Ongoing Log Cabin Maintenance

Hello and welcome to what we hope will be a useful guide towards the ongoing maintenance of your log cabin,.. yes it may come as a surprise to some but just like a lot things in this world, log cabins do need to be given some attention every now and then to ensure they operate as intended.

As much as we would love to provide you with a completley self contained product that requires zero maintenance it simply isn’t possible with this sort of building.

Please expect to have to perform the odd bit of aftercare.

Firstly lets just have a brief recap on how our log cabins are made so we can all get in the right frame of mind, by now you may have already installed your log cabin which means you will of already read our comprehensive online Installation manual, Or perhaps you’re still in the planning phase.. Either way we would suggest viewing the above to gain more clarity and perspective on the whole project.

Before I started working here, When I thought about “log cabins” I would immediately cast my mind to the wooden buildings seen in films made from round tree logs sitting in a snowy forest somewhere nice and peaceful.

Snowy Log Cabin

Yes Please

Who wouldn’t want to buy one of these right!.. although you may need to make some life adjustments or sell a kidney to stump up the funds for this sort of project.

Our Log cabins are made a little differently and we like to think more financially and garden friedly, they consist of flat solid wall logs in a range of different thicknesses, stacked ontop of one another which then interlock in the corners with Wind and Weather Proof Connections.

TUIN Log Thicknesses

28mm – 70mm Log cabin logs

These wall logs will in most cases rest on what we call Foundation Beams to bring them up and off your base, These foundation beams as a minimum will be pressure treated for longevity.

Standard foundation beam being used in a build

Basic Foundation Beams

Our basic foundation beams being used, protecting the first layer of wall logs

After the walls are up you then turn your attention to the roof, These come in different styles and sizes of course but the principle around them is the same. You start with the purlins/rafters then the roof boards are fitted ontop to create the solid wooden surface to fix your roof covering to.

Lauren log Cabin being built

The roof being assembled on our Lauren 70mm Log cabin

Then low and behold!.. you have yourself a whole new building ready to be used for whatever you can imagine. looking for Inspiration?

Completed Lauren log cabin

A completed Lauren Log cabin

Easy Right… for some more information about fitting out buildings please also visit our Fitting Tips page.

So there we have it, thats the building up and ready to use but how do you keep it looking and performing as it should and what other considerations should you be thinking about to keep it a fully functional, problem free living space.

Perhaps the best way to go through some of the key points will be to break the cabin down into six areas .

  • The Base for the cabin
  • The Foundation beams
  • The Walls of the cabin
  • The Doors and windows
  • The Roof
  • Additional hardware and extras

Bases

The base is the first thing that gets laid and is critical for both the longevity of your building and its actual construction, i’m not here to talk about what base you should or shouldn’t use as all these details can be found with in our Base Support page already and in reality theres very little you should ever need to do to maintain it which is lucky as it becomes very inaccessible with a lump of a log cabin sitting on top.

However something to look out for would be subsidence, Let’s say you have a concrete slab, or a compact base with slabs ontop.. with the weight of the cabin ontop has it sunk it some places?.. hopefully not but its worth keeping that in mind to check if you find yourself with a misbehaving building.

Or perhaps you have built the cabin ontop of a raised Timber Platform and under the weight of the building one or more of the corners have sunk throwing out the top level like this unlucky customers did.

A sinking timber base

See the gap?.. Customers timber base had sunk in the middle

Luckily for this customer the timber base was fairly accessible from underneath so he was able to add additional support to bring it back level

Another important aspect of a base is damp proofing, using a Damp Proof Course ( DPC for short ) or a Damp Proof Membrane ( DPM ).

A DPC is generally used underneath your foundation beams, its purpose is to protect the underside of your foundations from rising moisture seeping up through your base as well as providing protection against ingress from the outside.

There are other ways to achieve the same level of protection, My favorite is to use a TAR product, painted on both the underside of the foundation beams and ontop of the base that they sit on.. applying this thickly will also service in sealing the perimeter helping prevent ingress.

A DPM is used underneath the concrete slab or ontop of it, This will again protect the underside of the cabin/floor from moisture that tries to rise up from and through your base into the building.

Advice on using a Damp proof course in your base.

Advice on damp proofing

Ideas for Damp proofing

Preventing this moisture from rising up within the building is very important, it can cause unwanted growth with in the building as well as other Unwanted Issues.

garden-furniture-mold

Mold with in a cabin

Nasty right!

Ventilation does play a big part in preventing this as well which we will cover in a moment but if you notice that a once dry and mold free cabin starts to experience these types of problems then a review of your damp proofing may just be in order.

Foundation Beams

Now these are also very important and often in truth the cause of great confusion at first with our more traditional shed building customers.

So just qucikly, Unlike a shed where you would expect to see a row of bearers all running the same direction with a floor built directly ontop..

A normal Shed is built on top of a floor with joists underneath it

Typical shed base

A typical shed with bearers running the same way

The Foundation Beams servce a different purpose for this type of building. they only span under the perimeter of the cabin (as well as any internal walls that might be featured).. What they DO NOT do is span in the middle where the floor goes later on.

Their purpose is to raise the first logs off and away from the base which in turn protects them and provides added room in the middle for a floating floor

We have different types of foundation beams to offer but they all serve the same purpose and will generally sit ontop of your base with a DPC in between. This will generally be enough to keep unwanted ingress from entering your cabin but where two foundations beams butt join together you should think about enhancing these connections with a decent sealant/sealer.

Walls Of the cabin

Treatment

Well here we go, We are starting to get into this now as once the walls are up you can finally start to get a good feel for your log cabin, as we mentioned before the walls are made from individual logs stacked ontop of one another to from a very solid wall, They interlock in the corners with fancy Wind and Weather Proof Connections which go along way to ensure that your cabin remains water tight… But as we also explain this isn’t where the story ends and you cannot just leave the logs as as they are and expect the building to be watertight which leads us swiftly onto a very important part of maintaining your log cabin which is TREATMENT

So let’s start by asking a question.. What is Wood?

Wood is basically a Sponge and this is how you must treat each individual part of your cabin, if you zoom right into the endgrain you will see that it’s made from straws all joined together which was once used to draw water and nutrients to the parts of the poor tree that once needed it.

Wood is a sponge and is made up of straws all drawing water for the tree.

Close up of timber

Wood is a sponge and is made up of straws all drawing water for the tree

You can easily see from these pictures that when we look closely, wood is full of holes and it’s these little buggers that will be causing a problem as they all fill with water or, drain of water as seeing as we killed the poor thing there is no tension of water to rely on.

For an untreated piece of wood especially this is happening constantly, it’s trying to reach the same moisture content as the surrounding air. This is known a Relative Humidity and is a measurement of the amount of moisture in the air around us.

In the summer the wood will expel moisture and shrink, In the winter they will absorb moisture and swell which will loosen and tighten the joints where the logs interlock.

Prevention

A lot of customers will fairly just assume that “treatment” is only applied to safeguard the wood, stop it from rotting ect but in truth this is just one of its benefits. Treatment is also there to try and limit this natural movement as much as possible , We want to limit the amount those sponges can absorb and expel moisture by clogging up the straws contained with in.. we do this by reaching the recommended depth of microns.

A decent treatment should provide the following benefits

  • Protect the surface from weathering (including UV damage)
  • Seal wood on wood joints with in the cabins construction
  • Reach the required micon depth ( 80-120 microns ) which helps limit natural movement
  • Provide the desired finish for appearance

More information on Timber Treatment specifically can be found within the other support articles we offer

I hope the above all makes sense as it then leads on to the ongoing maintenance of your cabins walls. They must be treated and they must be treated well, please do not expect to only have to treat your building once throughout its life time and Please Please Please use a decent treatment in the first place.. To many times have we had angry customers over the phone shouting, screaming at how dreadful it all is and how disappointed they have become….to only find that they hadn’t applied enough coats, hadn’t kept up with the re-treatments or instead used a lets say “less expensive” brand in the first place.

We recommend our own Tuin Treatments or specific ones found locally such as Sikkens, Sadolins and Kingfisher which we know work well at achieving the desired depth of penetration.

You will not cut the movement out entirely which is fine because the building is designed to handle a certain amount without any fuss.

So as the logs of the cabin move ( which they will ) you may then need to re-treat certain areas of your walls, Paying particular attention to the end grain and interlocking notches where they join another wall, these are the most vulnerable parts. You will also need to make note and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in terms of reapplying dates.

Overgrowth around the cabin.

This part is mainly aimed towards landscaping and storage rather than the cabin itself.

I’ll start by repeating one of our bold statements that we confidently make about the properties of timber, .. Wood will never Rot … we promise… Well, we also go onto say that so long as it is always ventilated, . so if it gets wet and is then allowed to dry it will be fine.

but what if it can’t dry?, What if air can never reach some parts of your cabin due to overgrowth, shrubbery, stacked rocks, Muck ect…

What if you decide to store things right up against the side of the cabins wall such as logs for a burner and leave them there for a few years while they season..

All of a sudden the wood will not be able to breath, vent and dry, Water could then sit there all winter which will eventually cause you all sorts of grief

Please be mindful of your walls, Make sure they are free from direct contact with anything which could cause a water trap, keep ontop of your gardening in those hard to reach areas as if you allow overgrowth to take over it can really ruin your day… you may even decide to call us.. complaining about the timber quality in the first place… “sorry but its wood” we will tell you.. “it only rots if its not allowed to vent” we will try and explain… you won’t like that.

Daisy log cabin

A Daisy log cabin free on all sides allowing decent circulation

Movement In log cabins

As we know by now the walls of the cabin move as the logs Expand and Contract throughout the seasons, the design allows for that just fine.

But what if you want to fix something to the wall like a mounted TV bracket or some shelving to store those garden tools.. I always tell people they can do whatever they like to these types of buildings so long as they follow the golden rule which is.. “You must always allow for vertical movement with in the logs” further explained with in our Dealing with Expansion and Contraction page

Another consideration for some, if your cabin happens to feature vertical posts that supports a canopy or large overhang you will need to periodically check that the adjustable post anchor that we supplied is set at the right height to match the rest of the cabin.

So let’s say you happen to own a building like our Kennet log Cabin

Kennet Log cabin

Our 28mm Kennet Log cabin

Remembering that the wall logs expand and contract, that front post will need to be adjusted from time to time as the seasons change becuase it will not move to the same extent, This is achieved by simply adjusting the nut that sits beneath the smaller plate on the anchor.

Post anchor being adjusted

Post support being adjusted

Doors and windows

I think the best way to approach this section will be to start by gently reminding you that just like the walls, The doors and windows are predominantly made from wood, you remember all of those straws?.. Sponges.. yup this wood is no different

Sure,..the doors and windows tend to be made from timbers which are laminated together which does improve their strength and reduces the possibility of movement but its still wood and it still has those straws.

Treatment

The correct treatment of the wall logs is very important.. but I would personally say that the correct treatment of the doors and windows is even more so and here’s why

Unlike the logs, The doors and windows do not have the same luxury of being fully and always supported.. The wall logs are locked in place and would do well to move in any unexpected sense.. but the same cannot be said for the swinging doors and windows… they are only connected to the cabin via hinges which means if the level of treatment isn’t correct or sufficient you may eventually encounter unwanted warps or twists to occur making them much harder to operate.

When first delivered the doors and windows normally arrive deep with in the pallet, This is on purpose as it provides needed support and compression while in an untreated state to prevent warps and twists… but at the very least the pallets are always banded tightly.

Doors packed within a log cabin package to protect them especially from warping

How our doors and windows come packed

Doors packaged with in the log cabin package to provide compression, preventing movement

You then unpack the doors and windows, Please store them flat and again under compression until ready for installation and treatment. While in situ you need to be very attentive with your treatment and often customers will not give them the attention they sorely require. Treatment should be applied both sides evenly and heavily.. To many times we have had customers upset becuase their doors have warped and to find out after that they didn’t treat it fully or correctly..

An extremely warped door.

A twisted/bowed door

A very twisted door, Do we think this was stored correctly prior to installation?

Hardware

Luckily, even the most twisted door can be corrected with the simple application of a Turn Button or Key,.. you would of already seen these in action in gardens throughout your life time i’m sure as we explain within our other Support Page so don’t panic too much but like most things prevention is better than a cure.

Please keep ontop of your door and window treatment.

Let’s move onto those hinges that we mentioned earlier, The doors and windows will come with their own style of hinges so you can operate and use them.. A lot of the time they are cup hinges that look similar to this

Two piece hinge forming a cup and spiggot. These can adjust the door in both planes.

Hinges commonly found on our buildings

Typical Cup Hinges

Now remembering what we discussed before, while treatment will limit the amount those pesky straws can absorb and expel moisture.. it will not cut it out entirely. You will at some point need to adjust the hinges of your doors and windows so please expect to do so, We go into more detail about this with in our other Support Page

A lot of the windows we send are top hung which operate from the inside via a simple Window Stay, we have all seen them and they do the job nicely

Its always easier to pre-treat the windows and doors before they are fitted so you can be sure of full coverage but sometimes this isn’t always possible. or perhaps it’s just time to recoat them following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Top Hung Window

Common type of top hung window on our Emma Log cabin

If you find yourself having to unhang this type of window from the cabin please be aware of an important Safety point before you proceed. The hinges are only designed to keep the window in place with in the constraints of the supplied window stay which means if you lift it up further, the hanging part which contains the glass could slide off. Be ready to take the weight and seek help from another if needed.

Window Stay Limitations

Be careful when lifting the window beyond the stay limitations

While on the subject of door/window furniture, let’s also talk briefly about the actual locking parts, The cylinder, mechanism, latches ect

These are pretty much self contained but some considerations should be made such as occasionally adding some lubricant with in the metal workings so everything operates as it should.. you don’t want the metal parts seizing up.. also consider oiling the exposed elements to keep rust and corrosion at bay.

Also think about fitting a traditional hook and eye’s for your doors so that during use you can keep them securely open, what we don’t want is the wind catching your new doors and smashing them against the walls… thats how things break which nobody wants.

Hook and Eyes

Hook and Eyes being used on our Chloe log cabin

Glass

That’s about it for the actual hardware, but what about the glass that lets in that sought after natural lighting.. what do we possibly need to consider in terms of maintenance.

The panes of glass are dry fitted into a rebate contained with in the door or window, this is all done prior to delivery as it’s much safer to transport while in place.

The panes of glass can always be accessed if ever needed, they’re only held in by wooden beading which can be Removed With ease as we show with in our Glass Support Article

How the glass is held in place

Glass held in place with removable wooden beading

There’s a few things that we need to think about and one of them which is often not really considered is the seal between the glass and that wooden beading.. is it sufficient?

Going back to treatment by this point you will have fully treated both sides of your window or door right up to the glass.. This alone will typically be enough to prevent water from encroaching between the two surfaces and finding a way into the cabin.

You may also ask yourself, Surely they will come pre-sealed in some way right.. why wouldn’t they be…..?!

Well actually no, they do not. The glass is just dry fitted inside the rebate of frame… thats not becuase we couldn’t be bothered or we’re just trying to save a few pennies on some silicone here in the office to keep the accountants off our backs. It is dry fitted for good reasons!

Firstly, While the packing team do their best to pack the pallets in the safest way possible, we are talking about several tons of a log cabin being moved around and transported over huge distances by several hauliers so things can happen and your glass could arrive damaged ( rare but possible ) .. its glass.. it can break!

For those of you that have used silicone before you will know that it can act abit like glue at times.. so in the unlikely event that you receive your cabin and some of the glass is broken its then an absolute nightmare and down right dangerous to go around and dislodge the broken shards from the inner frame and in the past when units were delivered pre-sealed we received right ear falls from angry customers and rightly so.

Hopefully you agree and can see why we do not send them out pre-sealed, So once you have treated the frames in full and you then go on to notice ingress, all you need to do is either run some sealant along where the glass meets the exterior beading… or if you want you can remove the beading and silicone where the glass directly fits into the inner rebate instead.

Refitting the glass is the reverse of taking it out. If you wished to you could add a bead of silicone sealant although this is not necessary.

Sealant being used

Silicone being added with in the rebate

Movement in log cabins

Moving on slightly, Let’s think about how the frames actually fit into the walls of the cabin for a moment

Back to Movement again ( sorry ) The door and window frames are made with dry, fixing free U-channels which slot over the wall logs which means they will not constrict anything as it moves.

The U-channels are formed by what we call fascia boards… some call them architraves.. they’re basically just planks of wood screwed to the frame to create the U shape. These cover up the all important expansion and contraction gaps which are left above and to the sides of the frames ( please do not in-fill these gaps with anything )

Log cabin doors and window installation

Fascia boards fixed to the perimeter of the frame to create a U-Channel

 

So a few things we need to consider in terms of ongoing maintenance,

Have the inner sides of the fascias been treated correctly, fully? ..Well they should be as they also play a good part of sealing the outer perimeter of the frames.

Have you accidently sent fixings through these fascias which then also penetrate the moving wall logs underneath?.. if so please remove them as you will be preventing those logs from moving with the rest and you will most likely end up with gaps in between those logs.

Or, Perhaps you have noticed gaps around the door frame but are pretty adamant that there are no fouling fixings.. Try loosening the fascias and then re-tightening them.. if that doesn’t work then send us some pictures so we can have a look with you.

Maybe you have treated the underside of these fascias but you have noticed some signs of ingress? In this situation we may just need to enhance the seal between the two wooden surfaces.. Removing the fascias and adding silicone or draft excluders will normally cut that right out .. Just let us know and we are happy to send you some FOC.

Log cabin Extras

We can provide an array of Log Cabin Extras to complement your log cabin and their requirement depends mostly on the circumstance

Before we touched upon the importance of Ventilation which helps prevent moisture from building up within the sealed cabin, If you are not constantly in and out of your building should consider adding Air Vents to allow a continuous flow of air in and out of the building.

Also think about what you store within the cabin, White goods especially kick out a lot of moisture so be sure to install vents to combat that.

We also offer Storm kits as an extra, These are spring loaded metal rods which are used to ensure that the roof of the cabin remains tied down to the rest underneath, most applicable to those in very exposed areas or for those cabins with large exposed canopy/overhangs… please consider the application of a Storm kit

Shingle Glue is an option to consider, Very handy again for customers in exposed areas but generally if you are installing in the winter it is suggested to safeguard the shingles until you summer next rolls around.

We highly recommend Guttering for your log cabin, Not only will this help filter roof water to the desired location it will also serves in protecting the walls and perimeter further down from unwanted ingress and splash around the base.

We also sell a product which is very useful for coating the inside of the walls, Its called Impregnation Fluid on the website and is a very powerful Anti-rot, insecticidal treatment which you could consider, Please note that in inside of your doors and windows will need more than just this product alone.

The Roof

The roofs on these cabins should really be pretty self contained, so long as the roofing material was installed correctly there isn’t really that much you should ever need to think about.

Just keep an eye on any unwanted growth ontop, Moss can sometimes start to build up which should be removed as and when you can. Overgrowth can prevent the surface from ever drying out fully… also if you happen to install the cabin in the winter and moss manages to build up before the summer comes back around it could limit the amount of heat that gets to the tiles which is needed to bound all the those bitumen strips together.

An old log cabin shingled roof

Build up of moss

Serious overgrowth, Overdue a clear out we think

It will also be a good idea to periodically check underneath the roofs fascias for any nests which long term could start damaging the wood.

before those fascias are even applied they should be pre-treated as they are hard to reach once installed, Just like the other parts of the cabin you will need to revisit the treatment after a set timeframe and these higher parts are easily forgotten about and missed.

We hope this helps and we are happy to answer any unanswered queries that may come to mind, Please also revisit our installation manual for much much more.

Summary

  • Keep half a mind for your Base, Check the levels if you start to notice anything strange happening with the cabin on top
  • If you start to experience high levels of condensation within the building consider checking your damp proofing and joints between the foundation beams.
  • Remember that wood is a sponge, Keep on top of your treatment and please use something decent., Recoat those vulnerable areas and meet the guidelines set out on the tin.
  • Treat the doors and windows well and frequently
  • Fit hook and eyes to your doors to prevent unwanted wind damage
  • Keep your green fingers busy, Stop overgrowth from taking over and allow air to fully circulate around the cabin.
  • Do not create water traps around the walls of the cabin
  • Be mindful when fixing anything to the walls, Remembering your cabin likes to move
  • If you find water ingressing around the glass, they need sealing further
  • Guttering should always be fitted to better protect your cabin
  • Add Air Vents to prevent the build up of moisture
  • Consider the need for other log cabin extras
  • keep half an eye on your roof, remove overgrowth frequently

 

Log Cabin Install Video in Depth

We have a very handy video showing you the standard install of any log cabin, the same process takes place across the board. We host the video on YouTube and it was nicely ‘annotated’ with more information. For some reason this facility is now turned off so I thought I’d write an article explaining some of the finer points that we show you in the video and generally talk through it as you watch the film:

0:12 Laying Out

Layout the logs around your base

Unpack your pallet fully and lay out the logs around the perimeter of your base, try to keep them in the same lengths in stacks. Try also to make sure they are laid flat and supported. As you are setting them out you can easily identify the main wall logs. You will find other parts you might not recognise such as purlins and cutouts for above or below doors and windows. Make a note of these and place them to one side. At this stage also look out for half height logs, these will be your starter logs on two opposing walls, put these also to one side and remember where you put them.

0.22 Base and Plans

Check your base is level and check the plans

You should already have a level base but just quickly check it again, if it isn’t there are things you can do which other articles help with in the blog. Check the plans. You’re looking at each wall elevation and noting the size of the logs as well as familiarising yourself with the numbers and positions of the various logs. You will also have a general manual explaining the process. If it is not enough this article will help as well as the extended Log Cabin installation advice page and numerous further articles linked from it. If you get really stuck we’re always pleased to help and offer further guidance.

0:51 Setting out the first logs

Setting out the first wall logs

You will already have found the half logs I mentioned, these are logs that have been cut directly in half and will have a flat bottom. Remember the tongues face upwards throughout the build. The logs that interlock into the half ones are full size logs, there is nothing special about them. Once you have laid out the initial base logs you put the foundation beams under them. You will need to measure and cut these but it is much easier to do so once the first layer is established.

You will have already considered a damp proof membrane in your base, if you have not now is the time to add the damp proof course to the foundation beams. It is a good idea regardless to add a DPC under the foundations as the plastic can help to seal if the base is a little rough. More details on DPC and DPM can he found in our Log Cabin Base page.

It is a good idea to fix the half logs to the foundation beam, especially at the door way area to give it extra strength. It also helps to stabilise the lower logs as you square and build.

You can also fix the full logs if you would like to, it is best to go in at an angle into the foundation beam or directly through the top if you have long enough screws. Note: We do not supply screws for this purpose, it is though my preference to do this and you might like to, to help your install.

01:52 Build up the Layers

Build up the wall log layers

With the first logs in place the install will start to fly up as each layer is added. Use a white rubber mallet to tamp down the logs. Check that there is no swarf in any of the grooves and that each log is seating on top of the one below. When you have reached about 5 – 7 layers of logs then double check your square and adjust if necessary. Check every corner! As the layers build up do not worry if doorways / window holes start to splay or twist slightly. If your base is 100% level and you are square this will not be a problem.

03:37 Window and Doors

Add the doors and windows when about 4 logs high

Keep a close eye on the plans and the elevations, keep counting the number of logs as you work up the layers, check specifically for window apertures and the logs that surround them. Some cabins will have a cut out log below the window so keep checking! When you are about four logs in height either side of a window you can add the windows, you can also consider adding the doors on some buildings. This example has double doors flanked by windows so the fitters will fit that towards the end. However if you wish you can install windows after the main building has been completed by removing the fascia surrounds. It does depend on the fitters preference. Note: No fixings should be used to fix the sides or tops of the window or door frames into the logs. Continue to build up the wall logs. Keep checking that the logs are being tamped down periodically and checking for swarf in the grooves. Keep checking the elevation plans and keep adding the layers of wall logs.

6:01 Top logs

Work will slow up toward to roof

As you get higher you will need to use step ladders. On larger building scaffolding is advisable as is fall arrest equipment. Some of our thicker, much larger buildings have bolts that run in the corners, these can be put in at this point. If you find any logs that have slightly twisted after being left out for most of the day they can be eased by use of a carpenters clamp.

7:29 Apex Roof Sections

The apexes can be challenging

The apexes need very careful handling, when moving them is is very, very easy to break the points off. Watch out for this! It’s not a problem if they are but it is annoying. Apexes generally come in one piece for the larger buildings but if you feel they are too heavy or unwieldy then take them apart. The will take some manipulation to get in, often a front wall has splayed and these will need to pushed together and aligned. Take your time and work as a team. Be Aware of safe working at height. With the apexes in it is the most unstable point of the build. Be careful of gusts of wind. As mentioned you can take them apart and work gradually by putting in purlins and working you way up. The process is up to the fitter. Once all the roof purlins are in place there is more stability but it is still best to be wary and not lean on the apexes during the install at this point. Purlins can be very tight to get in, expect to have to hit them quite vigorously on occasions. The top most purlin is often the hardest to get in due to the working height, be careful! Although not necessary I find it a good idea to screw the purlins into the apex logs for extra security, this will also ensure they do not lift and are more thoroughly connected to the building especially in highly exposed areas. If the apexes are seperate it is a good idea to fix them at the corner with a small screw or nail for added stability as you build the apex up.

9:38 Roof Boards


Laying out and fixing the roof boards

Ideally set out your roof boards in stacks along the side walls with the tongue or groove facing one direction. Before you start laying its important to re-check your buildings square as this is the last chance to really correct it. Start laying from the side that is seen the most, generally this is the front of the building, set the groove in line with the end of the purlin. Use the nails supplied with two nails in each board across each junction. This will provide a great deal of strength and will stop the boards lifting if they expand. Consider the time of year you are fitting. In the winter months the boards will have expanded due to moisture in the air so make the joints tight. In the summer months consider leaving the boards a little looser so they have room to expand in the winter. Try to work as a team and periodically check the boards are running true. On thinner logs keep an eye on the angle you use when nailing into the top log.

Don’t be tempted to lean your ladders on the walls before the roof boards are all laid as this could throw out your buildings square, When you then nail the boards in it will be fixed out of true.. Always use self-supporting step ladders

10:30 Doors

Fitting the doors

Fitting the doors may require adjustment of the hinges. If you find this to be the case and it is not self explanatory this article will help: Adjusting Log Cabin Hinges. If your base is not 100% level it will be slightly harder to fit the doors and you may need to use packers under one corner of the frame to level the door set. Please note how the fitter is installing the door bolts and lock.

11:40 Finishing the Roof Boards

Finishing the roof boards

For larger buildings with longer spans it is a good idea to use a roof board fixed to the purlins in order to keep them straight as you work along, leaning your ladder on them.

This prevents them twisting. Work together with your partner, it is easier if one is at the apex and the other on the wall logs. It is best to fix about ten boards one side and then another ten the opposite side as this will help them all stay in line with each other. The last board at the rear will need trimming flush with the end of the purlin. It is a good idea to nail the boards along the apexes. Please note: It is often necessary to adjust the purlins using a plane for a perfect finish where it joins the top wall log. The purlins may also need adjusting by chiselling the notch slightly.

13:38 Roof Trimming

Roof trim

Depending on how you use the building and your personal aesthetics you might like to consider ways of trimming the roof. if you are adding side bargeboards it helps to add a block, this is also very useful when mounting guttering which helps greatly the longevity of the log cabin. You can also consider front and rear bargeboards and their aesthetics, many customer like to introduce scallops or other shapes for decorative purposes. Any timber from your local DIY store will suffice. Often there will be plenty of spares and left over timber which you can make use of.

14:11 Final Roof Material and Finishing

Adding the final roof material

Before adding the final roof material you might like to consider adding insulation which is covered in another article within my blog. Fitting felt is very straightforward and is done the same as any shed, more details can be found in the extended installation advice page. Fitting shingles is also very straightforward but can be time consuming and will often take as long as the actual build itself. This video shows the shingle installation very well, other articles referenced from the above page will also give more help. The instructions are also found on the shingle packaging. If you are installing in the colder months or you are in a very exposed location it is a very good idea to use shingle glue. Fitters will also have slightly different methods of finishing the apexes and some will fold the shingles and felt over, some will apply an underlay, this is up to you and your preferences. The gable ends are finished with a bargeboard and nailed or screwed to the purlins. You can also add a capping piece as these fitters are doing but make sure it is heavily treated underneath before fitting to guard against rot from water sitting under it.

Once the main Log Cabin has been completed you are now free to add your own personalisations as many people do such as shaped bargeboards, guttering, treatment, door stays, fascia fixings etc. In exposed areas it is also a good idea to fit storm kits.

Lots more details, hints and tips and ideas can be found on the main Log Cabin Installation advice page. Reading this will help you greatly in your install. This video and principles apply across all our log cabins no matter the shape, thickness and style.

Pent Installation Roof Advice

A little insight to how you can format the parts of our Modern log cabins

So you have built up your new log cabin up to roof height and you will come across a sight like the one below, the skeleton of a roof ready to be finished off.

Up to roof height with purlins added

I have made a quick guide which I hope proves useful, there are different methods in doing this roof style that you may prefer to use.

Firstly lets identify all the roof components that we will eventually call upon, in this case we have the two-tiered eaves boards for all four sides, squared battens and a mixture of mounting slats and blocks, sometimes the eaves boards for the longer cabins arrive in half lengths which when offered up to one another span the full required length. 

Identifying Roof Components

A good opportunity is often missed at this stage which is treatment and plenty of it as a lot of these parts become very inaccessible once you get further along, for more guidance on what treatments to use you may be interested in the following; https://www.tuin.co.uk/blog/log-cabin-treatment-again/

To begin with let us install the mounting blocks on the front and back of this particular log cabin, these provide more support for the eaves boards when you fit them, sometimes these blocks can be fitted to the sides instead, depending on the model, to fix these I am going to use a two of the 60mm screws at each point.

Starting to install the mounting blocks

Please do not think too long and hard where the mounting blocks need to be placed, as if the plans in front of you do not show a specific precise location, as the eaves boards may have arrived disassembled as shown in the second image above, just place them in a realistic fashion and copy the same for the back.

Mounting blocks also fitted to the back wall

The mounting blocks have all been fitted, so now it is time to think about making up the eaves boards, in this case we have been supplied with a narrow and a wider board, these two together make up the full eaves height, you may have seen that the plans are telling me to use the wider boards on the top, so let us do just that.

Eaves boards ready to be assembled

To join the two boards together we need to use the mounting slats supplied in the kit and identified earlier, anything can be used including spare pallet timber.
Please pilot drill these before securing them, by doing this with any wood you can be more sure that the wood will not split or crack, make sure their locations are correct, use the roof as a guide lining up the slats with the blocks already in place or take measurements.

Offering Eaves boards up to the fitted block locations to aid positioning

Screw the mounting slats all onto one side of the boards, I used 30mm screws which worked nicely.

Screws sent though the mounting slats into the eaves boards

Mounting slats lining up with mounting blocks and overhanging the wall logs/purlins.

Mounting slats lining up with mounting blocks

Now we have all the eaves boards made up as well as all mounting blocks and slats fitted, we then need to think about how we want the chosen roof material to be formatted.Roofing Felt, Easy Roofing or EPDM

Felt, Easy roofing and EPDM Roofing for our pent roofed log cabins

Fitting roofing felt, Our aim is to fold this under the roof edge on all four sides of the roof securing it into place using the supplied battens or sourced trims.

Fitting Easy Roofing ( ERM ) this is an easier solution to roofing felt and requires no nails as its all self adhesive, A heat gun in the colder months of the year is suggested to enhance the overlaps

Fitting EPDM now we save the best until last! The Epdm rubber roof, supplied with a spray adhesive and laid straight onto a “clean dust free roof”, like with the easy roof you would dish this up on the inside faces of the eaves boards on all four sides or just the front three

FELT ROOFING FIRST

We do have a video showing how felt in general is laid which for the basic principle is important as well as our very detailed online installation manual for pretty much everything you would need to know about getting the cabin constructed from the ground up; https://www.tuin.co.uk/blog/tuin-tuindeco-log-cabins-instruction-manual/

but more specifically here for a pent roofs which we hope helps further.

Assuming it is felt that we are fitting today we need to get the roof boards on before anything else, However what we like to suggest at this stage is to temporally tac your front eaves on first as this then gives you a line to offer them all up against knowing they will be correct.

Eaves boards fixed to the blocks ready for the roof boards

You may find that the mounting slats obstruct some of the roof boards from sitting flush so I am trimming them down, or I could have trimmed the relevant roof boards instead to slot around them.

Cutting the mounting slats so the roof boards fit flush, The roof boards could be trimmed instead where required

With the slats trimmed the roof boards sit flush against the inside face

When you go to fit the last roof board you nearly always need to rip it down to allow it to sit flush with the ends of the purlin(s)

Remember to use two nails or screws per board at every junction as the roof boards are key to strengthening the whole building, in the summer leave a 2mm gap
in-between each board whereas in the winter you close them up as tight as possible.

After that you can then remove the front eaves board as its time to fit the felt.

As mentioned, we really want to get the felt wrapped round the ends of the roof boards and under, most cabins come with battens to attach the felt under the boards, in this instance I have been supplied with the two long lengths as shown in a previous picture, I will use these and any other spare pallet timber to secure the felt if needed.

An example of how to finish the roofing felt around the ends of the roof boards

Another example showing how to overcome obstructions

You will at points have to work your way around the mounting blocks, purlins or wall logs, you could remove the blocks temporally while the felt is fitted. you can also leave the felt simply wrapped round the sides of the roof boards to avoid the obstacles but just be sure they are secured down in some way either using Felt Glue or clout nails, Ideally both.

After the felt is fully installed you can then fit all your eaves boards around all sides, the natural gap at the back is there to allow the water to drain off the roof

Expect a gap at the back of the roof, This is for drainage

EPDM or ERM Rubber Roofing

For more specific guidance on the actual installation of the rubber itself, Please visit the following for support and advice

https://www.tuin.co.uk/Easy-Roofing-Membrane.html

EPDM on LOG CABINS roofs.

For this cabin we opted for the Easy roofing as it is the best with no overlaps, the same fitting aid also applies for the Easy roofing, for these rubber options I am going to dish the roofing up on the front three sides then wrap it around the back to allow the run off.

After the initial stage of fixing all mounting blocks onto the cabin I am going to go ahead and fix all four completed eaves boards onto the sides of the roof.

A close up of a corner, Mounting slats cut and uncut as preferred

An extra pair of hands is useful for this part, but you could use clamps if you have some large enough. I screwed through the outside fascia of the eaves boards through the mounting slat into the mounting block with two 70mm screws at each point.

Eaves boards fitted at the back, Note they sit higher than those at the front due to the roof pitch

All eaves boards in place and ready for roof boards followed by the EPDM roofing

With them all fitted to the perimeter of the roof I’m ready to fit the roof boards following the same process as we did for the felt part of the guide.

Dishing of the rubber roofing can be formatted in different ways, As an example you can just have the rubber coming upwards against the inside face and apply a hidden trim to cap it off, however it is best to actually wrap the rubber around the top of the eaves board and down the other side as it helps prevent any possible ingress under it, you can then cap this off as you wish.

You may like to cut the mounting slats down on the front three sides like we did for the felt approach early as this makes offering the Epdm rubber roof easier to lay on the inside face of the boards.

Roof boards start getting laid, Remember two nails per board at every junction

Examples of how the rubber roofing can be dished up

Then for the back where the natural drainage gap is we are going to wrap it around the side of the roof boards, Some fitters at this point will actually make cuts into the tops of the blocks so they can get the EPDM wrapped further around, But you can just glue and tac the roofing to the sides

Some fitters will be very clever at this stage and actually cut a channel into the tops of the mounting blocks, eventually fitting a guttering length directing the water into a downpipe, you may need to increase the wood size of the block used depending on the gutter size, you can then glue the EPDM into the inner face of the gutter instead.

With a channel cut on the back overhangs you can fit a guttering length rigged up to a downpipe

I will mention once again that the methods above do not have to be strictly followed, “like anything in this world there are always room for enhancements!. “So fill your boots ladies and gents” and have a go. Any questions please feel free to contact us for advice

Adding a Window

Another Window?

Imagine you’ve built your log cabin and you find you need more light, or perhaps you already know you will need another window.

An additional large window has been added to the rear of this standard Rick 40mm Log cabin.

Or maybe you cannot block out that amazing scenery you have from your garden.

an extra window has been added to the rear wall of this Jutka, Gazebo, log cabin combination building.

If you do decide you would like another window Tuin do offer these, they’re a generic window of various sizes and can be fitted to any manufactures log cabin of thicknesses from 28mm up to 70mm:

When to Install an extra window

If you’ve already decided you would like an addtional window to that which comes as standard with your building you will probably order it at the same time as your building. You’ve then got to decide whether you are going to install it at the same time or afterwards, neither really matters, but my  preference is to always install it following the whole install. I like this way because:

  • You can be sure the main building has gone together correctly.
  • You will not void any guarantee.
  • You can be 100% certain of the positioning.
  • You avoid making mistakes in cutting logs.
  • You can be sure you are not going to structurally effect the log cabin.

Of course you can install it as you go but you run higher risks of a mess up, of which I have done in my early days fitting log cabins – namely cutting the logs wrong which does end in tears when there is no spare logs.

Generic Window Parts

There are several ways windows are made for log cabins and invariably they all follow the same pattern; they are a window frame with fascias applied to create a U section that the wall logs will sit in.

Remember it is important that the windows or doors are NOT fixed to the logs in any way to allow for expansion and contraction.

Below is an old Generic window I found in the workshop which I’ll use as a demonstration on how I fit the window.

Various parts that make up the generic window.

These windows are made up three components:

  • Window Frame.
  • Spacer Pieces according the width of wall log.
  • Window facias.

If we look at the spacers / battens you will see there is a paper label showing you the measurements for various log thicknesses.

Spacers which are marked and will be cut down to match the log thickness you have in your building.

Of course if the paper is not there, lost or got wet or even if your log thickness is not shown then you can easily measure this. If you are cutting to your own size it is best to make is 2 – 3mm larger. For instance; a 40mm thick wall log would have a spacer measurement of 42 – 43mm in width.

It might help to layout the parts so you can see exactly what you have.

Parts of the window. You should have two top, four side and two bottom fascias. As well as the spacers or adjustable battens whichever term you prefer.

Fitting the Generic Window

Before you start, trim down the spacers to match the thickness of your log cabin either by using the mark guide or measuring yourself. We are going to fit this window into a 58mm log cabin at our show site.

58mm thick wall log.

Start by marking the spacer for your size of wall log

Cut the spacer down using a handsaw or if you have it use a circular saw or jigsaw.

Once you have your spacers to size you can then fix them to the window frame.

Spacers have been fitted on each of the wides of the window frame.

You will of course need four spacers that go on each side of the window frame. You can fix these however you would like to, some fitters will use nails but personally I like to use screws as I think it gives a better fit, it’s easier to take apart and is generally stronger. The choice of fixing is yours at this point.

I prefer to use screws to fit the spacers but it is up to you at this point.

Cutting a hole in your Log Cabin

This next bit can be a bit tense and I must admit it still makes me a bit nervous in case I mess it up.

Before we start measuring or cutting holes we need to find the best place for our window. There’s a couple of rules to follow:

  • Do not cut any closer than 200mm to the interlocking corner of the cabin.
  • Do not cut any closer than 200mm to the side of another window.
  • Ideally start or finish your cut on a full log.
  • Ideally leave at least two clear logs above the window to maintane integrity of the building.
  • Make your own judgement of the integrity of the building once the hole is cut, if you need advice for a tricky placement please contact the main office or leave a message on this page and we’ll be pleased to help.

You can measure the window and transcribe those measurement onto the walls which is what I think a lot of people do. You would start at the centre point and measure out either side both top and bottom and then mark the lines.

Personally I still don’t trust myself or a tape measure and hold the actual window frame (including attached spacers) to the wall and mark around it with a pencil / pen. That way I can be sure my eyes haven’t gone wonky or the tape measure has stretched or shrunk.

Either mark out where you are going to cut the window by taking measurements from the window frame or hold the actual window to the wall and draw around it.

One marked you need to consider what happens when your log cabin either expands or contract which it will do over the cycle of the seasons. For more details on this please see: Expansion and Contraction in Log Cabins.

As you will know it is necessary to leave an expansion, or, contraction gap above the window to cope with seasonal variations. The gap you make will be decided by the time of year you are installing:

  • Height of Summer: The wood will be at its smallest as a lot of moisture will have escaped. Therefore only a small gap of 10 – 15mm maybe necessary as the building is only likely to expand more as Autumn and Winter arrive.
  • Depths of Winter: The wood will be at its largest size as it will have absorbed a lot of moisture from the surrounding air. Therefore a gap of 20 – 30mm maybe necessary as the building is only likely to contract as the Spring and Summer arrive.

As the logs expand marginally length ways you only really need a gap of around 5 – 10mm either side, again depending on the time of year you are installing.

I prefer to be on the right side of caution and will perhaps make the expansion gap slightly smaller. I will then advise the customer to check behind the fascias as the season changes over the first year to make sure a gap is still present of at least 5mm in the depth of winter. If it is not it is easy to remove the window and take out a little more to allow for the gap.

Making our marks to allow for expansion and contraction of the logs around the window frame.

Once you made your marks, double and triple checked then we can cut the wall logs. A circular saw make sit easy work but you can of course use a hand saw.

Cutting the hole is easier with a circular saw but you can also use a jigsaw or a hand saw.

A complete window hole cut. Do not worry if you are not 100% straight in your cut as any slight deviations will be hidden behind the fascia.

You can offer up the window to check for fitment.

Final Fitting of the Generic Window

You can now fit the fascias on the outside of the window, again, like the spacers you can either screw or nail them onto the frame. I personally think screws are far better but it is up to you.

Fit the fascia to the outside of the window frame onto the spacers.

When you are working with wood it is always highly advisable to pilot hole anything you are going to be screwing or nailing.

Always use a pilot hole when screwing or nailing one piece of wood to another.

Once all four of the outside fascia has been fitted you can then place the window into the hole. In the next picture we have done this from the outside. Notice one single screw used in the centre of the top fascia, this is to loosely secure the window so it can be completed from the inside single handedly. It is of course better if you have someone holding it for you.

Note the screw will be removed once the window is installed.

Complete window fitted from the outside of the log cabin, loosely held in place by one screw at the top to make it easier to fit. The screw is of course later removed.

The fascias are fitted to the inside and the ‘helping screw’ outside is removed and the window is complete.

There we have the completed window!

A Few Window Notes:

Fitting a window is not too hard at all, just consider you expansion and contraction gaps, also the old saying of ‘measure twice cut once’ is very relevant.

Over the first year as the seasons change, periodically check your gap above the window, you can easily remove the top fascia to check behind it.

If security is a concern you can:

  • Countersink your screws and use wood filler mixed with sawdust to hide your screws on the outside fascia.
  • You can use Philips head screws and once installed drill the head so it can no longer be used.
  • Use security screws.

Expansion in Log Cabins

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.

Dealing with Expansion / Contraction in Log Cabins

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.

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 Dealing with Expansion 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!