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Ask the Expert: How Do I Clean a Log Home?

In this helpful guide, the experts at Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. cover the when, where and how of cleaning your log home.

When thinking about habits and chores, it's easy to understand the importance of regular tasks, like changing the sheets, washing the dishes or vacuuming the floors. Cleaning a home's exterior doesn't usually make this list, but if you have a log home, it should. Proper cleaning of your log home's exterior safeguards its durability, longevity and appearance. It's a preventative measure against decay, helping ensure optimum performance and protection for your investment. 

Photo: Courtesy Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

Fortunately, cleaning a log home's exterior can be easy. It's simply a matter of finding the right product for the job—and making a habit of it. Here's an overview to get you started: 

A Clean Start

There are two types of log-home cleanings: 1) regular maintenance cleaning, and 2) preparation for applying a stain or sealant. 

A Maintenance Cleaning Routine

One of the best things a homeowner can do for their log home is establish a cleaning routine. A simple rinse with a product like Log Wash by Perma-Chink Systems once each year is optimal, preferably in late spring after pollen season. This environmentally friendly, low-pH cleaner is formulated to remove surface contaminants gently and effectively. 
Not only will washing your home freshen up the color by removing built-up dust and grime, it's also the perfect time for your annual inspection. With this approach, you can catch any issues early before they become bigger and potentially more costly.

Cleaning a Home in Preparation for Staining

When prepping a log home exterior for a stain, it doesn't matter if the home is brand new with logs that have never been treated or if you're reapplying; either way, the logs must be cleaned to remove surface contaminants — dirt, dust, mold, pollen and more — all of which will affect the wood's appearance and ability for the sealant or stain to adhere to the log.
This may come as a surprise, as you might think that brand-new logs are good to go. In fact, they need just as much attention to cleaning and prep before staining as older logs. Between milling, transporting and being on the construction site, they are exposed to car exhaust particulates, dust, pollen and other contaminants... even if covered.

Photo: Courtesy Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.
In both scenarios, a product like Log Wash is a perfect solution for the job.

 A Note on Weathered Wood

Sometimes, a homeowner is faced wtih cleaning previously untreated wood that is older and weathered. When exposed to the elements, bare wood will oxidize and change color. Because wood isn't exposed to UV light evenly, the oxidation will create a blotchy, spotty appearance. Perma-Chink's Wood ReNew can remove stains, brighten grayed and weathered wood and give it a consistent color. 
Some homeowners love the weathered patina of silvered logs that are found in older, historic structures. Because weathering happens unevenly and takes years, we recommend using a gray stain to achieve that same look. This way you get gorgeous rustic style, but with all the protection against moisture, extreme weather, insects and UV exposure.

Photo: Courtesy Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.


Spot Treatment

Facing Mother Nature's elements day in and day out, logs can occasionally develop stains. Luckily, water stains, tannin stains and iron and rust from nails, spikes and screws are all treatable; with a smart strategy, you can return your logs to their original glory. For these trouble spots, we recommend a stain remover like oxalic acid; Oxcon is our version. Note—be sure to apply it across the entire wall to ensure uniformity. 

Species Specialties

From Douglas fir and Southern pine to spruce and cypress—there's a variety of wood species to choose from when building your log home, and their maintenance needs to be just as unique. Take for example cedar log homes, which might call for a product like Cedar Wash. This product is similar to Log Wash but is specially formulated for cedar wood or any red wood. It contains components that penetrate deep into the fibers to remove excessive oils and resins. 


Cleaning Made Easy (and Green!)

Perma-Chink Systems cleaning products make it easy to get into a routine; plus, the application is just as simple. If the solution is concentrated, just add water according to the instructions, apply with a standard green sprayer, then rinse. And, you can rest easy knowing that all Perma-Chink Systems formulas are made without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are environmentally friendly. Think of it as protecting nature's beauty... from your home to the environment surrounding it!

Photo: Courtesy Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

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