Wood Sealant Options
The lowdown on sealants: Keeping your home worry-free and snug
by: loghome.com editorial staff

Spend a night in a log home and you know: It’s one snug piece of architecture. Indeed, sealants—applied between log courses and around openings such as windows and doors—are your protection against four seasons of weather.

Log home designers have engineered their wall systems to allow for movement while maintaining a tight seal. The greatest amount of movement or settlement in your walls will occur during the first three to five years after construction, depending on your climate and your wall system. After this period, movement slows down and won’t be noticeable. A successful sealant system should accommodate both the amount of movement in the first few years as well as slower changes that occur over time.
Certain locations, particularly around doors and windows or at corners, are more prone to leaks. Seldom do sealants fail in more than one or two locations, unless the home wasn’t built to the producer’s construction specifications.

Sealants vary in their ease of application, cost, durability and aesthetic appeal. Log home producers typically recommend one or more sealant product lines to match their log profile or building system. Here’s a rundown of the sealant products you might hear about when planning your home:

Caulk. Fills joints and spaces between logs. Caulk comes in tubes or pails and is applied with a caulk gun in a narrow strip or "bead" that dries to a tough elastic coating. It’s applied in a color that matches the wood tone so that it’s not prominent when viewed from a distance.

Chinking. Material used between rows of logs. Most often used in log systems where logs don’t directly contact the course below, but are separated by a space of about 1 inch or more. Modern synthetic chinking, manufactured to look like traditional chinking, is similar to caulk but with greater density and overall durability.

Splines. A rigid wood, plastic or metal piece used to seal joints. On log homes, splines are sometimes used in the joint where adjacent logs butt together. They’re also used in some milled and handcrafted systems to align, hold and seal window and door bucks to logs.
Foam Gaskets. Compressible foam material, usually water-resistant, used between logs and other building components to prevent air and water infiltration. Many tongue-and-groove log systems use foam gaskets to seal the joints between adjacent rows of logs.

Want to put a little sweat equity into your home and apply the sealants yourself? Be careful—and think about your skill level for doing this type of work. Also, follow your log home manufacturer’s recommendations. If you don’t, certain warranties that the manufacturer offers may not apply. Your home’s building system will most likely determine which sealant program to use.

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