So, you’re about to begin a log cabin restoration project? You’ll be glad to know that it’s not as difficult as you may think.
In your head it may sound more complicated than it really is. renovating an old log cabin is rather straightforward and can be completed by anyone with the right guidance.
With enough elbow grease and the right equipment, you can turn your worn-out wooden building back into the beautiful home it originally was.
If not properly maintained, log cabins will begin to decay and rot. Not only will it cause them to look less appealing, but it also makes them very inefficient as holes and gaps will lead to infestation and insulation problems. In bad cases, in-proper maintenance could even make your cabin a safety hazard.
I have created a guide on how to maintain a log cabin. You can find that guide by clicking here.
Depending on the extent to which your cabin has been neglected, the size of the repair job will vary. Though, don’t despair, I’ve seen even the most run-down death traps restored back to their former glory.
This guide will explain every step involved in the process of restoring a log cabin. This is the ultimate guide to renovating your wooden home.
Inspecting and Repairing Your Log Cabin
Before you begin anything, you need to carry out a thorough inspection of your building. Walk around your cabin and take a close, you want to inspect everything. This involves getting down low and inspecting your foundations, as well as getting up high on your roof.
Take note of anything suspicious. It may help to also take pictures on a phone or camera. This will remind you of what exactly needs to be done, and they are always nice to have for before and after pictures.
I’ve created a list of things you’ll want to keep an eye out for:
Cracks, Gaps and Holes
Whilst walking around the exterior of your log home, you should be looking for entry points such as cracks, gaps and holes. These all act as entry points for unwanted guests and the elements such as rain and air. This makes it very important that you seal these off.
A ‘Check’ is a long crack which occurs in wood. These are usually formed during seasoning and as wood dries, so it happens naturally. If you seem to have a trouble-some check in your wood, then you should fill it using backer rod and then apply caulk. Backer rod is a foam which sits between the cavity, acting as a bond breaker – it allows the chink or caulk to stick.
It goes without saying that you’ll want to look for any signs of damage. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to treat the area and repair it or it may need replacing altogether.
Just as you would with naturally occurring cracks, you can use chinking and caulking. Identify the damage and clean the logs in preparation. Install the backer rod into the gaps and then apply chinking/caulking to fill it in.
Rot is also a sign of damage.
Replacing badly rotten wooden logs
If you’ve got a bad case of rot, then it’s best to completely replace the rotten logs. To do so you should first acquire a suitable replacement which matches the rest of your cabin. Then you use a saber saw to cut through the screws which hold the logs together. Afterwards, you can use a chainsaw and wrecking bar to cut and remove the rotting log from the rest of your cabin.
Now you want to slide your replacement log into place and secure it in place using plated deck screws. Next, you’ll want to some chinking to seal the joints between the logs. Lastly, apply a wood preservative to the area.
Repairing small amounts of rot from wooden logs
If the rot is not very bad and it appears to only affect the surface of the logs, then you can cut out the rotten part of the log. You can do so using a chisel. Then use a wood preservative on the area. Lastly you can apply wood epoxy to the area, let it dry and paint over it.
Stains and Discoloration
If logs have water constantly dripping onto them, the finish will wear-out, and the moisture will soak into the logs. This will eventually lead to the growth and mold and rot. If rot occurs, then you can refer to the instructions above on how to deal with rotten wooden logs.
If rot hasn’t yet occurred, then you should prevent the issue of water splashing/dripping onto wooden logs by using gutters or other solutions to re-direct water away from the logs.
Discoloration may also occur where wood finish and mold has begun to grow. You should drench affected areas with a ½ mixture of bleach and water. Use a soft brush and scrub the mixture into the logs. You don’t have to scrub very hard; the bleach will kill the mold and neutralize spores and allergens.
Lastly, you want to look for any signs of an infestation or presence of termites. Termites are every cabin owner’s worst nightmare. In a termite’s eyes, your home is a gingerbread house.
You should be looking for small holes in your logs. Other signs of termites are mud tubes/tunnels and droppings. I have a guide on How to Prevent Termites from Ruining your Cabin – I recommend you check it out as it explains exactly what options you have to preventing and getting rid of termites.
Cleaning Your Cabin
After you’ve carried out a thorough inspection of your cabin made the necessary repairs, the next step to restoring your cabin to its original glory is cleaning it.
Your cabin would have accumulated a lot of dust and dirt.
All of this will have to be washed off if you want your cabin to shine once again.
The best way to do this is to use a pressure washer. If you don’t already have one, then I’d recommend this pressure washer from Amazon. The SPX3000 by Sun Joe is an extremely effective pressure washer, you’ll be surprised when you see how inexpensive it is.
After you’ve given your cabin a good wash down, the next step is to scrape the surface of the logs. This will allow the stain to stick to the logs better. This process is known as corn cob blasting.
Corn cob blasting is a finish removal system which involves using a high volume of compressed air to strip a layer off the wooden logs. It is like using a pressure washer, but it uses compressed air rather than water. This is great as it means that there is no drying process.
Staining Your Cabin
The final step is the restoration of your log cabin is the staining process.
Staining your log cabin will ensure it’s longevity by protecting it from UV rays and the harmful elements such as wind, snow, rain, dust and more. Treating your log cabin with stain is a easy and simple process. A few coats of stain will not only greatly improve the longevity of your log cabin but also give it a quality, rich and polished look.
I’d recommend one of the following stains:
Applying Stain to Your Cabin
Firstly, prepare the cabin by taping up the windows, the door and the concrete footings. You’ll also want to cover any accessories which you don’t want to get covered in stain.
Next, you have the choice of either applying the stain with a brusher or a sprayer. In most situations, a sprayer works best as it helps distribute the spray more evenly. Though a brush is recommended for touch-ups.
Regardless of your application tool, create a thick coat all over the cabin’s logs. Make sure to get in between the gaps as this is where moisture is likely to infiltrate.
Let the stain dry, this make take a day or two.
Afterwards, apply a second coat.
Your stain should now be complete. As part of your cabin maintenance, you should be restaining every 3-7 years, depending on how much exposure to the elements your cabin gets, and the type of stain used.
Congratulations, you are now the owner of a brand-new cabin once again!
Or at least now you are ready to renovate your old cabin.
The log cabin restoration process really isn’t difficult and most things you can do yourself. If you ever get stuck, you can always hire a professional to do the work for you. As a DIY person, I personally do everything myself apart from the cob blasting stage which I have a friend who does it for me.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment down below. I’d be more than happy to answer any queries you may have. I’d also love to hear about your experience with restoring your cabin.