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 Skylight – Roof Vent

We’ve been looking at this for a while. We get asked a lot of times for windows in the roof or can you fit something like a Velux window in the roof of your Log Cabin.

The answer is yes you can. But to fit a velux requires a lot of modification, a lot of strengthening and a bit of mucking about. They can be fitted but it’s not a fun job.

This is a cracking new product we have added, it seems to tick all the boxes, it’s easy to fit, light enough to not worry about extra strength and provides a good lot of light into your log cabin.

Showing the before and after, it's quite a difference.

Showing the before and after, it’s quite a difference.

You can see there is a huge difference. The skylight is easy to fit on a fresh install but you do need to base it around a felt backing, the surface that the oil based compression gasket seals onto needs to be relatively smooth, standard shed felt or EPDM or Easy roof membrane is ideal. If you have a shingle roof you will need to have an area of felt only.

Using felt shingles but you will need an area of Felt or Easy roof membrane to help it to seal.

Using felt shingles but you will need an area of Felt or Easy roof membrane to help it to seal.

Installation of the skylight / roof vent is very straightforward and you do not even need to be on the roof. Installation as a retrofit is a little trickier and I will be doing this over the next week or so and posting on this on the way I think it is best done.

As well as a normal roof you can also install this on an insulated roof, it may though be necessary to add additional trim around the rim of the unit.

Installed with an insulated roof. Longer bolts may need to be sourced locally and also trim for the inside.

Installed with an insulated roof. Longer bolts may need to be sourced locally and also trim for the inside.

If you are interested in this product please see more details here skylight / roof vent for log cabins

Some interesting pictures of a recent customers install of their roof vents in an insulated roof log cabin:

Roof Shingles for Log Cabins – Watch out!

For the past few months we have been offering our customers certain ranges of IKO shingles free with our log cabins and the offer has been very well received. It’s a genuine offer and accepted by loads of very pleased customers. Please see this page for the full offer and availability: Free Roofing Shingles.

What do we supply?

All our shingles are from IKO. We supply these either as a FREE felt shingle option or as a bought option with all our log cabins and also some of our Garden Buildings:

IKO Felt Shingles for use on log cabins and our garden buildings.

These are the very best you can get in Europe and probably the world, IKO is known all over. This is their website: https://www.ikogroup.co.uk/ virtually everywhere you go you will see the IKO brand, for instance, have a look at the branding on the roofing membrane of new build houses before they put the tiles on. A good builder will always use IKO.

Other Shingles

Of course there are other shingles on the market, not just IKO and we’ve tried a lot of these ourselves but we still come back to IKO.

We have independent fitters who you, the customer, deals with direct and you pay them direct. We pass these details on to you when you place an order with us as a free service.

These are often the same fitters who are sub contracted by other companies.

Sorry while I’m on the subject of fitting have you seen the costs! Looking at a 3m x 3m corner log cabin tonight from a company and they wanted over £2000!!! to fit it. Truly unbelievable.

Speak to any fitter direct and they would normally charge you about £450 for a 3m x 3m.

I’m digressing, sorry. Back to shingles. I suggest, when buying or receiving shingles with you log cabin you ask the following question.

Dear Supplier,

Could you please tell me if the shingles you are providing me are CE Marked?

Our independent fitters install for several companies but they and I are good friends after many years together, and they whisper to me. Recently I was shown shingles they were asked to fit and …. oh my!

Looking at them they were of a far lower quality than the ones we use and then we notice that there was no document of performance (DOP) with them and they are not approved in Europe,.

At the moment to supply in Europe for construction they must be approved and CE marked. You will find these shingles have a far thinner base layer and top layer which makes the total shingle a LOT lighter. This causes easy cracking and absolutely no protection at all when felt nails are used and leaking around the nails will be far more common. I dare you to claim on the guarantee.

So, please ask the question when you are buying shingles from your supplier either as a free option or bought. Are they CE marked and approved for use in Europe. It does make a HUGE difference to how long they will last.

 

IKO Green shingles for log cabins

IKO Green shingles for log cabins

Insulating a Log Cabin Floor and Roof

If you were one of my customers and you were buying a lovely new log cabin from me, especially one of our thicker wall log cabins such as 50mm upwards, I would be strongly urging you to insulate at the least the floor of your new log cabin. I would also try to nudge you to insulate the roof as well.

You may also be interested in this post on double glazing, R and U values and Log cabin thermal properties: Double Glazing in Log Cabins

The benefits are obvious for you.  You’ve decided upon your building, you’ve weighed up the benefits of the thicker logs and of course the double glazing.  But, a lot of heat is lost from the floor and it’s cold rising up and of course loads is lost through the roof.  Ideally we want these areas insulated and to the same or similar as the wall thickness.

Lots of retailers supply ‘insulation kits’ with their buildings, we don’t, but we could, we could make a bit of money out of it as well.  But seeing as the cabins are costly enough as it is do you really want to add more cost if you can help it.  So, instead of me supplying you a special insulation package and making some money from it I’ll tell you how to do it yourself and save money or better still spend the saving on better quality insulation.  All the insulation I talk about is ordered through any builders merchant, most of which will deliver to you at the fraction of the cost of a retailers special ‘Insulation pack’.

I like the Celotex brand of board, I’ve used several types over the years but get on best with this one.

celotex-log-cabin-insulation

Here’s a link where you can download more details on the product:  Product Guide

I know lots of other manufacturers do a similar product, some better and some worse, that part is up to you but I prefer a solid fibre board to work with as above.

Of course there are lots of ways to accomplish an insulated roof and floor.  Some fitters favour adding it underneath the roof and boarding it out thus keeping the insulation in.  Some will put a frame on top of the roof and use rockwool and ply over the top.  I have never used these methods as I can’t see the benefit other than perhaps a saving in the insulation material cost itself.

So, my rough and simple guide on how to insulate your roof and floor of your new log cabin.

Insulate the floor

A quick one before explaining this:  Have you considered a DPM?  A damp proof membrane either within your base or on top of it.  It’s well worth it and prevents any damp coming up and into your building. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damp_proofing)

I build my log cabin as usual on the 44mm tanalised timber foundation beams we supply with every building and I’ve now completed the build.  I’m left with the floor to put down and the roof covering to apply.  If I’m using a floor pack I will set out my floor bearers as normal.  I then cut up my insulation board which I’ve ordered from the local builders merchant at 50mm deep.  This sits perfectly between and within the bearers, the joists support my build while the insulation boards supports it. If you want to be exact to the joists then use 40mm.

Insulation board is placed within the bearers

Insulation board is placed within the bearers

Now I simply lay my floor boards as normal, happy that the floor is insulated.

Another method is to not bother with the floor pack and to fill the inner area of the cabin with the insulation boards.  On top of that you use far cheaper OSB sheets or chipboard flooring, this is especially relevant if you are later putting down carpet as OSB is certainly cheaper than our nice T&G pine.

Obviously you’ll need to work out how much board you need with a simple calculation of length x breadth to find the square meter and order the equivalent from your local builders merchant.

Insulating the Roof of your log cabin:

The roof is a little trickier to do and takes a little more work.  Before we start you need to decide what thickness of insulation board to use.  50mm, the same as the floor is very convenient and often used.  You could also go up to 70mm to gain the same R value.  I have also used 100mm when specified by planners.  Regardless the same principle applies.

Work out how much you need by calculating one side of the roof area and times it by two.  As well as the insulation boards you will also need to order longer clout nails.  These need to be long enough to go through the final roof surface, insulation and into the roof timber boards.  If you’re using 50mm insulation then order 65mm nails for the flats of the roof and 70mm clout nails for the ridges.

Lay the boards so they are flush with the leading edge.  Bare in mind this is going to be exposed so consider how you’re going to cover it.  In this example we were using 50mm board and turned the roof trim the other way up:

Roof trim along the leading edge ready for the insulation board

Roof trim along the leading edge ready for the insulation board

You can also cover this portion later with additional timber but it is worth considering it at this point.  You may need to source locally the additional trim timber.

Now lay one layer of insulation boards and fix into place using one clout nail in each corner and one in the center.  You can then felt or shingle it up to that first board.  Don’t be tempted to do the whole roof with the insulation as you will eventually have to get on the roof to tile or felt it and with the whole roof done it can be very slippery.

Once a board is complete with tiles or felt move on to the next and carry on adding boards and tiles until you reach the top.

Insulating a log cabin roof

Insulating a log cabin roof

For tips on shingling your roof please see this post: Tips on how to fit Felt Shingles on your Log cabin

insulate-log-cabin

The last consideration is the bargeboards to the front and back.  You can either move the supplied one up or double up the barge boards as below, again you may need to source this additional timber locally:

bargeboard

The same principle also applied to hipped, octagonal and hexagonal roof.  The only slight difference is that  you will finish the corners of the ridges slightly differently where by you will cut them flush with the end of the roof boards.  You will then cut a fillet to fill in the ‘v’ that naturally forms.

One last tip, if you haven’t got a timber saw or a proper board saw, your wives bread knife works a treat for cutting the insulation boards!

Insulated Log Cabin

Insulated Log Cabin

More on insulating a log cabin can be seen here, it’s a bit of a rant about the current trends in the ‘Log cabin industry’ and all the rip off’s that abound. Please see here: More on Log Cabin Insulation

You may also be interested in this post on double glazing, R and U values and Log cabin thermal properties: Double Glazing in Log Cabins

Please see the following article of how to make insulated walls, partition walls and how to use thicker insulation in the roof: Dealing with expansion and contraction in Log Cabins

Finishing the Leading Edge.

Recently I have been asked for more details on how to finish the leading edge of the roof, hopefully this sketch will give you some ideas:

Ideas for finishing the leading edge of the roof.

Fitting Felt Shingles for Log Cabins

We use IKO as our supplier for felt shingles.  We find them to be the best on the market, they’re also the easiest to use.  All our log cabins and gazebos are offered with them as an option.

We’re the only supplier that offers such a range of colours and styles, a possible combination of 6 colours and three styles:

Felt IKO shingles supplied with our log cabins and garden buildings
Felt IKO shingles supplied with our log cabins and garden buildings

The instructions on how to fit them are on the packaging received but can be a little confusing if the installer has not done this style of roofing before and I do seem to spend a lot of my weekends on emergency calls to customers who need a little advice and are getting in a muddle with them.

So, lets throw away the instructions and I’ll explain how I fit them to log cabins.

First thing to know, is don’t leave them in direct sunlight, they have a bitumen strip that runs along the back of the tile.  This is designed to melt with the sun and stick the roof together, the last thing you want is to have them stick together in the pack.

The tiles come in strips which contain three or four tiles in line depending on the type.  The strips are in 1.0m lengths.

Felt shingle strip
Felt shingle strip

First we need to apply them to the leading edge of the roof and this is where I differ from the instructions but I think it gives a better finish.

Overhang

Consider whether you will be having guttering or not.  If you are then you will need to work out the overhang needed to reach the centre of the gutter.  If you are not fitting guttering then we need to set the overhang.  I tend to use a piece of roof board (18mm) and use that as a template for my overhang.

Starter Tiles

The first tile, put on the roof and turn it upside down so the tiles are facing up.  Then turn it upside down.  I like to do this as when the log cabin is finished and I’m looking up at my handy work I see the tile surface underneath and above.  I think it looks nicer.  I then carry on and butt each tile together for the full roof length.  I tend to only work from one side of the roof starting with a full tile.  When I get to the other end I then cut the tile flush with the roof board.  Make sure it is exactly flush as if not you will not get the bargeboard on.  In the case of hipped roofs also make sure this is flush at the corner points, it will save you problems later on.

Now we have the first layer on start again from the side you started at.  I always start from the left.  Take your tile strip, this time the right way up with the tiles pointing downwards.  Place it directly on top of the ‘starter’ one.  I then move it half a tile to the left which of course then covers the joins on the tiles butted together underneath.  I differ again with the instructions and only use three nails.  One in either end just above the bitumen strip and one offset in the centre of the tile.  If you follow my ‘three nail’ recommendation please do make sure you offset the centre one otherwise you will see nail heads.  When we’re finished you shouldn’t see any nails at all.

Some fitters, for quickness, like to use staple guns.  I’m told this method works well but it’s not something I’ve done as I prefer a good ol’ nail to make sure of the fixing.

I now carry on my first layer, once again butting them up together and, once again making sure I trim flush with the boards.

Trimming

The normal method for trimming the tiles is with a stanley knife or similar.  However, you’ll go through loads of blades and get cramp in your hands.  Where I want to trim I carefully fold the tile over and then hit the crease with my hand or hammer, I call it my ‘folding over and bashing’ technique.  This breaks the tile where the trim is required.  It’s not a neat finish but the trim line is never seen and it does save your hands!

Subsequent Layers

Starting from my preferred left hand side I’m now back to a full tile flush with the edge of the roof.  I then position the tile to the top of the split line of the tiles beneath.  It’s normally about 145mm.  I then cut a block of wood from leftover boards at that measurement and use that as a template so each and every tile I lay is to that measurement.  This makes sure they are all level.

I then carry on up the roof laying each layer of tiles.  I do stop periodically, especially on very large roofs to check I’m still working in line, there’s nothing worse than seeing ‘wiggles’ in the tile lines.

Ridges

Once I’ve reached the ridge I will fold over the tiles as appears to be the neatest to me.  I may trim as necessary.

Next we now need to finish the ridge or in the case of the hipped roof the corners.  To do this we cut the tile strips into individual tiles.  Again I use my ‘folding over and bashing’ technique to do this as it saves my hands from cramp, feel free to use a sharp blade though if you want to be really neat.

To make it easy to fold over the ridge I find the small ‘nick’ in the side of the tile and cut upwards at an angle or use the ‘fold and bash’ technique.

Cutting the tiles for the ridge.
Cutting the tiles for the ridge.

Wind

I now lick my finger and stick it in the air.  I’m looking for where the wind comes from the most as I don’t really want my ridge tiles to be overlapped with the wind coming directly at them and under the flap.  Once established I will start from my chosen end.  My nails are driven in either side of the tile at the bitumen strip and once again I’m overlapping them by about 145mm or using my template block.

If I feel the log cabin is particularly exposed or it is during winter when I am installing I’ll use a drop of mastic or the proper felt tile glue in each of the corners of the overlapping tiles.

Final

If you’re doing a hipped roof such as one of gazebos, and you haven’t got a roof finial for it, you will have to be a little careful how you finish.  With a pyramid roof such as our corner log cabins the tiles on each of the corner tend to form a rose type fan at the top, they naturally want to interlock into each other, be careful at this point to finish it nicely.

I hope this has helped to explain a little how to do the tiles or at least how I do them.  I also hope it might reduce my Sunday morning emergency customer help calls!

But I’m always here for customers who have bought directly from us.  So contact me any time day or night and I’ll help you through your install, please though, consider my lay in Sunday morning.  After 1000 is fine for an emergency call 🙂

New Videos added which helps to explain more visually.

Raining on the roof

I’m sat here looking out, the rain is bucketing down.  Not the best start to the New Year.  From where I work I can see my old log cabin, it’s been up in the garden for over 15 years and still going strong.  A little raggedy around the edges perhaps and could certainly do with a coat of treatment this year.

I look to the roof and am still amazed by the tiles.  We use, and have always done so the range from IKO.  These are one of the leading manufacturers and after 15 years of installing these I have never had any problems.  Even now, in excess of 15 years of use, covered in moss, algae, bird dropping and rubbish the tiles still keep off the rain, the cabin is as dry today as the first day I installed it.  Needless to say we shall keep on supplying these felt roof shingle tiles with all our log cabins, gazebo’s and sheds.  Of course, we also sell these separately and many pallets are delivered across the country to our customers.

Moss covered roof after 15 years and still going strong on my log cabin.

Moss covered roof after 15 years and still going strong on my log cabin.

If you need to re-felt your roof, certainly consider these.  If you’re buying a garden building this year ask whom the manufacturer is, if they’re IKO felt roof shingles you have a good roof covering.

I’m not sure now whether to clear the moss and jet wash the roof or leave it now for another 15 years, surely they must leak at some point?