Lake Wisconsin Construction has, after receiving countless requests, set up a division within the company dealing exclusively with log home inspections, renovations, restorations and maintenance.
Log Home Restoration
Log Home Restoration is the all inclusive phrase that any number of Log Home repair tasks would fall under, such as log repair, log replacement, stain removal, log chinking removal, log caulk removal , borate treatments, log staining, clear coat protectant, log chinking, log caulking and post, railings and deck maintenance. Lets attempt to address these subjects and a few others in a somewhat organized fashion.
Log Home Pre-purchase Inspection
"I wish I would have known before I bought it." We hear this phrase countless times a year at trade shows and at clients' log homes. Conventional home inspectors are a great group and for the most part, they do a great job, however most don't have the years of restoration experience necessary to recognize the many issues exclusive to log homes.
For as little as a few hundred dollars, we can provide you with a professional assessment along with a written quote in contract form for any work that may to be done. You also may be able to use this information to better leverage your position when making your offer.
Log Home Exterior Consultation
We recommend that at the very least you have the exterior of your log home inspected for stain or top coat failure along with a close look at the condition of the log caulk or log chink. It is also a good idea to inspect the logs for any sign of decay and check the railings and posts for stability. This should be done at least once every two years. We will provide you with a written report along with our recommendations if any, that we feel would be beneficial to you for the preservation of your log home.
Log repair can be viewed as less invasive then log replacement. If you have logs that are decayed or showing signs of decay, we strive to replace just the outer face of the log after the decay has been removed providing that 40% to 60% of the original log is sound. This also saves trying to match the texture and the patina on the interior and is usually less costly than full log replacement.
Log replacement becomes unavoidable when the decay cannot be removed by any other means other than total replacement. While this can tend to be more difficult than refacing a log or replacing half logs it is not the end of the world. When you add our years of experience in restoration to the fact that we are accomplished log homebuilders, we are better equipped and staffed than most to complete these projects for you.
There are two distinctly different schools of thought on stain removal, to us its all about what is best for the logs and the quality of the finished product.
One school of thought belongs to the media blasting group. Media blasting does remove the stain but unfortunately also removes a portion of the soft wood fibers leaving the log spitted, scared and rough. Rest assured that this surface will collect and retain considerably more dirt, pollen, and water than a smooth surface causing more wear on your finish and making cleaning the logs and maintaining your finish more difficult and therefore more costly. Make sure you ask the individual that is trying to sell you the media blasting program to show you a couple of homes that he has blasted in the last two or three years, if you feel the texture of the logs you may have a better understanding of what we are trying to describe.
Eco friendly strippers are our first choice for stain removal. With the exception of a few stains we have had exceptional results with these strippers. They are grass, plantings and flower friendly. After applying the stripper and waiting a period of time for it to loosen the stain we use prudence and care with pressure washers to remove the stripper, dirt and stain, then thoroughly rinsing the logs, making sure no residue is left behind. After the logs have dried we come back and buff the entire home, one log at a time, to remove any raised grain and loose wood fibers caused by the pressure washing. This leaves a smooth surface while retaining all of the character of the logs along with exposing and enhancing the wood grain. Using the proper stain and staining techniques, this method of preparation will assure you a superior job while guaranteeing yourself a log home that will be much easier to care for in the years to come.
After stripping the stain and prepping the logs, we treat the logs with a Boron based preservative prior to staining. Boron based preservatives are a natural based product derived from the mineral Borax. Borates help raise the Ph of the wood, thus hindering the decay organisms that cause rot.
Log Chinking and Log Caulk Removal
In some cases the condition of the log caulking or log chinking is in such bad shape that the only option is to remove the existing caulk or chinking and start over. The two main causes of log caulk and log chink failure are the use of the wrong product and or poor workmanship. Quite often if the log chinking or log caulking was applied in accordance with the manufactures specifications we can repair it and achieve satisfactory results.
Log Home Staining
We do not maintain a business relationship with any particular log home stain manufacturer or supplier, however experience has led us to recommend the use of some of the latex based log home stains manufactured specifically for log homes by companies that specialize in log home sealants. These stains have been formulated to offer optimum breathable protection to the log while enhancing the beauty of the wood grain. Our staining style may be a bit of a throw back style since we still brush-apply all of our stains. We feel this gives us better control of the application process and therefore a better job, not to mention much cleaner, eliminating all of the mess associated with over spray.
Top Coat, Clear Coat Protectant
We are firm believers in the clear coat systems that some of these log home stain manufacturers have developed. The principal is the same as the clear coat that protects the paint on your vehicle. While adding depth and luster to the underlying stain it will also extend indefinitely, the life of the stain. The clear coat also simplifies future maintenance; you simply wash down the logs with warm soapy water and rinse with a garden hose. The clear coat should be renewed as needed; usually more often on the South and West sides.
Log Chinking and Log Caulking
Yet another key component to the completed log home is Log Chinking or Log Caulking. One of the first things you need to know is that not everyone can caulk or chink professionally. There are several important steps that we take to assure a quality job: surface preparation, no dirt, no moisture. We will only use log home caulk or log home chinking that has been formulated for log homes by accredited log home sealant manufactures, carefully consulting the technical data information to assure product compatibility. Manufacturer's recommendations must be closely adhered to, from the installation of the bond breaker to the depth and width of the log caulking or log chinking. Again, proper application all but eliminates the likelihood of product failure.
Decks, Railings and Posts
These are probably as hard or harder to maintain in like new condition than your log home. Decks and railings normally have minimal protection from the sun and rain, if any.
With the decks we have found that semi solid stains work about as well as anything, we have given up on anything transparent for decks. For the railings we still recommend reapplying a clear coat protectant to the top rail and to the top of the bottom rail once a year. One of the secrets to deck post longevity is to keep them from wicking water up from the base that they are sitting on. This can be accomplished with the use of different types of standoffs. The nature of railing posts sitting on sometimes wet decks is tough, impell rods may help prolong the posts life, but we have come to the realization that, unfortunately railing posts and railings have a life expediency and are a replaceable item.
Regular Log Home Maintenance
We recommend that at the very least you wash the dirt, cobwebs and pollen off of your log home once a year. This helps your logs breath and will allow for a more thorough inspection of your logs and the condition of the log stain and clear coat, not to mention that your log home will look much better. We do not use or nor do we recommend using pressure washers for this, we see an unbelievable amount of damage both to the log finish and to the logs themselves from pressure washers. Stick with the warm soapy water, rags and rinse with a garden hose. Once this is done you can inspect the caulk, or chink, stain and clear coat and repair or reapply as necessary. Remember, through all of this, the key is to get your log home finished properly once, then the regular maintenance becomes relative easy and quite affordable.