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!

Log Cabin Parts

There’s a very high chance you’re have lots left over when you’ve finished your log cabin, there’s often a spare log, roof boards, spare floor boards and packing pieces.

This is all high quality spruce and it’s a shame to throw it away, there’s plenty you can do with the leftovers from your log cabin.

Here’s some inspiration from some of our customers who kindly sent in pictures, read the images caption/description for more information on them:

Using the timber provided by the pallet used for delivery, this customer recycled the timber to create this adorable bird table – Also using some spare shingles for the roof:

Recycled Bird Table

This customer had some extra logs from his Daisy Log Cabin by modifying it to have an additional window. So he used those logs in order to create this adorable mini Log Cabin for his cat. We hope you love it as much as we do, Winston!

It’s truly amazing what people can produce with spare logs – Take this bar top for example, made from a spare roof purlin, and looks astonishing with the addition of lighting.

a coffee table for your log cabin made from leftover floor and roof boards

A coffee table for your log cabin made from leftover Spruce floor and roof boards

A planter made from a spare log. You could also make this from floorboards.

A planter made from a spare log. You could also make this from floorboards.

Draws made from the pallet and floor boards.

Draws made from the pallet and floor boards. This is taken from a video our customer sent us of the Emma log cabin. You can find this is our pictorial reviews page.

A nest of tables made from Spruce floor boards.

A nest of tables made from Spruce floor boards. again this was taken from the video mentioned above. This lady was very resourceful.

This has got to be my favourite, a bar made from a spare log, pallet and flooring.

This has got to be my favourite, a bar made from a spare log, pallet and flooring.

Another nice table made for a customer's Inn. style log cabin.

Another nice table made for a customer’s Inn. style log cabin.

As well as the table he also made a functioning bar out of spare timber and the pallet.

As well as the table he also made a functioning bar out of spare timber and the pallet.

A great addition to his Inn themed log cabin

A great addition to his Inn themed log cabin

Gunda Leftover Wood Shelves

A very functional idea, using the leftover timber to create storage shelves for his Log Cabin workshop.

Bird Feeding Station

I do love the idea of watching your bird feeding station being used while relaxing in your Summerhouse Log Cabin!

Mini Cabin Idea

How about a mini Log Cabin for children?  This idea is so sweet!

Wooden Craft Table

This customer used their leftover wood to make a craft table to fit in their Log Cabin.

Wooden Storage Unit

A storage unit with working draws made from leftover wood? Yes please!

Handmade Wooden Table

We love the square design on this handmade coffee table!

Leftover Wood Seating

Extra parts are always useful for extra seating. Make sure to add comfortable cushions!

These shelves were made from leftover logs – Definitely ideal for a shed:

I hope this gives you a little inspiration, don’t throw away your spares, there’s lots you can do with them. If you come up with anything good I’d love to see your creation.

Jenny Log Cabin Build

Mrs W has very kindly sent in her story of the build of her Jenny 40mm log cabin. When she sent it to me she entitled it the “Big Jenny Cabin Build” Mrs W has given a lot of inspiration on how to decorate and fit out the inside of the cabin, the painted on rug is genius!


We received delivery of our Jenny (4.5 X 3.5) Cabin from Tuin in a very efficient curbside delivery previously notified by mobile text. It took a bit of lugging through to the garage and patio to get it off the drive and safely stored in the dry but the packing was sufficient to keep the rain off the parts until installation.

Day One

The base was carefully constructed to be level on a sloping lawn using tanalised timber and coach bolts supported by concrete blocks. After putting in the joists and insulating using Jablite blocks cut to fit exactly, the underside was protected from rodents and birds using chicken wire fencing.

Next the floorboards were sprayed with preservative and the floor pre-installed. We decided on this as a result of the slope on the underside of the cabin which would make using step ladders a necessity from fairly early on in the build. This was a good call and made the rest really simple.

Thankfully no rain overnight.

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Day Two 

The parts of the cabin were brought down to the lawn and by coffee time we upto the windows!

We could not quite believe how easily the cabin went together but reading the Richard blogs and rewatching videos at intervals was helpful during the build. We would advise others to ensure that they follow the guidance re measuring the diagonals every three logs.  This is helpful advice! We  needed to do a bit of hammer and block ‘fettling’ further up the build as a result of getting a bit blasé on ours!

By lunchtime we had reached the stage of installing the purlins and decided to watch the vid over a sandwich to get this bit right. Two sets of step ladders and some Heave-Ho teamwork had the purlins in and then roof boards were installed by teatime.

During the following week the cabin shingles were glued and hammered into position.

Like another reviewer, too much overlap meant we had to purchase an extra pack of shingles but we have used the spares to ensure any run off rain water is taken over the edges of the base blocks.

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Weekend two -the paint job.

After treating with preservative it was time to start painting. We have chosen Osmo country colours Labrador blue and white for outside and white for inside.

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Next the installation of the window boxes and a temporary step meant we could furnish the cabin for its intended purpose. All the furnishings,(except for the tiled trunk which was a present), I bought off eBay, car boot,Preloved or from the hospice shop which meant little was spent on doing it up and I had fabric in my store of bargain bin purchases all ready to make the curtains and cushion covers.

I have painted a faux rug on the floor to give the appearance of ‘cosy’ whilst preserving the ease of movement for futon bed and calor gas  heater ‘woodburner’ which has saved my husband from having to install a real one. I made the corner curl back on the rug to wind up my OCD relatives!

Just permanent steps and an electricity supply to complete the project although we are already enjoying ‘ The Flying Pig Cafe’  as a stained glass craft and art studio, party space and wifi hub!

I intend to use the left over wood and pallet to make an outdoor work surface for dusty Dremlin woodcarving and glass grinding as well as a log store for the firepit next on the list!

Jenny Log Cabin

Jenny Log Cabin

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P.S. For those who are wondering- Why  The Flying Pig Cafe?

My husband Andrew once said that pigs might fly before I completely indulge myself! Now I have a space to call my own with the she shed of my dreams – thanks Tuin! 

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Thank you very much Mrs W for your review and great pictures, I’m sure this will be a inspiration for other people. I hope you enjoy your ‘thank you’ that we have sent you.

Other customer experiences, build and ideas are here if you would like to see more: Pictorial Tuin Reviews

Log Cabin Doors

No matter how good a fitter you are, with the most perfect eye you will always need to adjust the door frame during the install, especially if it is a double set of doors. This will need to be done to have a 100% perfect fit.

It may also need to be done over the life of a log cabin due to seasonal variations in moisture content, direct sun, direct weather, all of which will affect the cabin. Of course as I talk about in previous posts, treatment makes a huge difference to this and how susceptible the doors or windows are to these changes.

Door Frame Adjustment

Several factors need to be considered for a perfect door set up, these are:

  • Square of door frame.
  • Tightness of door frame.
  • Level of door frame.
  • Door leaf adjustment to frame.
  • Door leaf adjustment to center.
  • Door leaf bow or warp.

The square of the frame is of obvious importance and this can be done in a number of ways. Personally I always make up my frame on the ground first and use a square in all the corners. I will always screw my frame and sometimes I may also consider glueing and screwing for a stronger fit over the lifetime of the building (check the frame is correct before glueing).

I have known some installers that do not screw or nail the frame at all, I do not recommend this!

With a double door the level of the frame will make a big difference to how the doors work together and if this is out slightly, it will be very evident when looking at the top of the doors where they meet in the middle.

A good example of a door frame with a slightly unlevel base

A good example of a door frame with a slightly unlevel base

Look at the above picture and you will see the two leafs do not match each other at the top and the bottom. This is because the base rail that is supporting the frame is a few mm out of 100% level. You may think the base is perfectly level but the doors will always show an error.

This is easily resolved in this case by putting a 2 – 3mm shim under the left hand side of the door threshold between the foundation beam and threshold, the two leafs will then be level.

If you are certain the door frame is fitted tightly and is 100% square (glue or screws or both, or even nail although I prefer to screw every time). If you are also certain the door threshold is 100% level and adjustment is still necessary then this can be done on the hinges.

Log Cabin Hinges

Several types of hinges are used in log cabins, all of which will allow you to make adjustment to the door.

surface mounted hinge - generally used on thinner log, log cabins. These can be adjusted on both planes.

Surface mounted hinge – generally used on thinner log, log cabins. These can be adjusted on both planes.

Some people have asked me about security with these hinges, they perceive the screws on the outside to be a security risk. When I have installed these and a customer has asked, I simply use a large metal drill and take out the slots of the screws rendering them impossible to remove. You can of course use security screws available from most DIY shops.

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

Two piece hinge forming a cup and spigot. These can adjust the door in both planes and like the hinge above are found on lighter doors.

Three piece hinge. Two parts are screwed into the frame with one part into the door, they are connected together by means of a pin. Both planes can be adjusted

Three piece hinge. Two parts are screwed into the frame with one part into the door, they are connected together by means of a pin. Both planes can be adjusted. These are used on heavier doors for more strength.

Butt hinge, these can adjust the doors in one plane - up and down and will mainly be used with smooth door connection frames as moving the door leaves closer can be accomplished from the frame itself. An adjustment screw can be found in the top cap of the hinge and is adjusted with an allen key.

Butt hinge, these can adjust the doors in one plane – up and down and will mainly be used with smooth door connection frames as moving the door leaves closer can be accomplished from the frame itself. An adjustment screw can be found in the top cap of the hinge and is adjusted with an allen key.

Other hinges also exist but they will all feature a similar mechanism of adjustment, the three part hinge tends to be the most popular.

Log Cabin Hinge Adjustment

The three part hinge for some reason confuses some fitters and is also the most commonly used, please see some examples of it’s use and adjustment below:

Three part hinges are held together with a pin.

Three part hinges are held together with a pin.

This hinge can move the door leafs closer or further away from the door frame. It can also move the door leafs themselves closer and further away from each other at the door center.

The pin can be removed using a drift, or, in our case a small philips screwdriver. There is always some resistance and a hammer will generally be needed to tap the pin out.

The hinges themselves can then be turned in and out, to either move the door leafs closer / further away from each other (door leaf part), of course the doors can be moved closer / further away from the door frame adjusting the two parts on the door frames.

The hinge part can be adjusted using a thin screwdriver

The hinge part can be adjusted using a thin screwdriver, this is the door leaf part the moves the door leaves closer or further apart at the center.

Personally I like to firstly ascertain which direction I need the door to go in and then only turn the hinge parts a maximum of three turns either in or out, I will then do the same with the other hinges. Using only three turns keeps it simple and consistent.

Don’t be tempted to carry out adjustments in both planes at the same time as it can get confusing.

The pins can be loosely put back in to test your adjustments before knocking them back in fully.

The hinge pins can be left loose while you carry out the adjustment of the hinges

The hinge pins can be left loose while you carry out the adjustment and check of the hinges as you progress through making the doors perfect.

Adjusting the frame hinge parts on the door frame.

Frame hinge parts being adjusted using a small screwdriver

Frame hinge parts being adjusted using a small screwdriver

Once all adjustments have been made and you are happy, then knock the pins back in fully.

When you are satisfied with the adjustment then knock the hinges fully back in.

When you are satisfied with the adjustment then knock the hinges fully back in.

Using the above hinges adjustments, the threshold 100% level and the frame square all door issues are easily resolved in regard to fitting perfectly.

BUT

Very rarely you may have another problem to deal with which is almost 99.9% caused by storage. A warp or bow in the door!

A warp or bow is Never a problem and it is easy to overcome or avoid.

Warp in a Log Cabin door

As well as normal adjustments to the hinges when installing, and over the life of the building you may also have to contend with a warp in the door itself. This is unusual but can happen and it’s normally caused by storage or the weather and a rather undesirable feature of wood itself – it moves when allowed to.

Doors and windows in a log cabin are probably the most expensive and complicated part of the whole building and the supplier will go to great lengths to protect these parts. Unless the building is very large or complicated the doors and windows will come within the main log cabin package and normally buried under logs.

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

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

Doors and windows are often protected within the package to avoid damage to the glass, but mainly to prevent warping and bowing. All timber when  supported will maintain its shape. As soon as it is unsupported it can be susceptible to movement. As well as support a supplier will also build safeguards into the door itself such as the choice of direction of timber grain and more recently laminating timber to reduce warps.

I’ve said before in other posts how an installer can greatly influence the build on how they store the parts once they are unpacked. We can cause all sorts of problems with the storage of logs and purlins, in my log cabin installation advice post I talk about storing logs flat and top of each other.

Never store logs like this in your build as you will create many warps and bows.

Never store logs like this in your build as you will create many warps and bows.

Only store logs on top of each other and flat to avoid the creation of warps and bows.

Only store logs on top of each other and flat to avoid the creation of warps and bows.

Like other timber products, how we store the timber will make a huge difference to the install. I show more examples of bad storage in one of my gazebo installation advice posts.

An example of how not to store parts of your log cabin. NEVER lean them up against a wall and always keep them flat.

An example of how not to store parts of your log cabin. NEVER lean them up against a wall and always keep them flat.

This is what happens to parts when leant against a wall or not on a flat and level surface. Imagine the same thing happening to your door or windows.

Very bowed and warped timber caused by the incorrect storage whilst building the structure.

Very bowed and warped timber caused by the incorrect storage whilst building the structure.

This is an extreme example of what happens to a door when left up against a wall for several days before being installed:

An extremely warped door.

An extremely warped door. This has happened due to storage and care. Easily fixable but very avoidable with the correct storage.

A warp or bow is never a problem though and can easily be fixed but it is better not to have the issue in the first place so consider:

  • Keeping the doors and windows supported as they were in the pallet.
  • Store them 100% flat and on top of each other.
  • Never lean them against a wall while building your log cabin.

In a previous life I used to make sheds and summerhouses. After every door was made we would stack them on top of each other with spacers in between and finally we would put bricks on top of them to stop them from warping, until they were put into a building, when they were then supported by hinges, frame, locks and of course gravity, being supported level, upright and square. You should also consider the doors and windows when waiting to install them.

It’s not a problem though if you have this problem or created this!

If I’ve cocked up and made a warp in my install or even if the door moves over the install which it may do on rare occasions.

The heat from the sun can play havoc with a log cabin door or window. I talk about moisture content, cracks and warps in another post which you may be interested in and also explains what you are seeing and why: Cracks and Splits in Timber I also talk about moisture content in log cabins.

The solution is easy though, one of these ……

An ideal solution to a warp or bow in your door, I call them turn buttons but they are also referred as a thumb button

An ideal solution to a warp or bow in your door, I call them turn buttons but they are also referred as a thumb turn button.

These are handy little things and available from all DIY shops, we’ll send you one or two free if you need them and these clever things will always remove a warp or bow over a month or two of application. As I’ve said above with careful consideration and handling you rarely need them, but they are a solution when you need to overcome a warp.

I’m asked occasionally how you fit them, here’s an example, I’ve oversized the pictures for demonstration purposes but you will get the gist.

Warp in the log cabin door is identified and needs correcting.

Warp in the log cabin door is identified and needs correcting.

If you have a double door and have fitted a door stop trim then use a similar size piec e of timber

If you have a double door and have fitted a door stop trim then use a similar size piece of timber that matches it. Parts from the pallet or off cut roof or floor boards is generally ideal for this.

As when working with all wood and screws we will always send through a pilot hole before sending through a screw to stop splits happening in the timber we are working on.

As when working with all wood and screws we will always send through a pilot hole before sending through a screw to stop splits happening in the timber we are working on.

We've oversized here to show you but we are fixing an equivalent sized plate to the door on the opposite side and fixing to the opposite leaf.

We’ve oversized here to show you but we are fixing an equivalent sized plate to the door on the opposite side and fixing to the opposite leaf.

With the plate fitted the turn button is then fixed. This can then be turned to secure the door. This works on a double and single door. The turn button is made for precisely this task.

With the plate fitted the turn button is then fixed. This can then be turned to secure the door. This works on a double and single door. The turn button is made for precisely this task.

With the turnbutton in place the warped door is supported and the warp will eventually go in a month or two and the button can eventually be removed.

With the turn button in place the warped door is supported and the warp will eventually go in a month or two and the button can eventually be removed.

From my picture bank I sadly like to keep, this was my worst warped door from an install I did:

A bad warp created by me but very easily solved.

A bad warp created by me but very easily solved.

With a turn button this was fixed very quickly and I never heard from my customer again.

Should you have a similar problem with one of your Tuin Log Cabins please do not keep it to yourself, we can help you to solve this easily and will send you out one of these buttons to help you.

Please be aware though that timber is a bugger, and can also do this over the life time, a huge amount comes down to the level and quality of treatment you use on the doors and windows. Without good treatment you can expect this to happen with any building, no matter the supplier. Please see this post for more details on treatments: Log Cabin Treatment.

Jos Corner Log Cabin

Our very kind customer, Mr W initially reviewed our Jos Corner Log Cabin:


An excellent experience – the ordering process, communication and delivery are brilliant. The delivery driver was very accommodating and placed the large package exactly where needed, and I might add with great skill! I’ve only just started sorting out the various bits and pieces whilst waiting for more favourable weather and I am struck very much by the excellent quality of all the components. I can’t wait to get going with the build and I’ll submit a further review and some photos then. Keep up the good work Tuin – very impressed!

Mr W then sent in a follow up review with pictures of his journey with his log cabin, I have copied it below word for word:

Feb

An excellent experience – the ordering process, communication and delivery were brilliant. The delivery driver was very accommodating and placed the large package exactly where needed, and I might add with great skill!

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I’ve only just started sorting out the various bits and pieces whilst waiting for more favourable weather and I am struck very much by the excellent quality of all the components.

March

Managed, in between showers, to extend an existing shed base using paving slabs and getting it as level as possible. I think this part  and setting out the foundation beams absolutely square are critical to ensure a trouble-free build.

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April

Foundation beams in place and getting everything square……

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Laying the first few logs (easy-peasy)!

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Not a bad idea to keep the door frame in line and vertical and build up to this. as due to its weight it could be a bit tricky to drop it in afterwards especially if you are building single-handedly as I was. Also, I levelled the foundation beams using wooden wedges. The small gaps under the foundation beams were later filled with expanded foam.

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As the cabin was occupying a corner of the garden and two of the sides would be inaccessible after the build, I decided to paint the rear of these as I installed them……

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jos-log-cabin

The structure goes up very quickly.

The roof looks daunting but as the timbers are already cut and chamfered it’s really quite straightforward……it’s at this point you’ll discover how square everything is. If things aren’t quite square the whole structure can be man-handled. The positions of the roof timbers will make obvious any ‘jiggling’ that is needed.

roof-structure

Now the roof boards go on ( I used 3″ decking screws rather than the supplied nails).

roof-boards

At this point I realised that the window frames are easily removed for painting the logs by unscrewing the internal parts of the frame (just 6 screws). This also allowed me to paint the window frames separately in the relative comfort of indoors.

windows

Although not really necessary I decided to staple a waterproof membrane to the roof panels as an underlay for the shingles.

roofing-felt

corner-log-cabin-1

Test fitted the windows and door, I then disassembled them to paint the individual beadings. Meanwhile started the floor. Again, very straight-forward. A nice touch here is to include a plastic membrane under the joists and then some insulation – in this case 50mm Jablite in between the joists.

insulating-floor

insulating-floor-1

Ready for the floor boarding now…….

floor-boards

I put a 2mm gap between boards to allow for expansion…

skirting

Supplied skirting boards fitted.

Nearly there!

roof

A view of the IKO shingles. I made my own version of the ‘hips’. Also used a 150mm painted steel post cap at the apex of the roof.

jos-corner-log-cabin

Have spent the last couple of weeks building it and I am absolutely delighted with my Jos cabin which is now completed. The only minor hitch I encountered was a couple of warped roof timbers. I contacted Tuin who responded very quickly and replaced them within 2 days without any quibble – impressive! 

 And here is the finished job complete with porch light and home-spun window boxes.

Completed Jos 28m corner log cabin

Completed Jos 28m corner log cabin

Many thanks for an excellent product – if only I had a bigger garden, I’d build another! 

Keep up the good work Tuin – very impressed!

Thank you Mr W for sending this in. These pictorial reviews really help other people decide if they can install themselves. It also gives different ideas such as you roof cap and own made flower boxes, very nice!

If anyone would like to send in pictures and a story we always offer further discounts on products, presents and in some cases a cheque.

For all Customer pictorial reviews please see this page: Tuin Customer Blog Reviews

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.

ss

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.

joint-bodge-log-cabin

out-of-level-log-cabin

no-joint

bodged-log-cabin-1

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.

Derby Log Cabin Tuin Review

It’s lovely when customers pass on their findings with their experience with their log cabin, as it helps other customers so much in understanding what they are letting themselves in for!

It also gives them ideas and thoughts on how best to complete their project and with what product. It’s also good for us to know if there have been any niggles or problems and to try address them for future customers.

Mr M was kind enough to send us a factual presentation of his building in a PowerPoint presentation, I have copied it below, it is for his new Derby 58mm Double Glazed Log Cabin


The Site

The following pages show the construction of our log cabin. The whole process took about 6 weeks, although it could all have been done much more quickly if I hadn’t been limited to weekends and holidays. The foundations took a week; putting up the walls (with windows and doors) took a day; the wooden roof (with insulation covered by shingles) took a couple of days; then lots of evenings painting, sanding, waxing, etc…

The log cabin was to stand in the corner of the garden, on sloping ground. The ground slopes away towards the fence at the back and there’s a height difference of about 18” from front to back. I first marked out the footprint of the cabin and cleared the turf.

Timber Frame

Foundations

I built a timber frame for the cabin to sit on.

The perimeter consists of 2”x6” timber (laminated together to form a base 4” wide to support the log cabin walls).  The floor joists (2”x4” are at 30cm centres and the whole thing sits on 4” posts concreted into the ground. (This took ages – I hadn’t finished them all when this photo was taken – the joists aren’t fixed here…)

The foundations for the log cabin

The foundations for the log cabin

This photo shows the height difference between the front and back of the cabin. Getting the posts level and square was a difficult (but important!) part of the build.

The joists are supported on joist hangers at the perimeter and on lengths
of 2”x4” that run across the foundations (attached to wooden posts). Two of these are visible in the picture – I put in another one before fixing the joists.

 

Timber frame base for the log cabin

Timber frame base for the log cabin

The Flat Pack Arrives!

The cabin arrived and was unloaded from the lorry with a forklift.

It’s a pretty impressive flat-pack!

I unpacked all the parts and separated them by length/type. This is best done by two people – most parts can be lifted by one person but the doors/windows and some of the longest logs need two people.

The log cabin arrives

The log cabin arrives

Walls Going Up

The walls went up very quickly. Once the first few layers are in place (and square), it’s an easy job.

The windows and doors are a little trickier. With the doors, I made one mistake – I didn’t put the door sill in-between the two side panels. I managed to fix this later. (The door sill wasn’t shown on the instructions but it’s obvious where it goes once you know what it is!)

Log cabin walls going up

Log cabin walls going up

Nearly There

Up to this point took perhaps 6 hours.

Nearly there in the build

Nearly there in the build

Doors

Getting the doors to meet in the middle was a bit of a challenge – not helped by the fact that I hadn’t noticed the door sill (see the silvery thing in the picture below!)

It probably took a couple of hours to get the doors hung properly – lots of adjustment of the hinges, which wasn’t difficult to do.

The door handle and lock were easy to fit.

Log cabin doors

Log cabin doors

Silvery thing - The door threshold

Silvery thing – The door threshold

Roof

The roof is made of more than 120 wooden slats, nailed to the purlins and the walls. Because we want to use the cabin in winter, I added 70mm thick insulation on top of the slats, with shingles nailed to the wood through the insulation. You can see the insulation in the picture below.

I had never used shingles before – they are great! They overlap to create a double layer and they look an awful lot better than shed felt.

Log cabin roof

Log cabin roof

Floor

Once the roof was finished, I put in the wooden floor, nailed to the joists. There’s a layer of 100mm insulation under the floor, fitted snugly between the floor joists.

After this photo was taken, I used a nail punch to make sure the nails all sat a few millimetres below the surface; I then sanded the floor. Then applied a sealing oil and finishing wax.

Log cabin floor

Log cabin floor

Fireplace

We wanted to put a wood burning stove in the cabin so I built a constructional hearth from concrete blocks. (I left a space 90cm x 90cm in the floor for this, i.e. the hearth foundations are on the ground, not on the timber frame).

Behind the stove, I fixed a layer of fire-proof board to the walls using batons. The photo shows the channels for the screws, which should allow the wall logs to expand and contract.

Allowance for expansion

Allowance for expansion

The hearth is finished with 2 slate slabs.

Behind the stove, the fire-proof board is tiled with stone tiles and the mantelpiece and wooden surround are made from off-cuts of fence posts! They are held together with Velcro(!) and the wood can be removed easily to allow access to the screws that fix the batons to the wall.

The stove was fitted by a HETAS approved engineer. The twin-skin flue goes straight up through the wooden roof.

Different stoves have different clearances to combustible materials – this one sits safely about 30cm in front of the wall.

Woodburning stove in a log cabin

Woodburning stove in a log cabin

Chimney flue

Chimney flue

Light

I installed a solar-powered light.

This was very fiddly! A solar panel on the roof charges a battery (which is stored in a ventilated box in the corner). There is a light switch by the door (not visible in the photo).

The light is great in the evenings – the single bulb is perfectly adequate for a cabin this size (roughly 4m square internally).

solar light

solar light

Finally

The outside of the cabin was painted with three layers of Sadolin.

I built a wooden deck in front of the doors.

The stove flue protrudes almost two metres above the roof to make sure there is sufficient up-draught.

Derby Log Cabin

Derby Log Cabin

Now that the cabin is built, we’re using it as an outdoor playroom.

Playroom log cabin

Playroom log cabin

There’s loads of room for furniture and it’s a lovely place to play or just to sit – especially in the Summer sun!

We’re looking forward to getting the stove going so that we can have a warm outdoor retreat in winter.

Review

Mr M was also kind enough to leave a review on the Derby 58mm log cabin, he wrote:

We bought a 58mm Derby Log Cabin (4m x 4m internally) a few weeks ago.

The quality of the cabin is excellent – the logs are cut very accurately and it’s very easy to put together (like Lego for grown-ups!). The whole thing is very solid. The instructions are minimal but it’s not difficult to work out what goes where if you take the time to sort ALL of the pieces in the pack first. The only problem I encountered was that the parts of the door frame weren’t on the plans and I ended up building the door frame and then having to re-assemble it when I realised I’d missed a bit! The shingles for the roof seem really sturdy and the finished cabin looks exactly like it does on the website. Excellent service too – thoroughly recommended.

Thank you Mr M

Thank you for taking the time to write this, it is very much appreciated and I hope you are pleased with the thank you present we sent you.

You may like to see what other customer experiences, build and ideas are here: Pictorial Tuin Reviews