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Most people are accustomed to spring cleaning, but if you are a home owner, you know that your house needs attention year-round. Fall maintenance is much like spring house-cleaning, but more preventative and less “cleaning.”  And it’s much easier to do it now rather than wait till the weather turns nasty.

gutter gunkFall means leaves—and plenty of them. You will certainly need to clean out your gutters.  A word of caution: most of the automatic guard systems only screen out large leaves while allowing gunk and small sediment to accumulate. You still will have to routinely clean the nasty rotting gunk out of your gutters! So an alternative is to have your roofer regularly come and clean your gutters every fall. You should make sure that the drainage area around the downspout is functioning properly as well.  The roof area should also be checked for any leaks around the flashing at the chimney and around the vents for the heating or sewer system.

While inspecting the roof area it’s important to check for any holes or access spots where squirrels, raccoons or bats can enter your home and make themselves a vacation home for the winter. Clear away all debris from around the foundation of the house.

Caulking around all exterior areas is a must. You probably won’t find but a few areas where the caulk needs replacing, and it’s not a big job to replace old caulking with a fresh bead where needed. Weather stripping also should be examined and replaced if you find any that is curled or coming loose. Neither the caulking nor weather stripping replacement is a heavy job. It just takes some care and close examination. This can usually be done in a day for a moderate-sized home.

logwashYour exterior walls should get a good cleaning. In addition to making your home look great, a wash-down with Log Wash will get rid of the dust, dirt and grime. Freezing weather is especially hard on log exteriors and a little bit of upkeep now may prevent costly repairs next spring.

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Once your walls are clean, go around your home looking for signs of worn stain and failing sealant. If the stain looks faded or dingily, you should consider applying another coat of Lifeline stain and Lifeline Advance topcoat. Don't forget the topcoat is an integral part of the system and will help protect your home and extend the life of your stain.
While you are at it look for any new checks that may have opened up, especially on the top half of round logs where water can enter. Our Check Mate 2 comes in a variety of colors and is the perfect solution for closing up those potentially damaging checks.

Properly sealed joints and gaps go a long way in preventing cold drafts during the winter months. In these days of rapidly rising fuel prices it is important to keep cold air from entering your home. Energy Seal is specifically designed for this purpose. Pay special attention to places where wood meets masonry. Reseal with Energy Seal. In addition to saving you money on heating bills, it will help to keep your home warm and comfortable.

Many log home owners have fireplaces or wood stoves that they use to create an attractive atmosphere or as a source of heat. Typically fall is the time of year that most people build their inventory of firewood to carry them through the winter. Here are a few things to keep in mind when storing firewood: Never store firewood on your porch or deck or next to your home. One thing is for certain, along with the firewood comes a whole community of insect pests. Although some like wood roaches, pill bugs, centipedes and ground beetles are harmless, infestations of wood boring beetles, termites and frequently carpenter ants can start from stored firewood piles.

Store your firewood at least two feet away from the side of your home and keep it off of the ground. This helps keep the firewood dry and allows air to circulate throughout the wood pile. When you bring firewood inside, only bring in as much as you plan to burn in a day. Firewood stored by the fireplace may look attractive but once the logs warm up and the bugs start to emerge, you may think otherwise.

Preparing your home for winter in the fall can make life so much easier for you in the cold, dark winter weeks ahead. You’ll rest easier knowing that you won’t have to fight the elements when the inevitable emergency or problem crops up, as it always does. You can sit back in front of your fireplace with your family and enjoy those cold months secure in your well-protected home!

Log homes and autumn leaves seem to go together. Enjoy the season and don't hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions about maintaining your log home.

energy efficency
Brian Perschlea of Darby works to chip out a cup that will become a
handcrafted joint in a log rafter under construction at
Victor's Bitterroot Valley Log and Timber.

Missoulian • September 13, 2015 9:00 am  •  By Rob Chaney

 

New federal building guidelines have some western Montana log-home builders worried they can’t find logs big enough anymore to meet the code.

But the adviser who helped interpret the new standards for Missoula County says there’s more flexibility than many realize for energy efficient construction.

“If it goes into 14-inch logs, that will put every log home builder out of business,” said Dan Baker, co-owner of Nordique Log Homes in Condon. “It’s a non-issue anyway. Whether you have an 8-inch log or a 14-inch log, your electric bill won’t be off 50 cents.”

At issue is a new set of federal energy efficiency building codes that Montana adopted last year.

But the state only enforces electrical and plumbing codes, leaving it to counties and cities to decide local levels of enforcement.

Unlike many surrounding counties, Missoula County inspects for construction and energy efficiency standards in rural areas.

The new energy efficiency code requires log homes to have an insulation R value of 15. Assuming the average log has an R rating of about 1 point per inch, that would require logs at least 14 inches wide to meet code.

Baker and partner Ken Donovan said most builders use logs between 8 and 12 inches, because that’s the common size for preferred 100-year-old lodgepole pine trunks available locally.

Larger logs would have to be imported from Canada or the West Coast. They also claim that lodgepole, which has more air pockets than other species, has an R value closer to 1.5 per inch.

“Ninety-nine percent of conventional buildings are made with metal or wood frames, sheeting and fiberglass insulation,” Baker said. “They take that combination and calculate the R factor.

"But logs have thermal mass. From an efficiency standpoint, thermal mass is more effective than R factor. A log home is cool in summer and warm in winter.”

Dale Horton of the National Center for Appropriate Technology gave a workshop last week in Missoula reviewing the new standards. He said there were lots of misunderstandings about how rigid the rules are.

“In the most simplistic prescriptive sense, a wall would have to average 14 inches to meet the energy efficiency code,” Horton said. “But we tried to explain there are other alternative compliance paths. As long as he put in better windows or more insulation in the roof so the total, overall thermal performance of the envelope is equivalent, they can meet the code.”

County building inspectors, not NCAT, are responsible for enforcing the codes.

But Horton said he’s arranging workshops for area builders to familiarize them with the changes, many of which were initially proposed in 2012 or earlier. The energy efficiency codes are based on research developed by the log homes committee of the National Association of Home Builders.

Baker said he remains frustrated about what he called unnecessary regulation of his business. A home builder for 50 years, he got into the log-home technique in 1996 and has sold homes in 14 states.

“We only use dead, standing lodgepole,” Baker said. “The pulp mills and chippers are paying $35 a ton for that, which barely pays for transportation out of the forest. We’re paying $85 to $125 a ton. We’re a good market for the little guy around here. We’re as green as it gets. Rather than burn it, we build houses with it.”

evaporationDrying times and curing times relate to two entirely different processes that occur in water-based polymer systems. All water-based products contain a percentage of water, hence their description as water-based. When applied and exposed to air water begins to evaporate. The rate of evaporation is dependent on the humidity as well as the temperature. The higher the temperature and lower the humidity, the faster the rate of evaporation.

Once most of the water has evaporated from the surface it feels dry, thus the term “dry to the touch.” The time a product takes to become dry to the touch is its drying time although in the case of sealants we typically talk about the time it takes a product to “skin over.” Once a material has dried or skinned over, it does gain some strength in that it becomes impossible to brush out or tool smooth but to achieve its maximum strength and durability it must be allowed to cure.

Curing time relates to the time it takes for a product to gain enough strength to withstand the parameters for which it was designed. As opposed to drying, curing is more of a chemical reaction that takes place on a molecular level. During the curing process environmental factors such as rain, snow or high humidity can have a significant impact on the look or performance of a product.

energy seal1In addition to temperature and humidity, the time it takes sealants like Perma-Chink, Energy Seal and Check Mate 2 to cure depends on the thickness of their application. Once a sealant skins over, it inhibits the evaporation of water from the material under the skin. This prolongs the curing process so although we may state that the curing time for Perma-Chink is two to eight weeks, it may take several months for a 5/16” thick layer of Perma-Chink to attain its maximum strength.

checkmateUpward facing checks will collect water increasing the interior moisture content of the log. This eventually results in rot and insect damage. They also provide nesting sites for carpenter ants and other insects. If left unattended, checks can continue to grow until they produce an opening into the interior of your home.

Check Mate 2 is specifically formulated to meet the particular requirements for sealing checks that appear in log homes. Check Mate 2 comes in various colors and you can choose a color that is close to the color of the logs. However, if you are planning to stain over the Check Mate 2, choose a color that’s a shade lighter than the stain. That way the Check Mate 2 will blend in with surrounding stained wood.

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pigment-main
  Lifeline Ultra-2 Natural Log Home Stain with Lifeline Advance Satin  

Let us assume that you have a brand new log home, or a home that has had an old finish recently removed. The bare wood is nice and bright, and the color is exactly what you always envisioned for your log home. What's wrong with applying one or two coats of some type of clear sealer to hold the color of the wood and protect your logs from rain, snow and ultraviolet (UV) light damage?


Here are the problems with this approach. The most damaging environmental factors to wood are water and sunlight. Water penetration creates conditions conducive to decay while the UV component of sunlight destroys the integrity of the wood's cellular structure. Technically, we define this UV damage as the photo-oxidation of the lignin. Although clear coats alone can temporarily provide a barrier against water penetration, they have difficulty dealing with UV light for more than a few months. Clear coats rely on two mechanisms to protect the underlying wood from UV light, reflection and absorption. If the clear coat is slick and shiny, it will reflect much of the UV light but as it gets dirty or dull less and less light is reflected allowing more UV light getting through to the wood. Chemical UV inhibitors may be included in the formulation, but these are sacrificial, in other words the more UV light that they are exposed to, the quicker they get used up.

advance glossJust as clear coats are vital to the performance of today's automotive finishes, our Lifeline Advance Topcoats are an integral part of all of our exterior finish systems. Not only do they extend the life of the color coats but they do much more. They significantly improve the look of the finish by enhancing the color, clarity and depth of the finish. In other words, they make our finishes the most beautiful log home finishes in the world.

 

Second, they help keep the surface clean. The very nature of a pigmented stain makes it susceptible to dirt pick-up through adhesion or impregnation. Since we have designed Lifeline Advance to form a smooth, strong film, it makes it much more resistant to dirt. In addition, the smooth surface makes it easy to clean off any dust or pollen that may accumulate on the surface of the logs. A simple application with Log Wash and a rinse with a garden hose will remove the dirt and grime that may be hiding the beauty of your home.

 

advance-dirt-without  advance-dirt-with 
 Color coats without Advance Topcoat  Same color coats with Advance Topcoat

Another feature a smooth topcoat provides is greater mechanical resistance to the growth of mold, mildew and algae. In addition to water these organisms need something to grip onto. If the spores land on a tough smooth surface that rapidly sheds water, they won't have an opportunity to germinate and spread. So the surface of your logs stays free of unsightly mold spots and patches of algae.

 

 

car-fadedOf course the best feature of Lifeline Advance Topcoat is the protection it provides to the color containing stain. Years ago cars left the manufacturer with a coat of paint. More expensive cars may have had several coats of paint but no matter how many coats were applied after a few years on the road the paint turned dull and started to flake off. Then car coating experts discovered the benefits imparted by clear topcoats. Today's car finishes remain shiny and last longer than ever thought possible all due to the application of clear topcoats.

Over the past several years we have discovered many things about cleaning wood and existing finishes.

Dusty-copyFirst and foremost is that chlorine bleach is not a good product to use. In addition to its potential for damaging the finish and bare wood fibers, its use and misuse contributes to a number of problems including the loss of film adhesion, discolorations due to tannin extraction, and the formation of iron tannates, streaks, blotches and premature failures of the finish system. We have also discovered that a number of wood and deck cleaners available at paint and hardware stores, home improvement centers and Do-It-Yourself outlets contain components that interfere with the proper performance of our finish systems.

With this in mind we have decided that the ONLY cleaning products approved for use with our finishes are those products supplied or recommended by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. We are not doing this to increase our sales of cleaning products. It is simply because we have tested our cleaning products with our finish systems and have confidence that when properly used and applied, their use will result in the best possible appearance and performance of the final LIFELINE™ finish. We cannot say the same about the use of other types and brands of wood cleaners and strongly discourage their use with any of our LIFELINE™ stains.

Although most people use brushes to apply our finish removers they can be applied with airless sprayers as long as you know what to do. Here is some information that will guide you in using airless spray equipment to apply both S-100™ and StripIt®.

Airless Spray Equipment

airlessco sprayer
Airlessco SP200

Most quality airless spray equipment including the Airlessco SP200 will handle our S-100. On the other hand for applying StripIt, you will need a professional grade airless sprayer with an output of at least 0.54 gpm. In either case there are a couple of minor modifications that have to be made before using them. The first thing is to change the tip to a 0.019 or 0.021 tip orifice. If a smaller diameter orifice tip (< 0.019) is used it will take longer to apply the proper amount of finish remover and the tip may block up. In addition, since a small orifice produces a fine mist there is a greater chance of wind drift onto surfaces that you may not want to strip. The second thing is to remove any sprayer strainers, screens and/or filters.  Our finish removers are somewhat thick and viscous, so having to pass through screens and filters will impede the flow of product through the sprayer and may eventually block it. Once the stripping process is completed, it's of utmost importance to replace the 0.019 or 0.021 tip with a 0.015 or 0.017 tip for applying our stain and topcoat.

airlessco sprayer parts

Our S-100 Finish Remover and StripIt are formulated so that they can be applied “as is” using an airless sprayer. Their viscosity is such that they do not need to be diluted with water to be run through airless spray equipment. However, it is a good idea to thoroughly mix the S-100 with a Jiffy Mixer before spraying it. Just be careful to keep dirt and other debris out of the product.

Application

The first step before starting to remove a finish is to take off down spouts, gutters, lighting fixtures and mask off or cover those areas that you don't want to strip, since these areas may become discolored if contacted by the product you are using. The next step is to wet down and cover any plants and shrubs. Both S-100 and StripIt are pretty gentle on plant life once they are diluted with water during the stripping process but in their concentrated form they may present a problem. The use of perforated weed blocking film works well over plants, roofs, decks and other areas you want to protect since it allows water to drain through it but catches lumps of concentrated remover as well as any stripping debris. This makes clean up a lot quicker and easier.

Apply the finish remover to one or two courses of logs at a time in a sweeping motion across the entire wall starting at the bottom of the wall. This will help you avoid coating the chinking or sealant joints if they are present. Be sure to only coat an area that you can finish stripping in the allotted time you have. If you coat the entire wall or too large an area the finish remover may end up drying on the wall and become difficult to remove. Always apply finish removers at the recommended thickness or coverage rate. If applied too thinly they may not work and you will have wasted your time and money. Once the finish remover has been applied to an area submerge the spray gun and tip in a pail of water to prevent the product from drying at the tip and possibly blocking it.

After waiting an appropriate amount of time for the stripper to soften the finish (remember the cooler it is the longer it will take) you can begin the pressure washing process. Be sure to wash off any product and wet finish debris that's still adhering to the wall or other surfaces. If allowed to dry you may end up having to manually scrub these surfaces clean. Once you reach the top of the wall or if you run out of time rinse the entire wall starting at the top before you quit. You don't want any chemical or finish debris to remain on the surface. If you are through for the day replace the lid on the pail of finish remover and run clean water through your airless sprayer until clear water comes out of the gun.

airless spraying1

Beaver-Creek-14-copyAll of our finish labels and application instructions emphasize the necessity for back-brushing during the application process.

What Is Back-Brushing?

Back-brushing is the term we use to describe the process of working the finish into the wood and obtaining an intact, uniform film over the entire surface. The term back-brushing is typically used when referring to applying stain with an airless sprayer; however, back-brushing is just as important if the product is manually applied with a brush.

Although the directions for use for most log home stains call for a liberal first coat or flood coat, LIFELINE finishes are designed to go on in thin coats, including the first coat. If applied too thick, the long-term performance of LIFELINE finishes can be diminished. In other words, more is not necessarily better when it comes to applying a LIFELINE finish to your log home.

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