Stacking the Logs – Part 3
Log Home Diary Entry #22
The first-floor stacking of the logs continued for 20 courses. The standard is 18 courses, but we opted for 20 to give us 10-foot ceilings on the first floor. We wanted to maintain an open, airy feeling in those parts of the first floor that would be underneath the second floor, and we thought an extra foot would help do that.
It’s time to add the second-floor girder beams and floor beams. Our supplier’s girder beams, which support one end of the floor beams, are made of two log courses (as shown in the photo). The girder beams and floor beams are pre-notched into the exterior log wall and cut to length at the mill. The top of the second-floor girder needs to be flush with the 20th log course. You can see in the picture that the first course of girder is at the 18th-course level of the wall.
The girder logs are supported by vertical support posts. These support posts are cut to length on-site. They are put in precise position and made plumb. Each support post sits on a screw jack for making small adjustments to ensure the girders are level. With the second-floor girders in place, level and plumb, the second-floor beams can be installed.
Some fiddling (not a construction term) may be needed here. For example, a long piece of wood like a beam may have a tendency to crown or cup a bit. It’s best to install these with the crown up, so the weight of the finished floor counteracts this over time. Also, shims may be needed to assure each beam is completely level. I can’t say for certain this was or wasn’t an issue on our log home. If it was an issue, it was done in an unobtrusive way.
With the log beams in place the second floor, it would seem to be ready for floor decking. But there is no roof, so we’re wondering what’s going to be done. Well, it’s apparently common practice to use the roof sheathing as a temporary floor over the beam system. The floor decking can then be added after the house is "dried in." This also gets the roof sheathing closer to where it ultimately will be installed. It’s clever construction techniques like this that just make us smile — it’s just plain smart.
Log courses for the second floor walls can now be laid. After the second-floor walls are completed, the gable ends can be constructed. One end of the house has a cathedral ceiling great room, and here the gable logs go all the way up. At the other end of the house, full logs only go as high as the ceiling of the second floor. Above that, where insulation isn’t a consideration, log siding is used to match the full logs. This saves a bit of money — always a good thing.
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