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    Log Home Staining

    By Tom Tydeman
    Many homeowners decide to stain their own log homes. This article was written to provide information on the steps needed to prepare the logs and techniques used in the application process which is important to ensure a long-lasting, beautiful finish.

    Log Preparation

    Log preparation is the most important step when staining your log home to ensure the finish will adhere correctly and to maintain a long lasting, beautiful finish.

    Logs must be clean - The logs must be free of dirt, dust, mildew, algae etc. The existing finish can be removed by using blasting media; such as: corn cob, glass, walnut media, chemically stripped or power washed.

    Sound - The logs should be free of any decay or insect infestation. The decayed areas should be removed and the logs repaired or replaced. If there are signs of insect infestation, the logs should be treated by a professional exterminator and any holes should be properly filled and caulked prior to staining.

    Dry - Moisture content of the logs should be no greater than 20%. If you are not certain the logs are dry, a moisture meter should be used.

    Textured - Stains will adhere best to a surface that has texture. Media blasting as well as power washing provides texture to the log surface.


    Although this is an optional step, borate offers protection from insects and decay. Borate can only be applied to clean, bare wood such as when the logs are first milled or if the finish has been removed. A borate additive can also be added to your stain to help deter insects.

    Types of Stain

    When choosing a stain, it is important to use a quality product designed specifically for log homes. Stains are formulated to protect logs from water, insects, UV damage, stretch with log movement and allow moisture within the log to escape. Stains are water or oil based. Whichever you decide, please choose an environmentally safe product, low in VOC's. Many log home finishes require a three coat system. Two pigmented coats followed by a clear top coat. There are also two and one coat system stains available. The costs of the stain can vary and you can usually save money by purchasing larger five gallon buckets. The average quality three coat system can last four to five years depending on the amount of weathering the log wall is exposed to. Some less expensive or one coat stains may require more frequent maintenance coats.

    Staining Tips and Techniques

    - Be sure rain is not in the forecast.
    - Invest in a quality brush designed for your particular stain (water or oil based).
    - Prep the area by covering windows, doors, electrical wires, gutters, shrubs...
    - Check stain specifications for the climate application (usually 50 - 90 degrees).
    - Start at the top, staining the fascia board first.
    - Stain soffit areas.
    - Continue with the top log course.
    - To prevent lap marks stain the entire length or to a natural break in the log.
    - Natural breaks can be a window, door, butt joint or log end.
    - Scaffolding works best to stain an entire log without stopping.
    - Stain can be applied using a sprayer or brushed on.
    - Two people are required if using a sprayer, with one vigorously back brushing.
    - Spend extra time brushing stain in knots, as stain tends to drip from these areas.
    - Continue working your way down the log wall, staying between the log ends.
    - Once the log wall is compete, start at the top of the log ends and work down.
    - Log ends absorb more stain, tend to drip and require more back brushing.

    Spend the extra time to prep your logs, use a quality log home finish and follow the manufacturers instructions. For future maintenance a light cleaning to remove mold spores and dirt followed by an additional top coat will keep your log home looking great.

    Article written by Tom Tydeman, Owner of Log Options, LLC. Our services include Log Inspections, Free Consultations, Do-It-Yourself Information and Contractor Referrals regarding log home maintenance and restoration. Visit our web site for detailed log photos, more articles and useful information on log home care at http://www.logoptions.com
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