Log Cabin Treatment Gone Wrong

Winter 2017 (update at bottom of page for Winter 2019)

As I’m writing this it is January 2017 and this is relevant as you read this post.

Occasionally we will receive pictures asking for advice on treatment when something has obviously gone wrong with a log cabin. We can also receive complaints about treatment that has been applied to our log cabins from customers who have used our own treatment or other log cabin treatment we have recommended.

Please see this page for our advice on the treatment of log cabins with our recommended treatments, ours and also others. Please also see this file for a discount from a local company who we highly recommend as do other professionals: Brewers Discount.

When treatment goes wrong

We will receive pictures such as these which do look rather awful and the poor ol’ log cabin is starting to look really sad. We usually receive pictures such as these during the late Autumn and Winter when there is a lot more moisture in the air, more rain of course and snow, generally pretty rubbish weather.

This will be when the treatment that is applied is really tested.

Here’s some examples of what will happen when it all goes wrong and your lovely log cabin starts to get some horrible problems.

Bad staining is forming at the bottom of the cabin.

Bad staining is forming at the bottom of the cabin.

Door trims have started to discolor

Door trims have started to discolor

Discolouration and marking of lower logs

Marking and possible spores forming on the door.

We also get sent pictures such as this which are a bit of a fib, you can see that there was a lot of discolouring before the treatment was applied. Perhaps there was a problem before hand?

A bit of a fib, you can see that the discolouration and marks are present under the treatment.

A bit of a fib, you can see that the discolouration and marks are present under the treatment.

This winter we also received this picture.

A picture of an internal wall sucking up moisture and resulting discolouration.

A picture of an internal wall sucking up the weather and resulting discolouration of the inside of the logs that are still wet. Wood is a sponge unfortunately!

All of the above problems are NOT caused by the treatment, they are ALL caused by:

  • Application of the Treatment
  • Amount of the Treatment used.
  • Depth of treatment applied – Basically the number of coats applied.

Please see this article where I talk about specifically about the depth of treatment and moisture content in a Log Cabin

Treatment Experiment

Every year I expect to get complaints such as the above, we get pictures and very occasionally we get arguments that the treatment has been applied as we advise or the manufacturer has advised.

January 2016 I made an experiment board so I can be sure of my advice and to give examples. Here it is:

Experimental treatment boards.

Experimental treatment boards.

These are my logs I painted and fixed to the side of our Shepherd hut display, in front of this is a veranda to make sure the logs are not in permanent sun light, I was trying to reproduce a sheltered postion.

I dated these in January 2016 as a reference and started with no treatment, one coat and all the way up to six coats of treatment. I only used our own supplied treatment which was:

Now a year later this is quite interesting and does show quite clearly what happens with the various coats that have been applied.

Now I can actually see this rather than rely on advice from my own experience, the treatment producers and experts have given me in the past, this is starting to show up where the faults may lie, now I can actually see what is happening and confirming what the faults in a treatment could be:

  • Application of the Treatment – how well and how carefully has it been put on.
  • Amount of the Treatment used.
  • Depth of treatment applied – Basically the number of coats applied.

No Coats

My experiment started with no coats of treatment at all.

No coats of treatment have been applied, this is completely bare wood.

No coats of treatment have been applied, this is completely bare wood.

As expected the wood is discoloured and not looking great. This though is of course not wood rotting – wood does not rot if allowed to dry out naturally. You can see though that some fungal spores are starting to form within the structure.

If you don’t ever treat your cabin you can expect the whole building to look like this. Treatment of log cabins

Completely untreated log cabin.

Completely untreated log cabin. This one is now very old but is still not rotten but it doesn’t look great.

Please see my advice on treating your log cabin, you really don’t want this happening to yours:

Carefree Protectant Timber Treatment

Here’s my experimental board using our Carefree Protectant Treatment

Carefree protection board

Carefree protection treatment board

You can see what happens with one coat of treatment, it simply is not enough. We recommend four coats of this treatment. Actually it only requires two coats but PROPER coats and this is always the problem with a totally clear treatment, you cannot see the damn stuff, you have no idea where you have treated! It was easy for me with a small log as I am pretty sure I coated it correctly.

Please note the ‘one coat treatment’ and compare to the pictures at the top of this post. Similar?

Now look at the ‘two coats’ log, you will still see some discolouration, mainly with the tongue part which has borne most of the weather and maybe also where I was a little thin in my application.

Then again look at the third log, it’s better but finally look at the fourth…. now everything is well covered, we know even on the parts you are missing which is happening with a clear treatment you will be getting at least two proper coats on the log.

This of course doesn’t just apply to our own very clear Carefree treatment but also to other producers of treatment.

A clear treatment, in my experience is the WORST to apply as you cannot see where you have been and that results in problems such as those shown in the pictures above.

Embadecor Timber Stain

Here’s my experimental board using our Embadecor Stain Treatment

Embadecor timber stain experimental board.

Embadecor timber stain experimental board.

A stain or a paint is a lot easier to apply properly as you can see where it is and how you applied it. This has worked very well and I am not seeing anything bad here. But there are big differences between one coat and three coats. Please see the previous articles on advice, three coats will at least give you the depth your require to keep your log cabin from problems and absorption as shown in one of the pictures above.

Embalan Timber Paint

Here’s my experimental board using our Embalam Paint Treatment

I was really pleased with the paint, it went on well, I tried a further experiment one that was as standard:

Embalan standard paint

Embalan standard paint

With one costs you can still see the grain coming through, maybe like one of the ‘fib’ pictures above? Three coats is working well (most paint suppliers will recommend three coats and often include an undercoat) Four and five are perfect!

Then I tried mixing, we wanted a darker colour for the highlight on the doors and window of the Shepherd Hut:

Mix of paints from the Embalan range.

Mix of paints from the Embalan range.

Maybe it was due to the colour but this worked really well, yes there is a difference in the coats, maybe four seems to be the best?

Treatment Recommendations and Problems

With my experiment I think I have shown what happens, I’m going to leave the logs out for another year to see how this develops and follow up in 2018.

My advice …. is …. please follow my advice and avoid some horrible problems happening with your log cabin … oh and don’t cheat or fib ….. the Autumn and Winter will decide how well you have treated your Log Cabin.

Also, please watch out for:

  • Application of the Treatment – how well has your coverage been applied?
  • Amount of the Treatment used – Have you applied the right amount of coats?
  • Depth of treatment applied – Basically the number of coats applied. Have you applied the right amount of coats according to recommendation?
  • MAKE sure you treat the door and window trims and quadrants / beads- These are often missed as it is close to the glass and hard to do and you maybe applying a thinner coat?- Maybe consider removing the glass for better coating.
  • Be careful at the lower levels of the log cabin. These four or five logs get the most weather, treat them accordingly.
  • Be really careful when using a clear treatment to thoroughly cover the log.
  • Pay extra care to lower logs any ledges / tongues.
  • Thoroughly coat the corners and any joins.

Continuation

I am going to leave the experiment up for another year to see what happens, this is really quite interesting ……

More … I’ve recently been asked about our treatments:  This post relates entirely to the Tuin range of Log Cabin Treatments and clarifies what and how we recommend they are used if you choose to use our range.

UPDATE – Winter 2019

My experiment continues with the treatment boards and it’s still pretty interesting what is happening 3 years on.

My timber treatment experiment which I started in 2016 as a way to see exactly what can happen.

The embalan paint if still performing well. The board right at the bottom received no treatment at all, it’s interesting to see there is no rot whatsoever. We’re proving well that three coats and above is giving the best protection. I’m also proving that timber, when allowed to dry naturally does not generally rot.

I did also start another experiment in August 2017 just to see what will happen to a log in constant ground contact. I’ll come back to this is August 2019 to see what, if anything, has happened.

The mix of Embalan paint is also doing very well, the three to five coats are still almost perfect.

The Embadecor stain is doing the best and even with one coat it is still looking very good. Again thought, three to four coats is performing the best. However, bear in mind a stain is just that, ideally it needs a top coat of a sealant such as the clear embadecor or the carefree to ensure the wood is sealed, especially in the corner and joints.

My favoured treatment is also still doing very well. You can see though that as it is a totally clear treatment it is essential to make sure of coverage. I wish I had painted the ends rather than just the surface as you can see how the weather has pushed in. Again three coats and above is most effective.

What if it has gone wrong?

For an easy solution on how to get the timber clean again before re-treatment please see this post: Cleaning a Log Cabin

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:

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 dissappear.

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

Cleaning a Log Cabin

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

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

The Exciting New Timber / Wood Cleaner:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serious Log Cabin Cleaning Experiment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Log Cabin Cleaning Cock Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I fetch my pressure washer 🙂

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

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

Big red warning label – A must read.

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

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

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

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

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

Carrying on pressure washing the log cabin

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

The dirt is tough to get out though!

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

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

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

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

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

A Ruined Log Cabin

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

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

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

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

Carefree Protect Timber Cleaner

Carefree Protect Timber cleaner.

Timber – Wood – Log Cabin Cleaner

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

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

Tuin Log Cabin Treatments

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

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

Timber Treatment Types

We have six types of treatment for your log cabin:

Factory Treatment Options

Spray Painted – Undercoat only:

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

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

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

Immersion Treatment:

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

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

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

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

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

Log Cabin Treatment Options – Self Applied:

Carefree Protectant Treatment:

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

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

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

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

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

Embadecor Timber Treatment:

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

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

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

Embalan Timber Paint:

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

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

Impregnation Fluid:

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

Carefree Timber Cleaner:

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

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

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

Log Cabin Treatment Summary

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

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

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

Timber Treatment of Larch / Douglas or Oak timber

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

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

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