Log Home Planning 101
Five questions about logs to prepare you for the main event
by: Log Home Living editorial staff

Logs


1. What type of wood goes into a log home?
There is no single best species of wood for a log home. Some types of wood work better with different construction systems. Some cost more than others, so your selection may be a matter of economics. Still others call for less maintenance over the years. Your choice often boils down to the type of wood your log producer offers or suggests. (To learn about different log species, click here.)

2. Does the moisture content of logs matter?

There is no consensus on this question. You essentially have the following options: Timbers that have dried naturally before being cut are called standing dead logs. Cut logs that have undergone a drying process are kiln-dried or air-dried logs. Many people build with "green" logs, which have a high moisture content. Your choice of logs might have an impact on the selection of other building materials, as well as on the construction method. Ask the log producer to advise you on your particular project.

3. Are the logs treated with chemicals? If so, what kind?

Many log producers apply a short- or long-term preservative during the processing stage. As a general rule, a short-term preservative goes on areas subject to high humidity so that the logs will maintain their color during shipping and construction. Even then, the application is done only in warm months. Other log producers apply long-term or permanent preservatives. Usually, these treatments are to prevent wood deterioration caused by insects, mold, mildew and fungus. Preservatives sometimes affect the selection of stains and caulking used to achieve a specific look. Ask the producer whether the logs for your home will be treated and how long the protection will last.

4. Do logs come already cut to size?

A log home package typically comes in one of two ways. One of those is the precut package. Logs are cut at the processing plant and delivered already sized so that the frame can be constructed without saws and drills. They also may include the convenience of pre-drilled holes for electrical wiring. The second kind includes logs that must be cut to the correct length and notched at the building site. Within this second category, you have two options: a partially precut package or a random-length package. Partially precut logs require less preparation work onsite than the random-length variety.

One method is no better than the other. A prepared package is more expensive but quicker to construct, thus eliminating expensive onsite work. If you are planning to complete some of the work yourself, you may prefer to spend less money upfront and invest more time in hands-on work.

5. What are log profiles?

The term "profile" refers to the shape of the logs. The most common are round, square, rectangular and what are called D-logs. Often, these are embellished with curves and beveled edges. The choice of profiles to a great extent determines the appearance of a log home. Ask to see examples of how the logs will look after they are stacked. This result is impacted by several factors: the height and width of the logs; the butt joints, which are the vertical intersections created where the ends of the logs meet; and the horizontal joints established by the intersection of the tops and bottoms of logs. Structural differences between various profiles usually are not a concern. Log home producers tend to offer an array of log profiles to increase their product’s appeal to customers.

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