By Blaise Sopiwnik
Imagine all of the possibilities…. a one-story log cabin surrounded by large pines and cedars, located on one of those clear, sandy-bottom lakes famous for clean summer living. Every cabin owner has imagined or seen that perfect setting where families spend summer days basking in the sun and creating memories with each other year after year. These fond memories are great, but every log home can have its problems. With some basic guidelines and simple forethought the good memories can keep rolling.
I was recently working on a ten year old large log structure located in Minocqua, WI in the northeastern corner of the state. This log home has several decks facing east and north. Since first looking at this job in the winter (when snow was three to four feet deep), I knew what had been the demise of these logs – moisture was the culprit. Wood that is allowed to soak up moisture will rot and this is why it is important to keep your logs as dry as possible.
Long, moist Wisconsin summers had started to compost all the wood exposed to the elements. When the finish on the exterior of the posts became compromised, decay soon followed. The posts also were set into concrete that helped hold moisture close to the wood and did not allow airflow and evaporation.
It is really important to keep moisture in the form of rain or snow away from all the wood surfaces. Also, as mentioned earlier, these decks were facing east and north. Because of the lack of drying from the sun that, these logs were the first to go. In this particular situation, if a regimen of borate treatment and log finish application had been followed it would have most likely prevented the problem.
Decks are sometimes the desired place to be when the weather is nice but we all have to remember our decks, even when the weather outside is less than comfortable. The next time you are enjoying that sunny summer evening listening to a familiar loon – keep in the back of your mind that wet weather is just around the corner. Take care of the logs on your home and avoid problems with rot.