Log homes do require maintenance as does any other house, but they do not necessarily require more maintenance. In order to maintain the “new” look with any house, there is maintenance. For the log house, a clear UV coat every 5-10 years. For the conventional house, cleaning of siding, re-grouting brick veneer, etc. Logs as with many other building materials (even vinyl siding) have 2 main enemies: sun and water. The trick to eliminating maintenance is smart design. With a proper roof overhang & elevation to protect the logs from the elements, maintenance is kept to a minimum!
Contrary to popular belief. Insects are not attracted to your log home. Why? When the logs are set on your foundation, they dry to the relative moisture content of the area. Insects are not attracted to dry wood, they are attracted to the moisture in wood…fallen trees outdoors in direct contact with the ground is where they call home. If insects needed dry wood to survive, they would be in the exterior wall of most people’s wood-framed home
After a few phone calls one will discover a log home is as easy to insure as any other house construction method & for relatively the same price. Why? Compared to conventional construction, log homes are not a fire hazard, actually less of one due to there low flame spread rating. Logs are also able to be restored back to their original condition if a fire does so happen. (see links, log home council) How? By removing the char formed during the fire. The char formed on the outer surface of the log prevents oxygen from reaching the rest of the log which results in no more fuel for the fire. Insurance companies are, today, well aware of the benefits of log construction, they are happy to insure your home, just pick up the phone and find out for yourself, any reputable company will be thankful for your call.
In order for a wall assembly to be considered a fire hazard, the fire resistance rating must be below 30 minutes. Wood frame exterior wall construction with drywall on one side is able to perform at this 30 minute rating. An 8” thick solid log wall performance is rated at 60 minutes (see Canadian Wood Council, Wood Design Manual), double the performance. Why? The properties of solid wood & fire. Logs are an extremely poor conductor of heat and fire starts upon off-gassing of the material present. In order for off-gassing to begin with respect to solid wood greater than 8”, an enormous amount of heat has to be generated. Just think of it? When was the last time you heard of a log home fire? What about a wood frame house fire?
The cost of building a log house is actually gone down compared to conventional construction. Dimensional lumber has more than doubled during the past 10 years due to increased manufacturing costs (fuel to run the mill, transport, etc). The raw material (being the log) has been relatively the same price for the past ten years. Just think of it, how much did a 2”x4”x8’ cost in the 90’s? How much does it cost today? Log homes used to be 30 – 35% more costly to build. Now, with smart design, they are relatively the same cost.
Some of the oldest standing structures in the world are made of logs. The key to longevity, as with any house is to protect it from the elements (rain, wind, sun, & snow). With proper design a log house will last forever. Design principal should include elevating the foundation above the ground (at least 12-24” (300-600mm) and with a sufficient roof over-hang.
Most log homes constructed have an insulative value 25-50% higher than standard conventional construction. Wood is comprised of tiny air pockets which help resist the flow of heat. R value is the measurement of insulative performance of various materials. (The larger the number the higher the performance). R –value when tested is based on the resistance to heat transfer. Logs do not have an R-value since they don’t resist the transfer of heat. Logs have a U –value which measures the rate of heat flow through a substance. The heat flow through a log is very slow which gives logs thermal mass benefits. Thermal mass means the ability of a substance to store heat and radiate the heat back through the path of least resistance, which is towards the inside during the winter and towards the outside during the summer.
Logs are the only renewable major construction material. They are able to efficiently regenerate from a well managed forest. As stated by the Canadian Wood Council, “Canada is at no risk of deforestation”. “Canada’s forests account for 10% of the world’s cover & only ¼ of 1% of the Canadian forest is allowed to be harvested each year”, not to mention the hundreds of tree planting operations happening on a yearly basis.
Log Homes are the only type of home that preserve nature. It is known that 90% of the wood used to construct a log house goes into a wood frame house the same size. True, the size of a log is much greater than dimensional lumber, however, the amount of waste produced by the manufacturing process accounts for nearly the same amount of wood used. The difference is: The log house preserves nature instead of hiding it. It is the log that provides the structural and finish (exposed) material, complementing nature’s real beauty and heritage & able to be enjoyed by all..
Definition: Embodied Energy is the hidden energy in a house required to manufacture materials resulting in pollution and supply to the point of use.
The log home has the lowest form of embodied energy in any building since material is not manufactured. Environmental impact is kept to a minimum. An example: Western Red Cedar is commonly used as an exterior finish material in eastern Canada, even though Eastern white Cedar is as readily available from Ontario to Newfoundland. White Cedar is also as naturally rot resistant and as good of an insulator. The difference: White Cedar is local, Red Cedar is transported up to 6000 km away from its source. Not too environmentally friendly is it?
Simple terms: The lower the rating, the better the performance.
Building codes for flame spread rating in a residential construction wall assembly must be around 150. A 2’x6’ wall with fiberglass insulation and drywall is rated at 150 (typical conventional construction). “Logs of the softwood nature are between 75-125”. (Flame spread rating, Log Home Council). It is well known by now that in order to ignite an average size log on fire, an enormous amount of heat has to be present. Due to a logs flame spread rating, they are less of a fire hazard than typical construction. Most Insurance companies are well aware of the situation. The log home myth, “it’s difficult to insure a log house”, simply is not true.
The Softwood Log is among the best natural insulators known to man. Why? Simply speaking, as wood dries, its cellular structure changes from holding water to tiny air pockets. These air pockets act as resistance to heat flow through the log. Therefore, causing wood to be an extremely poor conductor of heat & an excellent insulator. In addition logs also act as a thermal mass when heated, meaning they are able to radiate heat back to the inside or outside of the building, which ever is the warmer side of the log. What is the result? Less pressure is placed on your heating system during the winter and a cooling system in most locations is not required any time of the year.
The insulative performance of different wood species is based on the“u Factor” (rate of heat flow through a substance). Most people would be more familiar with the “r-factor” (resistance to heat transfer) which is how fiberglass insulation is rated. Standard wood – frame houses are insulated to a value of r-20. After converting a logs u-factor, it has been proven that Pine or Spruce Species are around 2.5 per inch and cedars 3.5 per inch. A typical handcrafted home of pine would have an insulative performance equivalent to r-35.
Basic air quality in any house should be of a high standard, even to people who have severe allergies. Too bad 90% of the time, this is not the case. Basically, the more manufactured materials in a home the higher the air pollution in the home mainly due to the glues and adhesives used commonly in conventional house construction. Materials include OSB, tar paper, fiberglass insulation, paints, carpets, linoleum, & varnishes to name a few. This does not mean you shouldn’t apply paint or varnish, it means if you don’t want these products to compromise air quality, they should be of an environmental and low-VOC standard. People with severe allergies who live in standard wood-frame houses usually require some form of air-purification system. Most Log home builders use minimal manufactured material, therefore low toxins and healthy indoor air quality actually exists.
Log homes were permanent shelters of our early pioneers and settlers. It is authentic, it binds us to our heritage. Some of the oldest structures in the world are constructed with logs. A properly designed log house (protection from the elements & weather-tight construction) should last a lifetime
Logs are kept in their natural form, retaining their natural taper and appearance. Logs are normally hand-peeled with the help of a drawknife. Full length logs are used & average diameter is 14-16”.
Round logs are converted into squared timber retaining the natural taper. Sides of the log may be removed either by bandsaw, chainsaw, or axe…client decides. Corners are Dove-tailed. Full length logs are used & average thickness is 10”.
Logs are milled (machined) to the same diameter. Diameter can range 6″ – 16″. Being aesthetic & energy efficient, the most popular size is 12″. Corners are round-notched & grooves are Swedish coped. Log walls can consist of pieces (8-16’ lengths) but are best if they use full-length logs. Timber screws are used to secure logs together.
Logs are milled (machined) to the same thickness. Sizes include 6″ x 12″, 8″ x 12″, or 10″ x 10″. Being cost effective & energy efficient, the most popular size is 8″ or 12″. Corners are either Dove-tail, Saddle Notch, or Butt n’ Pass. Lengths are double tongue & grooved. Timber walls can consist of pieces (8-16’ lengths) but are best if they use full-length logs. Timber screws are used to secure logs together.
Post & Beam:
This style uses a combination of round posts & horizontal logs. Posts are placed in the corners & within the length of each wall. Sections between posts could be full log (as in the picture below) or a combination Log & Wood-Framed walls.
This style uses a combination of Timber Posts & Beams. Posts are placed in the corners & within the length of each wall. Sections between posts could be solid timber or a combination of Timber & Wood-Framed walls.
Our work in Iceland included two summer houses built side by side for two life long friends.
The Log Home was planned to be the estate for a home owned winery. “Jabulani Farm and Winery”