Q: Can I simply re-apply the stain that I’ve been using or do I have to start over?
A: My answer is different for every log house and for every log home owner. Let me give you a few examples and what factors one might consider to make the right decision for each. There are three categories I use to classify homes by their condition.
1- Peeling or badly faded . In this category, the stain is peeling or there is paint present. For some reason, extreme neglect has occurred on these homes. This for sure would be true if a house hadn’t been stained for more than 10 years. In this instance, it is very clear that the home needs to be blasted (to get back down to bare wood), treated with a preservative and then stained.
2- A relatively newly stained log home: In this category, I would put homes that may have been stained in the last few years or months but there are some signs of deterioration. A maintenance coat may do the job here. Depending on conditions, the south and west sides of a building may begin to show the first signs of wear. This might include a bit of oxidation especially on the upper facing portions of the logs and areas that get the most sunlight. It’s relatively easy to spot these homes. Most of the time they’ve been stained in the last 2 to 5 years. In these cases, it’s pretty simple to determine that they just need to be cleaned and stain reapplied.
3- And then….. there is everything in between. The first two examples I’ve given here are the extremes as far as conditions go. 90% of the buildings we see land squarely in the middle . That’s where this third category comes in. It is common to see one or two walls on a house that look badly faded, while other walls are in much better shape. Generally what I look for is whether the peeling or faded areas are large enough to warrant starting over. If an entire wall looks like it should be blasted, then my recommendation is to blast the entire building. If only an area of one wall or small areas on multiple walls are in rough shape, I might recommend a bit of hand sanding or grinding/scraping to remove the loose areas of stain, then cleaning the entire building and finally applying the new stain.
The last and most important consideration here: what the owner wants and can afford. Everyone has a different idea of what they want their house to look like. Some people have a specific opinion about the look they want for their logs, while others really just want the logs to last and maybe have an even coloration to them. Some stains cost more to maintain and others are more cost effective. For example, solid body stain does a really good job of sealing up the logs to protect them, is relatively simple to apply and less expensive to prep but some people don’t like the look. Then there are people who like the look of stained logs, golden brown or yellowish in color. This type of staining takes a little more prep work, and is more expensive to maintain overtime. It’s our job to counsel customers on their options; helping to fit their budget with their esthetic. Common sense tells us to protect our log home investment by taking care of it but also tells us not to ‘break the bank’ doing so. So we strike a balance.