Depending on the age and location of your cabin, it may require maintenance often than others.
The most important part of maintaining your log cabin is inspection. You should be constantly inspecting your cabin for signs of mould, bugs, gaps, cracks and holes. The earlier you identify a problem, the easier it will be to solve. If a problem isn’t treated early, it will only worsen and be more difficult and expensive to correct.
Every log cabin will need its logs stained every few years. This is a great video which explains how to apply log home stain. I’d highly recommend you give it a watch if you intend on restaining your own home.
Don’t be alarmed, there’s nothing difficult about maintaining a cabin. It does take a bit more effort than maintaining a normal house, but I wouldn’t it’s much more difficult.
You can do most things yourself without professional assistance. Though, professional help could be more convenient if you have the money to spend.
In this article, I’ll explain in detail how to maintain your log cabin.
Types of Maintenance
Before we begin, I’d like to clear up that when I refer to maintenance, I’m referring to the structure of your cabin. You’ll obviously also want to take care of the inside of your home, but this guide will explain how to prevent your cabin from crumbling to the ground.
Quick lit of activities you’ll have to carry out to maintain your cabin:
- Clean your gutters
- Chinking (sealing the joins between logs)
- Carry out rodent control
- Clean any mould or mildew
- Seal cracks, gaps and any type of opening
- Apply stain to your logs
I’ll go into more detail on these activities in this guide, don’t you worry.
Some of these activities are more important than others depending on your cabin and its location. For example, carrying out rodent control may be vital to keeping your home alive if you live in an area full of rodents, whereas for others it may not be required at all.
Some things should take place more often than others. For example, chinking should take place annually though staining can be done every few years.
Staining Cabin Logs
We don’t just stain our cabins for the aesthetic benefits – staining is essential to the maintenance of your log cabin. Just like we protect our skins from the sun, we must also protect our cabins from the sun. The sun emits harmful UV rays which lead to the destruction of your home in the long term.
Staining protects the logs from other harmful elements which the weather introduces such as snow, wind, sun, rain, sand and dust. A stain shield should also provide some protection against mould, bugs and fungus. Overall, the life-span of your cabin will be significantly increased with regular restaining.
Let’s not forget that staining will provide your home with a lovely polished, rich and youthful glow.
There are two main types of stain. Water-based and oil-based.
Water-based stains can be applied straight onto the wood without any need for primer. Before applying any stain, the wood should be free of any dust or dirt, dry and previous coating should be removed professionally. This type of stain is water resistant.
Oil-based stains provide long lasting UV protection and are highly water and fungi repellent. These treatments are often significantly thicker than water-based stains and come in a variety of different colours. Oil-based stains are known for being more durable than water-based stains and only require a restain every 4 years. Though, depending only the location of your cabin, it may need to be treated more often than this.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should always stick to one type of stain. Oil and water-based stains do not mix together. Therefore, it’s important to stick to what you already have.
If you do really want to switch to a different type of stain, then you’ll need to have your previous stain removed professionally. Because of this, it’s very important that you know what stain was previously used on your cabin. If you’re not sure, then find out!
What Stains Are Available?
There are plenty of different stains available but finding the right one is very important. I’d highly recommend that you skip the local hardware store as your highly likely to end up purchasing a low-quality stain, from someone who has no idea what exactly you need. Instead, shop online as that way you’re able to browse a wider variety of products with detailed descriptions and reviews available.
Best Stain for Log Cabins?
I’d recommend the following stains for your log cabin:
Ready Seal truly enhances the beauty of your cabin whilst still maintaining its natural look by allowing the grain and texture of the wood to stay visible. This stain does not require primer, wet-line application or back brushing. When first applied it may seem dark however it will reach its true colour after 14 days approximately.
Q8 log oil by outlast is a high-quality oil-based stain. It is designed to control decay and rot. This stain is toxic to powder post beetles and termites. This is a non-film forming treatment which won’t peel or crack.
This is a high-performance translucent stain for log cabins. This is a two-coat stain that produces a durable surface barrier which prevents your cabin from weathering. The product promises a premium look in just two coats.
This is a deep penetrating oil-based stain, perfect for log cabins, wood fences and wood sliding. It’s very easy to apply and maintain. This product is ideal for use on new wood, this is because it doesn’t require the wood to “weather out”. Provides a rich natural finish.
How to Apply Stain:
Before you begin applying stain to your home, you’ll want to prepare the surface firstly. This involves thoroughly cleaning it and allowing it to properly dry.
Make sure you stir your stain every now and then. The pigments in the stain tend to be heavier than the other ingredients and therefore sink to the bottom when left stagnant for a long time. This means if you don’t stir your stain, some portions of your log home may look darker than others.
Apply the stain with whatever application method you prefer. Popular methods are a sprayer and a paintbrush. The best way to do it is to use a sprayer to apply the stain and use the paintbrush to back-brush.
Ensure that you’re constantly back brushing for better penetration of the stain into the logs. When back brushing, use consistent even strokes to get rid of the brush lines.
If you must stop in the middle of the wall, ensure that you feather it out rather than stop abruptly. Stopping abruptly will create a line that difficult to blend in after it’s dried.
Depending on your stain, you may need more than one coat.
I’d recommend watch this video for a more detailed guide on applying log home stain.
Chinking & Caulking
Chinking is the material found in the gaps between logs of your cabin. This creates a seal, protecting your cabin from external elements which could infiltrate your home. Without chinking, your cabin could fall victim to unwanted intruders such as pests and bugs, as well as drafts, dirt and other types of debris.
Not every cabin will need chinking depending on the notch used. Some cabins will have air-tight notches and therefore won’t require chinking. Though all other types of notches will require chinking.
Chinking lasts a long time, so it’s not something you have to worry about too often. A good chinking job can last for up to 30 years! Though, depending on the location of your cabin, it could last a lot shorter period. Exposure to hot temperature and rain can accelerate the chinking’s life-span.
You should inspect your cabin for crevices, gaps and cracks. Once you’ve identified a gap, you’ll need to prepare the logs by cleaning them thoroughly. The logs should be free of any dirty. If there is currently cracked or failed chinking/caulking, then you’ll want to remove it first.
Next you should install a backer rod to the area. This is foam which sits between the log’s cavity and acts as a bond breaker, allowing the chinking to adhere to both the top and bottom of the long.
The area is now prepared and ready for the chinking or caulk to be applied.
For a more detailed guide on chinking, click here.
Cleaning Your Cabin
General maintenance of your cabins surrounding area is also important. Any trees which may be growing too close to your home will have to be trimmed or even cut down completely. Any type of greenery that gets to close to your home should be removed to prevent moisture being absorbed into your cabin’s logs.
Keep the interior of your cabin clean. Spilled liquids will create a sticky mess which could invite insects into your home.
I have created a detailed guide on cleaning your cabins floors. I’d suggest you give it a read as it’s an essential part to the maintenance of your home.
It’s important to keep your cabin clean and free of mold. Inspect your home regularly, just walk around it and inspect for rotting wood and signs of mold. Dark spots can indicate that moisture has made its way into the logs and thus eventually causing rot. Take notes of anything that looks a bit ‘off’. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Remember that the northern side of your home is likely to be the worst affected by rot and mold. This is because it’s most likely shaded and therefore moisture tends to sit around.
After you’ve made note of and marked any mold/rot or anything which looks suspicious, prepare a mixture of bleach and water. This mixture should be half bleach and half water. Get yourself a soft brush and scrub. You don’t need to scrub too hard, the bleach will kill the mold. The bleach also neutralizes any spores and allergens.
The problem with bleach and the reason we dilute the mixture with water is because bleach is corrosive. This means that if you use too much, too often, the bleach will begin to corrode your cabin’s logs. Because of this, some people prefer to use log cleaner.
I’d recommend this CPR Log & Wood Cleaner/Brightener. It doesn’t contain chlorine bleach so it’s safe for your cabin. It’s easy to use, simply apply it with a brush or sprayer and then wiped or power washed off. This is a quality product by Sascho.
I usually use the SPR log cleaner before every restain to ensure that the surface is completely clean. If you intend on doing the same, make sure you allow the surface to dry for a couple of days before you apply the stain otherwise the stain may not adhere completely.
I have a detailed guide in which I explain how to keep bugs and rodents out of your cabin. If you want to ensure that your cabin is completely bug and rodent free, I suggest you give it a read.
When living in a remote location, you’re always going to susceptible to unwanted visitors.
Lucky for us there are many ways in which we can control this issue.
The most effective method is prevention. This involves not giving any rodents or critters a reason to want to enter your home. You can do this by keeping your cabin clean, it’s just important to keep your interior clean as it is to keep your exterior clean.
You should not leave any food lying around that animals can smell. Keep your food sealed or covered in tubs, cans and zip-lock bags. This will trap odour, preventing odour leakage which could lure animals to your home.
You can prevent insects and rodents from getting inside your cabin by sealing any possible entry points. Rodents such as mice can squeeze their way through the smallest of gaps due to their long, flexible and cylindrical skeleton. This makes it important to seal even the tightest holes and gaps in your cabin.
Another effective method is the use of traps and poison. There are plenty of different traps and poison you can get to protect your cabin. I’d always recommend having a bug barrier set-up; this is something you spray outside your cabin to prevent insects from getting anywhere near it.
It’s important to ensure that your cabin’s roof is in good health. Keep an eye out for leaks. Moisture coming through leaks could cause your logs to rot.
If your cabin is situated in an area with a lot of snow fall, it would be very beneficial for you to clear the snow off the roof occasionally. This is reliefs the extra weight off your roof. Your cabins structure will thank you for this.
You’ll also want to inspect your gutter every month or two. Leaves and other bits of debris can clog your gutter and cause excess moisture to sit on your home., thus leading to rot. Cleaning your gutter is extremely easy so there’s no reason not to maintain it.
My name is Eugene Thornhill. I'm an outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing more than being one with nature. I've lived in numerous outdoor homes and even constructed my own. Living off-grid is something I'm very familiar with, more so than living in the city. For many years I've dealt with the many problems of living off-grid. It's time to pass on my knowledge through Cabinguides.