By Lee Denman, Intensified Wood Restoration
There are essentially two types of log home stains available on the market today:
Oil-based (Alkyd) Log Home Stains
Latex-based Log Home Stains
Acrylic Latex-based Log Home Stains
Varnishes for Log Homes
Oil-based Semi-transparent Log Home Stains
PROS: Wood grain visibility, UV Protection, Non Porous, Easy application, longer open times.
CONS: Trap Moisture, Brittle, Can't Breathe, Weather Quickly, Coat build-up over time, Blistering occurs if moisture is present behind finish, High Maintenance.
PROS: Breathable, Flexible, Durable, High UV Protection, Porous, Easy application, Low maintenance, Long life, low odor.
CONS: Won't prevent decay if conditions are favorable, Short Shelf Life.
PROS: Breathable, Flexible, Durable, High UV Protection, Wood grain visibility, Porous, Low maintenance, Long life, low odor.
CONS: More difficult to apply than oil based stains and solid color stains, fast drying times.
PROS: Allow for natural look of logs.
CONS: High maintenance, prone to Cracking, Peeling and Blistering, Requires recoating every 1-2 years, Partial UV protection.
PROS: Penetrate into wood, Wood grain visibility, Breathable, High UV protection.
CONS: Perform best on rough sawn, weathered, or course textured wood. Compatibility issues with most log home sealants due to waxes found in most penetrating finishes. Don't have a furniture grade finish look (dull), must apply second coat before first coat dries in order for stain to penetrate wood. Vapor barrier, non-breathable.
So we have all this helpful information on the types of log home stains but which log home stain is the best? It is hard to say which one is the absolute best because there are many factors that ultimately decide how well or long a log home stain will perform. Some of these factors are:
Of all these factors none is more important than proper surface preparation of the logs before applying a log home stain. If the surface of the logs has not been prepped properly none of these log home stains will perform as they state they will. This is why it is important to only hire a qualified log home restoration expert to work on your log home! They will have the knowledge and expertise to work with the products available in the current log home market. This will ensure your investment is protected well into the future.
While we can’t say which log home stain is the overall best, we can recommend which type of log home finishes we feel perform exceptionally well and keep maintenance costs down throughout the years. This only holds true if proper surface preparation is kept in mind before and during any finish or sealant application. In our opinion, film-forming, latex based waterborne log home finishes such as Perma-Chink Systems’ Lifeline is best bang for your buck!
While Perma-Chink Systems finishes aren't the cheapest out there they seem to require the least amount of maintenance based on our 25+ years of experience restoring log homes and log cabins of all sizes and shapes. They also offer an unmatched 5 year warranty on their log home stains when applied properly and maintained accordingly.
Lee Denman is the founder of Intensified Wood Restoration Company
Want to try Perma-Chink Systems products? Order free samples online here.
Your decks and railings do not weather in a uniform fashion like your log walls. After a year or two with some deck stains, areas exposed to direct sunlight may hold little or no trace of the original finish, while shaded surfaces may show very little, if any degradation.
There are three primary elements to your deck which can maximize longevity and structural integrity as well as aesthetics. These include periodic maintenance between applications of stain, preparation of applying new stain and the staining itself.
Regardless of the stain used on your deck, its life can be extended with periodic cleaning. Pooling water can easily be swept off with a push-broom, which can help prevent premature failure of your deck stain. However, cleaning it periodically will make the biggest contribution to maximizing its life and appearance. A diluted solution of Log Wash™ (1 cup per gallon) can easily be applied through a garden pump sprayer ($20 - $30 at any garden center or hardware store) then lightly pressure washed off. If you don’t have access to a pressure washer, a strong jet stream from a garden hose will also work. Remember, here you are trying to clean the deck, not remove the finish.
For decks that may have excessive levels of dirt, mildew, green algae, etc., the mechanical action of scrubbing or using a medium bristle push broom after applying Log Wash will help a lot. Make sure to thoroughly rinse off all detergents as you never want them to dry on the wood surface.
For decks that have darkened from sun exposure with little or no stain left, a deeper pressure washing can be done to remove the darkened surface in order to get down to clean, bright wood. Photos 1 and 2 above show these results. If necessary, Wood ReNew™ and a pressure washer may be used to clean away any gray UV damaged wood fibers, as well as deep rooted mold and dirt residue.
Your deck is ready to stain immediately after cleaning. Pick your color and apply 1 coat of Deck Defense. Once the initial coat of Deck Defense applied to bare wood, a future maintenance coat applied to a surface previously coated with Deck Defense is easy - clean and recoat, no mechanical or chemical stripping required.
During the winter months it's important to be aware of the freeze-thaw stability of Perma-Chink's products. The reason may involve shipping conditions or whether it is okay to store a product or products in an unheated shed. In any case you need to be aware of the consequences of allowing any of our products to freeze.
Without a doubt it is always best to prevent any of our finishes and sealants from freezing. They all contain water and the formation of ice crystals within the products can separate the water from the other components. In some products once this occurs it becomes impossible to regain the properties of the original formulation even after thawing and vigorous mixing. These types of products are not freeze-thaw stable.
With a few exceptions most of our products are freeze-thaw stable, however, if a product becomes frozen it needs to be thawed slowly, preferably at room temperature. Speeding up the thawing process by heating the container can seriously damage the product making it unusable. If the product is in pails or containers, once it has completely thawed it will require a thorough mixing.
If a product is subjected to multiple freeze-thaw cycles each cycle will contribute to the degradation process until it is no longer suitable for use. If a product becomes frozen it is better to allow it to stay frozen than it is to bring it inside to thaw and then store it where it may freeze again. It's the succession of freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw sequences that really destroys the integrity of a product. Before applying any product that's been frozen be sure to test a small amount to see if it is still usable.
Perma-Chink Systems’ products that are NOT freeze-thaw stable:
Perma-Chink Systems’ products that have limited freeze-thaw stability (5 cycles):
We are asked this question very frequently about our two biggest selling log home sealants. Both of these sealants were formulated to weatherproof joinery in log and log sided buildings. Our simplest answer is that in general, Perma-Chink should be used in applications where the seam width is one inch or wider and Energy Seal is a better choice in sealant seams that are narrower than one inch or where joinery was not intended to have chinking applied to it. However, this answer is overly simplistic when you consider the variety of log profiles and joinery types and many different surfaces that come together to make up a finished log structure.
By Tony Huddleston
VP of Sales and Operations, Perma-Chink Systems
Log home living in today’s world can be linked to the same pioneer spirit that helped many of our ancestors forge a new world. The spirit that dwells in so many of us tells us that we want something different from all the rest. Something that enables us to have a different way of expressing our lifestyle that embodies the individuality in some of us that separates us from the masses.
The months or years that are spent researching log home styles, construction methods, visits to dealers and talking with homeowners about their homes are brought to reality when we finally move into a new log home. Hopefully during our quest for the home we wanted that our dealer advised us to plan for maintenance and to design our homes to be “maintenance friendly”. After all we, like our homes are not going to be forever young, so planning for maintenance down the road will pay off big dividends in years to come.
Today’s log homes are not the same homes our ancestors built, as they were often built strictly as a necessity for their families. There were very few thoughts as to anything other than shelter and protection from the elements as well as other predators. Log homes of today are engineered to be structurally sound and take advantage of energy-saving features, much the same as other homes. They are no longer viewed as “cabins”; they are primary homes and second homes or vacation getaways.
Having said that, all of the engineering, planning, and choices you make should also include planning for scheduled maintenance on your home. Maintenance should not be viewed as a chore or just an expense, it should be considered as an investment in your homes’ longevity and value. Properly cared for; log homes will appreciate in value, rather than depreciate. Download the "Inspection Checklist" in PDF here.
If you are new to the lifestyle of log homes, then possibly you may be new to the care and feeding of a log home and may have some questions or reservations as to how this should be done. With a little planning and timely execution it is not as difficult as it may seem.
Starting with the basics; a walk around your home at least twice a year will help you become acquainted with your home and the condition of the sealants and finishes. If you do see something, get up close and personal to see what is happening. Pay close attention to the South and West sides of your home as that is normally the areas that catch most of the sun, and the ultraviolet rays that come with sunlight will cause those areas to show the quickest signs of needing maintenance. Many folks are under the impression that you always have to re-stain the entire home; when in fact all you may need is a touch up on the weathered side.
During your walk around, pay attention to the sealing system on your home, especially around doors and windows. As checking and fissure development is a naturally occurring process in large timbers, make note of any checks that face upward to catch water and hold moisture that may cause problems. Take special note of any that run behind door and window trim that may allow moisture to work its way to the interior. Also look for any telltale signs that your stain or finish is beginning to need attention; fading, peeling, or dark areas under the finish are good indicators that mean it is time for a maintenance coat.
rotecting wood surfaces in a beach or water front environment is a challenging task. You are faced with numerous variables that contribute to erosion and degradation of the substrate including sunlight, wind, moisture, salt, and sand. The two most destructive environmental variables to an exterior coating system and wood are sunlight and water.
Sunlight is the major cause of damage to a number of materials, including plastics, textile, wood, coatings, and other organic materials. The type of damage, such as loss of gloss, chalking, elasticity, adhesion, and color change, varies depending on the material sensitivity and the spectrum of sunlight. Spectral sensitivity varies from material to material.
One component of sunlight is ultraviolet light, commonly referred to as UV. UV light is responsible for most damage to exposed wood because it changes or destroys the wood’s lignin, a component of wood that hardens and strengthens the cell walls. In more scientific terms this process is called photo-oxidation. The colorants contained in the color coats are responsible for absorbing UV light. The more colorant a finish contains the less UV light will get through to the wood itself.
Opaque finishes like paint and solid body stains are very efficient in blocking all of UV light from hitting the wood. That’s why when they peel off the freshly exposed wood may still look bright. On the other hand the objective of transparent stains is to allow the character of the wood to show through the finish.
In order to accomplish this transparency the pigment loading is significantly less than that contained in opaque finishes. Although some of the UV is blocked by the colorants, enough of it gets through to eventually photo-oxidize the wood. Since darker colors typically contain more colorant than lighter ones they tend to last longer. However, some lighter colors that contain titanium white, or KX colorant, also contain a high colorant loading which extends their life but they do give up some degree of transparency in return.
My name is Mike Samuels. I am a Log Home owner and recently started working for Perma-Chink Systems. So let me tell you how my story begins. We are going back to my childhood. My parents vacationed in Smoky Mountains once or twice a year. As a child I was very impressible and excited any time I was able to go on vacation. The trip always included a drive through the mountains, sightseeing around Cades Cove and driving up the most treacherous Ski Mountain Road.
On every visit to the Smoky Mountains, I remember making comments to my mother that one day when I grow up, I would have a log home or mountain chalet here. I made a lot of wishes to my mother growing up just as any kid does. I am sure that my mother listened to my comments in one ear and out the other. She was always very encouraging. I also remember that I told her I would be an US Air Force fighter pilot. Not everything comes true, but there is nothing wrong with dreaming.
I worked for one company for 38 years, mostly living in Houston, TX but my wife, Kathy, children and I lived in Tennessee for a total of 10 of the 38 years. Unfortunately the Tennessee years were located in the middle and west Tennessee, never East Tennessee. However, many of our family vacations were still in Smokies. My children were overwhelmed with the breathtaking views of the mountains as much as I was as a child.
Fast forward 40 years. Where did the time go? It was finally time to think about retirement and where my wife and I would spend the remainder of our lives. The decision was not as easy as one would think. The first place many people want to retire is the beach. That was our first idea, but Kathy and I looked at each other and simultaneously we said, How about Smokies, and How about a Log Home?
Kathy immediately logged on to the Internet and starting looking at land for sale. I can tell you that once my wife has a mission, she reacts quickly and thoroughly. Within minutes she found several pieces of property for sell. Of course, this would mean another vacation to Smoky Mountains to look and buy land. She planned out a trip, contacted a Real Estate company and put everything in motion.
We picked out approximately 10 properties to look at. Our real estate agent met us at the hotel around 8am on a Saturday. An early start was essential in order to look at all of the properties in a couple of days. It was rainy and cold. I believe the trip was in March, the best I can remember. We made it to all of the properties on Saturday… a very long Saturday. Kathy and I were a little car sick from the winding mountains roads and disappointed, because none of the properties made any significant impact on us.
|A Great View of the Smokey Mountains
Early on Sunday morning the rain had stopped so my wife and I decided to go out and search on our own for the perfect piece of land. What a difference does good weather makes. Kathy and I parked the car and started walking. We made it about half way up the property and were able to see nothing but trees and hillsides all around. We envisioned how a house would sit on the hillside. We walked up to the top of the hillside and there was this great view of mountain tops. At that time, we knew this was the right property to build our log dream home and spend the rest of our lives here. We made an offer, countered and purchased the same day on a Sunday.
As I mentioned earlier, Kathy is not one to sit back and wait for things to happen. She now has the land. It was time to start planning next steps. We both were still several years away from retirement but that did not stop us. She continued to plan. She contacted what seemed to be 100 manufactures, builders, and purchased tons of Log Home magazines and publications. Being a good husband, I sat back and allowed her to make floor plan decisions and building styles. I knew that my goal in life was to keep her happy. The design of the house was not my main concern. I like spending time outdoors, so as long as I had a place to eat and sleep I would be happy. We lived in five different homes but never one that would take on this feat. Most of our home purchases were buying new and vacant so we could move right in.