Although we emphasize the importance of cleaning the surface prior to the application of our finishes, there are some types of surface contaminates that can be very difficult or even impossible to remove with just a light washing. The leading cause of dark discolorations appearing under any transparent finish like Lifeline™ is the presence of minute metal particles imbedded in the surface of the wood.

If you live around trees, and many people do, you probably have carpenter ants around your home. Carpenter ants are typically large ants, although the size of the workers can vary in a single colony. Finding a few carpenter ants in your home each week is not necessarily a sign that you have an infestation. Foraging ants roam far and wide looking for food and an occasional ant trapped in a sink or bathtub is quite common. If there are trees close to your home, ants can fall or be blown off the trees onto your roof. They may end up trapped within your home during their journey back to their nest.

Every spring we get lots of calls about carpenter bees drilling into logs, fascia boards, eaves, decks and other unpainted wood surfaces. Carpenter bees are big black solitary bees that look similar to bumble bees but have bare, shiny backs whereas a bumble bee's back is hairy. Unlike honey bees that reproduce in hives, carpenter bees drill into wood in order to lay their eggs. Their holes are perfectly round and about 1/4 inch in diameter.

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Although carpenter bees prefer softwoods such as cedar, redwood, or cypress, they happily attack pine and most other species of wood. Even pressure treated wood is not immune from carpenter bee attack. As the bee drills into the wood, coarse sawdust may be seen coming out of the hole and piling up beneath. Since it only takes a couple of hours for a carpenter bee to drill a hole a few inches deep, lots of holes can appear over a fairly short period of time.

Most carpenter bee activity occurs in early spring when male and female bees emerge after spending the winter in old nest tunnels. Once they have paired and mated the female bee drills into a suitable site while the male stays nearby to ward off intruders. Male carpenter bees often frighten people with their aggressive behavior but since they have no stinger they are essentially harmless. Females have a stinger but only use it if molested.

Once the initial hole is drilled through the surface, the bee will make a turn and excavate a tunnel along the grain of the wood. This tunnel, which may run for several inches, becomes the cavity where the female deposits her eggs. Several eggs are laid in individual chambers separated by plugs of pollen on which the larvae feed until they emerge as adults during the summer months. In addition to making new holes, carpenter bees also enlarge old tunnels and if left unattended for several years, serious damage to a wood member may result.

Occasionally we get a call from someone with an older log home who wants to “seal and protect” their logs but does not wish to remove the gray patina that has built up over the years.

Typically they think that some type of clear finish can be applied to their home which will keep water from penetrating into the wood and help retard wood erosion due to sun, wind, and rain. The truth is that there is no clear exterior product that will meet their expectations.

Before we get started, let’s look at the difference between shakes and shingles. In many cases the terms are used interchangeably but regional differences do exist. Nationally you will find shake roofs and shingle-sided homes as well as vice-versa. It’s more a matter of semantics than definition.

Drying times and curing times relate to two entirely different processes that occur in water-based polymer systems. All water-based products, be it stains, paints, or sealants, contain a percentage of free water, hence their description as water-based.

For the past 25 years, the most accepted and effective method for preventing infestations of wood destroying insects and decay fungi in log homes has been by impregnating the wood with a solution containing the element boron. Boron salts are referred to as borates and the most commonly used borate utilized for this purpose is disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT), the active ingredient found in Armor-Guard™, Shell-Guard® and Shell-Guard RTU.


Deck handrails present a real challenge to film forming finishes, especially if they are new. Here’s why. Round log handrails are typically fabricated using green wood. Once in place and begin to dry, handrails shrink, crack, and develop fissures to relieve the stress due to shrinkage. There is no way to prevent this from occurring. If a finish is applied before these fissures open up, and once they do open, they provide a path for water to soak into the rail behind the finish. When the sun comes out and the rail heats up, the water turns into water vapor which may exert enough pressure to actually push the finish right off the wood. In winter months, the water in the wood will freeze and expand and that, too, can pop the finish off the surface.

One of the greatest mistakes you can make when applying a new finish to your home is to use inexpensive paint or stain brushes. You will be putting a lot of time, money, and effort into your project and saving a few dollars by using cheap brushes can compromise the beauty and performance of your new finish!

There are literally hundreds of wood boring beetle species that infest live trees, but only a few that commonly create problems in log homes. Occasionally a beetle larva that was in a tree when it was harvested will later emerge as an adult out of a log in a home but since these beetles can't reinfest dead wood, these types of infestations end within a few years. It's the beetles that specialize in consuming seasoned wood that present problems in log homes.

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Project Spotlight

  • Do you have an old stain that doesn't really show the warmth and beauty your home deserves? Ready to restore it to its natural look? It's easy to start by stripping old finishes using StripIt or S-100. Check Out This Video...

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