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Simple Steps to Keep Your Log Home in Tip-Top Shape

Follow these nine smart steps to make short work of your log home’s upkeep:

Photo: Modern Rustic Log Homes
Every home, no matter what materials comprise its makeup, requires maintenance. A log home’s honey-do checklist is just a little different from a conventional brick or vinyl-sided house. Designing it strategically and following your maintenance regimen from the start will go a long way to keeping your log walls looking and performing like new.

1. Plan it properly.

Reducing your home’s maintenance begins with how it sits on your land. Site your home to combat prevailing weather patterns and slope the ground away from the house for good drainage. Keeping your home’s foundation at least 6 inches above grade (experts suggest as much as 24 inches in some areas) before your first log course will combat damage from pooling water or insects. Incorporating inorganic materials, like stone, will offer additional protection as well as natural beauty.

2. Design deep eaves.

Roof overhangs that are at least 3 feet deep will help safeguard your exterior logs from excessive moisture and sun exposure. An added benefit? It’s the perfect excuse for a wraparound porch.

3. Install gutter guards.

A mesh cover on top of your gutters and downspouts will help keep leaves and debris out while allowing rainwater to filter through. This will keep moisture from backing up under the eaves and saturating your exterior logs (or leaking into your home).

4. Apply sunblock.

Like your skin, wood is susceptible to UV-ray damage. The sun’s harsh rays can cause logs to break down. Pigmented stains and products infused with UV combatants will help mitigate the damaging effects of the sun.

5. Give your home regular check-ups.

Twice each year (spring and fall are best), take some time to walk around your house. Look for upward-facing checks (separation in the wood fibers), which could collect rainwater and cause damage to the logs. Also, both inside your home and out, look for breaches in the chinking or sealant, which could let water or air seep in. If you see signs of these issues, deal with them immediately by filling the checks with sealant or mending the chinking.

6. Administer the water test.

Using a garden hose or water bottle, spray your exterior log walls in several places. If the water beads up, your sealant is still working. If the water soaks in, causing dark, damp patches on the logs, it’s probably time for a fresh coat. Be sure to closely examine the log ends, which can absorb water up to 10 times the rate of the horizontal log surface.

7. Look for signs of mold or mildew.

Because exterior logs are exposed to a hefty amount of moisture, it’s important to keep on top of mold or mildew buildup, which will likely be in the form of a black or grayish-green film. Most log home preservatives have a mildewcide built in, but regular inspections will ensure they’re doing their job. Keeping your log walls clean should prevent fungus from happening in the first place.

8. Keep an eye on the roof.

Whether it’s cedar shakes or standing-seam metal, make sure your roofing material is still going strong, particularly around chimneys and in valleys where rooflines meet. Signs of buckling, bulges or breaches mean it’s time to call the pros.

9. Keep landscaping away from the wood.

Ideally, ground cover and mulch should be kept at least 3 feet away from the bottom log course. Creating a greenery-free perimeter will usher debris, bugs and excess moisture away from the walls, helping to prevent mold, insect and water damage. Likewise, tree canopies should be kept away from your roof to minimize the accumulation of fallen leaves and twigs.
If you see problems in any of these areas, repair them quickly. A few touch-ups along the way beat a major overhaul down the road.

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