Log Staining & Chinking
One key step in log building is staining the logs to seal in their natural beauty and color.
We used a water-borne latex stain which comes in several shades. We chose a light natural tone. It's designed to not only highlight the color and the grain of the wood, but also to seal the wood against moisture.
To apply it, our subcontractor used a low-pressure sprayer. A brush or lint-free cloth would also work. The stain actually coats the wood fibers to protects them against fungus and mildew. It keeps the rain out, but also allows any moisture in the logs to evaporate.
We'll put on another coat next year to cover the shrinkage and cracking that occur in any new log home. This type of water-borne stain will weather gradually but safely, without harming the environment.
Once all of the framing was done on the inside, we stained there too. First we sanded the logs, cleaned them, and masked off the windows. We used the same shade as the outside, but we used a different formula. The exterior stain had a fungicide and a mildecide which makes it unsuitable for the inside. It also had ultra-violet inhibitors which aren't necessary for the inside unless you'll be getting a lot of direct sun.
Starting at the top, we sprayed the logs with a low-pressure garden sprayer. Then we brushed the stain in to eliminate runs and to really penetrate the wood with the stain. We also coated the ceiling boards with this stain to keep the color uniform.
One of the specialized jobs in building a log home is the chinking that goes in between the logs.
The first step is to stick backer rod into the cracks. This comes in several shapes and sizes to fill the varied log gaps. The kind used for our cabin was called trap rod which is shaped like a trapezoid; narrow on one side and wide on the other.
The rod usually fits tight enough to hold itself in, but sometimes they have to staple it in.
Next they used a mortar bag to squeeze out a bead of chinking material over the backer rod. This material is a vast improvement over the mortar used in older log homes. This is a flexible synthetic that expands and contracts with the shifting of a log home to keep a tight weather seal.
It's also resistant to chemicals, salt, moisture and mildew and it comes in several colors. We chose a light gray to give us the rustic look of mortar.
After the chinking was spread out they went over it with a trowel to help smooth it out. It's water based so misting with water helps to smooth it out.
They chinked both the inside and outside of the cabin which gives us better insulation value. The air space in between the two layers acts like a thermos bottle or a thermal pane of glass.