Frequently asked questions about log home repair and restoration

Click on any of the Questions below to expand and reveal it’s answer.

Q: There seems to be rotting wood below the roof where it meets the log wall. What could have caused this?

A: Edmunds & Company has seen logs with rot in areas like this in our inspections of log homes. Upper rooflines are particularly difficult to provide good water management. At the same time, if the water coming off the roof is not properly taken care of, deterioration of finishes as well as rot may occur.

There is a proper way to flash an upper roofline to a lower one. Click here to see a PDF on how this is done.

This drawing shows the proper way to flash an upper log wall to a lower roof system. Properly installed and clean gutters can also help in keeping water off the logs.

Roof of a log home that is starting to rot.

This roof was not properly flashed and the logs along this valley have rotted.

Roof of a log home that has been repaired and flashed properly.

The rotten logs were replaced and the roof is now properly flashed so that the water running down this valley will not touch the logs.

Rot on log homes caused by insufficient flashing.

This is another look at what can happen if there is not flashing between a roof and where the logs meet.

Q: Should I consider using synthetic chinking on my old log home rather than the original mortar chinking?

A: Many older log homes have had mortar chinking installed over the years. Mortar chinking was mainly used from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. The problem with this type of chinking is twofold:

  • It doesn’t make a proper seal between the logs
  • It tends to hold moisture up against the logs, possibly adding to the potential for rot

Today, synthetic chinking such as Perma-Chink brand chinking is routinely used instead or mortar. This “modern” chinking has much the same appearance as the old mortar but unlike mortar, it will seal completely and not soak up moisture, which can cause logs to rot.

Many times, new chink can be applied over existing mortar chinking but in other situations, the mortar chink needs to be removed before the synthetic chink can be installed. It’s good to get a professional opinion to decide which is the right fix. Call 715-373-5744 to get your questions answered.

Chinking being applied carefully to a log home.

Chinking is applied using a pump applicator and then smoothed by hand to insure a good seal between chink and logs.

Mortar chinking on a log home.

This is a good example of the use of mortar chinking on an historic, hand-hewn log building.

Q: Why can't I just paint my log cabin?

A: These photos below tell the story of why painting log homes is not recommended.

A log cabin with damaged peeling paint.

Layers of paint build up and don’t allow the logs to breath. Eventually, the paint peels and no longer protects the logs. In this situation, the logs had to be sandblasted and a new finish applied. Click here to find out more about how we solve this problem.

Logs on a log home that have been painted and are now rotting significantly.

In this case, the paint buildup caused significant rot. The rotten logs needed to be replaced and the building needed sandblasting to remove the layers of paint. There are many reasons why logs rot. This is a common one. Click here to learn more about why logs rot.

Does your log home have paint on it? Call and find out more about what your options are. 715-373-5744.

Q: I see rot at the bottoms of my log posts. What can be done to prevent or fix this problem?

A: It is very important to provide adequate airflow under and around your log columns or posts.  Cedar logs are the most rot-resistant wood to use where the logs are directly out in the weather. Edmunds & Company uses a combination of tactics to prevent decay in these exposed and vulnerable posts.

  • A stand-off base is installed to allow airflow around the base of the post
  • A borate treatment is used on particularly rot- susceptible areas of the posts to further insure against decay

See below for some photo illustrations of decay on these posts and what can be done to prevent this rot.

A log post that is too close to the ground; moisture and rot are imminent.

This pine post was surrounded by mulch and soil and the footing was poured below grade so the bottom of the post was allowed to soak up moisture.

Rot on the bottom of a post that was touching the ground.

As you can see, these conditions caused the post to rot. This type of rot will eventually cause the post to collapse.

A log post correctly installed on a spacer to keep it off the ground and away from moisture.

Here is a correctly installed Western cedar post.  It is above grade and has a galvanized steel spacer installed between the post and the footing.

Edmunds & Company has the expertise to replace just about any type of post anywhere on your home. Contact us.

Q: I see that an area on my log house where the logs are darkening and the log seems to be soft in this area. What is happening?

A: Basically what is happening is that moisture is building up behind the finish and causing the log to rot. Too much finish can form an impermeable layer on the surface of the log. Moisture (in the form of rain or snow) is always making its way into the logs – most likely through a crack or check on the surface.

Once inside the log, it soaks into the wood. Then when the rain stops, the moisture tries to make its way out that crack again AND since the moisture has dissipated into the log’s core – it is also trying to make its way out via the entire surface of the log.  Now, the moisture content is high in the log, which is a precursor to rot forming.

A combination of upward facing cracks and a finish build up that leg this log to rot.

In this photo, notice the up-facing cracks that let the moisture in and the finish build up that would not let it out. This eventually caused this log to rot.

To a large degree, a finish that can no longer breathe traps the moisture between it and the log. This situation eventually causes rot. Any time moisture is allowed to build up within a log, the conditions for rot are ideal. Click here to learn more about why logs rot.

For more information on how to restore the beauty of your log home finish/stain, click here.

This type of problem tends to be on more modern, hand-scribed homes that have a type of finish that builds up a film with each application. These conditions can cause the “perfect storm” for rot because this build up of finish has formed a veritable “plastic bag” on the outside of the logs, trapping moisture, and the logs can rot – even on homes that are less than 10 years old!

In the case of newer homes like these, the logs have a relatively high moisture content to begin with (new logs are often green), which is compounded when the “film building” finish is applied. Problems can arise after even the second or third coat of this type of finish.

Our experience has shown that many of these buildings start off with a finish that is breathable enough, but once the second or third coat is applied, the finish becomes too thick (builds up) and forms a barrier to the logs breathing.

Do you have questions about your log home. Call Edmunds & Company and talk to experts in log home restoration. 715-373-5744 or contact us.

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