Hochstetler Log Homes

Reducing Log Home Maintenance Part 2

by Hochstetler Log Homes on 2019-06-15 19:57:08

This is the second of a two part series written by Levi Hochstetler, which discusses way to reduce log home maintenance. Part 1 ended with a discussion of how insects can affect maintenance.

Other maintenance reducing tips

  • Large overhangs (Min. 2’) will greatly reduce the maintenance of a log home.
  • Lots of porches protect the logs as well.
  • Pressure wash your home annually; crud and debris on the logs deteriorates the finish.
  • Metal soffit and fascia cover eliminates 25% of refinishing labor and virtually eliminates the boring bees.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts maintained; you don’t want water splashing up against the logs.
  • Keep shrubs away; if there are shrubs up against the wood, air can’t dry out the logs and decay can start.
  • Refinish the north and east sides every other time you refinish the south and west sides.
  • Keep the final finish grade sloped away and 12’’ or more below any wood.
  • Don’t neglect; an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure in maintaining your log home.

Wood choices

Cedar vs. White Pine vs. Cypress makes very little difference in the maintenance of a log home. Providing, of course, that everything else is equal and you buy from a reputable manufacturer. Cedar takes the same amount of finishing and refinishing as white pine. In fact, finish will not adhere as well on decay resistant or pressure treated material as the more common species such as pine. Some species like southern yellow pine, though, which is less stable, will have more movement equating in more caulking maintenance. Hand-peeled logs are more attractive to insects than milled logs and often more prone to decay mostly because all the sapwood is still left on the logs.

Choosing a good finish is far more important than what species of wood you use.


  • Same procedure; bleach, TSP, water; put on with a garden sprayer.
  • Pressure wash.
  • Check for any upturned checks that need caulking.
  • No borates when re-coating.
  • Re-coat, per manufacturer’s recommendation.

Neglected home

If your home is seriously neglected take heart. An average 2000 square ft. home can be blasted with a corn-cob blaster in about 3 days. Similar to a hardwood floor, every 40 years you can blast all the old finish off and literally have a “like new log home”. Don’t fall for the fly-by- night re-finishers that claim you will have to completely redo your home and charge $20,000. It may only need pressure washing and a coat of quality finish.


You don’t have to remove the mill-glaze on the inside; however, you will want to remove dirt and other blemishes.

It’s not practical to pressure wash the inside of your home because of all the water. The only good way is to hand sand. These sounds like a lot of work, but you can greatly reduce it by only sanding the logs on the exterior walls and the paneling on the interior walls. The ceiling and the timbers that people can’t reach or touch, simply spot sand.

The interior is like furniture: the more time you spend sanding, the more like good quality hand rubbed furniture it will become.

When the interior surfaces have been cleaned and sanded, apply the finish of your choice, per the manufacturer’s specifications.

It’s not necessary to apply borates on the inside. While we are told that borates are as harmless as table salt, you never know about chemicals. Why put it where you don’t need it?

Choosing the interior finish

The brand isn’t nearly as important on the interior as it is for the exterior. Any good quality finish should hold up for many years on the inside.

You may get some discoloration of wood surfaces by sunlight. This is normally not a problem unless you go to move pictures around. While it can’t be fully prevented, you can take certain steps to minimize its effects.

We recommend you select a light colored stain that has UV inhibitors rather than a clear finish; that way you, rather than the sun, are in control. This will not eliminate discoloration, but will certainly help.

If a clear finish is preferred, make sure it is the kind that has UV inhibitors. When you do move pictures around the discoloration will eventually fade away.

Checks on the inside of your home

Checking, or the formation of cracks on logs, is a normal process that occurs as your logs acclimate and dry out. The slower your logs dry, the less checking you will have. Checking can be reduced by maintaining a high level of humidity (30 to 40%) and lower temperatures in the first couple of years following its completion. If you keep the humidity too low like (20%) you will needlessly cause excessive checking of your logs and timber.

Bottom line: keep the humidity up and temperatures down!

reducing log home maintenance part 2

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