About Richard

This blog is my personal platform which I do enjoy. It is my own viewpoint and my own ideas. I may not be right and other installers / experts may offer a different view point or a alternative way to do something. I welcome contributions from anybody experienced to do so.

All my blog writing is MY OWN personal opinion ONLY and is NOT always the opinion of TUIN | TUINDECO as a company.

Log Cabins and Garden timber have a myriad of intricacies , I love to give away the secrets, there are a lot!

I enjoy using this blog to expose them so you know what you are buying. I love to know I am causing a few problems in the industry as it can be on occasions less than honest.

I actively encourage everyone to install their own buildings. So many times I would fit and the company I was working for would charge loads for my time, only then to be faced with the embarrassment when the customer says 'I could have done that' and YES you can without paying hundreds of Pounds!

I have over 19 years experience within the garden timber industry. I have particular expertise in garden buildings including the manufacture, design and installation from sheds to log cabins and all the way up to timber framed houses.

In my time I have been involved with virtually every manufacturer and supplier of garden buildings. I have also installed pretty much every make of Garden Building there is from ALL suppliers and manufacturers.

Prior to my career change I was a Watch Commander in the Fire Service with particular expertise in chemical incidents, training, technical design / technology / IT /Procedures / ISO Systems and road traffic accidents. I retired due to a nasty injury after 20 years service.

During my time in the Fire Service, on my days off, I was a self employed fitter for any type of garden building, I worked with most of the well known companies as a subcontractor.

I now work with Tuin | Tuindeco in the UK, supporting and advising on the vast range of products. I keep an eye out for help requests when we a supposed to be closed and can usually get back to you out of hours via email only (wife and children permitting on my days off).

In my private life I consult as an independent expert assessor for companies or private individuals when a dispute is present over their structure which results in producing an impartial report and assessment for whoever requires it. This is often higher valued than a structural engineers report born from my credentials, experience and widely recognised as an 'Expert' in the field.

I am a freelance writer for numerous companies, publications and blogs as well as an independent expert and fault finder for parts of the Industry and consumers with a particular emphasis on timber structures, both framed and of an interlocking design such as log cabins.

I produce numerous articles about timber in general, information on general timber products and specific guides when needed. I hope you enjoy and find my writing useful.

Please contribute and comment to my posts as you would like and I will try to respond as best I can.

Thank you

Richard.

Timber Shortage and prices 2018

It’s going to be a mad year for those of us in the timber industry, and, things are about to get really interesting!

Timber Shortage and prices rises for 2018

I recently took Megan who works within our apprentice scheme to Holland to see Tuindeco and understand more of how Tuin and Tuindeco works, her blog about the visit can be read here: Megan’s Tuindeco Trip 2018.

You’ll see from her blog tales of massive stocks of buildings, timber, products, of large warehouses and acres of space all taken up with million of Euro’s worth of money. Not only is this because Tuindeco want to offer lightning quick delivery but also because there is trouble brewing.

Timber this year is in massive shortage, a shortage that hasn’t been seen for almost a decade. This is going to push up prices hugely if timber can be bought at all. Tuindeco bought the majority of their timber stock last year as soon as a problem was spotted hence the massive stocks. This also meant price rises were minimal for the stock secured.

Now though ….. Well, I see competitors suddenly introduce very, very high price rises, if you look around now at prices you will see everything increasing rapidly.

Tuindeco's Log Cabin Warehouse

We’re feeling secure in massive stocks at last years prices.

But, we are even feeling the new restrictions slightly and some buildings are becoming out of stock as the clever buyer is buying now.

The problems we are facing is the availability of roundwood – the raw material trees cut from the forest. It has been (again) a very warm winter, the ground has been too wet for the machinery to operate in thereby cutting the timber.

NOW, just a week ago it is announced that the sawmills only have stocks for 4 – 6 weeks and then all lengths of timber is unavailable.

To add to the problem it is now the nesting season and all felling is forbidden for two months and this means from last Thursday (19th April) no raw roundwood will be available.

Also other countries have increased their demand:

Asian countries demand x2.5
European countries demand x1.5
USA demand x1.5
Compared to 2016/2017 market.

We are having some problems at the moment where stock is taken quicker than expected but Tuindeco does have roundwood stock that is being milled but on some products there is a slight delay.

Demand is huge at the moment and stock can go very quickly so please, to avoid disappointment, order now from your chosen supplier.

However Tuindeco are hugely well placed to beat the storm with the stocks available and the prices of last year rather than the massive increases our competitors are now facing.

If you are considering a log cabin or any timber product please consider buying now as you will be very limited in a few short months and what is available will be crazily expensive if they have not got stockpiles from last year!

Expansion in Log Cabins

Expansion in Log Cabins can occur with most cabins, this is the natural movement of the timber. But with this advice, many issues can be resolved and your cabin will return to its original state.

Two Extremes with Log Cabins

There are two extremes of the year in a log cabins first year of life; The height of Summer and the depths of Winter. Both of these times may possibly cause problems for you depending on the level of treatment you gave your cabin when you installed it. These problems will generally only be noticeable in the first year cycle of a newly built log cabin as I explain in the articles referenced below.

The problems are one of either expansion or contraction of the wall logs that make up your log cabin.

But, with that said you should never, ever notice this movement, such is the design of most log cabins. The building will grow and shrink un-noticed by you…..

BUT ….. only if it has been built, treated, and vented correctly and also with the correct layer of damp proof membrane on top of or within the base. The correct treatment though cannot be stressed enough, as it will inhibit both these natural features of wood and you will never have a problem or even notice what your log cabin is doing over the seasons.

Contraction of logs in your log cabin – Summer

In the summer we will see contraction and I have written a lot about it in a previous article: Moisture Content of a Log Cabin and Depth of Treatment this article is helpful as it explains the intake and expulsion of moisture from the relative humidity and explains how each log can expand and contract by as much as around 3 – 5mm per log. Over the course of a building log height you have a potential movement of about 80mm, that’s about 3 inches! Sometimes it will be more if the building has received little or no treatment and within its first 12 months of being installed.

A second article which will interest you on the subject of timber movement within a log cabin is: Contraction of a Log Cabin this article explains what can happen in the height of summer, and when a log cabin has had little or no treatment.

Expansion of logs in your log cabin – Winter

Here are some examples of problems that may occur, all of which are down to the natural expansion of timber within the winter months, most of which could be avoided with treatment, damp proof membrane and in some cases ventilation and correct installation of your log cabin.

White bits:

The most common area that you will notice with expansion in your log cabin is when white bits start appearing.

Classic winter expansion of logs in a log cabin – notice the bare wood appearing above the door fascia

Expansion of the logs has caused bare wood to appear from behind the window fascia

For log cabins built around July, August, September and a little later this is fairly common to see and is entirely normal. This is happening as the logs are inherently a sponge and made up of 1000’s of straws which of course the tree used to suck up water from the ground, this is what is happening with the logs during the winter months, they are sucking in moisture and expanding.

This is entirely normal and one that can be easily inhibited by the correct application of a good quality treatment. We also advise in our Log Cabin Treatment Advice article that when treating your log cabin to also paint behind the fascias to the side and above and you will then never notice this expansion taking place at all. If correctly treated it may not even take place at all!

Wood is made up of 1000’s of straws, all of them are designed to suck up moisture from the ground. In the correct treatment of a log cabin our aim is to block these straws as much as possible to inhibit the natural expansion and contraction

Gaps Appearing

During the summer months we can sometimes see gaps appearing if the cabin is not treated well of built correctly. During the winter we can very occasionally see another form of gap appearing and this is generally above the door.

A gap has started to appear above the door as the logs have expanded so much the contraction space has started to appear.

We have seen this a few times in extreme cases, this is very easily solved with a shim placed under the door and the checklist at the bottom of this article followed come the warmer months.

Frames Apart

In our Log Cabin installation advice page and also the instructions that come with all log cabins we do try to get across the importance of NOT fixing anything across two or more logs, including the doors and window frame and fascias as the wall logs need to be able to move independently due to their contraction and expansion. Sometimes though this advice is not followed.

If door or window fascias are fixed to wall logs you can see the expansion of the logs may force the frames apart – never fix log together or inhibit their natural movement!

Fixing fascia that are attached to the top logs to the door frame can be pulled apart by the expansion force.

This door frame is being pulled apart as the top fascia has been fixed to the top wall log, as the logs expand the top part of the frame is pulled upwards by considerable expansion force.

Below is another good example of the door frame being pulled apart from the top fascia being fixed to the wall log. See how evident the rogue screw is, as well as how much expansion has been caused from the force the screw has created:

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Floor and Roof

The floor and roof of your log cabin is also affected by expansion and contraction and as we advise it is important to consider the time of year you are installing, at the height of summer you will need to ensure you leave a small expansion gap between the boards. In the case of the floor it is very important to leave room for expansion all around so the floor does not push against the sides of the log cabin.

It is very important to leave an expansion gap all the way around the floor as highlighted in our installation advice, this will then avoid a roof, or floor, from rippling when the winter comes.

Treatment

It is always at this time of year that we get a series of complaints that all can be traced back to treatment, I wrote this article at the same time last year: Log Cabin Treatment Gone Wrong this highlights a lot of the issues when treatment is not correctly applied or the good quality treatment used.

Log cabin treatment gone wrong

If our advice has not been followed regarding treatment it is the height of winter when it will become most obvious.

Problems with treatment will not only manifest itself by unsightly marks as above but you may also have leaks in extreme driving rain conditions. The is due to ineffective or cheap treatment being used which then cracks and allows water to ingress via capillary action. This can also be caused by treatment not being applied correctly, particularly one of the cheaper shade treatment requires light sanding, wiping with spirits and at the least two coats applied within a few hours to be effective, the manufacturer goes on to state that with dry wood three coats should be applied, it is often overlooked as well that a wood preservative is required under many cheaper treatments. Without following any manufacturers explicit instructions any treatment will be ineffective and problems during at least the first year of a log cabin life can be expected.  We would recommend at least four coats of any treatment correctly used. For more advise on this please see: Log Cabin Treatment Advice.

Water Ingress

There are a number of reasons for water ingress, the most likely is lack of treatment, a poor quality treatment or an ineffective treatment, especially in the corners and importantly on the end grain, this is particularly important to stop tracking of water via capillary action via the grooves in the profile of the logs.

Capillary action can allow a weap to follow the logs in a building that has not fully settled or been treated carefully in the corners, tongue and groove or the end grain.

Little or no treatment has been applied to this log cabin. Water marks are now becoming evident in the corners and some mould build up on the door.

As I have mentioned before. Wood is made to act like a sponge. If it is not treated correctly it will absorb water by its nature. This door did not receive a very good level of treatment and over the course of a year has absorbed a lot of water. A great deal of this could have been avoided with a good treatment and of course ventilation within the cabin if it is closed up for long periods of time.

Until a building has fully settled over a period of a year and gone through it’s various cycles it is possible to have driving rain force into the corner joints. BUT, this is very easily prevented by the correct application of a good quality treatment as all the joints are sealed.

Water ingress along the bottom few logs pushed via driving rain. A good quality treatment correctly applied prevents this. I have noticed that some pictures of issues will show this area more often. As can seen from a treatment picture further up this post the lower part of the cabin is missed, possibly as it is harder to treat due to bending over? It may also be that this area takes more driving weather? I think though from experience it would be a good idea to concentrate on this area if you think the log cabin is exposed when you treat it.

Condensation

Condensation is occasionally overlooked and this can affect your building greatly. As we advise it is vitally important that a damp proof membrane is incorporated within your base on top of it. Advice on this can be found in our Log Cabin installation advice article.

Even with a DPM, condensation can still build up in your log cabin if it is not regularly used, in this case it is highly advisable to fit some sort of vent. More advice can be found in our Ventilation in Log Cabins article.

As well as ingress from outside it is possible for condensation to build up inside a cabin if not regularly used or ventilated.

Condensation can also manifest itself as damp spores on the roof and walls. This is a mild case but the building does need some sort of ventilation when closed up for long periods.

On a larger scale, especially when a DPM is not fitted so much moisture can be built up it actually looks as if there is a leak in the roof. Ventilation will resolve this problem.

Doors and Windows

Last night I had an email from a friend who said ‘don’t go around the back to the conservatory door as it’s stuck, it’s always like that when its cold’. I smiled to myself, of course it has nothing to do with the cold, it’s everything to do with treatment and inhibiting the expansion of the wood in her patio doors. It’s exactly the same with a log cabin door set and windows, they will react in exactly the same way if they do not have enough layers of good quality treatment applied.

Doors and windows, if not treated well enough and certainly within the first year, may expand and could become tight in the frame. Ideally doors and windows should be treated both inside and outside to guard against expansion and contraction which can in turn cause warps in a frame

Summary of Expansion in your Log Cabin

All the above points affect any log cabin no matter the manufacturer and indeed any timber structure both inside and outside of your home.

If you have any of these issues, please do not worry, they can all be solved easily.

  • White Bits: This is the easiest to solve, wait until the weather improves and then remove the fascia, you can then paint behind them and you will never notice this again.
  • Gaps appearing above your doors or above the windows. This is easily solved by raising the door or window frame and then inserting a packer the length of the frame. The gap will then be hidden behind the fascia. You will need to remember you did this and consider removing it in the Spring when the log cabin starts to contract again.
  • Frames or trim parting: It is very likely that fascia or frames have been attached somehow to the logs. Please remove any fixings you can find. Doors and windows can easily be removed by taking off the fascia, please then make sure the whole frame is refixed together and reinstall. Do NOT fix any part of it to the wall logs or trim mounted on the corner triangle (in the case of corner log cabins)
  • Floor and Roof: This will be a little trickier to solve. For the roof I have found more nails can be added and it is generally enough to solve the problem as it can still expand across the whole length. The floor maybe pushing against the wall logs, check for this and if it is the case you must create an expansion gap all the way around. A jig saw will be able to accomplish this. In extreme cases you may need to consider a whole new replacement floor.
  • Water Ingress: This one is a little trickier during the winter months and it is probably best to leave it until the warmer Spring months. You will need to review your treatment process and what you used. For cheaper shade treatments you will have sanded the walls, washed it with white spirit, applied a preservative, then applied at least three coats in batches of 4 – 5 hours. Better treatments such as Sikkens and ours will generally need three coats, sometimes an undercoat is also required. For our carefree protect treatment this can be applied direct and built up to three – four coats over a number of days for full protection. Make sure you have read and fully actioned the manufacturers instructions. Please see our depth of treatment article for more advice. You will need to consider re-treating your log cabin and also upgrading the treatment you originally applied. As we advise, if you use a top quality treatment, correctly applied these problems are unlikely to occur. The first thing, by eye you can notice if a treatment is a good quality is ….. is there stretching of the treatment across the joints over the winter? You can often see this, a cheap treatment will simply crack and that is when ingress can occur through capillary action. Look out for this!
  • Condensation: Please check an effective and un-punctured DPM has been applied within or on top of your base. This is your first port of call for a condensation problem. If you are not sure or one has not been applied the floor will need to be lifted and one fitting. If it has and the building is closed for long periods over the Autumn and Winter please consider adding at least one vent into your building. More advice can be found here: Ventilation in Log Cabins
  • Doors and Windows: On most of our log cabins the hinges can be adjusted to account for this, please see this page for advice: Log Cabin Doors you will also need to consider the treatment advice above, ideally doors and windows will be treated equally both inside and outside.

First Year of Life! 

It’s odd but after a year and completing the cycle a log cabin seems to settle down a lot, I think it is because the straws in the wood make up has dropped, crushed or have been blocked, after a year all these things seem to settle and almost disappear.

Some of the above may have left marks or stains which take away from the aesthetics of you building, however, all is not lost and can be easily cleaned again, please see this page for advice: Cleaning a Log Cabin

Cleaning a Log Cabin

This post title is ‘Cleaning a Log Cabin“, it could also read: “Cleaning a log cabin successfully, and then ruining it by cocking up badly!” which is what happened!

Things were going so well, until I got too keen …… and ….. really cocked up and I have possibly put a friendship in jeopardy.

The Exciting New Timber / Wood Cleaner:

It all started with some excitement, a new product had been sent to me to try out. It’s a cleaner for wood / timber and primarily designed for cleaning timber before the application of our Carefree Protect timber Treatment.

I had been sent a video showing its super powers which I didn’t entirely believe.

Pretty impressive stuff! So, when the box of six arrived I set about finding every bit of rubbish and stained wood I could find and started spraying everything to see what happens. I found on surface dirt, like in the video, it was very very quick indeed. I tried it on a larch gazebo that is at the office currently being used as a carport, it worked well but not as quickly, I think maybe the dirt was a lot more ingrained and had been driven in by passing traffic, It did though bring up the post well. It was squirted onto mouldy timber, rotten timber, wood with fungal spores caused by damp or resin and all of them came up clean, much of it came up like new wood.

It seemed to me it was like a magic potion, and then others joined in, people were all hunting in the yards, warehouses and workshops for wood to clean, it turned into a bit of a cleaning frenzy with my six bottles liberally spread across Tuin.

Then, I noticed somebody had cleaned my experiment log that I’ve used in a few blogs now:

No treatment at all on this poor Log – This made up display boards showing various levels of treatment on logs, This picture was taken January 2017 and it is now August 2017.

This experiment was going really well, a year and a half of being exposed to the elements, along with other logs of varying degrees of treatment to show customers what can happen. A Very useful and scientific experiment you’ll agree. But, some clever bugger thinks it would be really handy if it was half cleaned – unbelievable!

My year and a half experiment ruined! …. Just great, so thanks to whoever at Tuin thought that was a good idea!  It is clean though…. well a quarter of it is.

YES it did clean it really well and bang goes an update blog which I had planned to revisit in January 2018.

At this point, enough is enough, I confiscate the bottles from everyone, suggest they stop mucking about and get back to work. The cleaning fest was over and I decide a proper experiment is needed.

A colleague has a log cabin that I knew had never, ever been treated. I featured it a few years ago in another blog post, at the time it was being used for chickens, I have a little chat, casually mentioning her log cabin and a super duper new wood cleaner for log cabins.

A completely untreated log cabin the home of a group of chickens.

I’m told the chickens have now all but gone, but then it went through a phase as a Guinea Pig home and sanctuary. Lately it is simply a store for general “stuff” that cannot be thrown away … Girls!.

However, it still remains untreated, and is now about 15 – 17 years old.

The Serious Log Cabin Cleaning Experiment 

I offer my services with the new timber cleaning product, my time and effort and promised to transform the log cabin for her, in the name of a thoroughly useful experiment. This is the log cabin before I conducted the experiment. Chickens and Guinea Pigs gone, it is a blank canvas and perfect for a restoration project:

An old log cabin, still untreated and looking in need of some TLC. A perfect restoration project

I would show you a completed after shot of the experiment but we are not quite … ahem … there yet.

So, onto the experiment and at this point it’s best to show you the video I made and you’ll see the huge effect the cleaner had and that the experiment was a resounding success – it did clean the log cabin, really quite remarkably…. I find this video amazing!

Of course this cabin is ancient so it cannot be perfect, that would be expecting far too much but it did clean as the video shows, and it cleaned the logs amazingly quickly. The process can keep working over 24 hours and the label says for really heavy dirt to apply three coats, one hour apart. The video is only showing one coat, but, I think you’ll agree this is pretty impressive even with one coat.

The corner of the cabin has always fascinated me, on the short side the wind and rain bellows up into it, as it’s flanked by a wall and it receives all the very worst weather year round. I find the marking and weathering particularly incredible. And like all timber it never rots if allowed to dry naturally, No rot in this log cabin timber is evident at all.

Corner connections of an old log cabin, heavily discoloured and marked.

After some squirts of the Carefree Timber / Wood Cleaner and allowing it to settle for ten minutes of so the result in impressive.

Corner connection of the log cabin starts to come clean again.

Now I’m fascinated with this side wall as it is so exposed, this is what it looked like

A really dirty side wall of a log cabin that is exposed to the worst of the weather. You can see part of the corner that has cleaned up quite well despite its years of exposure.

Again, a bit of time squirting the cleaner and things are looking a lot better.

Yes there is still some dirt but I was expecting a lot. a damn site cleaner though!

This was just one coat and got to this stage within 10 – 15 minutes, it’s not perfect or as new wood but when you consider how old the log cabin is it is pretty amazing and all done with a few squirts ….. and the squirting is where the problem now starts ………

The Log Cabin Cleaning Cock Up

The squirting …. well quite frankly it is a bit tiresome, at this point I had finished the parts shown in the video, most of the front wall, the corner and the side wall, about two and a half bottles have been used and my hand and wrist is getting sore, in fact my wrist is now really painful.

I start to wonder if there is an alternative to this method. I had promised my colleague a clean log cabin that she could now, finally, choose her colours and treat it (I had asked her not to in the past as I had assured her it would not ever rot, and it makes for a great experiment for me and my blogging), but, now at last she can treat it and I suggested we use the Carefree timber treatment that is so good, afterwards.

I don’t think this stuff is overly cheap, I’m told the price is around £19.50 for the bottle, so far I’ve used nearly £60 worth on this Log Cabin. But it is really quick acting, great results and damn good, it hurts my wrist though which I’m getting a little fed up of – I am old!

I deal with complaints from customers sometimes and I start thinking what complaints can be made from people about this cleaner.

We have the expectations of people but I think that’s covered, I cannot see how anyone can moan about the performance if they are realistic about what timber / wood they are cleaning bearing in mind the age and dirt.

I think about the effort and yes, there is some with the spray trigger which people could moan about. I am told though this can be bought in drums so a powered sprayer maybe better for bigger jobs so that complaint is covered.

I think about the cost. I’ve done some research and cannot find anything like it, there’s lots of claims but nothing I can see with the speed of this product. No one seems to produce videos of it actually working. – Please send me some links if you have found any so I can compare. But, there is a cost implication, this whole log cabin might be close to £100 worth of treatment to get it clean. On top of that you have the proper treatment needed, it could get expensive and in a complaint situation I have to justify it.

It’s at this point i have a great idea, no costs involved, quick, easy, fun and not a lot of effort!

I fetch my pressure washer 🙂

Pressure washer being used on a log cabin – what a great idea!

And at this point please understand a few other cock ups I made before I get onto the main horrendous one. It turns out there is a really big red label on the bottle that should be read.

Big red warning label – A must read.

I hadn’t actually read this, please if you choose to use this product follow it’s guidance. When I saw the door handle I realised I should have!

The handle was very old and in hindsight I should have removed it before applying the cleaner. I should have also used gloves and a mask throughout.

Maybe because I’m 50 in a few weeks my brain is not working as it should, the label says it can cause  irritation, and to use gloves, a mask, protective clothing ….. Doh! … My self and my helper didn’t for most of the application, not good.

I should have also removed the handles before application of the cleaner, they were pretty bad before hand and now I have made them worse….. damn it.

If you use this cleaner, please follow the advice of the red label and protect yourself properly, also remove any metal work in case of it reacting badly with it.

Carrying on pressure washing the log cabin

So I’m now cracking on with the pressure washer, I’m having to get really, really close with the nozzle, as the dirt is so old and ingrained, I’ve even put on a special swirl nozzle and the logs are getting pretty clean. The dirt is lifting, it looks as good as the Carefree Timber / Wood Treatment and costs nothing is you already have a pressure washer.

The dirt is tough to get out though!

Several years ago I used a pressure washer to clean a huge cabin we had just built, it was only a bit of mud splats and we were really careful to keep our distance from the wood, and it worked really well to clean it up.

This time though, to get the dirt out I had to get in close and really go for it. At this stage in the above picture it looked pretty good, I was feeling pretty smug ….. and after £60 worth of treatment this was SOOOOO much better …. WoooooHooooo….. and cost nothing and my wrist didn’t hurt at all.

And then it went bad …. a few hours later it was dry …..

Too close and too higher pressure – ruined the log cabin!

And …. this is what I had done!  Bugger, too close, too high a pressure, too much dirt and I have destroyed the logs.

A Ruined Log Cabin

AND now I have a huge problem! A very old log cabin, never treated, it was doing fine. I could have stuck with the really impressive cleaner but now I have really destroyed the surface …… now I have a problem…..

My advice from now on …. Use the Carefree Timber / Wood cleaner if you have something similar, pressure washing is NOT a good idea!

More to follow, if i can get out of this predicament …….!

Use this stuff though if you want a clean log cabin which you have not treated properly, if at all, then, spend some money on some proper treatment so you never have to go through this.

Carefree Protect Timber Cleaner

Carefree Protect Timber cleaner.

Timber – Wood – Log Cabin Cleaner

I’ve been playing a lot today with a new product, I’m still experimenting with it and will produce a blog on it soon.

Here though is my first video on it ….. great for cleaning your timber cladding, your old log cabin or in fact any type of timber as far as I can see so far:

Tuin Log Cabin Treatments

This post will explain the Log Cabin Treatments we offer, but in other posts I talk about the importance of a good quality treatment which is correctly applied in regards to Log Cabins and what happens if it is not done well with the best products or not done at all, these posts are here:

In these posts I gave general advice on treatment but did not specifically or simply talk about our own treatments and what we recommend if you choose to use them. I have had a few comments on the posts regarding this so will now answer this in relation to our own Tuin Timber Treatments and how to use them with your log cabin.

Timber Treatment Types

We have six types of treatment for your log cabin:

Factory Treatment Options

Spray Painted – Undercoat only:

This is ordered at the same time as you order your log cabin, it is an undercoat service only and provides two coats of spray paint, it is best to choose a colour that will compliment your final two top coats after installation. Ideally you will use two coats of Embalan Timber Paint for the two top coats.

Using this service will save you time and also give you some confidence it is protected from the elements straightaway. I do though find this quite expensive and do not always recommend this service as it can delay your log cabin delivery for up to 8 weeks.

This is our Flow Log Cabin and pre spray painted in Grey

Immersion Treatment:

The second of the two factory options of treatment, this, like the spray treatment will also need two further coats of additional treatment once it is installed. This treatment is where the entire log cabin and all its parts are put into a vat of rot proof treatment and allowed to soak for hours. This then allows the wood to absorb the rot proof treatment. It is then separated and allowed to dry naturally. Like the spray treatment this will extend your delivery by several weeks.

Personally I do not really like this treatment in anything other than a Log Cabin Gazebo or a Log Cabin style Garage as everything is treated and in brown, green or silver grey it can make the building very dark inside.

Remember that this is only a rot proof treatment, two further coats of treatment will be needed for it to be protected from the weather and to prevent it absorbing water thereby creating water marks and wild expansion and contraction in the log cabin due to the moisture content in the wood.

The perfect treatment on top of this from our ranges is the Carefree Protectant Timber Treatment. Two coats, well applied, are required for full protection.

An immersion treated cabin in green being installed – I like immersion treatment for Gazebos such as this, I’m not so keen on a full building as it makes it very dark inside.

Log Cabin Treatment Options – Self Applied:

Carefree Protectant Treatment:

This is now the very best selling treatment we offer, it is state of the art and is a simply amazing product, please see the Carefree Protect Timber Treatment page for all the details. I thoroughly recommend this and have been using it on everything from a log cabin to hardwood furniture.

Ideally this is used on it’s own (other than the immersion treatment), no base coats of preservative are required or any other product. For full protection for years we recommend three – four, well applied coats.

It is available in a number of colours and all finishes are slightly satin, the clear is VERY clear which people love. It is expensive but I think it is worth the cost. If you love the wood colour and want it to shine the Clear Carefree is Amazing!

I would not recommend using any other product with this or painting anything on top of it other than more of the Carefree treatment when re-application is needed. Saying that, I am told that you can paint on top with anything but i personally cannot recommend it having not done it myself. I also cannot see any point in this as this is a great treatment on its own.

Carefree timber treatment, 3 – 4 coats are required. These logs are an ongoing experiment of mine from January 2016 showing the effect of different layers.

Embadecor Timber Treatment:

Embadecor Timber Stain can be used on its own if you require a stained coloured finish. Like Carefree no other treatment or preservative is required. Again like all good treatment you will need to apply three – four coats if you are using it on it’s own. Lots of colours of stains are available, please see more details on the Embadecor Timber Stain page. Embadecor treatment should be used as an undercoat for the Embalan Timber Paint.

If you like the stained look whereby there is a colour but with the grain of the wood coming through then I recommend this stain highly (still not as highly as the carefree though)

Embadecor timber stain, 3 – 4 coats are required. These logs are an ongoing experiment of mine from January 2016 showing the effect of different layers of the stain.

Embalan Timber Paint:

This is a very high quality paint in solid colours, it gives great coverage and is available in several colours. This is on par with what I consider to be the best UK paint – Sikkens. To use this successfully it is recommended at least one – two coats of Embadecor timber stain (clear) as the undercoat. Further details of this paint can be found on the Embalan Timber Paint page.

Embalan timber paint, 3 – 4 coats are required if used on its own. These logs are an ongoing experiment of mine from January 2016 showing the effect of different layers of the paint. If you use an undercoat of 2 coats of clear Embadecor stain then two top coats are required of the Embalan paint.

Impregnation Fluid:

If you have a hot tub, a jacuzzi, a freezer or fridge in your log cabin or even if it is being shut up for a long time then it is a good idea to protect the inside of the cabin. The impregnation fluid is excellent for doing this, it is clear and goes on like water and will inhibit the formation of damp spores and guard against fungi / mosses forming. You can paint / stain over this as required. This is only a rot proof treatment and does not guard against the weather. This is also an excellent treatment for timber that is already suffering from not receiving any treatment at all to kill any bugs that may be present before applying a proper treatment outside.

Carefree Timber Cleaner:

I will come back to this as I’m still experimenting with the product. Suffice to say this is a 17 years old building that has NEVER received any treatment at all as an experiment. Now I am looking at how to clean and refurbish it. This was using the new product and took literally a few minutes to achieve. Guess which bit we treated with the timber cleaner?

Picture taken of a 17 years old log cabin which has never ever received any treatment or love in its life. A liberal spray of Carefree Timber Cleaner is doing just that.

A quick test ….. more to come in a blog post and product launch.

Log Cabin Treatment Summary

I’ll give a quick run through of my recommendations and combinations of treatments using Tuindeco range to sum up.

  • Spray undercoat – TWO further coats of treatment will be required using Embalan timber Paint.
  • Immersion Treatment – TWO further coats of treatment will be required, these can either be Embadecor Stain or Carefree Protect. I would not recommend the Embalan paint without applying two undercoats of the stain first.
  • Carefree – Only use this on it’s own, nothing else is required, 3 – 4 coats is perfect for 100% protection. No undercoats or topcoats are needed. Just use Carefree and nothing else.
  • Embadecor Stain – 3 – 4 coats gives 100% protection, nothing else is needed. lightly sand between coats.
  • Embalan Paint – 3 – 4 coats is good and can be done so without an undercoat if you wish. BUT, for best results use at least one coat of clear Embadecor stain as an undercoat. For the perfect solution use two coats of clear stain followed by two coats of paint.
  • Impregnation Fluid – Ideally use inside when damp conditions persist – one – two coats.

For my other posts on the treatment of your log cabin timber please see the posts below:

Timber Treatment of Larch / Douglas or Oak timber

This is just a teaser, have a look at this treatment we will shortly be launching:

This is a timber treatment primarily designed for larch and oak or douglas fir. It cleans prior to a proper treatment using something like our Carefree Protect Timber Treatment …. it looks damn impressive!!

I’m wondering if this will work on cleaning up a log cabin if it hasn’t been treated properly or for a long time when a cheap treatment has failed …. interesting …  I will come back with findings soon.

Expansion / Contraction in Log Cabins

Expansion / Contraction in Log Cabins is very commonon with the first year of life, however this is all to do with how timber naturally acts. We know that Log Cabins move and certainly within the first year of life they can move quite a bit.I explain this in an article about moisture content in log cabins which greatly effects the expansion and contraction of the wall logs.

The trouble is this movement can be a bit of a problem if we want to put things on the wall, or perhaps adding some shelves or fixing machinery. You may even want to partition a portion of your cabin for several reasons, perhaps you want a shower or a toilet or just a separate storage area. You might also want a thinner log building due to your budget but you would like to insulate the walls to use it as a garden office.

All of this can be done easily but to do so we need to keep fully in the front of our minds that the bloomin’ thing will move and we don’t want to stop it.  If we do inhibit this natural movement we can end up with all sorts of horrible things happening such as:

  • Splits in the logs – This will normally be caused by logs being held together
  • Gaps appearing where logs have been held – normally by a window frame being screwed to the logs
  • Moisture entering through gaps and splits

To avoid all these problems, if we want to fix anything to a log cabin wall this is the simplest and best thing to use:

Expansion Slat for Log Cabins

Expansion slat for use in a log cabin to still allow movement of the logs.

Expansion slat for use in a log cabin to still allow movement of the logs.

This is a handy bit of wood and you can make it out of left over floorboards or roof boards. Any timber will suffice though and you will pick the thickness depending on the job you want it to do.

I often advise customers to make these for use as storm braces when they are in exposed locations, off cuts from the roof or floor boards is fine to use and you then position them behind the corner interlocks so they’re not really seen. This slat will then be fixed to the top most log and the bottom of the slat to a lower log, this then ties the whole cabin together.

The very simple principle here is that we have one fixed hole at the top and slots in the middle and end (depending on the length). The top hole is screwed tight and using a washer the slot fixings are not tightened fully so we can still allow the logs to move behind the bracket.

Shelf Fixing in a Log Cabin

Using this system you can put up shelves, cupboards and fix tools to the walls:

Expansion slats for fixing things to the walls.

Expansion slats for fixing things to the walls. Using this slat will allow the logs to still expand and contract.

You will see from my diagram that we are fixing the shelves to the expansion slat and not to the logs. For heavier duty uses you may want a thicker slat and you may want to bolt it fully through the log cabin wall.

This is also needed for securing cupboards to the walls and especially useful for electricians when securing a consumer unit.

NOTE: in the first month or so a log cabin will settle quite a bit from first being erected so it’s best to leave it for a few weeks before adding brackets and securing fittings. Within the first year the cabin will move the most as the wood needs to ‘die’ a little more. Year two will be a little less. Years three, four and onwards the movement is hugely reduced. Also remember the most important thing with a log cabin is to properly treat it. Proper treatment with a good depth of treatment will greatly inhibit the natural contraction and expansion and reduce it to a minimum. More details on Treating a log cabin

Partition Walls in Log Cabins

The same as you do in your home you may wish to put a partition wall into your log cabin for any number of reasons. You can do so as long as you remember the log cabin is always moving!

Using the simple principle of the ‘expansion slat’ explained above we can create slots in framing and make a wall as any stud wall would be made remember though the slot fixing should not be fully tight and always allow the logs to still move in both contraction and expansion.

Partition wall framing in a log cabin

Partition wall framing in a log cabin

You would make a partition wall as you would any stud wall and probably with noggins for extra strength. Your final surface covering could be anything you would like including plasterboard. However, if the floor has already been laid do not fix it to the floor as like the wall logs the floor will be expanding and contracting as well.

Expansion / Contraction in Twin-Skin Log Cabins

You may have seen twin skin log cabins in the market. I’ve put a couple of these up and they really are a challenge and I don’t like them for a number of reasons. Mainly the design intent is all wrong but I will not expand further here. If you require my personal thoughts please feel free to ask me.

Instead of a twin skin design I prefer making an inner wall and one that is independent to the main log cabin wall. This is particularly useful if you are constrained by your budget and want an insulated log cabin but don’t want to opt for thicker logs.

Also, if you are obtaining building control approval because you intend living in the cabin then it will need to be insulated to building standards. Thicker logs certainly help with insulation but sometimes a control officer will want more. I’ve been involved with several projects and a building officer will often ask for 50 – 100mm thick insulation in the walls (depending on the log thickness) and 100mm in the roof with 70mm in the floor. The roof and floor is easier as I make mention here: Insulating the floor and roof of a Log Cabin.

It’s completely fine to add an inner wall to your cabin and fill the cavity with insulation as long as you constantly bear in mind that the logs of the log cabin itself are always moving as previously explained.

NOTE: Also though consider what you are going to do where the logs join the roof, we cannot restrict the contraction and if the cabin is dropping over the summer if you have not allowed enough room the roof could end up sitting on your internal frame causing a gap to be formed.

Allow for the contraction as well as expansion!

This explains how you can create an internal wall to allow insulation inside the log cabin:

Creating a twin wall log cabin

Creating a twin wall log cabin using the same expansion slat principle

Using the same principle with the expansion slat we can create framing internally against the wall. The frame will of course depend on the depth of insulation required but employ the same methods and remember the logs need to move independently.

Building control will ask for a breathable membrane, followed by a small air gap, and then the insulation in between the frame. On top of the frame you will place your surface covering. Timber logs of 28mm looks good or use a thinner cladding for economy or perhaps plasterboard for a smooth sleek, modern finish.

I normally like to insulate the roof on the outside and this can still be done if you are lining the walls on. The reasons I like it on top of the roof is:

  • It’s generally easier and quicker
  • It’s less expensive
  • No cavity is formed to collect condensation

If you are cladding the inside in timber and putting insulation on top of the roof you will still maintain the look and feel of a log cabin and benefit from the space the vaulted roof provides.

This is an example of insulation on top of the roof:

Insulation added on top of the roof with inner wall insulation

Insulation added on top of the roof with inner wall insulation

Make sure you allow enough room for contraction. With this example you can see I am keeping the inner framing below the roof boards as with contraction there is a chance the boards could sit on top of the frame making the wall logs  separate.

I’ve used a fascia suspended from the ceiling that will sit in front of the inner wall but is not connected to it allowing it move up and down as the log cabin expands and contracts. Fill any cavity created with fibreglass insulation wool so it can also move.

In a previous article on roof insulation I was recommending 40mm – 50mm thick insulation.  If you are going to use thicker which you may want to, you would need to ‘cell’ the roof and board on top of the insulation:

Using timber framing to cell the roof and infill with insulation boards

Using timber framing to cell the roof and infill with insulation boards

Some building control officers will ask for 100mm in the roof. To do this you will need to create a tray on the roof, then cell the tray and put in the insulation board with a final board on top and then the final roofing material. You may also wish to consider adding a breathable membrane.

If you wish to insulate under the cabin roof you could so within the purlins and then clad underneath them:

Using insulation in between the roof purlins

Using insulation in between the roof purlins

Another method you could consider is as follows:

Creating a ceiling within a log cabin

Creating a ceiling within a log cabin

Again like the methods above we are making sure there is enough room for expansion and contraction of the outer wall logs.

Please remember, if you create any voids to really consider venting them as a buildup of condensation can cause huge problems.

Summary of Expansion / Contraction in Log Cabins

Log cabins are an extremely versatile building and are very inexpensive and they can be used for any number of uses from a humble garden shed all the way up to full blown family accommodation.  They will all behave the same and will all move all the time. So long as you remember and allow for this you can do anything you want to them. Including partition walls and internal insulating walls as I have shown.

Please Note: These are ideas for you to take away and use how you will, these are not detailed plans with measurements and the drawings are NOT to scale. If you go on to carry out any of these ideas please let me know how you get on but this is not a simple DIY task and you will need some knowledge and understanding of the processes and materials involved.

One last thing; the windows and doors are also part of the outside wall so don’t join any of your internal framing to the doors or windows in anyway, treat them exactly the same as the logs.

Please ask me any questions you have on this or if you do use my ideas, please let us all know how you got on. Like the timber frame bases for log cabins none of this has a hard and fast rule except: Log cabins;  Move!