does a stain and finish define the aesthetic appeal of your log home, enhancing the striking beauty of the wood’s grain and natural color, but it serves as a shield for your home’s most precious building blocks – the logs. Because of this, it makes sense to spend the extra money upfront on a high-quality finish for your home. And, as it turns out, if you can swing the higher cost for the first application, you will save yourself oodles of cash over the lifetime of your log home.

What are the qualities to look for in a top quality log home finish?

To ensure a successful and long-lasting result, you’ll also need to consider factors like wood protection, maintenance and, of course, appearance.

Appearance: In addition to building a quality home, you want to build a beautiful home, which is why the finished appearance of your logs is so important. By spending a little bit more upfront, you’ll get a distinguished looking wood finish that will set your home apart from the rest.

Are you a DIY-er? Do you like handling home projects, going back and forth to the local hardware store for equipment you need? While Perma-Chink Systems pride ourselves in offering DIY-friendly products, along with a wealth of how-to articles, customer and technical support, some customers choose to hire a contractor.

Or sometimes you can't do it yourself. Time, ability, confidence (or you plain don't want to do it) usually makes the decision for you and you need to find a contractor. Specifically, a log home contractor. application and removal step by step guidea

Why a log home contactor? Would you entrust your car to a golf-cart mechanic? While similar in nature, there is a difference between the two. Log home contractors have experience dealing with the unique characteristics that come with a log and timber home. This experience will give you a better result than hiring a painting contractor. Not to mention the long-term relationship the contractors have with the product manufacturer.

Perma-Chink Systems offers an extensive referral list of log home contractors from coast to coast. Most of these contractors are self-employed and none are affiliated with Perma-Chink Systems, but they do have both experience and training in using our products on log and timber homes. Many of the contractors we've worked with for years, and we continually review our referall list to provide our customers with the best available contractors.

Two Steps and Four Questions

Step 1 – Get Smart

A very important first step before interviewing any contractor is to educate yourself. Perma-Chink Systems can help you better understand the steps and nuances of your project. You can attend one of our free homeowner workshops, read through our literature and application guides, or call one of our log home specialists to walk you through the process and related products. Better yet, go online and register for a private webinar with our experts. The more you know about your upcoming project, the better you can ask the right questions and understand the answers from the contractors. So please don’t overlook this important step!

From Worst to First With Perma-Chink!
By John & Elaine Judsky
Suches, GA
Perma-Chink Customers Forever
 
 
Cabin Before 1I’ll admit the hard truth. I neglected the exterior of our log cabin in the North Georgia mountains. For years. It was ugly, and we needed restoration.
 
We had used Perma-Chink products on the interior of our new cabin back in 1999, with Sure Shine on our floors and the LifeLine interior on our walls. They are holding up well and looking good after 16 years.
 
But the exterior was a mess from our neglect and from using an inferior product. We used the product recommended and provided by our log manufacturer. It shall remain nameless here because it was an oil-based jug of junk.
 
This past summer I finally had the time and money to redo the exterior, and there was no question in my mind I was going to use Perma-Chink products. We attended a workshop in Knoxville and learned lots of good tips and info. The logs looked dirty, faded and had no water resistance. I went ahead and sanded the few spots that needed that much care. The S100 finish remover did a great job removing what was left of the old finish. The Wood Renew made the logs fresh and bright again. Then the Log Wash prepared a good surface for the application of Armor -Guard preservative followed by two coats of the Lifeline Ultra-2, followed by the Glossy Lifeline Advance.
MOBILE LOG CABINS (or PLUG & PLAY TRADITIONAL LOG HOME)
By Dan Waring, British Log Cabins
 
 
Mobile homes...Traditionally an ugly metal box, BLC have taken the parameters defining the mobile home and delivered a beautiful alternative LOG CABIN!
 
Developed in response to an increase in the popularity of ‘Log Cabin Holidays’ our Mobile Log Homes include everything. The entire building is prefabricated off site in our log building yard on a specially designed rolling chassis.
off site 1  off site 2 
 
The building comes complete including a kitchenette, bathroom suite, LPG boiler, radiators, log burner and all internal finishes.
interior1 interior2 interior3
 
All that is required on site is a concrete slab and waste and water connections - they really are a plug and play, traditional log home!.
outside1  outside2 
 
Log building as a construction method and art form has been around for centuries. It’s origins were in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. As a trade it has a long established history. The often romanticized vision of a cozy, traditional log cabin in a holiday area is now a reality.
 
mala pattersonAfter graduating from college, the normal progression for most women is marriage. But, what is great, or even fun, about being normal? This neo-Laura Ingalls-Wilder, this Backwoods Barbie, embarked upon an adventure. I decided to build a log cabin!
 
I have had the pleasure of being around log cabins nearly my whole life. I grew up in my parents’ pine, D-shaped log cabin. They had a “turn-key” package; but we, mainly my father, ended up doing a lot of the work. Despite three children, pets, and fluctuating Alabama weather, their home has weathered nicely with little maintenance. Therefore, my parents are supportive of my log cabin, although they enjoy ribbing me about some comments I made when I was about ten years old.
 
I was ticked at my mother because she did not think that a black and silver waterbed (completed, of course) with a zebra bedspread was suitable décor for a ten year-old girl’s log bedroom. Thus, I declared that I would never have a house of wood. I vowed to have only wallpaper and paint in my house one day. (Never say never!)
 
Anyway, my adventure started when I found an ad for oak log cabin kits in a classified newspaper. Not wanting to be saddled with a large debt and realizing that I would be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the house, I decided to purchase the approximately 1,500 square-foot kit. The logs arrived safely and beautifully – Missouri oak heartwood dovetail logs.(Say that ten times fast!)
 
porchSince my kit consisted of only the perimeter wall logs, I drew the interior plans one Sunday afternoon; and Mom and I devised a plan that would allow me to “pay-as-I-go” and have the cabin completed and paid-off in three years. However, I did not realize how much I was going to be involved with the “hands-on” construction, and I never imagined how much I would learn to do and end up doing myself.

m-ext011

The Leroy Mountain project was in need of some help. Built in 2003 it had been coated with Sansin Classic. One product, one color had been used on everything- logs, trim, and deck. This resulted in a mono-tone appearance. A second and third coat had been applied over the years, without adequate preparation. On one wall it looked like the finish had not been stirred or mixed before applying. Time, sun and weather had degraded the exterior badly. It was sad to see such a beautiful home in this condition.
 
My first impression on seeing the house was “Whoa, what is that little gem doing here?” Large Doug Fir logs, scribed fit, three gables, two balconies, two dormers, two porches, hexagon great room and deck – all tucked in on a basic footprint of 32’ X 32’. This is not your typical Pennsylvania log home. The log kit was supplied by The Log Connection, British Columbia, Canada. As soon as I saw it I knew we could bring it back to better then new looking condition.
 

By Lee Denman, Intensified Wood Restoration

There are essentially two types of log home stains available on the market today:

Film-Forming Finishes

Oil-based (Alkyd) Log Home Stains

Latex-based Log Home Stains

Acrylic Latex-based Log Home Stains

Varnishes for Log Homes

Penetrating Finishes

Oil-based Semi-transparent Log Home Stains

 

 

 

 

stains1What are the PROS and CONS of each of these types of log home finishes?

1. Oil Based (Alkyd) Log Home Stain

PROS: Wood grain visibility, UV Protection, Non Porous, Easy application, longer open times.

CONS: Trap Moisture, Brittle, Can't Breathe, Weather Quickly, Coat build-up over time, Blistering occurs if moisture is present behind finish, High Maintenance.
 

2. Latex based Solid Color Log Home

PROS: Breathable, Flexible, Durable, High UV Protection, Porous, Easy application, Low maintenance, Long life, low odor.

CONS: Won't prevent decay if conditions are favorable, Short Shelf Life.

3. Semi-Transparent Acrylic Latex based Log Home Stain

PROS: Breathable, Flexible, Durable, High UV Protection, Wood grain visibility, Porous, Low maintenance, Long life, low odor.

CONS: More difficult to apply than oil based stains and solid color stains, fast drying times.

4. Log Home Varnishes

PROS: Allow for natural look of logs.

CONS: High maintenance, prone to Cracking, Peeling and Blistering, Requires recoating every 1-2 years, Partial UV protection.

5. Oil based Semitransparent Log Home Stains

PROS: Penetrate into wood, Wood grain visibility, Breathable, High UV protection.

CONS: Perform best on rough sawn, weathered, or course textured wood. Compatibility issues with most log home sealants due to waxes found in most penetrating finishes. Don't have a furniture grade finish look (dull), must apply second coat before first coat dries in order for stain to penetrate wood. Vapor barrier, non-breathable.

 

stains2What types of log home stains work the best?

So we have all this helpful information on the types of log home stains but which log home stain is the best? It is hard to say which one is the absolute best because there are many factors that ultimately decide how well or long a log home stain will perform. Some of these factors are:

  • What season the logs were cut (winter cut logs only)
  • Proper surface preparation
  • Environment surrounding building
  • Moisture content of logs

Of all these factors none is more important than proper surface preparation of the logs before applying a log home stain. If the surface of the logs has not been prepped properly none of these log home stains will perform as they state they will. This is why it is important to only hire a qualified log home restoration expert to work on your log home! They will have the knowledge and expertise to work with the products available in the current log home market. This will ensure your investment is protected well into the future.

While we can’t say which log home stain is the overall best, we can recommend which type of log home finishes we feel perform exceptionally well and keep maintenance costs down throughout the years. This only holds true if proper surface preparation is kept in mind before and during any finish or sealant application. In our opinion, film-forming, latex based waterborne log home finishes such as PermaChink’ Lifeline is best bang for your buck!

While Perma-Chink finishes aren't the cheapest out there they seem to require the least amount of maintenance based on our 25+ years of experience restoring log homes and log cabins of all sizes and shapes. They also offer an unmatched 5 year warranty on their log home stains when applied properly and maintained accordingly.

Lee Denman is the founder of Intensified Wood Restoration Company

Perma-Chink Systems Free Samples

Want to try Perma-Chink Systems products? Order free samples online here.

dd3Your decks and railings do not weather in a uniform fashion like your log walls. After a year or two with some deck stains, areas exposed to direct sunlight may hold little or no trace of the original finish, while shaded surfaces may show very little, if any degradation.

There are three primary elements to your deck which can maximize longevity and structural integrity as well as aesthetics. These include periodic maintenance between applications of stain, preparation of applying new stain and the staining itself.

Regardless of the stain used on your deck, its life can be extended with periodic cleaning. Pooling water can easily be swept off with a push-broom, which can help prevent premature failure of your deck stain. However, cleaning it periodically will make the biggest contribution to maximizing its life and appearance. A diluted solution of Log Wash™ (1 cup per gallon) can easily be applied through a garden pump sprayer ($20 - $30 at any garden center or hardware store) then lightly pressure washed off. If you don’t have access to a pressure washer, a strong jet stream from a garden hose will also work. Remember, here you are trying to clean the deck, not remove the finish.

For decks that may have excessive levels of dirt, mildew, green algae, etc., the mechanical action of scrubbing or using a medium bristle push broom after applying Log Wash™ will help a lot. Make sure to thoroughly rinse off all detergents as you never want them to dry on the wood surface.

dd1 dd2
 Photo 1  Photo 2


For decks that have darkened from sun exposure with little or no stain left, a deeper pressure washing can be done to remove the darkened surface in order to get down to clean, bright wood. Photos 1 and 2 above show these results. If necessary, Wood ReNew™ and a pressure washer may be used to clean away any gray UV damaged wood fibers, as well as deep rooted mold and dirt residue.

Your deck is ready to stain immediately after cleaning.  Pick your color and apply 1 coat of Deck Defense. Once the initial coat of Deck Defense applied to bare wood, a future maintenance coat applied to a surface previously coated with Deck Defense is easy - clean and recoat, no mechanical or chemical stripping required.  

snowy-product1During the winter months it's important to be aware of the freeze-thaw stability of Perma-Chink's products. The reason may involve shipping conditions or whether it is okay to store a product or products in an unheated shed. In any case you need to be aware of the consequences of allowing any of our products to freeze.

Without a doubt it is always best to prevent any of our finishes and sealants from freezing. They all contain water and the formation of ice crystals within the products can separate the water from the other components. In some products once this occurs it becomes impossible to regain the properties of the original formulation even after thawing and vigorous mixing. These types of products are not freeze-thaw stable.

With a few exceptions most of our products are freeze-thaw stable, however, if a product becomes frozen it needs to be thawed slowly, preferably at room temperature. Speeding up the thawing process by heating the container can seriously damage the product making it unusable. If the product is in pails or containers, once it has completely thawed it will require a thorough mixing.

If a product is subjected to multiple freeze-thaw cycles each cycle will contribute to the degradation process until it is no longer suitable for use. If a product becomes frozen it is better to allow it to stay frozen than it is to bring it inside to thaw and then store it where it may freeze again. It's the succession of freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw sequences that really destroys the integrity of a product. Before applying any product that's been frozen be sure to test a small amount to see if it is still usable.

products

To reiterate:

  • It's best to protect all of our products from freezing.
  • If it does get frozen, thaw it slowly at room temperature then thoroughly mix it.
  • It's better to keep it frozen than to subject it to multiple freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Before applying any product that's been frozen be sure to test a small amount to see if it is still usable.

Perma-Chink Systems’ products that are NOT freeze-thaw stable:

  • Chink Paint™
  • Log End Seal™
  • Oxcon™

Perma-Chink Systems’ products that have limited freeze-thaw stability (5 cycles):

  • LIFELINE™Ultra 7

 

For information about cold weather storage of Shell-Guard® and Shell-Guard® RTU see "Storing Borate Solutions."

 

Which Log Home Sealant Should I Use?

We are asked this question very frequently about our two biggest selling log home sealants. Both of these sealants were formulated to weatherproof joinery in log and log sided buildings. Our simplest answer is that in general, Perma-Chink should be used in applications where the seam width is one inch or wider and Energy Seal is a better choice in sealant seams that are narrower than one inch or where joinery was not intended to have chinking applied to it. However, this answer is overly simplistic when you consider the variety of log profiles and joinery types and many different surfaces that come together to make up a finished log structure.

What is the Difference?

Log Home Interior Using Perma-Chink®
perma-chink

Perma-Chink is our original log home sealant (and the company namesake). It was formulated to look like the concrete mortar that was typically used on full-log construction at that time. It is the original elastic log home sealant. Today Perma-Chink is available in eight different colors, some of which look like concrete, the others are various wood tones.

Log Home Interior Using Energy Seal™
energy seal

Energy Seal was formulated at the request of our customers at a much later date. These customers had homes that were usually built with log profiles that did not use chinking, but required weatherproofing some time after they were finished and in use. Because the application surfaces were never intended for a sealant application, they don’t have proper geometry that includes a caulking well to allow for sealant and backing material installation. Consequently, we formulated Energy Seal to have higher elongation performance. Energy Seal comes in a wide selection of 12 colors for customers who would prefer to conceal the sealant or even to match the chinking on their log home.

es-pcEnergy Seal is a Better Choice in the Following Situations:

In general, Energy Seal is a better choice for very demanding, narrow seam application where more stretch is required in a narrow sealant seam. It is also the best choice if you would like the sealant to blend in with the wood surface and not be easily seen. Energy Seal is an excellent choice for use in sealing around doors and windows, butt joints, corners, and junctions between log walls and other surfaces such as beams, rooflines or framed walls.

Perma-Chink is a Better Choice When:

Many log homes are designed, manufactured and constructed with chinking an integral part of the building envelope. Perma-Chink is the clear choice in this situation. Additionally, Perma Chink is ideal to use when sealing up the junction between wood walls and concrete, brick or stone features like fireplaces, stone accents and walls.

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