Log home refinishing is more than just applying another coat of stain. Sometimes it’s necessary to remove the existing finish completely, getting back to the bare wood, and then apply new stain. When a log home is finished with a quality log home stain and that stain is maintained properly, rot can be avoided.
In our 40+ years in the log home restoration business, we have seen many disastrous problems with rot in log homes that were related to the finish on the logs. Some of the most tragic problems we have seen have been the result of having what I refer to as a “film-forming finish” on the logs.
It is a widely accepted rule in the log home industry that we expect finishes on log homes to breathe. Logs naturally have a large ability to soak up moisture and so any finish that is applied to them needs to be breathable to allow the logs to dry out when they get wet. Film forming finishes are defined by the fact that they sit on the surface of the log and after the initial application don’t generally soak into the wood at all. Instead, they form a film on the surface of the logs.
When the wood gets wet (and stays wet), it causes problems. The problem with these film-forming finishes is that they do not allow the wood to breathe enough and this in turn can lead to some serious rot problems. Film-forming finishes include the Sikkens Cetol system and at least one of the Behr “premium” stains.
We have found that most times the problem begins after the second application of this type of “stain”. It may be that the buildup does not become problematic until that second coat is applied. Blackening of the areas in question is the first sign that there is a problem with moisture. Once the blackening starts (see photo), it becomes necessary for log home refinishing services: blasting and re-staining.
In conclusion, it is my professional opinion that there is no place for this type of finish when it comes to log home refinishing. We see too many log homes with these finishes on them and the problems are consistent. Stay away from “film-forming finishes”.
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