Today’s log-home stains and sealants have come a long way from the finishes that were made from alkyd oil-based or natural oil resins such as linseed, tung, soya and paraffin. The resins were often blended with waxes to provide additional water repellency, and then diluted with a mineral spirit solvent.

Technological advances and environmental regulations on emission levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have spurred the development of new products. Water-based products, particularly those formulated with certain water-reducible synthetic oils and resins, have excellent penetration and perform as well as, or better than, oil-based (alkyd) finishes.

According to Sean Gahan, senior chemist for Perma-Chink Systems, Inc., “The biggest change and improvement that has taken place in the last few years is adjusting to EPA regulations and their directive to use only water-based rather than solvent-based stains and sealants.”

“There is still some demand from those who originally used oil-based stain on their log homes,” Sean says, “but the new film-forming stains and seals breathe to let interior log moisture out, thus creating a longer holding system.”

Much money has gone into research and development of these products, resulting in better knowledge of product formulations and environmental safety. “We test the various modified polymers with different additives to see how they function, adhere, and move with the logs in different weather conditions and create a product for a lower cost,” says Sean.

“We do testing of our products out on the test fence to see how each product stands up to our other products and to the competition. To get the Lifeline product we now have taken 60 quality-controlled lab batches (tests) and then tweaked the formula to create a product with the best coating, flow, dry time and ease of application and then longevity. We measure these factors and come up with a product that we feel will please the customer.”

“We accelerate weather conditions by placing test samples on various wood strips and put them through 12 freeze/thaw cycles, and then put them in a hot box that reaches over 100 degrees for an extended period of time,” says Sean. “We even built a moat to test products that were held under water for days. The degradation was insignificant.”