Owning a log or timber cabin is more than just a home purchase, it’s often a passion. These homes are designed to help people connect with nature and lead a more self-reliant lifestyle.
Careful notching minimizes the gaps between logs and eliminates the need for chinking or daubing. Some builders will also use insulated panels to fill between the logs for better energy efficiency.
Whether built on a lakefront like this one or nestled in the mountains, the rugged nature of a log and timber home gives it an unmistakable appeal. In the case of this beautiful lodge, square timbers and round logs work together to create a grand yet inviting hybrid feel.
Often, wood is treated with preservatives that add a golden glow to the exterior while reducing maintenance. In a log and timber home, the warmth comes from the inside—the way the open living spaces are anchored by large windows that let in the sun and views. Then there’s the chinking, an insulating sealant that fills in the gaps between the logs. In the past, sand cement was used, but now many builders are switching to synthetic chinking which is more eco-friendly and has a longer lifespan.
Rugged materials aren’t limited to just logs, but can also include rough-cut stone walls, hewn beams and carved pillars. Other rustic elements to consider are rough woven fabrics (like buffalo check or plaid), wicker baskets and faux animal throws.
The interior finishes you choose will have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your log or timber home. In rooms where the rustic look is most apparent, select drywall surfaces in white or shades of gray to balance out the texture of the logs and timbers. In kitchens and baths, go with sleek plumbing fixtures and cabinetry that is painted in a shade of white or black.
A soaring ceiling is a common feature in lodge homes, creating an expansive and airy feel. A fireplace with a stone surround can anchor a great room, while an extra-large island and a gas-powered eight-burner range can serve as the heart of a kitchen.
While many homeowners appreciate the natural look of a log and timber home, not everyone loves the rustic look. And if the style isn’t well-executed, it could negatively affect the value of your home when it comes time to sell. But if done well, a well-crafted and properly cared for log home will retain its beauty for generations.
Log and timber homes have traditionally been constructed as vacation, retirement or second home types in scenic settings. However, recent market penetration has led to log and timber construction making its way into primary residential homes as well. These homes provide a high level of energy efficiency and comfort, thanks to the natural insulating properties of solid wood walls and the tight building envelopes achieved through the use of superior-rated components, like structural insulated panels.
A major reason for this is the cellular structure of the pine or spruce logs, which contains millions of insulating air pockets that slow down the transfer of heat between the ground and the interior of the home. This makes a log home refreshingly cool in the summer and easily heated in the winter, with less expense to you on your monthly energy bill.
In addition, the acoustical characteristics of log walls also help to keep sound transmission to a minimum. This results in a more tranquil and comfortable living environment for you, your family and friends. According to a white paper by the National Association of Home Builders Log and Timber Homes Council, “The acoustic qualities of log walls are the result of their density, which reduces transmission and absorption of noise. This effect is augmented by the acoustic deadening effects of the surface and profile of the log.”
To further enhance your log and timber home’s energy efficiency, many builders offer a selection of insulation options for the exterior walls of their structures that can achieve R-Values far higher than the minimum required by code. This is a great option to consider, especially if you plan to include any future expansions or additions to your home.
In a time when many of us are more aware of the environment and actively looking for new sustainable solutions, opting for a lodge log or timber home is an excellent choice. The materials used in these homes are natural and help to provide a quiet, tranquil and peaceful atmosphere inside. Plus, the fact that they are all-natural means there is no need for additional artificial insulation. In addition, they are extremely energy efficient which can save you quite a bit on your utility bills.
As a general rule, the main maintenance task is simply keeping the shell clean. This means washing away the dirt, pollen, bird droppings and insect debris that can cause premature wear of the stain and other surface coatings. Keeping your house free of dust and dirt will also make it easier to spot worn caulking — something that should be addressed right away to prevent mold, mildew and wood rot.
Moisture is perhaps the most damaging natural hazard to a log home, so it is important to minimize it as much as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by making sure that your water is kept away from the home (through clogged gutters, improper roof soffit venting and over-watering) and keeping vegetation, including bushes and flowers, well back from the house (to avoid moisture seepage through branches and foliage).
Another way to keep moisture at bay is to regularly apply a high-quality exterior protective sealant. These products should be specifically formulated for log homes to keep moisture from seeping into the walls and causing rot. It is also a good idea to include covered entryways and porches in your design, as these can further protect the log walls from the sun’s harsh rays.
Finally, by ensuring that your cabin is properly stained, you can extend the life of your exterior finish and help to prevent costly repairs. Remember to mix your stain or topcoat every 15 to 20 minutes so that you have a consistent color coat, and to “box” the stain containers throughout the application process (pour one-quarter of a container into the next). Choosing a stain that is low-VOC will reduce the amount of off-gassing that can occur over time as well.
Log cabins are not only a priceless luxury for those who choose to live in one, but they also protect the environment by using natural materials in their construction. The logs used in the building process absorb carbon dioxide during their growth period and continue to do so throughout the rest of the life cycle until they are reused as energy or rot.
Additionally, timber logs naturally insulate buildings and reduce the need for excessive heating or air conditioning, thereby saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. They also provide a comfortable living space during the day, as they absorb heat and slowly radiate it at night. This helps to stabilize indoor temperatures, thus avoiding extremes that are common in conventional brick or concrete buildings.
Most log homes are constructed from responsibly harvested, dead standing timbers. As a result, they leave one of the smallest environmental footprints of any residential choice. This is especially true when builders harvest timber from trees that have died, such as pines killed by a pine beetle infestation. The best log homebuilders harvest these dead timbers strategically to optimize the well being of surrounding trees and to minimize the impact on the environment.
Once harvested, the timber goes through a milling process that is a model of environmentally responsible manufacturing. Almost nothing goes to waste, and the entire log is used in load bearing walls and other components of the log home. In addition, the use of chinking and sealing products during the manufacturing process results in log homes that are extremely airtight and energy efficient.
As a renewable, non-toxic material, timber is the only major building material that is environmentally friendly and sustainable over the long term. According to a report commissioned by Forestry Innovation Investment, for every acre of timber harvested, two or more new trees are planted. Honkarakenne is committed to the environment and only uses timber that has been sourced from sustainable forests that are PEFC certified.
Timber is lighter in weight than other materials like stone, which reduces the transportation costs and emissions associated with shipping. It is also recyclable, which means that once a log home has reached the end of its life, it can be recycled again and again. As a result, building a log home has significantly less embodied energy and lifetime cost than other types of homes, which makes it a great choice for environmentally conscious buyers.