The Macon Telegraph
Home Hunter - North
October 31, 1999

Properly Maintaining Your Log Home
by John Ricketson

By far, the most questions about a log home involve the exterior maintenance. I’ve heard from people who swear that you never need to do anything to a log home and from others that testify that you have to ‘put a sealer on every year". The answer is somewhere in the middle, but not close to either extreme. Every home requires some looking after, whether it is log, brick, stucco, or vinyl siding.

Wood is a very beautiful and long-lasting building material, the richness of the grain and soft tones also make it the most desired, (although usually more expensive) of home components. This investment can easily be protected, and, as with any maintenance, is less expensive if done as part of a program rather than waiting until you are forced to do something. For purposes of this article, I’ll assume that the home’s exterior needs a complete tune-up.

Any painter will tell you that proper preparation is half the job and poor application is responsible for most premature surface finish failures. Surface cleaning comes first and can be done with a chemical wash (Log Wash or Wood ReNew by Perma-Chink) or by using the new corncob media blasting system to remove old paint, stain, mildew, and surface dirt. Never use bleach on wood. Let me repeat that…..Never use bleach on wood. The residual left after the wood has been rinsed and the trace bleach has evaporated will attack any paint or stain and cause a very premature, total finish failure. Let me repeat that, never use bleach on wood.

After the surface is clean and dry, apply a waterborne acrylic stain (Lifeline by Perma-Chink) to the surface in very thin coats. Stain works best by "film-building", not by being applied in heavy coats. If you choose to spray it on, use an airless sprayer and back-brush all surfaces as you go along to work more of the stain into the grain of the wood. Stain simply sprayed on just sits on the surface and will not last very long. The newer exterior stains will contain a preservative, a fungicide, and a UV inhibitor to slow down the harmful effects of the sun, which probably causes as much or more damage to wood fibers as anything else. Darker pigmented stains have the capacity to carry more of the UV inhibitor than lightly tinted stains. I do not recommend oil-based stains for logs or heavy timbers although they are perfectly acceptable for thinner trim and woods with very tight grain.

The final step will be to apply a clear, acrylic top coat (lifeline Advance by Perma-Chink) over the stain to protect against repeated moisture and wetting from blowing rain. Most quality stain manufacturers have removed the waxes and paraffin to allow stains to be applied in multiple thin coats, (film-building) for greater life expectancy. Stains with wax or paraffin will "link-up" after a few days of sun exposure and will block the application of subsequent coats, the second coat would just sit on the surface of the first coat and always fail quickly. Following these simple guidelines will insure a stain job that will give many years of good service. There is also the benefit of knowing that should you need to renew the protection in some of the high exposure and heavy wear areas, it can easily be done by simply refreshing the clear top coat without touching the pigmented areas or changing the color.

John Ricketson
Project Manager
120 Carriage Drive, Macon, GA  31210
(877) 662-6135 Toll Free
(478) 474-9370 or FAX (478) 477-6535


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