As any homeowner can tell you, houses require routine maintenance to sustain their beauty and performance. In fact, we field a lot of maintenance questions at Katahdin Cedar Log Homes. Log homes, like traditionally constructed homes, require maintenance. It’s just a little different. Here’s the lowdown on log home maintenance and reasons why Katahdin Cedar Log Homes offer fewer maintenance concerns than pine constructed log homes.
Northern White Cedar Benefits
When it comes to maintenance on log homes, many pine log home manufacturers have developed workarounds and techniques to account for pine log shrinkage. By starting out with Northern White Cedar as a log wall stock these issues are essentially eliminated from Katahdin Cedar Log Homes because of the fundamental differences between cedar and pine:
- Lower moisture content —The moisture content is key, because as logs dry, they shrink. Cedar has a much lower moisture content than pine. Katahdin is able to produce cedar logs with an extremely low moisture level, averaging 12%. This low moisture is achieved by first air drying logs a minimum of 3 to 6 months depending on the season. Once the logs are sufficiently air dried, they are finished in Katahdin’s drying kilns. The kilns are heated using a biomass boiler system that recycles scrap wood and sawdust from the mills. Once finished, the dry cedar logs are acclimated to the surrounding air moisture in most climates, resulting in an extremely stable log.
- Stable logs equal stable structures — Because Katahdin’s cedar logs are so stable, we’re able to build a tight, well-sealed home that is durable and strong. Other manufacturers are forced to build in slip joints that allow the logs to shrink and slide around windows and doors. They also often employ complicated screw jacks, through bolts and other fastening tools to hold unstable, shrinking pine logs in place.
- Protective natural oils — The pleasant cedar scent marks the cedar tree’s natural defenses against insects, mold and rot. The cedar tree’s natural habitat tends to be in wet areas, where excess moisture generates pests and moisture that would be fatal to other trees. Because of these natural cedar oils, your Katahdin Cedar Log Home is better able to defend against the common maintenance issues of insect damage, mold and rot. Pine log homes require chemical treatments to protect against insects, mold and rot.
Common Log Home Maintenance Tasks
Like any home, it’s a good idea to take some time to inspect your Katahdin Cedar Log Home on a routine basis. Exterior logs are stained and sealed to provide a consistent color and finish, as well as protect from the fading that UV rays can cause. Some more common maintenance tasks specific to log homes may include:
- Discoloration on the logs— either darker or lighter
- Places where the log sealant may be cracked or peeling
- Peeling paint or stain areas on soffits under gable ends or anywhere water or ice may have collected
If you encounter any discolored areas or damaged sealant, snap a quick photo with your phone and make note of its location with some masking tape. You can return with a ladder if necessary, for a closer look. Once you’ve identified small areas where the sealing application is damaged or bubbling, a quick touch up with sandpaper and re-application that will usually do the trick!
Keep Moisture Away
Excess moisture may cause discoloration or damage to the finish. As a result, a good maintenance routine to have each year is to inspect potential sources of moisture accumulation around the home. Some of these might include:
Roof gutters and downspouts — Check to make sure gutters are clear and downspouts are connected and carrying water away from the house.
Trim and clear vegetation away from exterior walls— Maximize airflow and minimize contact with plantings to keep your home’s exterior finish beautiful. It’s also a good idea to avoid stacking firewood against your log walls for similar reasons.
Power washing — This can clear away accumulated dirt and grime but be sure to check with your builder for cleaner recommendations that will not harm your log home stain and sealer. Your stain manufacturer will have a cleaning solution that won’t harm the finish. And it’s smart to test any cleaning solution on a small area for any unexpected adverse effects.
Crushed rock splash guard — Dripping water from roof lines —even those with gutter systems— can splash back up onto lower courses of logs. One way to minimize splash back is to spread gravel in the dripline area around the home.
With good routine maintenance, superior Northern White Cedar log quality and stability, your Katahdin Cedar Log Home is well equipped to keep its good looks and structural integrity for generations to come!