European Larch and Douglas 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!

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 Douglas modular buildings in both flat roof and apex roofs. Douglas is very similar to larch in colour and density. a very popular choice for garden structures.

Apex larch gaben building

Modular Douglas 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

Promotional Pine Offer Cabins

Introduction

Only while they last, a select range of log cabins which have been made from slow grown Pine

All Available with FREE roofing shingles and the FREE option to have the building immersed ( recommended ) which will extend the lead time while the process takes place.

Pine vs Spruce?

If you have spent some time on our site already you may have seen that we talk a lot about the differences between Pine and Spruce, in short we explain that out of the two, spruce is the better one to use. This fact has not changed which is why our standard range is all and only Spruce.

Why are we offering cabins made from Pine?

During the madness of the last two years we have been through alot in the timber market, demand exploded and so eventually did the cost, and then of course a shortage. Our log cabins are normally made from slow grown Spruce but when stock started to run out our factories had to look at another means of keeping up with the demand and needs of our customers.

A small range of Pine log cabins were then produced to help ease the tension on spruce, all cabins included in this range are copies of Spruce versions that we already offer, the only difference being the species of timber used.

These buildings are now going to be offered at a reduced price which makes sense right, but is it a risk buying a Pine log cabin?

Pine being used in the garden construction industry is nothing new by any means.. Sheds, Gazebos, Bin stores and alot of other typical garden structures are normally made from treated Pine.

What’s the problem with a pine log cabin?

  • Pine is less dense and absorbs more water than Spruce so make sure you Treat it very well to avoid excessive expansion and contraction of your wall logs.
  • Pine is redder than Spruce and not as attractive inside your log cabin (Opinion) .. Treating the inside in a nice finish is of course an option.
  • Knots are looser in pine, there are generally more of them and they are more likely to fall out so before you apply your treatment I would recommend ‘knotting’ the logs first before you treat them.

What’s on offer?

Below are the building that we have available at reduced costs made from Pine.

Wells Log Cabin

Wells Log Cabin 3 x 3m

York Log Cabin

York Log Cabin 4 x 3m

Preston Log Cabin

Preston Log Cabin 4.4 x 3.4m

Lincoln Log Cabin

Lincoln Log Cabin 5.4 x 5.4m

Summary

  • We are offering these buildings at reduced costs with a FREE treatment option to help make up for the loss of them being made from Pine.
  • If you like the cabin but are not sure on Pine, no problem as we have the original Spruce version to offer
  • If you go ahead with a Pine log cabin, make sure its treated well with a decent product
  • Only while stock lasts

Types of Timber in your Log Cabin

I have been emailing with a potential customer today and he asked me this:

“I am still therefore split in my decision between your cabin and one other competitor, (an improvement on the eight I started with!).  To this end, can you tell me the real issue over the timber quality with Companies that are using mixed pine/spruce as opposed to your materials?  The other Company do this which seems to be the main difference as neither of you do finger jointing. Hopefully then I can make a better informed decision.”

I explained in a very condensed version what the differences of timber are that are currently being used in log cabins across the industry but mainly in the UK. I think it was actually a bit of a ramble but with a glass of wine in my hand I can write it a little better here and more concisely than what was sent my customer earlier today by me.

If you are researching a log cabin it helps to know what you are getting, and like my customer asked, you can then make a fully informed decision:

Two Types of Timber we can use in a log cabin.

In a log cabin we can either use Pine or Spruce.

1. Pine – Wikipedia Pine Entry

Pine is known as a redwood, it’s widely used for a lot of things we use daily. No doubt you will have some pine furniture at home.

Pine isn’t as dense as Spruce and therefore it does absorb water quicker. It’s the cheaper of the two types we can use in a log cabin. We use it very widely in the garden for fencing, posts, furniture, play equipment etc.

Because it is less dense, we will pressure treat it to guard against rotting in the long term. It also tends to have looser knots and more of them, it changes colour with sun light to a darker colour. It’s also not as structurally strong as spruce and has wider ring growth.

Pine tree

Pine tree

2. Spruce – Wikipedia Spruce Entry

Spruce is a white-wood, it doesn’t discolour any where near as much as pine so it is more aesthetically pleasing inside a log cabin.  It is more dense than pine as well, the knots are tighter and usually there are less of them than in pine. It is structurally stronger but is more expensive than pine. Tuindeco log cabins are entirely spruce including the roofs and floors.

Spruce tree.

Spruce tree.

Difference

The main difference between the two is the denseness of the timber and this makes a lot of difference in a log cabin. Because of this it stands to reason that they both behave differently and this is where the problem starts when we mix timbers.

I’m sure you’re aware of a Bi-metal strip that’s used in thermostats?  With this we take advantage of the different expansion and contraction properties of brass and copper, both of which are similar metals like spruce and pine are similar.  But, there is of course a difference between them.

With a log cabin do we really want to have different rates of expansion?

If we do have a mix It will mean that logs expand and contract at different rates, gaps can appear, splits and all sorts of horrible things could possibly happen over its life if we are not fully aware of it.

We also have the aesthetics of it, lovely white spruce contrasted with the red of the pine really doesn’t look very nice. We then also have to contend with pine’s tendency to rot quicker unless it has been pressure treated.

Some suppliers will also specify finger joints using a spruce / pine mix and then we have even more issues with different rates of expansion. It does make for a far cheaper log cabin though and we can still overcome it by remembering it and when we are building it.

Varying expansion rates is great for a Bi-metal strip, not so good in a log cabin unless you are aware!

Spruce / Pine Mix

So, it’s really not a good idea to make a log cabin from pine in my opinion and certainly that of Tuindeo if you find a cabin made of pine it’s not a good thing, but, if you do take it, it should be VERY cheap.

Of course some companies will do it as it saves a lot of money but please check what is being used and that the cost savings they have are properly passed on to you.

Far more popular though in the UK, thankfully, is adding a cheeky spruce / pine mix into a log cabin, it saves the supplier a LOT of money and should hopefully save you as a consumer as well.

Lots of mixes are out there and only really accepted in the UK,  mixes are not tolerated in Europe, I think they are better educated than here in this respect.

Please consider that you may have the following problems in the long term with a mix:

  • Different rates of expansion may cause splits, warps, gaps and long term problems.
  • Pine is less dense and absorbs more water than Spruce so make sure you treat it very well.
  • Pine is redder than Spruce and not as attractive inside your log cabin.
  • Knots are looser in pine, there are generally more of them and they are more likely to fall out so before you apply your treatment I would recommend ‘knotting’ the logs first before you treat them.

If you do have a log cabin that has a mix, when you install it try to keep the above in mind and grade your timbers remembering the expansion rates, try to keep it even. Also if you have mixed timber and finger joints try to stagger your logs and remember the expansion will make a difference to longevity and this needs to be thought about as you build and treat it to make it last as long as one would expect.

Timber Series

Following on from this I intend to write a short series on timber in log cabins, you really wouldn’t believe the differences and the ways we can play with wood to get to the prices you the consumer wants but, do you really want it in the long term?

The following will be added to this blog over time:

  1. How we can cut a timber log to make a cheap log cabin.
  2. Moisture content in timber, machining and the impact of the content.
  3. Timber calculation to cut costs you can work out yourself and see where you maybe opting for a bargain while adding to a companies profits.
  4. More expansion information for log cabins.
  5. The pitfalls of thinner logs, barge-boards, windows and doors.
  6. Drying processes – kiln dried versus natural drying.

A timber log in a log cabin is not always just a timber log, there can be HUGE differences and all of these comes down to prices for the consumer or of course the company profits.

Oh, also watch out for spruce in the logs and pine in the roof and floor. It doesn’t make a great deal of difference but it’s nice to know what you are getting for your money!

Log Cuts in Log Cabins

This short article is the second in my timber series which tries to explain the types of timber we can use in log cabins. In this post I will try to explain how we can muck about with the timber to give you a really good price, but is it really good quality? Do you really want it?

The first in the series is here: Types of Timber in your Log Cabin

Timber Mills

I’ve already spoken about Spruce and Pine and their differences, now we can look at the actual log.

Logs arriving at the mill

Logs arriving at the mill

When the felled logs arrive at the mill an assessment is carried out on the best way to cut them for what ever uses have been specified. There are numerous different cuts for various reasons. It not simply a case of slicing them up. Wood is very expensive and the various parts of a log are worth varying amounts of money.

Parts of a Log

So lets look at this log:

Parts of a tree trunk

Parts of a tree trunk

There’s a few parts to it, each has it’s own properties and of course monetary value. It makes sense that the most valued part of the tree is the heartwood, this is the strongest part. It’s far more dense, it has less knots in it and is where all the full ‘goodness’ of the wood is.

This is the bit we like and are most interested in. This is the part that we make all of the posts from in the gazebos so we can be sure of the full strength, of course it does cause a few problems sometimes. Please see this post about the inherent problems of using this heartwood that sometimes a customer may see as a defect: Crack and splits in timber. However if we didn’t use it, and we used a different section and make a higher profit, your gazebo would not be half as strong. We’d be laughing to the bank but would you want that?

The heartwood is also the part Tuindeco will use for the log cabins but more on that a little later, lets keep looking at the log.

Best Bit of the Log

Lets look at our log again, we now know that the best and most expensive part is going to be the heartwood.  So as a mill we might look at this log and think to ourselves how we can cut it to provide the strongest piece and of course make the most money giving the highest grade of timber. Perhaps we’ll cut this from it:

Best and strongest part of a tree trunk for logs

Best and strongest part of a tree trunk for logs

With this we can take the most expensive piece and sell it at a premium and meet the Swedish Timber Grade of I – IV. We still have the rest of the log to play with and we can cut it up for all sorts of different uses meeting lower Swedish timber grades, maybe we could cut it like this:

Cuts you could possibly apply to a log

Cuts you could possibly apply to a log

There’s lots of technical terms we can use, Flitches, Deck, Board Scantlings etc. I’ll not bore you even more than maybe I am now.

Basically it means we’re cutting up the log to make the very best use of it. We’re cutting it to grades and to what we can get for it according to the buyers requirements and maybe their budget.

I found these images very interesting on the various cuts that can be found within a tree for various purposes:

Various types of cuts available from a log

Various types of cuts available from a log

As you can see there are lots of different ways to cut it, it gets even more technical and in another post I can blabber away about how we cut it to ensure knots do not fall out (Re-Sawn). Or how we ensure the very heart is cut to remain totally straight throughout the length of the final log cabin log.

Log Cabin Differences

I’ve seen another supplier of log cabins talk about differences in various log cabins. They are however completely missing the point. Double glazing and locks, roofing materials and sizes really are not the point when it comes to the buildings.

The ONLY thing that matters is the type of timber used, the quality of it, where it is from and where it is cut from within a log. And of course the moisture content (another post will deal with this) Moisture content makes a HUGE difference to the timber used in a log cabin.

Windows and doors, fancy locks, glazing, roofing etc is very superfluous and will not have any bearing on the quality or longevity. The timber is the important part and in my opinion the only part to worry about when you are researching or buying a log cabin.

The Log Cabin Cut

OK, lets assume you’re out to buy a log cabin, you’ve got cash to spend and maybe you can go direct to the timber mills and maybe even you can go direct to the factory. First I suspect you want the best timber, we’ve already talked about timber before: Types of Timber in a log cabin. and maybe you can get to the forest to select the best trees in the right location.

BUT now you can make it even cheaper and really get the price to where you want it. Maybe you are a UK supplier out to blast the market with you super duper best price log cabin

So why not use these cuts from a log and ask them to make the logs from them? This would be super cheap, probably about 20 – 40% cheaper :

Logs you could take from a tree trunk

Logs you could take from a tree trunk

Blimey, you’d make a killing! Your Log cabin would be way cheaper than anyone else, You’d sell LOADS

This is exactly what some suppliers will do, the outside of a tree is about 20% less weight than the inside, it makes for a cheaper building and certainly looks right on paper. You can even quote a Swedish log quality (above V but would you know the difference?). Kiln dried, really super duper! All the customers would think they have the UK’s best deal! WOOHOO!

By the way, I heard a quote recently from a very good friend in the industry. He said: “I can make a log cabin to any price you want. You want cheap? You will sell hundreds in the first few weeks but never answer the phone again!”

We would like to answer the phone this year and next and the year after……

But really what do you want? If you were at the mill and knew all of the above what would you really want?  Maybe this cut or are you not that bothered?

Inside cuts for a log cabin

Inside cuts for a log cabin

Timber Series

Following on from this I intend to write a short series on timber in log cabins, you really wouldn’t believe the differences and the ways we can play with wood to get to the prices you the consumer wants but, do you really want it in the long term?

The first in the series is here: Types of Timber in your Log Cabin

The following will be added to this blog over time:

  1. How we can cut a timber log to make a cheap log cabin.
  2. Moisture content in timber, machining and the impact of the content.
  3. Timber calculation to cut costs you can work out yourself and see where you maybe opting for a bargain while adding to a companies profits.
  4. More expansion information for log cabins.
  5. The pitfalls of thinner logs, barge-boards, windows and doors.
  6. Drying processes – kiln dried versus natural drying.

Log Cabin Treatment Panic

You’ve got your brand new log cabin.  It’s up and it’s chucking it down, it’s January with record rainfall, floods everywhere and your poor log cabin is bare wood, soaked, you’ve got to treat it haven’t you? – PANIC!

NO you haven’t.  There is no panic whatsoever!  So wait a little while, relax, stop worrying about her, she’ll be fine for years – sort of!

This log cabin belongs to a friend of mine I supplied from Tuindeco years ago, apparently, after 12 years she’s still deciding on the right colour!  Girls!

Look at the state of the poor old thing, very neglected and unloved it would seem but it’s home to chickens on the veranda and guinea pigs inside during the winter and very much loved and used so she tells me.

I do despair, just look at it!  But the point of this is that it is not rotting and it’s still a very solid untreated log cabin.

A log cabin that has never been treated in it's twelve year life span.

A log cabin that has never been treated in it’s twelve year life span.

I’ve asked her to keep leaving the choice of colour until later just so I can see what happens, I hope to post again in ten years when it’s still standing and knowing her she’ll still be pondering the right colour!

Yes the poor ol’ thing has her problems.  You can see in this picture how dry the timber is, it’s cracking and shrinking.  These pictures were taken last summer so she will look different now.  See a post on cracking and splitting in timber for a little more insight into what is going on with timber cracks.

Cracking and splitting of log cabin logs

Cracking and splitting of log cabin logs

She’s got one or two more problems as well.  Nothing insurmountable though, for instance, this log cabin has a few friends:

This log cabin is suffering with mould and fungus.

This log cabin is suffering with mould and fungus.

Yup, it does have a little fungus on it.  It’s not dry rot as it is way below a moisture content of 20% and never at a steady temperature of 23 degrees which both conditions needs to exist for dry rot to occur.  It’s just good friends and they like each other, no harm done.

Here’s another friend:

Another friend attaching itself to an old log cabin

Another friend attaching itself to an old log cabin

The back wall of this log cabin is covered by a hedge, it’s never been cut and now Ivy is growing over it.  Goodness know’s the out come of this but the old girl is still going strong and fully in-contact with a hedge and all sorts of undergrowth.

Overall though she’s jolly good.  For a log cabin of this age, no treatment ever, she’s still solid and displays no rot at all.  Here’s the doors and Roof Purlins:

Untreated purlins on a very old log cabin

Untreated purlins on a very old log cabin

Untreated doors on a log cabin

Untreated doors on a log cabin, they have warped a bit as have the windows which don’t open but not too bad.

We give a ten year guarantee on our logs cabins against rot. There’s conditions and they have to be treated regularly blah, blah.  If it was up to me I’d give a twenty year one and no treatment.  It’s impossible for timber to rot!

Ok, maybe that’s a stupid thing to say, I’ll add a note to it:  It’s impossible for timber to rot as long as it is always VENTILATED and allowed to DRY.

So I reckon our guarantee is safe.  If you get any rot in 20 years time please let me know and I’ll pay for your replacement out of my own wages.  It won’t happen though if she’s allowed to breathe, and, that’s the key with all timber products – ventilation.  If it gets wet and it’s allowed to dry out it will NEVER ROT and that’s an inherent property of timber.  Not just ours but any timber providing it is timber of a suitable quality for it’s intended use, especially for log cabins watch out for where the timber comes from, slow gown, cold climate etc.

Walter Segal

Just a quick note, I’m a fan of this chap. He’s done a lot for home building and one of his principles was that of timber ventilation with buildings on stilts.  If timber is ventilated it will never rot. It’s why I love timber frames as bases for log cabins and I’ve been involved with lots of log cabins on stilts and similar construction methods they all work and never have I had a customer complain of rot.

Log Cabin and Timber Treatment

Of course with all my above whittering and pictures I am not AT ALL advocating not treating your log cabin or any garden timber.  It needs it!  And you must treat it at some point, the sooner the better. We’re not actually treating it just to prevent rot we’re treating it for lots of other things.

All I’m saying is don’t worry or panic over it, you do have time to do it without worrying if you can’t do it straight way.

If you don’t treat your log cabin or timber you can have a few problems and rot is not one of them

  • Discolouration of the timber.  See the pictures above, she doesn’t look that great.
  • Warping and shrinkage of timber.  The timber will dry out, warp, distort and will allow the ingress of water either through seams of via moisture transfer and may be pushed out of shape. Doors and windows may well warp and splits may well appear.
  • Expansion, the bloomin’ thing wants to reach an equilibrium with it’s surroundings, it wants the same moisture content that is in the atmosphere. So when it’s moist it wants to be moist as well.  We can’t have that! The thing is up and down like a yoyo if we let it.  Each of part of the timber should be viewed as a sponge, each piece is absorbing and expelling water. We need to to stop behaving like a sponge really. See this article for more on Moisture Content
  • As well as the above external pictures, internally, water marks could become visible which is unsightly and can develop damp spores especially if internally it is not ventilated.  Pay attention to this if you are installing a hot tub. The Log Cabin pictured above is always ventilated for the guinea pigs sake and another reason that even though she is not treated she’s still going strong and NOT rotting.  This log cabin has a constant flow of fresh air. See this article for advise on Ventilation
  • This log cabin is fortunate but insects can attack timber and a good treatment will stop this.
  • Attack by UV light causing drying and further splitting.  This log cabin is relatively shaded from it with hedges and trees all around, yours may not be.
  • Filthy!  Yup, she’s a dirty girl, inside and out and this is not something we really want with our very expensive log cabin.
  • Weather ingress. Even though it may not rot it will still soak up water and this will percolate through to the inside especially at the corners, doors and windows in an exposed environment.

So, what if it is weeks before you treat your log cabin?

You can’t treat it straight away?  What’s the worst that can happen?

Dirty wall logs on the log cabin

Dirty wall logs on the log cabin

Yup, the poor log cabin gets filthy with rain muck thrown up all over it.  When, and if this happens all you need to do is use a pressure washer or a good jet attached to a hose pipe, it comes up like new – honest.

Also, if you find darker marks on it which are a damp fungus forming all you need to do is apply a dilute bleach solution and it will all go and bring the timber back to normal ready for treatment. This will often happen if you’ve left a cabin out in the rain and covered it with plastic while waiting to install it for a month or two.  The humidity created is great for a fungus but it’s very easy to remove with a bleach spray and then a wash.  Our Sauna display cabin had this after being stacked outside for months, a quick spray and a wash and it’s all gone.

Pressure Washer

Just staying on a pressure washer:  I’ve installed log cabins in tempest, storms, gales, snow,hail, in fact every weather condition imaginable.  You can’t help to get it dirty inside and out sometimes especially big installs.  Just before you hand over to a customer (or yourself) give it a good jet wash or hose down, it’s like new regardless of how messy you’ve made it during the installation.

Water ingress

Timber won’t rot if it’s not treated but it will let in and soak up water by way of moisture transference.  This is regardless whether it has been tanalised or not. Even a tanalised log cabin still needs full weatherproof treatment other wise it will still behave in the same way.

To stop ingress and absorption by transference we must treat it.

Did you know on average a wall log which is untreated will move by up to 3mm over the course of the year as it absorbs and then expels moisture.

If You don’t treat it at all.

If we don’t treat it as well as it getting dirty (least of our problems) we can also have other problems as the logs, doors and windows will expand and contract due to moisture transfer happening too rapidly causing the timber to expanding and contract too quickly. It may also cause warps in doors and windows and splits. This article explains this a lot more – Moisture Content in Log Cabins and Wood.

Purpose of a log cabin timber treatment.

I’ve said what happens if we don’t treat a log cabin and that it really is a good idea. So now we are committed to doing it what are we looking for in a treatment?

  • UV protection – we need to protect it from the sun, and the sun and it’s light is a bugger, it’ll dry out timber, cause cracking, distortion and lots more, it’s a real bugger for wood.
  • Weather proofing.  Wood loves water, it soaks it up, it wants it, it’s a property but we’re meanies and need to keep it at steady 14%. We try to protect it from absorbing water. We try to protect the joints and stopping any water marks from coming through. This is also very important for the doors and windows. If we allow it to soak in water above 20% it will start to rot.
  • Reaching an Equilibrium … the bloomin’ thing keeps trying, see this post: Cracking and Splitting in timber.  We really don’t want this with our log cabin.  Stopping this will save us a lot of time and will make it last for years.  Stop the equilibrium I say! Moisture Content in Wood
  • Creature proofing … Pesky creatures, fungi, worms,etc.  A good treatment will stop the pesky critters.
  • Elasticity – As I’ve said the thing is moving a lot, even with a good treatment stopping the absorption and shedding of moisture, we need a treatment that can cope with this so high elasticity in also important.

What timber treatment should we use for our Log Cabin?

Hm, now this bit can be a hotbed of law suits.  Firstly anything expensive, we only recommend Sikkens, Kingfisher, Sadolins or our own European brands shown in our website or brochure such as Koopmans, Embadeco or Embalan and more recently the super treatment from Valvoline Max-Release Protectant – now known as ‘Carefree Protectant’ which is heralded as a revolution in timber treatment and from what I’ve seen the stuff is amazing

If it’s a cheap treatment we don’t recommend it especially ones designed for sheds or fences or which can be sprayed on.

Please don’t be tempted to use anything cheap! Any complaints we have had with cracking timber or mould algae, excessive shrinkage etc have always been found to be caused by a cheap treatment, use at your peril but we will not offer any guarantee if you have used it, I can always tell as well!

Please do NOT use a cheap treatment, all the problems that have been reported with a log cabin can often be traced back to this.

Expensive is the way forward, you get what you pay for and it’s certainly pertinent when regards to treatment. If you use treatment beginning with the third letter of the alphabet and only given it two coats and then complain in a few months time that you have splits I will tell you to apply five more coats of the same treatment or treat it again with something expensive.

If I was to get technical we need a depth of treatment of between 80 and 120 microns. This is the equivalent to two to three coats of an expensive treatment. To accomplish the same depth with a cheap one may take up to 10 coats and this is where the problem comes when customers use a cheaper treatment and give it two coats, you may as well not bother. It’s good on a shed perhaps but no good at all on a log cabin as we need to inhibit its movement. Anything less than 80 microns is not going to do anything.

When asking a treatment supplier always specify it’s for “Planned, smooth Spruce” and let them advise you on the best treatment for that style of timber.  Rough sawn treatment is not all compatible.

A great source of advice is Brewers, they’re a professional trade paint supplier and may have other ideas and I’ll always agree with them, they are the people who know treatments! Most of the time they will recommend two undercoats of preservative with two top coats of Sikkens.

My old log cabin was painted 15 years ago with Sikkens, all I do is give it a quick wash each year and that’s it, I do recommend it.

But, we have this new stuff:  CareFree Protectant.

It can dry in 15 minutes, be painted on wet, it’s clear and still provides UV protection.

I’ve even seen it coat grains of sugar in a glass of water and the sugar didn’t dissolve! Clever stuff and now I’ve used it it is amazing, I even tried painting it on wet timber in the rain and all the water wicked away as I was painting (I’m not going to formally recommend painting in the rain though).  Amazing! We’re now using this on everything on the show site including Larch and Hardwood furniture / fencing.

CareFree Protectant the new name for MaxRelease Protectant:

With our changing weather conditions our wood / concrete gets a lot to endure rain , sun, wind and frost . To keep your wood / concrete in optimum condition MaxRelease has developed the best protection . The water-borne coatings without organic solvent penetrates into the wood / concrete and thus provides a protective layer against moisture, sunlight , wind and rain for all types of wood and wood products , such as fences , decking , garden furniture , garden poles , log cabins , gazebos , larch and hardwoods , and concrete products such as garden poles and fence systems . It forms a thin layer on the substrate , so that the structure of the wood and the concrete remains pretty visible.

Benefits of Carefree Protectant :

  • Long-term protection against moisture
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to apply and easy to clean
  • Excellent colour stability with minimal fading due to sunlight
  • Less fungal and algae
  • Impregnating
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Inhibits the natural transfer of moisture
  • Prevents kalkuitbloei in concrete

CareFree Wood Protectant is easy to use . Wood Protectant is a quick-drying material and will dry within 15 minutes ( depending on temperature , humidity, type of substrate ) . There is no primer or other type of primer is not necessary in order to bring . To Wood Protectant This makes the long-term protection of wood and concrete in a simple and quick job . MaxRelease Wood Protectant must be stored frost-free.

Having used this extensively now, I really do recommend it!

Damp Conditions

Regardless what log cabin you buy, from us or anyone the Carefree is excellent and one of its properties is protection against humidity.

Now this is clever stuff, it’s water soluble and goes on really well.  It will stop the formation of damp spores and is highly recommended for the inside of a log cabin if it is shut up for months on end or subjected to a damp atmosphere.

Just quickly note on hot tubs, Log Cabins are great as a hot tub enclosure but make sure you use a vent, this also applies if you are storing lots of damp tools.

Carefree Protectant Timber Treatment

When do I treat my Log Cabin?

Now this is something I’m asked all of the time.  My stock ‘official’ answer as within the brochure and literature is “Always paint / stain / treat your cabin BEFORE installation”

But, oh my goodness that is a real pain, you get paint in the grooves, on the corners and joints, it’s harder to install.  You get sticky patches that then get sticky on your fingers, that then leave finger marks on the inside of the logs.  It’s a nightmare!

So you’ve had the official answer, the unofficial and my opinion only is just build the cabin and paint it later. In all the years I’ve been doing this I haven’t had a comeback.

One hint I would give though is when you come to paint it, remove the top of the door and window fascias and paint behind them, otherwise when it expands, as it will in winter months, you’ll be left with a white line that’ll need painting again.  It will never match up so always do it first and beat the sneaky blighter creeping up on you with the annoying equilibrium thing timber does.

How much do I need?

Another question I’m always asked and this one is tricky.  It’s all down to the coverage recommended by your chosen brand.  But for instance our stain covers 14 – 15 sq.m and the the paint covers 5-8 sq.m. It does vary on the type and brand of paint or stain your are using.  It’s best to work out the log cabins dimensions and calculate it and then give this measurement to your supplier, or do what I do and guess and if you run out get some more.

Roof?

I’ve had customers ask about treating the roof. My answer is always why bother? If the final roof covering is applied properly there really is no need.

Summary of wood treatment for Log Cabins

So, in summary what have I said:

  • Don’t panic over getting treatment on your log cabin if it’s wet or raining when you unpack and install your cabin.
  • You have a little while before you need to worry, especially if you have a pressure washer or a jet hose so you can keep in clean
  • You do NEED to treat it to make sure it lasts and helps to inhibit the transfer of moisture.
  • Clean it with a bleach solution for spores or a jet of water for dirt.
  • ALWAYS keep it well ventilated.  Ventilation and allowing timber to dry if wet stops all Rot. Here is further information on Ventilation in a log cabin
  • ONLY use an expensive treatment so you know that you will be getting a depth of at least 80 microns.  The more expensive it is, the deeper it will be and the longer your log cabin will last and more importantly, if you’re lazy like me, you probably will not need to do it again for a good while. Do NOT use the lower end of the market to treat your log cabin I guarantee you will have problems as they do not inhibit the transfer of moisture which is important with log cabins. Please see this article for more on Moisture and inhibiting it in wood.
  • Watch out for the natural equilibrium of timber, inhibit this with a good treatment and make sure it is high in elasticity.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s advice. If it says three coats give it three coats. It is all about the depth attainable of the final finish.

Depth of Treatment and Moisture

Please see another post on the depth of timber treatment and the correct moisture content for log cabins.

Please see another post on the depth of timber treatment and the correct moisture content for log cabins.

More information on the Depths of Treatment and Moisture content of your Log Cabin

One final note, customers will often leave their cabin install until the ‘weather is better’ or look for a ‘weather window’. In my opinion it is always better to get it up and worry about treatment later, don’t let a bit of rain put you off!

The joy of a log cabin install in the wet. I remember this morning, we had to remove a layer of snow off the roof and then it rained all day while trying to install the insulation and roof shingles.

The joy of a log cabin install in the wet. I remember this morning, we had to remove a layer of snow off the roof and then it rained all day while trying to install the insulation and roof shingles. You too can have this much fun installing your cabin in the wet.

I have written another post on Treatment following a customer’s question that needed a little more advice: Treatment of a log cabin – A Customer’s Question you may find this interesting.

Please also see another post: Log Cabin Treatment Gone Wrong

If you leave it a little too long to treat your Log Cabin or it is starting to get dirty, this article may help you: Cleaning a Log Cabin

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.

Garden Decking Guide

With Summer ending, you may find that you have more time on your hands. So why not use this to your advantage and spruce up your garden ready for next year? With some garden decking you can really spruce up your garden.

Decking bases

Before choosing decking, you should consider where and how you’re planning to build it – Is it ground level on a concrete base? Or maybe you want it raised on posts. In this section I’ll explain the various ways to go about doing this.

Ground level decking

Planning to build your decking for just outside the door? Or perhaps you’re planning to use decking to complement a newly built gazebo- The base to your decking will be relatively easy, but what to chose as a base will depend on the ground you’re building it on.

Garden Decking Frame Joists

If you’re planning to build your deck on a hard surface, such as a concrete base, 95mm thick framing joists will be suitable. Due to the ground being hard and unlikely to sink, then you can be reassured that these timber joists will still create a durable deck.

For decking on softer ground, such as grass, we would recommend that you upgrade your framing joists to 145mm thick timber. This will prevent your deck completely sinking into the ground, this timber is also ideal for more heavy duty uses- Such as being built as an addition to a Log Cabin.

It is important to note if you are planning to do a ground level deck, precautions will have to be carried out for the timber to ensure the longevity of your deck and frame. It’s important to note that your timber shouldn’t directly touch the ground- Using slabs or concrete blocks will help prevent the timber from getting damp, using a damp proof membrane or Weed matting will help further protect the base of your deck.

Another step to consider is treating your base josts, you can use a range of timber treatments for this step including our Black Tar Timber Treatment. Treating the joists as well as your decking boards will contribute towards the lifetime of your deck.

Raised Garden Decking

Raised garden decking is another popular way to build a deck- It’s generally the ideal way to make use of limited space, along with being able to build a deck on uneven ground or on a slope. With a raised deck, more options are then presented to you such as building steps and balustrade sides to prevent any accidents from occuring.

The most common way to build a raised deck is using Timber Posts. So long as you are able to keep the post secure in the ground, you will be able to create a deck as high as you wish. If you are planning to use posts to raise your deck, it’s best to use 145mm thick timber for your base joists.

Timber Frame Base Pads

Or, if you are planning to have a slightly raised deck, allow me to introduce you to our Timber Frame Base Pads. These pads make the leveling your timber frame easy, with adjustable heights up to 150mm, they can hold up to a weight of 1400kg.

For the best results, we’d recommend that you place the pads on a paving slab or something of a similar shape. The 95mm thick framing joists will also be the best choice to pair with the base bads.

Garden Decking Kits

These kits have been pre-calculated to reduce the hassle of working out how many decking boards, screws and base joists are needed.

They’re often are available in a range of widths from 3m to 6m- These widths increase in 0.5m increments. Along with the widths theres also depths in 20cm increments, ranging from 2m up to 4m- Allowing you to build your deck to the size you need for your garden.

Decking Boards

Decking Kit Boards

Most retailers will offer their decking with a 19mm – 24mm thick boards. Because of this, we have decided to offer two thicknesses of our decking boards- 27mm and 31mm thick, both are thicker than standard in order to provide you with decking that will last. To choose which thickness you’d like, take into consideration the purpose for the deck, along with the footload it could have.

Along with our decking boards being thicker than standard- They are also tanalised and kiln dried. The tanalisation treatment may give the decking a green appearance, but this treatment is done to help prevent the timber rotting in damp weather. Although, we also recommend that you further treat the boards with a suitable treatment, such as decking oil, to help ensure the longevity of your new deck.

As the name suggests, kiln drying is a process of drying out the timber in a kiln to a moisture content that’s suitable for use in construction projects- Perfect for use with decking. Kiln dried timber also results in less cracking and warping in the timber, making these decking boards durable for many years of use.

Framing Options

We understand that there’s multiple ways to build a deck, whether it’s on soft ground, a concrete base or raised on posts. This is why we have given you the option of two base joist thicknesses- One of 95mm and the other for 145mm. The option you choose will depend on how you plan to install the decking.

Screws

Garden Decking Screws

Due to the timber being tanalised- It’s not recommended to use standard decking screws. Because of this, our team have selected an alternative screw that feature a wax coating, allowing you to install them quicker and with less effort. The framing screws have been chosen due to their large head- Known to be resistant to breakage.

The screws have been listed as an optional extra- To not pressure you into buying our screws. However, you can find the number of boxes needed by looking at the kit list on each product page if you wish to order your screws with us.

Decking Tiles

Subaya Decking Tiles

If you’re like me, a person who wants the cleanest looking result- Then our Garden Decking Tiles may be the solution. A great alternative to traditional decking boards, these tiles come in a variety of styles and materials to suit your decked area.

From Hardwood to Composite, these decking tiles will be perfect for our Gazebo’s and Log Cabin Verandas, when used appropriately these will really create a stunning finish to your Garden feature and/or structure.

Composite decking

Our Composite Decking range is the ideal solution to wet areas, due to the combination of 60% wood – 40% plastic for the composite material, they will never rot. The composite material is 100% recyclable, it also has some similar features to wood decking such as expansion and contraction- An important thing to consider during installation.

Checked Composite Decking


Tuin 2019 Catalogue Feature

Hello everyone! So as you may be aware- It’s coming up to the season where we start making the finishing touches to our new catalogue! When these are all completed we will work hard to put the products on our website for you to browse and order. However, in the meantime I have created this snippet showcase of some of the products we are excited about for the upcoming year.

Now, let me show you the products that I am most looking forward to:

Garden Furniture:

We’re always thinking of ways to improve our Garden Furniture, from comfort to the prevention of mould growing from damp cushions. This is why we have expanded our aluminum framed range and implemented a powerful combination of Textilene fabric with Quickdry foam cushions.

Textilene is a PVC coated woven polyester, formulated to withstand the most severe weather conditions as well as wear and tear for many years of outdoor use- all with minimal maintenance needed! Quickdry foam has been specifically designed for outdoor use, unlike normal foam, Quickdry foam drains water quickly allowing cushions to dry faster and prevent mould growth.

 

Colorado Springs Garden Lounge

Clean in design, the Colorado Springs set is split up into separate modules. Allowing you to do a ‘Pick ‘N Mix’ selection and build your own custom lounge set. Paired with Textilene material and Quickdry cushions, you can sit in the sun with comfort – Along with the metal butler trays on some modules, so you don’t have to worry about if your drink will topple over.

 

Montgomery Garden Dining Set

Dine in the sun with the Montgomery dining set featuring six chairs made from aluminum framing along with a 2m long table to fit all the dishes. You can relax knowing that your Montgomery lounge set won’t stay wet for hours, even days.

Fermont Balcony Furniture Set

Have you been dreaming of one of our Love Seats but don’t have the space for the whole width? A simple yet elegant furniture set, the Fermont may be the solution. The simplicity gives this garden furniture set a striking appeal, ideal under a veranda or on your balcony to make star gazing more comfortable.

We’re also taking a trip down memory lane and giving you 90s vibes with this Teak lounge set, the Riverside

Riverside Teak Garden Lounge Set

Quirky in design, the Riverside set is split up into separate modules. Allowing you to do a ‘Pick ‘N Mix’ selection and build your own custom lounge set. Made from the very appealing Teak timber to ensure a long lasting lounge set for years of use in your garden.

Fencing:

We also have some new additions to our Garden Fencing range – The most notable ones are made out of Larch timber, which is always stunning in colour and durability.

Klagenfurt Garden Fence

Modern in design, but effective – The Klagenfurt garden fence features 28 smoothly planed boards in each fence panel. Creating this smooth but busy looking fence panel, perfect for keeping your garden to yourself and blocking the outside world out.

Log Cabins:

Compared to our 2018 Catalogue Feature – There aren’t as many Log Cabins added to the range, but we have continued to expand our selection to help you find the perfect Log Cabin for your garden. However, meet the new additions to our 40mm and 70mm Log Cabin ranges:

Tane Log Cabin

Featuring an asymmetrical apex roof – The Tane Log Cabin provides customers the best compromise between price and heat capacity, being made from 40mm logs and double glazed windows. Paired with some insulation in the floor and roof, you will have the perfect start to your own, quirky summerhouse.

Ennis Log Cabin

Made from 70mm thick logs, the Ennis Log Cabin is an ideal cabin for overnight accomodation, or the ideal base for your home business. Measuring at 5.3m x 5.4m, the Ennis is made up of four internal rooms to allow the essentials to have it’s own designated space.

Letterkenny Log Cabin

Do you want a Log Cabin that’s filled with natural lighting? Then the Letterkenny Log Cabin may be just what you’re looking for. With a total of ten tempered double glazed windows around the front and back of the cabin, as well as the doors featuring glass fronts – It’ll be safe to say that when paired with the right location, natural light will brighten up all four rooms of this Cabin. Perfect for lakeside accommodation, or an office that overlooks the countryside!

Shepherds Huts:

That’s not all guys, to finish this post off I’d also like to show you one of our new additions to our Shepherd’s Hut range:

Gypsy Wagon XL

Gypsy Wagon XL

With the same classic design as our Shepherds Hut – Gypsy Wagon model, the Gypsy Wagon XL has a total with of 8.2m! Perfect for those who love to transform their Shepherd Huts into overnight accommodation. The Gypsy Wagon XL is also compatible with our Shepherds Hut Accessories, allowing you to add internal partitions, extra access and more.


And this is just a few of our new products for 2019 – Personally I’m the most excited about the new additions to our Shepherd’s Hut range, as well as the way our customers transform them! What are you looking forward to the most from this new catalogue?

Of course I can’t spoil everything for you, but if you just can’t wait any longer to find out you can read through our Tuin 2019 Online Catalogue.

We hope that 2019 will bring us new and returning customers to surprise and delight with again and again!