Log homes – cleaning the exterior logs is a good thing.

Log homes have so many features that make them a desirable place to spend time in. Aesthetically, they evoke so many emotions such as quiet, peace, and relaxation. If you own a log home yourself, you know that they also demand a certain amount of attention on a regular basis when it comes to properly maintaining them.

One part of routine maintenance we want to address is cleaning the exterior logs. This is an important task that should be done periodically. The frequency depends on all sorts of factors such as where the log home is situated in terms of overhanging trees, dirt paths, grass clippings from mowing the lawn, cobwebs, etc.  Is the home located along a dirt road? Is there splash back onto the logs when it rains? Are there birds nesting in the eves and leaving behind bird droppings on your logs? You get the picture.

It is a wise idea to clean the logs to remove as much of the residue mentioned above. Clean logs breath better, therefore they dry out more readily. Cleaning them can help remove spores that can cause mold or mildew to develop. Most importantly, it is necessary to clean them in preparation for applying another coat of finish to them in order to maximize the stains ability to penetrate and adhere to the wood itself.

We recommend cleaning logs with a combination of water and a wood-friendly detergent, i.e. TSP(Trisodium Phosphate Cleaner). We want to stress that we DO NOT recommend power-washing logs to clean them. Applying water under high pressure can be detrimental to the “health” of a log building. For more information on this, check out this link to our site “Blasting vs. Power Washing”. Though this page refers to the negative side of using power washing as a method to remove failing stain, the reasons for not doing it apply even if you just want to clean your logs.

If we are dealing with caked on or embedded dirt on a log wall, we  use a product called OxiClean®. Diluted in water, this product does not leave a film behind if rinsed off thoroughly. OxiClean® can be purchased in many stores including your grocery store.  Another cleaning solution we recommend  is TSP mixed with water. Again, this in non-film forming soap and can be purchased at your local hardware or paint store. You do not want to use dish soap or chlorine bleach. These can leave a film behind and can cause problems with the stain adhering.

Be sure to rinse the cleaning solution off thoroughly using a garden hose with a sprayer attached.

We have recently experimented with cleaning dirty logs by blasting them with corncob — the goal being to merely clean them, not to remove the finish.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.  We wanted to see if this “dry” method was a more efficient way to clean logs as opposed to the wet method described above. What we learned is that this did work on one house and did not work on another.

Bottom line – keeping your building free of dirt, cobwebs, bird droppings, etc. is part of what we consider necessary maintenance that can help you avoid having to do expensive repairs down the road. For more information on maintaining log buildings, click here.

Here are several links to our website that may be of interest: