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.

Dealing with Expansion / Contraction in Log Cabins

We know that Log Cabins move and certainly within the first year of life they can move quite a bit. I explain this in an article about moisture content in log cabins which greatly effects the expansion and contraction of the wall logs.

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

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

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

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

Expansion Slat for Log Cabins

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

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

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

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

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

Shelf Fixing in a Log Cabin

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

Expansion slats for fixing things to the walls.

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

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

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

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

Partition Walls in Log Cabins

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

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

Partition wall framing in a log cabin

Partition wall framing in a log cabin

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

Twin-Skin Log Cabins

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

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

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

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

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

Allow for the contraction as well as expansion!

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

Creating a twin wall log cabin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insulation added on top of the roof with inner wall insulation

Insulation added on top of the roof with inner wall insulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using insulation in between the roof purlins

Using insulation in between the roof purlins

Another method you could consider is as follows:

Creating a ceiling within a log cabin

Creating a ceiling within a log cabin

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

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

Summary of Dealing with Expansion in Log Cabins

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

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

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

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

Use of a Log Cabin

On occasions a kind customer will send us in pictures of their project or of their completed log cabins. Most of the time following the sale we never hear back from anyone, so it  fascinates me to see what does happen to our log cabins.

We have recently given customers access to our picture files of log cabins, you maybe interested to see this article if you would like to see more pictures not available on the product pages of various builds and projects: Log Cabin PicturesOur facebook page also has several builds posted so you can see what you are letting yourself in for.

Here’s a small selection of the uses customers have put their log cabins to:

Aiste log cabin bar

Quite often we will see the log cabins being used as a bar. This one is found within the Aiste log cabin

Our customer has even replaced the glass to keep up with the theme.

Our customer has even replaced the glass to keep up with the theme in his Aiste Log cabin

A completely different use for the Aiste log cabin, this time with fitness in mind and two turbo trainers

A completely different use for the Aiste log cabin, this time with fitness in mind and two turbo trainers

I see quite a few 'man caves' being made, the Asmund log cabin suits this well

I see quite a few ‘man caves’ being made, the Asmund log cabin suits this well

Alternatively the Asmund log cabin is ideal for use as a summerhouse

Alternatively the Asmund log cabin is ideal for use as a summerhouse

Another Asmund Log cabin as a summerhouse. Being 28mm thick it does lend itself well for this purpose

Another Asmund Log cabin as a summerhouse. Being 28mm thick it does lend itself well for this purpose.

Great seating area and great for the summer, another Asmund Log Cabin

Great seating area and great for the summer, another Asmund Log Cabin.

How about relaxing in a hot tub, the Barbara Log Cabin gazebo seems ideal for this.

How about relaxing in a hot tub, the Barbara Log Cabin gazebo seems ideal for this.

Ample out door living space is provided in the substantial Ben Clockhouse Log Cabin, being 70mm thick this can be used all year around with the addition of insulation

Ample outdoor living space is provided in the substantial Ben Clockhouse Log Cabin, being 70mm thick this can be used all year around with the addition of insulation

More comfortable out door living is found in the Chloe 40mm log cabin.

More comfortable out door living is found in the Chloe 40mm log cabin.

Back to a man cave and a bar, is there a theme starting to form? With the canopy at the side of the Elburg log cabin you can have a hot tub enclosure as well!

Back to a man cave and a bar, is there a theme starting to form? With the canopy at the side of the Elburg log cabin you can have a hot tub enclosure as well!

This is a little more serious with the Emma Log cabin being home to a beauty studio. At 40mm and with added insulation the Emma works well all year around.

This is a little more serious with the Emma Log cabin being home to a beauty product studio. At 40mm and with added insulation the Emma works well all year around.

Or ... use the Emma log cabin for outdoor living, 40mm and double glazed it's ideal for all year around use with the application of some heating and insulation.

Or … use the Emma log cabin for outdoor living, 40mm and double glazed it’s ideal for all year around use with the application of some heating and insulation.

A really posh summerhouse can be made using the Gudrun Lo Cabin, the bi-folding doors really allow the outdoors in,

A really posh summerhouse can be made using the Gudrun Log Cabin, the bi-folding doors really allow the outdoors in,

The Gustav log cabin being used as a garden office.

The Gustav log cabin being used as a garden office.

Or perhaps you just want some extra living space or to get the teenagers out from under your feet, this Heino Log Cabin is ideal

Or perhaps you just want some extra living space or to get the teenagers out from under your feet, this Heino Log Cabin is ideal.

Do you have need for a hunting lodge? The Hendrick Log Cabin seems to work well.

Do you have need for a hunting / ski lodge? The Hendrick Log Cabin seems to work well.

Very cozy extra accommodation, this is the Henning log cabin and highly suitable for year round use.

Very cozy extra accommodation, this is the Henning log cabin and highly suitable for year round use.

Like the Asmund Log Cabin the Emma works REALLY well and great for all year round use with additional heating and insulation in the roof and floor

Like the Asmund Log Cabin the Emma works REALLY well and great for all year round use with additional heating and insulation in the roof and floor

The Jannie Log Cabin gives you the best of both worlds, sit outside and enjoy the weather, if it turns a little cooler you can pop indoors.

The Jannie Log Cabin gives you the best of both worlds, sit outside and enjoy the weather, if it turns a little cooler as evening approaches you can pop indoors and still enjoy your log cabin.

The Jos Log Cabin makes it a perfect log cabin for a corner location, a small and compact summerhouse.

The Jos Log Cabin makes it a perfect log cabin for a corner location, a small and compact summerhouse.

This is great! Our Julia log cabin is host to a bar and nightclub!

This is great! Our Julia log cabin is host to a bar and nightclub!

The Julia Log cabin is very versatile being 40mm. One moment its a nightclub the next a cinema.

The Julia Log cabin is very versatile being 40mm. One moment its a nightclub the next a cinema.

Here a customer is being very sensible and getting fit using the Karen Log cabin. Again at 40mm and with the application of insulation and some background heat you can work out everyday.

Here a customer is being very sensible and getting fit using the Karen Log cabin. Again at 40mm and with the application of insulation and some background heat you can work out everyday.

Another bar theme, it seems this is rather popular. This is in the Leipzig log cabin, at 5m x 5m there is plenty of room.

Another bar theme, it seems this is rather popular. This is in the Leipzig log cabin, at 5m x 4m there is plenty of room.

The same bar in the Leipzig but now decorated better.

The same bar in the Leipzig but now fully decorated and ready for the first customer. If i remember correctly the bar was made from left over parts and pallets.

The same building - The Leipzig log cabin but now it's being used for a little extra accommodation.

The same building – The Leipzig log cabin but now it’s being used for a little extra accommodation.

A step up from the 40 - 45mm log cabins. This is the Liverpool 58mm Log Cabin, VERY strong, very thermal efficient and a serious building. for serious uses, in this case it is a classroom.

A step up from the 40 – 45mm log cabins. This is the Liverpool 58mm Log Cabin, VERY strong, very thermal efficient with the addition of insulation in the roof and floor, a serious building. for serious uses, in this case it is a classroom.

The Lukas Log Cabin is a very popular building, to one side you can have a living area or a summerhouse.

The Lukas Log Cabin is a very popular building, to one side you can have a living area or a summerhouse.

You can use the other side for storage, very handy and adaptable the Luka Log Cabin

You can use the other side for storage, very handy and adaptable the Luka Log Cabin

This is the Lukas being used for sensory play.

This is the inside of a Lulea Log Cabin, a simple beach hut theme.

This is the inside of a Lulea Log Cabin, a simple beach hut theme.

I really want a hot tub - The Mega Modern Log Cabin seems to be really good for this.

I really want a hot tub – The Mega Modern Log Cabin seems to be really good for this.

WOW .... this is a caribean themed bar using the Olson Log Cabin. AMAZING.

WOW …. this is a caribbean themed bar using the Olson Log Cabin. AMAZING.

An amazing Olson Log Cabin

An amazing Olson Log Cabin

This is one of our Rune log cabins being used as hydrotherapy room. The Rune is a very serious building for serious uses. This one also had an annexe to the rear to house the water pumps and equipment.

This is one of our Rune log cabins being used as hydrotherapy room. The Rune is a very serious building for serious uses. This one also had an annexe to the rear to house the water pumps and equipment.

another 58mm log cabin, a very substantial and serious building for all year around use, this is the Stian Log Cabin in 58mm and being used as a craft room in comfort all year around with the addition of insulation and background heat.

another 58mm log cabin, a very substantial and serious building for all year around use, this is the Stian Log Cabin in 58mm and being used as a craft room in comfort all year around with the addition of insulation and background heat.

Now this I love! Ever fancied your own Pool or Snooker room? This is the Truus Log Cabin being used for this purpose.

Now this I love! Ever fancied your own Pool or Snooker room? This is the Truus Log Cabin being used for this purpose.

Another cinema, this was a bespoke version of our Yorck log cabin with all the windows removed.

Another cinema, this was a bespoke version of our Yorck log cabin with all the windows removed.

Or ... if you don't want a cinema simply enjoy the Yorick Log Cabin for some out door living.

Or … if you don’t want a cinema simply enjoy the Yorick Log Cabin for some out door living.

Log Cabin in the Woods

Or maybe you could use an Edelweiss  log cabin for your very own woodland retreat.

Laula Pub Modifications

You shouldn’t miss a thing if you’re watching intense matches on a projection like this! Using the Laula Log Cabin.

Onyx Craft Hideaway

Maybe you could also use the Onyx Log Cabin for when the spare bedroom just isn’t big enough to keep your projects in AND keep it organised.

Aiste Log Cabin Salon

This customer used the Aiste Log Cabin as a quirky base for their hairdressing salon.

Rosenheim Hot Tub House

This customer used their Rosenheim Log Cabin for the ideal place to put their hot tub!

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Nottingham Log Cabin Bar

A Customer’s Nottingham Log Cabin Being Used For A Garden Bar

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The video below shows a walkthrough of a customer’s Meaghan Log Cabin – Installed on a high, but level base to add onto the stylish office this cabin has been turned into. Fitted with enough storage to neatly organise all of their resources needed for interior design.

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This Ben Clockhouse Log Cabin has definitely proved that a cabin can serve multiple uses- Which has turned into the ultimate social location, with a hot tub placed under the canopy and the enclosed cabin being used for a garden pub:

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Log cabins are really great garden buildings, they can be used for anything you can imagine.

I tend to use this as a rule of thumb when advising customers:

19mm Thick Logs – this is a shed, ideal for storage and far better than any shed you can find in the traditional panel construction.

28mm Thick Logs – these are a great all rounder and lend themselves to a perfect summer house for occasional use. BUT with modifications they can be perfect for all year around use. See this article if you wish to insulate the walls of your log cabin. Generally though we would recommend you opt for a thicker log for more thermal capacity for all year around use.

34  – 45mm Thick Logs – Now we are starting to get a little more thermal capacity, the building is starting to become more useful across the seasons. There will be a trade off between heat and log thickness. This range is a good balance between heat costs and budget costs of the actual log cabin. Regardless you will need to add insulation to the roof and floor.

58mm thick logs – These are ‘proper buildings’ as I call them. A great middle of the road between the 70mm and this size. A VERY strong and sturdy building with high thermal capacity. If I was picking a building with a serious all year around use this is the one to go for. You will though need to add insulation to the floor and roof.

Please see this page for my advice on insulation in the floor and roof of a log cabin

Above 70mm – this is the very best size for full time accommodation all the way up to 120mm. This is a serious log cabin for housing purposes but at this level you may encounter problems with building regulations and planning permission, please contact us for our advice. Anything above the Edelweiss Log Cabin may cause you problems with planning and regulations.

Log Cabin Use

It’s amazing and fascinating how these customers have put these log cabins to use, if you would not mind, please, also send me pictures of what you have used yours for, for others to enjoy.

European Larch Timber

I love Larch, it has such a wonderful colour and feel to it, a really lovely hue of pinks, oranges and yellows. We’ve recently built a raised decking area on our show site incorporating Larch decking, steps and balustrade, we built it around one of the very popular Tourist Gazebos and it really has worked very well.

Tuin UK Show site

Larch decking and balustrade incorporated into one of our standard treated pine gazebos.

It looks gorgeous!  Larch does not need treating but I love the colour of it and to ensure we can see it for a very long time we’ve treated it with Clear Carefree Protectant.

Of course, being made from Larch you do not have to treat it, it is a very oily, resinous and dense wood that does not need any maintenance. It will weather eventually to a silvery grey and this process depends on its location, weather conditions and positioning. Of course if you would like to keep the gorgeous colour then it can be treated with a clear timber treatment as we have done.

On a recent to visit Tuindeco we went through the latest products for the coming season and I was really pleased to see as well as the stunning Larch Modular Garden Building Range they are also introducing a Gazebo range, all made from Larch. I have already ordered one and we’ll be putting it up on show soon, I’m sure sales of these will far exceed the pine ones, not only for its beauty but also its extensive longevity, strength and ease of care.

Larch is such a wonderful timber, it’s been used in construction for years and is also used with boat building, in Central Europe it has been long regarded as one of the best building timbers. It’s stronger than pine and is very popular with architects for external cladding and outdoor structures. Un-dried larch is particularly good for heavy structural work.

Larch is unusual amongst the softwoods as it is deciduous and sheds its pine needles in the Autumn. It also features in Lapp and Siberian folklore as the ‘World Tree’. The smoke from burning the timber is said to ward off evil spirits and is used as protection by their Shamans as well to induce visions (not recommended).

Properties of European Larch

Strength and its ability to withstand constantly changing wet and dry environments is its main desirable property, couple this with its natural rot resistant properties, wonderful colour and fine texture which make it lovely to work with and enjoy in your garden.

  • Larch is a deciduous, softwood, conifer tree, highly resinous, and a medium density wood (530 kg/m3)
  • Tuindeco Larch is sourced from Western Europe – PEFC or FSC. Environmentally sound and sustainable.
  • Being a  very dense wood it can resist constant changes from wet to dry with very little distortion, warping and shrinkage once dry. It can be prone to surface splits but this does not affect the strength, longevity or durability.
  • A strong timber and stronger than other conifers such as Spruce and Pine. It is 60% stiffer than European redwoods, 30% stronger in bending and compression, 40% harder. It does though have similar crushing and impact properties to that of pine and spruce.
  • Larch is faintly scented and has a wonderful straight grain with small knots. It is reddish, orangy, pinky in colour with contrasting white sap rings. It has fine texture and a high definition of grain.
  • Low maintenance and does not need treating, when allowed to weather if becomes a silvery grey colour. It is a good idea though to treat it where it is directly in contact with the ground.
  • Larch is in the durability class of 3 – 4. Durability is the measurement of a 50mm x 50mm cross section of timber left in the ground unprotected. Class 3 is 10 – 15 years. Class 4 is 5 – 10 years. When untreated and NOT in ground contact you can expect a life of 50 – 60 years. When treated and outdoors the life expectancy is 100 years.

Larch Limitations:

Like everything there are some limitations and foibles that it’s worth bearing in mind when you are working with Larch.

  • Due to its dense nature larch can split easily if you nail it without some preparation. Always drill a pilot hole before nailing or screwing to stop any splits being created.
  • Larch can leach slightly when new and can stain concrete surfaces. This is due to the high tannin content. It is a good idea to treat the timber when in contact with the ground
  • The Tannins can also react with iron and will produce and blue / black colour stain. Ideally always use non-ferrous nails and screws to guard against this.

Identification of the Larch Tree

A couple of useful videos to aid in the identification of a larch tree should you wish, the first one I found particularly useful!

For more information on Larch the Forestry Commision produce a nice leaflet on Larch for their visitors

Tuindeco Larch Timber Products

The ranges of timber are constantly expanding, numerous lengths, profile, and pieces are available for your own Larch construction project

Larch

Larch timber is available to complete any garden construction project in a huge variety of thickness, profiles and lengths.

Also available is an extensive range of Larch modular buildings in both flat roof and apex roofs.

Apex larch gaben building

Modular Larch Garden Buildings in three main styles and a myriad of possibilities, sizes and styles.

New for this season are Larch Gazebos: I can see these really taking off as these will make a stunning addition to any garden.

Larch timber gazebos

Larch timber gazebos

Using a Builder or Carpenter for your Log Cabin?

Log Cabins are pretty easy to install as long as you know the basic fundamentals.

The problems come if you don’t understand the build and sometimes worse still; if you employ a ‘professional’ to do the build for you who does not understand the process.

Sometimes beware of the professional as they may lack the understanding fully of what is involved despite their credentials of a professional builder, carpenter or joiner.

Please note most professional Tradesmen are absolutely fine and competent, this post is aimed at some that you employ that maybe too confident in their own abilities and may not understand the build, or, in some cases will not find out the complexities believing it to be a simple shed.

Professional Trades People

I’ve said it before, anyone who is a qualified builder / carpenter / joiner or ‘time served’ or ‘experienced’ or ‘trusted’ does not necessarily know about how to install a log cabin.

I think sometimes it is down to their professionalism and that they believe they should know it all but there are some key points that should be understood. Sometimes though this may not be fully realised by your chosen, (non log cabin experienced) installer

In a previous post (Here) I recounted the story of a customer who was recommended as follows:

“A friend of mine who has been a ‘time served chippy’ for 40 years told me that all I had to do was nail a board over the gap.”

Just because your chosen installer is a ‘professional’ it does not mean they know what they are doing with a log cabin install so please thoroughly check with them and make sure you ask them to read and understand our advice: Log Cabin Installation Advice.  

We also list a great deal more advice here: https://www.tuin.co.uk/Tuin-Useful-Information.html this advice may also be pertinant to other reputable suppliers, regardless whether you buy from us or not. All these things are useful to know if you are considering a Log Cabin from most reputable retailers.

Please remember though; “installing a log cabin is easy” – I say this all the time: Log Cabin Fitting Tips. BUT to make it easy you need to understand some basic things about the install and have a proper understanding of the building.

Below are examples of some very silly mistakes made by tradesmen who didn’t understand a log cabin install. All of these customers came to us rather fraught and we had to guide them or the installer on how to do it correctly, in some cases we had to visit site and correct the build, in the extreme it needed a complete new building.

Log Cabin Floor

A log cabin floor should go inside the cabin, not the cabin on top of the floor!

Crazy

The floor needs to be a floating floor as you would in your house.

Our log cabins have a floating floor inside the cabin and it is installed after the cabin has been built.

Our log cabins have a floating floor inside the cabin and it is installed after the cabin has been built.

Never allow your installer to lay the floor first and then the cabin, this will cause you lot of problems in the future. The floor should be a floating floor and your builder should be aware of this. Some ‘professionals’ treat a log cabin as a shed, a log cabin is a completely different beast to simple sheds.

Log Cabin Base

We explain the importance of a base for your log cabin and this must be passed on and understood by your chosen builder.

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This base is hugely out of level and the installer is trying to make good by blocking it up

He ignored the foundation beams supplied and installed the first log directly onto the base .... why?

As well as trying to block in he hasn’t used the foundation beams and the bottom log is in constant contact with the base. This is really not good!

If you are going to chock up the mistake in the base then at least use a treated timber to do this. These pieces will rot over the next 12 months and then everything will drop badly with huge problems to the building.

For smaller gradients you can use timber shims to take up a small gradient but do not use untreated wood as these will rot very quickly and the building will drop

This builder is using unstable blocks to chock the base level and is also using untreated timber.

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As well as unsuitable blocks the builder has also laid the floor first and the cabin on top.

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Unsuitable blocking of a timber frame base

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Untreated timber being used as shims will very quickly rot.

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A block directly on to grass with untreated wood is not acceptable.

Please also watch the base your builder puts down when using concrete, a wriggly and unlevel base is not a good thing for a log cabin.

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This is a very bad base for a log cabin, rough concrete is never very good. Notice also how unlevel it is and one side needed to be chocked. This poor lady had a few problems with water ingress and very unlevel doors

This was a terrible install by a professional builder. The base was hugely out and to compensate for the building lean he cut the lower logs to match and then added some sort of filler! In the end this complete building had to be replaced.

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This base was terrible so the builder cut the logs to make the windows level in the hope the customer would not notice.

A very bad base causing the whole building to lean. This builder then cut the logs to make the windows straight!

A very bad base causing the whole building to lean. This builder then cut the logs to make the windows straight!

Log Cabin Walls

I will warn you as I have done in other posts, professional builders, joiners and carpenters may do this if they do not understand the intricacies of a log cabin …. they fix the doors or windows to the wall logs. For some reason they may forget the idea that wood expands and contracts especially when unsupported by a frame.

Gap appearing in a log cabin wall

Gap appearing in a log cabin wall

You may have seen this picture in other posts of mine and this is one that sticks with me, I use this example over and again as it was so costly for the customer. She was a Doctor and I knew exactly what the problem was when she sent me a series of pictures. The fitter had attached the window and door frame to the logs.

There then followed a dialogue about how experienced they were, she had used her personal carpenter of twenty years and her stone mason to install, she also had a professional painter to treat the building.

We agreed that if it was our fault we would replace or repair, if it was the builders then they would pay for our time. Our service guy was onsite for two minutes and fixed it by removing screws and the whole log cabin dropped happily.

Unfortunately it did cost her. The professional carpenter of twenty years standing who had been watching very quickly went away when everything settled into place.

This is THE biggest mistake made by a ‘professional’ who does not understand a log cabin or timber expansion or contraction. I find this with builders, as they are used to fixing frames in houses they will do it to a log cabin – please check for this.

Log Cabin Roof Shingles

Sometimes I will look at customers pictures of a complaint or a help request and I really can’t believe them. This was a ‘professional experienced builders’ roofing install:

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Look at it closely, ALL the shingles are upside down!

Every tile, unfortunately, is installed upside down.

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Another experienced roofer cocks it up – notice how the ridge times are done!

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This is another favourite ‘experienced roofer / builder / Carpenter / Joiner mistake. No correct spacing and each shape should form a true hexagonal, these were all dropped down too much and massively effects the design intent and aesthetics, not to mention you run out.

Watch out for the above, if someone does not know what they are doing or does not follow the instructions, spacing of the tiles will start to go horribly wrong and you will run out of shingles.

We have some good videos that show how best to install shingles, instructions are also on each pack of shingles.

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Another example of a ‘professional’ install. Please show inexperienced fitters the instructions and videos before hand. Not all builders or Carpenters understand what to do.

Upside Down Log Cabin

This builder was just not at all on the ball and made a very silly mistake. He asked me why the top log would not go on. I replied ….. ‘because you have built it upside down’!

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Upside down log cabin, please look at the instruction advice and check the plans, the tongues always go up. You do not want to have your builder make it upside down and then have to take it down and install the correct way up.

 Botching a Log Cabin

I see this a few times each year, something has gone horribly wrong with a build and then it’s bodged to hide up the mistake. This was a particularly bad one and one I did not enjoy helping to solve as it was so far gone.

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This one wasn’t very fair. The builder had not read the plans or parts properly.

The installer did not read the plans and measure all the parts, he added them as he thought fit and then realised it was not going together. Instead of taking the roof apart and correcting before nailing on the roof boards he carried on with the build.  This produced all sorts of problems.  He then had to hide up silly mistakes with bits of wood in various gaps with pieces of trims and blocks. It was quite a mess at the end and not a lot we could do for the poor customer.

This was a bad building recently. The customer was lovely and they had chosen a Bergren Carport and Garage. A great building but one that does takes some knowledge to install, a bit of skill and time. It’s one of our hardest to install though and should not be taken on lightly.

Sadly the builder made a bit of a mess of it rushing through the install and not really considering what he was doing or taking into account the basic fundamentals of timber, a log cabin base or the effect of the environment around it.

He later admitted he was not prepared for it.

Unfortunately the install went very badly and we were asked to correct it for them. This meant a total disassemble and reassemble correctly on a level base and joints correctly aligned and made.

This is the finished building:

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Berggren log cabin carport and garage.

These pictures are some examples of where it had gone horribly wrong, the builder had not made any joint correct and then started filling the bodges. He should have stopped and analysed the build before going any further.

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As the bottom logs were so out of true this transposed to huge problems at the top. The builder then used filler to try to hide the ever increasing problems the higher the cabin went.

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Every single part of this install was bad and so much went wrong. Most of it stemmed from a poor base and incorrect fitting at the start of the install. The builder should have stopped and done some basic checks:

  • Base level across the whole build.
  • Logs made correctly.
  • Joints made correctly and tightly.
  • Levels correct.
  • Completely square.
  • Measurements correct.
  • Check for errors in manufacture or errors in fitting low down.

At the end though all was correct and the customer was very happy after we corrected the install. We did though have to replace several logs that had been damaged by the builder.

It should not though happened if the builder had taken some simple advice from us, stopped and looked at what he was doing and checked the above.

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The completed log cabin and a happy customer.

A Professional Builder Summary

Like any tradesman you can get some good and bad people but I always advise customers to make sure they pass on our online advice here:  Log Cabin Instructional Advice and to make sure the chosen installer has read it regardless of their skills and profession, there might be some things in there that they hadn’t considered and it will make the install quicker and cheaper and less likely to be a problem in time to come. It maybe an idea to ask them to confirm they have read our advice before starting the build.

I also highly recommend that if you are using a builder, carpenter or joiner who may not be fully experienced or you may not be sure of with a log cabin install to familiarise yourself with the advice. If anything is going wrong you will very quickly realise it and can stop the build before it goes too far.

Please though, at any point if you or your installer have any questions please let us know and we’ll be pleased to help before things go wrong. Send us a picture or what you are seeing via email, a quick description and we can advise, even out of normal working hours.

Log Cabin Contraction

This post follows on from Mr Currie’s comments on my previous post about Contraction in Log Cabins

Mr Currie commented on my post:

“I installed a log cabin from another company in 2008 and within 6 months a gap appeared between the logs next to the door frame, which I now think might be due to a design flaw. The optional front veranda is not integral to the log cabin – the ‘veranda kit’ supplied solid battens to attach it directly to the bottom six logs on each side of the cabin using screws. This is in effect attaching several of the bottom logs together, and I guess that this probably restricted the ability of the logs to expand and contract with the ones above them. I’m now wondering if I detach the battens whether the gap might disappear as the wood ‘settles back into place’.”

I very often help people via my blog who have bought elsewhere and have run into problems with their Log Cabin for whatever reasons. Normally it’s the ‘run out of guarantee’ ploy or just a lack of knowledge from the retailer that brings all sorts of people to the blogs and I really do enjoy helping where I can.

You’ll find Mr C’s and my conversation carried on in comments and we then went to emails, several were exchanged as well as pictures. Here’s a selection in case you are having the same problem

Log Cabin Contraction Problem

This was the problem:

Gap

A gap appeared after 6 months with a log cabin Mr C bought in 2008 (Not From Us), he’s lived with it ever since.

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He had identified after reading my blogs that the above really shouldn’t be done as the screws in this cover plate show that all the logs are being restricted. From previous articles you will have seen why this is a NO NO.

Mr Currie thought this maybe what’s causing the gap at the top of the doors and certainly while this is not good or a correct way to install the cabin in the first place.  This isn’t though the culprit for the gaps by his door.

I do occasionally have a moan about “qualified carpenters and joiners” building log cabins which makes me shudder when customers mention this when a problem occurs.

The previous advice Mr C had received made me chuckle and also makes me shudder, yes I see and hear this sort of thing all of the time – Beware the qualified Carpenter!

“A friend of mine who has been a ‘time served chippy’ for 40 years told me that all I had to do was nail a board over the gap. It’s amazing how people who have worked with wood for so long can have such a total misconception about it’s properties and how it behaves in a structure like a log cabin. I’m sure that’s a familiar story to you :-)”

Assessment Based on the Log Cabin pictures received

I sent Mr C my assessment of the problem as below, this may also help you if you have a similar problem with your log cabin:

Dear Mr Currie,

Thank you for these pictures and description. It made me chuckle you mentioning a time served carpenter!

Professional Carpenters, Joiners and worse still Builders are the scourge of my job, whenever I have a problem with a customer it is always when one of these groups of people have had something to do with it!

Looking at your building I think you can fix this quite easily.

Depending on what you have treated it with will make a difference to how much it expands and contracts. During the first year though we see this the most as the wood is still alive, in effect the straws that make up the timber is still wide open and is sucking in and blowing out moisture meaning it expands and contracts sometimes quite wildly.

A good treatment and wood dieing a little more over the first year or two will see this reduce, it does still happen though.

This is what happened in your first year. The moisture content has dropped, the straws have now closed up more and over the years she’s reached a level. I would imagine this does close up a bit over the Autumn and winter though when moisture returns to the wood from the surrounding moist air?

To solve this please remove the fascia on the inside of the door. I bet the top log is touching the top of the door frame.

Check under the door frame for any chocks, also check to see if they put the floor under the frame, this often happens and lifts the frame. Sometimes when we’re installing in the winter months a new cabin we do have to chock the door slightly as the gap is too large. Please let me know what you find.

Please also check the top of the window, there maybe an expansion gap issue there as well?

Regarding your veranda, it really shouldn’t be screwed together like that, your solution will work provided the screws are not done up too tight, you could also make something like the attached which will hold the logs without any fixings, you may need to move the veranda forward slightly.

Best regards, Richard.

Mr C’s Reply following my Assessment

I have to be honest that I have never actually noticed if the gap closes up much over winter, mainly because it has been used as storage but is now being converted over to a workshop. It has not had much treatment to be honest, it had two coats of Cuprinol after it was built and another coat of the same last year.
I removed the top left and right part of the fascia on the inside of the door, and you were right about the top log touching the top of the door frame. When I removed the bottom part of the fascia there was an almighty cracking sound, and now the door frame is a little looser. I think that the bottom part of the fascia was resting on the floor…
Anyway, I’ve attached some photos of the door with the inside fascia totally removed. Interestingly I can’t get the bottom part of the fascia back on now – as you can see the door frame must have dropped by a few millimeters when I took it off
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You will notice the the wall logs have contracted and are sitting directly on top of the door frame

Here you can see the gap at the top, the logs cannot concertina down any more than they have, hence why a gap if forming.

Here you can see the gap at the top, the logs cannot concertina down any more than they have, hence why a gap if forming.

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The bottom door fascia was actually holding the whole front of the cabin up as the door frame has now dropped and cannot be fitted again. The Fascia does seem to be rather wide.

Solving the Log Cabin Problem

Having seen these pictures and following emails my advice to Mr C was:

I’m pleased to see this is as expected, the bottom fascia looks to be rather deep and will have been holding the cabin up.
At this point, if possible I would not plane the door frame as this may weaken the frame, plus you will have to contend with the screws. I would take the door frame completely out, this will then let the cabin settle down and the gaps should close up either side.
If you have a jigsaw for ease or a handsaw if you are feeling strong I would then take a notch out of the top log. I’ve attached a picture that shows a top log with a notch. I think about 10mm would be enough above the door frame. This will then give the log room to contract further in the height of summer. This time of the year though she will be very slightly bigger than she was in August.
The bottom of the door fascia does look big, you will also need to trim this down.
Doing this and putting the door back in with the fascia should solve this problem for you.

Contraction and Expansion in Log Cabins

The problem Mr C had isn’t really one of design as this can sometimes happen no matter the design of the log cabin, this picture shows a notched log above the door which is done on some models we do if the calculations and size of the door requires it.  This is the picture I sent to Mr C as a suggested solution.

Notched log cabin log above the door to allow for contraction

Notched log cabin log above the door to allow for contraction

I recommended that this was done with his log cabin as this will allow it to contract unhindered.

The gap above the door and windows is necessary and can be adjusted if necessary.

If you are experiencing a gap appearing in your log cabin I hope this has helped and you know what to look for, if not please let me know and I will try to help.

Here are some more articles where we look at expansion and contraction in Log Cabins

Within all of this please consider your electrical installation in your log cabin, the building moves and your electrics should account for this: Electricity in Log Cabins

Tuin Roof Shingles Complaint

This is a tongue in cheek post …….

A customer complained that it ‘took longer than expected to fit the shingles’ so I thought this post may help to quicken things up for you.

Shingles is very subjective, it can really take as long or as quick as you want. The videos below may help you in doing it really quick. Do not be tempted to use a nail gun, most nails guns will fire a small headed unsuitable nail or worse still (in my opinion) staples.

We try to give some good advice about your install of your log cabin here: Tuin Log Cabin Installation Manual we also offer advice on how to fit shingles to your garden structure or building

Want to make your log cabin roof quicker? Let’s speed things up a little …… watch these guys …..

Roof Shingles Installation

There’s some very good tips in these videos on how to carry out your roofing, really quickly if you want to !

Or  – Take your time and enjoy the process of a really good completed roof that will last for years on your, shingles can take a whole day on some buildings but it is worth it in the end and you don’t need to speed like the guys above. Enjoy your log cabin or Shingle install!