Even when finish is faithfully applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions, problems can still arise. Moisture begins to build up behind the finish and may cause the log to rot. Too much finish can form an impermeable layer on the surface of the log, making it difficult for the logs to wick out the moisture.
Log homes and cabins require routine maintenance, which includes re-staining. Over time, layers of stain can build up, causing the logs to rot. It is not always obvious to the eye, but a trained professional can spot rot even from a distance.
Sometimes we see buildings with this type of finish build up on them when they are less than ten 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 (buildup) and forms a barrier to the log breathing.
It is very common during the lifespan of a log home or cabin to have the old finish removed and a new one applied. The technology for what constitutes a quality stain continues to improve and what was once considered to be the best no longer works well. Sometimes the best course of action is to start over with fresh wood.
If the finish has built up to the point that rot has taken hold, several things need to be done: