Log Cabin Foundation Beams

We offer a five options for your log cabin. These beams are designed to sit between the first log and the base of your log cabin and act as sacrificial timber to prevent the first log ever sitting in water. Further details on bases can be found here: Log Cabin Base Advise

These are optional and do not have to be used within the build.

Please note that any height dimensions given for the log cabins cabins EXCLUDE the additional height created by a foundation beam.

If you were in any other part of Europe buying a log cabin nothing would be supplied but we prefer to supply at the very least a standard foundation beam and these will be sent with every building.

It is often the case that other UK suppliers of log cabins also do not supply foundation beams. Many customers will buy ours even when they have sourced a log cabin from elsewhere.

In addition we also offer different profiled foundation beams. These will not provide any extra longevity and is a choice of Aesthetics. They do ‘present’ the cabin slightly better and the slope allows water to wick away from the bottom of the log.

Profiled beams are available in the following:

STANDARD FOUNDATION BEAMS

This is tanalised / Pressure treated timber with the dimensions of 44mm x 70mm and 2.40m in length. Longer timber can also be supplied if required and this is very useful for use as floor joists as well if you are using a pier type base: Foundation Timber

The video below shows how we fit the standard foundation beams. It’s a good idea to set them in 1- 2mm this then provides a natural drip stopping water from running under the log.

A corner cabin will have a cut angle of 22.5 degrees and two of these will form the 45 degree angle required at the door.

When using standard foundation beams the base is made to the minimum footprint dimensions shown on the product page of your log cabin.

PROFILED FOUNDATION  BEAMS

The video below shows how we install the profiled foundation beam. This is applicable to all of them. Please note it is necessary to adjust the upstand when the corner interlock. This may also need to be removed when placing the doors.

For profiled foundations base dimensions are often increased to account for the slightly wider footprint. Please see the following diagrams for guidance:

28mm profiled foundation beams

Profiled-foundation-base-advice 34mm

Profiled-foundation-base-advice 45mm

Profiled-foundation-base-advice 58mm

EXAMPLES OF FOUNDATION BEAMS in USE

Standard foundation beam being used in a build

Standard foundation beam being used in a build

Hardwood foundation beams in use

Hardwood foundation beams in use

Composite foundation beams in a log cabin build

Composite foundation beams in a log cabin build

EPDM on Log Cabin Roofs

For flat or sloping roofs on our Log Cabins we normally supply roofing felt but as an option we do have the far more superior roofing material of EPDM.

What is EPDM?

EPDM is a highly durable synthetic rubber roof membrane, it’s posh name is Ethylene Propylene Diene terpolyMer. It’s two main ingredients are Ethylene and Propylene which come from oil and natural gas. It’s been used on flat roofs for over 40 years. The main technical features of EPDM are:

  • Cyclical membrane fatigue resistance
  • Proven hail resistance
  • High resistance to ozone, weathering and abrasion
  • Flexibility in low temperatures
  • Superior resistance to extreme heat and fire
  • Thermal shock durability
  • Ultraviolet radiation resistance
  • High Wind Resistance

Why Use EPDM on your Log Cabin?

Roofing felt is an ideal solution for a flat or gently sloping roof but it’s life expectancy is not that high. About 5 years is a very good life span for ordinary felt. EPDM though has been known to last for thirty years without concern. For a long term economic prospect it is good value for money.

The benefits of EPDM on your log cabin roof are:

  • Cut to size for your building so no joints (except modular buildings)
  • Inert and UV stable
  • Will not crack or Perish
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Applied cold
  • Virtually maintenance free
  • Long Life Expectancy
  • Economical when compared to re-felting every few years

Installation of EPDM

There are three ways EPDM can be fitted and this includes Ballast, Mechanically Attached and Adhered.

The Adhered system is the one we will use and is the one used by many roofing companies. Basically it is glueing the membrane to the roof and is pretty easy to do.

Log Cabin Roof Variations

Before reading too much further all this article is going to do is tell you the basics on how to fit EPDM to your log cabin roof and simply put the membrane is:

  • Rolled out
  • Allowed to settle
  • Glued down
  • Trim as you wish

The trim as you wish is the bit that’s left up to you as there is no hard and fast rules for this. You can either finish as you would with roofing felt and tuck it behind your barge boards, you may want to trim it flush with the roof boards or you may want to do a little more. This is all up to your preference, requirements and skill set.

Also, bear in mind this is my own personal recommendation on how I do it, I’m sure other fitters, roofers, builders etc will have their own take on it. Some may even say I’m wrong which wouldn’t be the first time.

Roll out the EPDM on your Log Cabin Roof

Take the roll up on to the roof and undo the ends, you should find some glue inside in the form of spray cans.

dd

Normally hidden inside is enough cans to glue your roof down. It’s very unlikely you won’t have enough but any contact adhesive also works if you run out and need it quickly.

Three cans

Three cans were found in the depths of the roll. The EPDM is cut for your building, this membrane is 3.9m x 5.4m. Three cans was more than enough.

This is where I may differ from all the advice you see from the roofing people, they always say to unroll it, layout flat on the roof and then allow it to settle as it is.

I have done it this way and it works on a hot day but I still prefer my technically named sausage method.

Roll the full length out across the roof

Roll the full length out across the roof

fold out

Start to fold it out flat across the whole roof.

nn

Then start to roll it up again length ways, try to do this reasonably tightly, it does help if there is two of you and try to keep it as level as possible.

Keep rolling

Keep rolling together with your partner, keep it level and quite tight!

Saua

At the end you’ll end up with a sausage.

Allowed to settle on the Log Cabin Roof

When complete you’ll end up with a sausage sat at the start of your roof, I will always start at the highest point and work backwards.

I mentioned trimming earlier and you’ll notice where we have set the barge boards, this is just my preference, there is no right or wrong way. I wanted to give a little extra clearance for headroom below. It does not matter though how you do these.

It does help though to only start with the front ones on and add the side and rear if applicable later.

Once you’ve made your sausage, leave it for a little while on the roof and as it’s rolled so tightly a lot of the creases from storage will start to come out. The sun will also make it a little more pliable.

I’ve mentioned it already but it really helps if the sausage as been rolled level as you will use it’s edges later on to check you are rolling it out on the log cabin straight and true.

if

If you end up with a wonky sausage unroll it and start again. Nothing worse than a wonky sausage!

 Glue the EPDM Down

This part of the install on your log cabin is exactly what it says, we are just glueing it down on to the roof. How you want to trim it is up to you, I may have mentioned this.

The principle is how I’m glueing it.

dfh

This is something I do, you do not have to do this unless you want to.

As you will see from this picture I have used a bit of timber to create a slope against the barge board. You do not have to do this, you can finish it as you want, tuck it behind the board, glue it directly to it, however you wish.

I’ve done this though as I think it looks nicer, it also stops water going behind the barge board. Due to the height I raised the boards I was able to use a floor board to create the slope, if I had less of a height I might use a trim from skirting or roof boards or even a packing piece laying around. There is no hard and fast rules on this other than it needs to be glued down.

KK

I now shuffle my sausage forward and align the edge to where I finally want it to finish.

ss

Give the cans a good shake, I think they advise two or three minutes of vigorous shaking, I can’t remember but give them a good shake for a while.

Start to glue

Once everything is aligned and the cans have had a good shake then roll the sausage back slightly

With the sausage rolled back a little you can take the front and uncover the area to be glued. Spray the glue evenly at a length of about 50cm all the way along the roof, it does start to go off pretty quickly. You don’t need to apply it really thickly, too thick and you fight against the glue itself.

Don’t spray right to the ends or right to the front at the moment.

Glue all the way along the roof

Glue all the way along the roof at about a depth of 50cm so the glue does not go off too quickly.

sss

Now fold the membrane forward and start to smooth out.

I’ve seen videos and instructions and professionals and all sorts of recommendations on how to smooth out the EPDM, they’re probably really good and certainly give them ago and let me know how you get on but I still prefer to use my hands and push out the bubbles of air, smoothing the membrane as I go.

Note though I haven’t glued the edges yet as I may want to still much about with this. This is particularly the case at the sides as the barge boards are still not on.

Once the first part is done, now knell on it and roll out the rest, glueing every 50cm as you go, smoothing out as much air bubbles as you can.

Once the first part is done, now knell on it and roll out the rest, glueing every 50cm as you go, smoothing out as much air bubbles as you can.

Glueing ever 50cm and then rolling out

Glueing every 50cm and then rolling out

Smooth as you go

Smooth out any air bubbles as you go, I use my hands but you may have a better idea or system or received better advice

Another 50cm and the roof is glued down and that’s as far as this advise goes on how to fit your EPDM. It’s really quite straightforward, we’re unrolling it, then glueing down, and smoothing it out.

When the main body of the roof is down you can then work on the edges and fit the barge boards and trims as you require and completing the final glueing stage in these areas.

The rest is up to you.

Trim your Log Cabin EPDM Roof as you wish

I’m often asked what is supplied as regards trims with EPDM. I answer there is nothing extra and nor does their need to be you can use this exactly as you would felt. You can though utilise offcuts and produce slopes to ensure all the water is taken away and make a really professional job of it.

You can also use capping pieces on top to make it look nice or battens to secure it fully so as not to rely wholly on the glue at that point.

gdfg

I have the slope at the front you have already seen but I also did the same at the sides and added a capping piece to make it look nice. To the side I have added a batten to sandwich the EPDM so as not to rely completely on the glue at that point (in this picture I am yet to cut the batten flush with the barge board)

dffh

Not a bad finish, most of the air bubbles came out and pretty smooth. Shame about my boot marks but they will wash off and the creases will disappear.

sfsd

This is another fitters roof on a Yorick Log Cabin, he finished everything flush and that is his preference and still works the same in producing a secure roof for many years with water draining to the rear and following the slope. Upstands are always better though and prevents any rot to trims.

sf

Another fitter has added a small up stand and uses a batten to fix the EPDM at the top.

dgsds

Someone else has gone to town making top trim pieces. We also sell aluminium strips that can do this for the front of the cabin.

dr

Or … just fold it over the top of the barge boards. This is the Yorick Log Cabin and a customer chose to do this. Nothing wrong with is at all other than perhaps aesthetics.

Summary on Fitting EPDM to your Log Cabin

In summary all we are trying to do is glue down the membrane with as little bubbles in it as we can.

We also want the roof to drain well and if you wish, it’s nice to create slight slopes all around to encourage the water to flow. This is something the flat roof boys do on your house so we may as well do it on our log cabin. You don’t need anything special apart from a few off cuts of wood which you will have when you have finished your cabin.

Some customers worry about installing EPDM  on their log cabin but it is far the quickest roofing method, it doesn’t rip, it’s quite forgiving and easy to work with unlike felt which can be a real pain especially in very hot weather. Plus in the past 17 years now I have never had to re-meet a customer to re-do his EPDM, I’ve met a few to re-felt though!

Trimming is easy but have a ponder on how you would like it to finish before you start and make sure water drains away if the roof is totally flat on your log cabin.

For our modular buildings there will be a join as each part of the building is a separate section, all you do is glue over the seam as you would the roof and as long as you are flat this is not a problem, professional flat roofers do exactly the same.

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.

Base requirements for Log Cabins

Log cabins are not built like a shed,  at least the good ones aren’t.

What I mean by this is;

Sheds:  When a shed is installed the floor is placed down first, the walls go on top of it and the build is continued.

Log Cabins:  With the majority of log cabins, the cabin is first built and the floor goes in afterwards and sits within the cabin and is not an integral part of it.  The floor system is known as a ‘floating floor’ and should not actually touch the cabin walls although the floor joists may be and more often than not are attached to the log cabin foundation beams.

A normal Shed is built on top of a floor with joists underneath it

A log cabin is built around a perimeter foundation beam, the floor joist and floor will go in after the cabin has been built.

Foundation Beam.

All our cabins are built around the perimeter of a base and it is prefered that it is built on a foundation beam.

As standard we supply 70mm x 44mm tanalised beams.  These are supplied to go around the perimeter of the building and to sit between the first log and the base.

Using these gives your first layer of logs protection from sitting directly in any water.  If you would like something a little better we also have, as an option, profiled foundation beams.

These are supplied with all our cabins and go between the base and the first log around the perimeter of the cabin
Tanlised foundation beams.  These are supplied with all our cabins and go in between the base and the first log around the perimeter of the cabin.
These beams are profiled to allow any water to be flushed away from the first log. Available in tanalised and hardwood
These beams are profiled to allow any water to be flushed away from the first log. Available in tanalised and hardwood
The same as the ones above but these ones are made of a composite material and will never, ever rot
The same as the ones above but these ones are made of a composite material and will never, ever rot
The foundation beam runs around the perimeter and underneath the first log and acts as sacrificial timber and ensures the first log is kept away from any wet

Perimeter

Understanding the above you will realise that all of the weight is on the perimeter of the cabin.

When constructing a base consideration should be given to this.  Sadly I’ve been to several fits where the centre of the base is great but the edges are all chipped and drooping where the shuttering has been removed as all the concentration had been placed on the majority of the base with an eye to shed building.

The greatest strength for a log cabin base should be within the perimeter as this is where all the weight is.

Level

Our Log Cabins are extremely precise things, the best machinery is used to mill the timber and as such there is little tolerance. They are designed for each log to sit directly on top of one another and are interlocked in the corners via corner connection and the tongue and groove connection along the log.  They are designed to withstand vertical forces, they are not however designed to withstand any lateral forces.

It is quite often tempting for a landscaping / building company, as they are used to doing with patios, to add a slight incline to the base to help with drainage.  They tend to do this as a matter of course without consultation and are really chuffed to tell you that you have a 2 degree incline!

This is really not very helpful as in effect you’ll be building your cabin on a slope and subjecting it to the lateral forces simply from gravity.  A cabin is really not up to handling gravity and the subsequent sideways force it puts upon it when on any sort of slope.

The end result will be a buckling and warping building and most certainly it will feature split and strained logs over time and of course the inevitable tears as you see your lovely building disintegrate over time.

The biggest thing though about an unlevel base is that it makes it bloomin’ hard to put the thing together, fully expect all sorts of problems with a wonky base:

  • The logs won’t seat properly.
  • The windows or doors will be on the huh.
  • The apex will not sit flush with the upper wall leaving a gap which you will then have to trim to look anything, either with a planer or bits of wood stuck on it.
  • The roof boards will not go on straight and there will be an incline in them which looks terrible and you will always notice it.
  • Long term problems with warping, twisting, straining, cracking and splitting.
  • You’ll be on the phone to me immediately during installation as it’s not going together  or in about 3 months time when it’s falling apart.  I’ll pop out and look at your base and tut a lot, we’ll end up arguing and you won’t even offer me a cup of tea!

What if the base isn’t level?

Sometimes we have to use what we’re given or that which is already laid and there’s not often a great deal we can do about it.  Trying to add a screed to a concrete base to get it level rarely works and will simply fall away as pressure is put on it.

If the base is out we have to do something about it before the cabin can be built, either it’s demolished and started again or another solution needs to be found.

When I fit, which isn’t often these days I carry a box of ‘slithers’ of pressure treated timber in my van of various lengths and depths. Using these I could often overcome any deviation by adding them to the foundation beam and ‘chocking’ where necessary.

However, if you are going to chock a cabin up for goodness sake make sure it is supporting the whole length and not just a corner.

Here’s an example:

poor-log-cabin-support

This was a log cabin ‘gone bad’ I recently visited to help sort the poor thing out.  Its a bit of a long story but the customer had some particularly shoddy builders in to build it for them who neither cared nor had a clue what they were doing and this was a substantial and very expensive log cabin.

The above image shows their version of chocking up the corner to make up the deficit in the unlevel base.  This piece of plywood doubled up was supporting the corner of a huge 70mm log cabin.  Not only had all the logs sagged across a 1m stretch the corner joints were also badly damaged and did not fit as it was still badly out of level.  The apex was also ripped apart and don’t even get me started on the purlins.  But if it had worked –  the plywood would have rot within a year and the whole thing would drop and destroy the cabin anyway!

Here’s how it’s best done:

good-support-logs

I took the building down for the customer and reassembled it correctly and this is how I chocked the fault in the base, notice I am using tanalised timber and that it is being supported along it’s length and kept properly level.

So, with a trusty box of slithers of tanalised timber most unlevel areas can be overcome just make sure you have several depths available to you.

Please though, use timber that isn’t going to rot in five minutes and make sure the foundation beam is supported throughout its length and, importantly, make sure the building is completely level in both planes regardless what you do.

Footprint

All Tuindeco log cabin measurement are taken from one end of the log to the other, so a 3.0m wide log cabin is exactly that, from the outer edge of the log to the outer edge is exactly 3.0m.  The base doesn’t specifically need to be to this measurement as all the logs have a crossover connection, this is generally 100mm or less depending on the size of the cabin (please ask us for your particular building).

So, for instance the base actually needed for a 3.00m wide log cabin is:

  • Length of log – 3000mm or 3.00m
  • Crossover – 100mm

Log – (crossover x2) = 2800mm or 2.80m

In this example we could make our base at exactly 2.80m wide and the log cabin will fit on it exactly.  Be careful though, there maybe a wiggle in the shuttering or somebody is not as exact as they could be, there’s no room for error when doing it exactly to the footprint so it might be wise to add a centimeter or two either side just in case.

If it can be done though I think it looks far nicer, it also has the advantage that when it rains water does not hit the base and fly up and make your lower wall of your smart, new log cabin all dirty and mucky.

Water and mud splashing up on the logs because the base is bigger than than the footprint

Another good idea when making the base to the size of the footprint is to then add a French Drain, this looks really nice and also absorbs the water, stopping it splashing up and also removes the need for guttering.  The other advantage is the loose stones can then cover any of the concrete you don’t want to see.  Apologies this isn’t a log cabin but I’m sure you get the gist:

French Drains are very useful around a log cabin base

Log Cabin Base Requirement Summary

A base can be pretty much made out of anything and we’ll get onto that in a moment but any base provided for any log cabin has to follow this criteria:

  • Consideration should be given to the majority of the weight being placed on the perimeter of the cabin.
  • Consideration should be given to the weight of the cabin, a 19mm is obviously considerably different to a 70mm.
  • It should be 100% level in every direction.
  • Ideally it should be square.
  • Ideally to just over the footprint size of the cabin.

Type of Bases

I hope with the above waffle I’ve given you a little idea what we’re ideally looking for in a base for your new and sparkly log cabin.  I’m not going to go into how to build a base as I’m not a builder or landscaper, nor would I want to be as it looks like jolly hard work.  I will however give you a few examples of what can be done and used.

Concrete

A base of concrete can be done in a number of ways.  Generally it can be done with simple timber shuttering.  The average base will be about 80 – 100mm deep.

Simple concrete base with timber shuttering
Simple concrete base with timber shuttering

Concrete Blockwork

We can also get a little more complicated with a block work supporting wall and then filling with concrete, perhaps reserved for the bigger buildings that needs a little more weight supporting structure around the perimeter.

If you’ve got a large building your landscaper or builder may advise steel reinforcing within the base itself, remember though not to forget the perimeter.

Steel reinforcing within the concrete base
Steel reinforcing within the concrete base

For advice on mix ratios, strength of concrete etc I’m afraid I’m not the one to ask, there’s lots of advice across the net and it’s probably best you sought that information elsewhere.

However! If i’m pressed to offer my very basic advice from experience use a mix of one bucket of portland cement to five buckets of ‘all in 20mm’ ballast gravel and add the water slowly, don’t make it too wet though, it needs to be a workable fluid, keep mixing until it’s uniform in colour.

As a rule of thumb calculate the volume you require (LxDxB) and add one third.

Creating the base is pretty straight forward, use timber board as shuttering to guide the edges, mark out the area and use a tape or string corner to corner to ensure it is straight.

Level the shuttering with a spirit level and pour your concrete.   Keep working it across the surface with a board until it is level with the top of the shuttering boards.  Allow it to set for three or four days and et voila your base is formed.

Alternatively; ask someone who know’s what they’re doing.  The above concrete method sounds good in principle but I’ve never managed to get it right and still had a few undulations in it, depressions are fine, hills aren’t so good!

Slabs

This probably doesn’t even need an explanation as it’s very cost effective and pretty simple to lay.  Again like concrete follow the base criteria I mentioned.  Normally a 70mm layer of dry sand and cement is sufficient, tamped down until level with the slabs then levelled on top of it.  A quick method and probably the cheapest and can work for most of the cabins we sell.

This I can get right and is pretty straightforward, just make sure it’s all level.

I have in the past tried the various other ‘eco’ slab bases but I could never really get on with them, they were more expensive than a simple concrete slab and still required the same amount of levelling, I still remain to be convinced of their real benefit and hope to be one day.

Timber Frame

This is by far my favourite method of laying a base, of course it’s not the best way I just enjoy doing it as there are so many permutations and challenges.

It’s using a timber frame supported by stilts, or pads or simply paving slabs positioned at intervals.  I find it a good environmentally friendly solution and great for areas where concrete is just not possible or when there are steep inclines to overcome.

There’s no hard or fast ways of doing it so I’ll simply give you a few examples for ideas:

A Stilt base, great for air circulation and to be flash you can say you are adopting the principles of Walter Segal

Example-frame-base-for-log-cabins

Timber frame on a bed of shingles

Timber Frames

The perfect way of building a timber frame base. The first foundation logs have been added.

The perfect way of building a timber frame base. The first foundation logs have been added.

Timber Frame Base

Square and level is the key!

What I love about a timber frame base is that:

  • It can be moved.
  • It’s truly a temporary structure which is great in certain circumstances.
  • It allows air flow and therefore the timber will never rot even if it’s not treated.
  • It’s a cheap solution in inaccessible areas for concrete.
  • Cheap overall.
  • If subsidence occurs you can simply jack up the area concerned and re-pin.
  • A good system when flooding occurs naturally and does not affect it’s environment.

To make leveling the base we do have a nice product. It’s not a bad price either and you can level between 30mm and 140mm using a combination of two units:

Very useful pads for easily supporting and leveling a timber frame base for your log cabin

Very useful pads for easily supporting and leveling a timber frame base for your log cabin

Please also see a recent post about a customer’s building for more examples of a timber frame base for log cabins:

Log Cabin Base Construction Summary

I’ve missed out loads of other ways, one of them being a brick or block plinth such as this:

Block Plinth base

There’s also systems on the market such as this:

Jackpad system of supporting a timber base frame

Pad supporting timber frame on a log cabin

There is truly a myriad of systems out there to form a base for your log cabin, much of it is down simply to cost and then personal preference and of course convenience, more than likely I’ve confused you more but no matter which method you pick:

If you want to be able to install your log cabin easily and then have it last for year and years then the base must be to the following criteria;

  • Give consideration that the majority of the weight is being placed on the perimeter of the cabin.
  • Give consideration to the weight of the cabin, a 50mm base is not going to cut it for a a huge 70mm beast of a building.
  • It should be 100% level in every direction and this is THE most important factor
  • Ideally it should be square.
  • Ideally to just over the footprint size of the cabin.

Just one last thing for you to consider and a bit of advice, if you’re opting for a concrete or paving slab base think about adding a damp proof membrane either within it or on top of it, this will then stop any damp coming up and impacting on your log cabin during the winter months.

I hope this has helped, feel free to comment or contact me if i can help further especially with the timber frame bases as I really enjoy these and love seeing them used in tricky situations.  For advice on the slabs and concrete bases it might be better to ask a builder!

UPDATE: Here’s various diagrams I have since added to other posts that may also benefit the reader of this post:

Advice on using a Damp proof course in your base.

Advice on using a Damp proof course in your base.

The base configuration when using our profiled foundation beams.

The base configuration when using our profiled foundation beams.

Insulation in the floor

Insulation in the floor and foundation beams.

Fitting Felt Shingles for Log Cabins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felt shingle strip
Felt shingle strip

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

Overhang

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

Starter Tiles

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

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

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

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

Trimming

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

Subsequent Layers

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

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

Ridges

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

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

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

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

Wind

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

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

Final

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

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

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

New Videos added which helps to explain more visually.

Gazebo Installation Advice

I love our gazebos, I think you are hard pressed to find a comparable product for the money and in the materials that are offered. They are now in pressure treated, tanalised timber or the cracking Larch timber. This page shows our full range of gazebos.

Price of course is always a consideration when looking at products but I highly recommend you look at Larch, yes it’s more expensive but the benefits may just outway the extra outlay. I wrote an article a little while ago on larch timber, please see this page: European Larch Timber.

The gazebo I am featuring in this article is the Samos Larch Rectangular Gazebo.

This post is about my advice about the installation of Gazebos, please note it is ONLY my personal view, other people fitting these gazebos may have a better way of doing it.

Gazebo Plans

Plans are supplied with every Gazebo such as this, the picture links to the plans, as an example these are of the very popular Grande Gazebo. The Grande Gazebo is the pressure treated pine version of the one I’m featuring here.

Gazebo plans

Gazebo plans example of what it sent with your gazebo order.

Personally I have never had a problem with these plans, the same as I haven’t with our log cabins plans, this is from day one of my first ever install. But a few customers have had some problems and need a little extra help. I wrote a post on installation advice for log cabins.

This post will be similar for customers that need a different point of view and may need help with some questions while installing.

My perspective on the installation of a Gazebo

The plans are good, they show you exactly where the parts go. They then leave you to your own skills and interpretation according to your base, requirements and final finished product. The Gazebos are a full on building and need to be treated as such. It is impossible to give every possible instruction on how to install these, some common sense, DIY skill and understanding needs to be applied. That’s the bit I enjoy when installing all our buildings – The ability to change and adapt to what I require and what my customer wants.

So, with that said, lets deviate from the plans that come with the gazebo, this is my personal way of doing things and NOT the way I am instructed to do it by the plans (other than ensuring the correct parts are in the correct position) Here’s some information and tips from my experience. Of course you can follow the plans, follow my advice or devise your own method, this is a building and it’s up to you how you want to accomplish the install.

How does the Gazebo Arrive ?

The gazebo will arrive exactly like our log cabins, on a really big lorry with a really handy forklift attached to it. Please see this page for more details: Delivery of Large Tuin Buildings.

This is the pallet that will be delivered.

Gazebo pallet

Gazebo pallet, on top of this will be the final roof covering you have chosen be it felt or IKO roof shingles (sometimes we offer these FREE)

Please note a tanalised, pressure treated gazebo will be similar to the above.

Please note, Despite the hauliers best efforts to deliver the gazebos safely, Sometimes the odd roof board can suffer small damage, Luckily they do normally include spares

There is a difference though, the Larch gazebo pallet is packed slightly different and each layer is kept apart by slats to allow the wood to dry more and to be kept straight and separate from each other. This is not found in the pressure treated gazebo version and nor does it need to be.

Slats

Slats are present in every layer in the Larch Gazebo. They are stapled on and staples may need to be removed by means of a set of pliers, I find fine point nose pliers the best to remove them.

Removing the slats which separate the layers of timber in the larch gazebo.

Removing the slats which separate the layers of timber in the larch gazebo.

Unpacking the Gazebo.

Nope, it’s not labelled and why would it need to be? It’s very simple to see what are the roof boards and what is the structure simply by the size and shape of the timbers.  As I’m unpacking I will sort out the various parts as I come across them in the pallet. Please note sometimes the pallets can be wet if it has rained during loading or brief storing. We tend to keep the tanalised gazebos outside but protected with weed matting to act as shade to prevent discolouration. If you find your gazebo is wet as you unpack please do not let this be of concern as of course it is designed to be outside in all weathers for the next 20 years.

As I come across the roof boards in the pack I will put them in the sections of roof I’m expecting: for square roofs each side will be the same, for a rectangular roof I am expecting two triangle roofs and two extended triangles. It is far easier to do this as you unpack.

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Two sets of end roof boards laid on top of each other. For a square building you would of course have four sets. This is the end roof triangles of the Samos rectangular Larch Gazebo

Extended triangle paid out, two sets for both sides.

Extended triangle roof boards laid out, two sets for both sides in the case of a rectangular gazebo.

As well as laying out the roof boards in order I’m also identifying the other parts as I go, the posts and ring beam are very easy to spot.

Layout the ring beam as you go. Putting it into it's rough position.

Layout the ring beam as you go. Putting it into it’s rough final position.

It's easy to spot the posts. On a rectangular gazebo there will be two types. Four for the corners and two for the long edge

It’s easy to spot the posts. On a rectangular gazebo there will be two types. Four for the corners and two for the long edge

Roof rafters are easy to spot as well. Please note there will be some difference in sizes depending on their location in the roof.

Corner braces are easy to spot as well.

King pin blocks which are used where the rafters connect at the points. A rectangular pyramid roof will have two.

King pin blocks which are used where the rafters connect at the points. A rectangular pyramid roof will have two.

The corner rafters can be easily spotted by their length and also by the notch which will sit over the corner of the ring beam.

The corner rafters can be easily identified by their length and also by the birdsmouth notch which will sit over the corner of the ring beam. Note the rafters that form the sides are not notched.

The Gazebo fitting kit. It's pretty simple, the long nails are for the thickest bits of wood, shorter ones for the thinner and the very short ones will be used for the lateral bracing slats of which there are two in a rectangular roof gazebo. Nails are supplied for the roof boards. Felt tacks are for your final roof covering.

The Gazebo fitting kit. It’s pretty simple, the long nails are for the thickest bits of wood – the rafters. The medium ones for the ring beam, legs and corner supports and the very short ones will be used for the lateral bracing slats of which there are two in a rectangular roof gazebo. Nails are supplied for the roof boards. Felt tacks are for your final roof covering. I differ from the advice in the plans of number and placement of screws, you will see from the following pictures. For instance with the rafters I will only use one screw but use double screws elsewhere. It is of course up to you. You may also want to add additional fixings as you see fit.

Advice on fitting the Gazebo

From this point I only use the plans to check that I am using the right parts in the right place. I am not following the construction method or the particular location of screws, this is the way I have found it to be easiest over the years. With this method:

  • You only need two people to carry out the install.
  • It is easier to find the EXACT location of where post holders should be fitted while accounting for timber not being an exact product to work with.
  • It is safer, stronger and quicker.
  • No strain is placed on any joints, some plans will show building the gazebo on its side and then lifting into position, I have found this method very hard to do and can put strain on the joints.

Tools required for fitting the Gazebo

You only really need basic tools for fitting the gazebo. Two battery powered drills helps save time and clamps are essential really to make a good job, we use them a lot in fitting both gazebos and also log cabins. A very useful tool!

Tools include: Two Step Ladders, Two drills,

Tools include: Two Step Ladders, Two drills, hammers, pliers, long spirit level, marker pen, tape measure and the all important clamps. You will also need a saw for trimming roof boards.

Ring Beam of the Gazebo

I had already laid the main ring beam parts in the location that it will be installed in, now I will carefully check the measurements against the plans. Please note that with square roofs there will be two shorter parts and two longer parts so it can form a square.

Measure the beams carefully against the plans and check they are in the right position.

Measure the beams carefully against the plans and check they are in the right position.

Regardless of what I am installing I will always use pilot holes every time a screw is used. This is particularly important when working with Larch. ALWAYS pilot hole!

Always piot hole

Always pilot hole every location that a screw is going to be used, it creates a far tighter joint and generally stops a screw head being buried for a better finish and easier to take apart. It’s also a lot easier!

Screw the ring beam together, I use the medium size screws, two in each joint.

Screw the ring beam together, I use the medium size screws, two in each joint. For square roofs all of them will be joined. For the rectangular roof this is not possible until the center post is installed.

Using clamps we will temporarily fix the center joint together. Using a tape measure we check they are the same distance apart using the end beam as a reference. We then make sure the ring beam is 100% square. (If you are not sure how to square please see the relevant section our log cabin installation advice page).

Measuring and squaring the ring beam. The center joint is temporarily held with clamps.

Measuring and squaring the ring beam. The center joint is temporarily held with clamps.

Ensuring the ring beam is square and in the final install position.

Ensuring the ring beam is square and in the final install position. Note we are using a block in the middle to stop sag of the tape for a more accurate measurement.

Posts and Post Holders

With the ring beam of the gazebo square and in the final position of where it will be we can now mark exactly where the legs will be. This saves a lot of measuring and takes into account the fact that timber is not always millimeter perfect.

Putting the post in upside down in their finished location we can then mark around the post to get the exact position of the posts in relation to the ring beam.

Marking the location of the corner post.

Marking the location of the corner post.

In the case of rectangle gazebos you will also mark the location of the middle post.

In the case of rectangle gazebos you will also mark the location of the middle post.

With marks in place you can then exactly position your post holders.

Post holder location can be marked for exact location according to the position of the main ring beam

Post holder location can be marked for exact location according to the position of the main ring beam

 

Post holder location

Post holder location marked and can then be secured knowing it is 100% accurate.

We have several types of post anchors available for use in soft / hard ground. It is very important to secure the posts and the holders do help with this. Without securing the posts if they are knocked during its lifetime you could well have some problems.

Of course there are also other methods which you may wish to use or devise yourself. Like any of our buildings it is essential the gazebo is held square and 100% straight in both plains.

Post holders are handy if the area is not 100% level as we have with this install, we added packers inside the holder to get the post level as it was not possible in our install to break ground

We hid packers inside the post holders to help level the gazebo as breaking the ground was not possible.

We hide packers inside the post holders to help level the gazebo as breaking the ground was not possible.

Here’s another example of using the ring beam to locate the post holders accurately

Using the ring beam to find the exact location of the post holders when concreting them in.

Using the ring beam to find the exact location of the post holders when concreting them in.

If you don’t like the look of the post holders you can always box them in as was done here.

Boxing in the post holders to hide them.

Boxing in the post holders to hide them.

Using our clamps again we will fit two posts into the corner of one section of the ring beam.

Clamping the post into one end of the ring beam.

Clamping the post into one end of the ring beam.

Using the clamp to hold the post

Using the clamp to hold the post

Screws into the posts through the ring beam.

Screws into the posts through the ring beam. We’re still using the medium size screws.

Post screwed into position. I am using more screws than the plans may show for strength.

Post screwed into position. I am using more screws than the plans may show for strength.

Next we clamp the center post to hold it in position. It is easier at this point to take the second part of the ring beam apart again clamping and fitting each section as you go.

Center post which supports the join of the two parts making up the ring beam.

Center post which supports the joint of the two parts making up the ring beam in a rectangular gazebo.

Clamping and fitting each post as you go.

Clamping and fitting each post as you go.

Fixing the center post. i am still sing the medium size screws.

Fixing the center post. I am still using the medium size screws.

Post and ring beam sections using the clamp, pilot holes and finally screws.

Post and ring beam sections using the clamp, pilot holes and finally screws.

Clamps are VERY useful in the installation of a gazebo.

Clamps are VERY useful in the installation of a gazebo.

Gazebo Corner Braces

With the posts and ring beam fitted we can now add the corner support bracing. I deviate from the plans here as well. I prefer to set the bracing inside the ring beam. This is what it should look like, you will see as per the plans it is under the ring beam and against the post.

Corner brace on the underside of the ring beam.

Corner brace on the underside of the ring beam.

I will do it slightly different and set mine inside. I do this because:

  • I feel it makes for a stronger joint and more stable.
  • I can make minute adjustments easier to make sure the post is at a perfect right angle and 100% upright.
  • If there is any slight deviation in the cut angle I can allow for this and still have a lovely tight joint on the leg for aesthetic reasons.
  • It gives greater head room at the corners and less chance of bashing your head.

It is of course up to you and what you prefer when fitting the corner braces, this is only my personal preferred method.

Corner brace, my preferred method is to set them inside the ring beam.

Corner brace, my preferred method is to set them inside the ring beam.

Preparation always makes it quicker so consider pre-drilling the braces before installing them all together.

Pre-drilling the corner braces

Pre-drilling the corner braces, doing them all together helps to speed up the install process.

It's a good idea to brace the center section until the roof is being fitted and while you are fitting the corner braces.

It’s a good idea to brace the center section until the roof is being fitted and while you are fitting the corner braces as it keeps everything nice and straight.

Ring Beam and Post Complete on the Gazebo

You may see from the plans depending on your particular gazebo that they show it being built and then lifted on to the three posts. As I have shown my method is an alternative that you may wish to consider. I find it easier and you only need two people. It is of course up to you though how you think it is best to do. This method is of course also highly relevant for the flat roof gazebos.

With the ring beam, braces and posts fitted we can now move on to the roof install.

With the ring beam, braces and posts fitted we can now move on to the roof install.

Gazebo Roof Installation.

I’ve decided to do the roof install in a separate post as much of it is also very relevant to our log cabins so there will be combined advice.

Please see the Pyramid roof installation advice post.

Installation advice for pyramid roofs.

Installation advice for pyramid roofs.

The flat roof installation is a doddle once the main structure is up and doesn’t need any further explanation.

Flat roof modern gazebo installation is very straightforward.

Flat roof modern gazebo installation is very straightforward.

Pyramid Roof Installation Advice

This post follows on from the Gazebo Installation Advice post. It will feature mainly pictures of the gazebo roof but the method is highly relevant with pyramid roof installation advice.

Storage of the roof parts

Wood is a bugger and you really need to think about this when you are unpacking. The roof is always the last part to be installed and while you are mucking about with the walls of your log cabin or the posts of the gazebo the roof parts will be lying around doing all sorts of things behind your back. We failed to follow our own advice during the install and had a bit of a problem.

Rafters were perfect when we unpacked.

Rafters were perfect when we unpacked!

When we unpacked the pallet everything was perfect. Come the afternoon when it was time to install the roof we found the rafters had bowed all out of shape. If we had stored them flat, out of the sun etc they would have remained straight. One was a cracking banana shape!

If you find the same thing don’t panic. You have two options when faced with this:

  • Call us and shout down the phone that it’s really bad and all our fault demanding replacements whilst holding up your install for several days. Or ……
  • Carry on using it knowing that you were a bit daft not to keep them safe. You will of course be able to sort this out and is not a problem at all. You don’t need to demand replacements at all, it’s easily resolved.

Please note that this does happen with wood, it cannot be helped when it is unsupported. This will happen in a matter of half an hour so please watch out for it and follow our advice like we didn’t!

We left them all leaning against another building so as the day wore on we had some bends and warps to contend with. Always lay parts flat, supported and shaded from the sun. If these are being left for over a few hours you can consider adding weights to the top to keep everything flat.

We left them all leaning against another building so as the day wore on we had some bends and warps to contend with. Always lay parts flat, supported and shaded from the sun. If these are being left for over a few hours you can consider adding weights to the top to keep everything flat.

This could have been avoided with the correct storage.

This could have been avoided with the correct storage.

Here’s an example from a log cabin roof, these could still be used with some adjustment as I’ll show later in this post, or, look after them properly so it doesn’t happen at all.

Bowed rafter for a log cabin roof. If looked after properly after removal from the pack this will not happen.

Bowed rafter for a log cabin roof. If looked after properly after removal from the pack this will not happen.

These could be used within the build, replacements are not necessary if you know what you are doing.

These could be used within the build, replacements are not necessary if you know what you are doing.

Base and support

It’s always important to have a 100% level base and to make sure the building is 100%. With normal apex roofs you can get away with it a little if it’s not but with a pyramid roof it is REALLY important. If you are not 100% level and square you will pay for it when installing the roof so please check this. Please see this page for more advice on bases.

Pyramid Roof Installation

Other people will do it differently but this is the way I prefer to make a pyramid roof. The secret with a roof like this is:

  • 100% square and level.
  • Be methodical and have a system.
  • Preparation – batch piloting holes
  • Don’t worry about it. Sometimes things don’t look right but it will all come together, you can spend a lot of time worrying about it.
  • Realise that wood is wood, it cannot be precise by it’s nature but it can be worked with.
  • Keep an eye on your safety as you will be working from stepladders. You may also want to consider using a scaffold tower.
  • Make sure you identify all the parts correctly using a tape measure and the plans.

Before you start it’s a good idea to run a tape measure over the various parts and compare the parts to the plans. Some log cabins, mainly when there is a dividing wall or a gazebo to the side, will have a few subtle different sizes of rafters, identify all the parts first and be sure of their positioning from the plans.

King pin and corner rafters

In this example the rectangular gazebo has a king pin that joins the end rafters to the ridge. ALWAYS use pilot holes before screwing. It’s a good idea to pilot everything that will be screwed into the top of the roof first as a batch. DO NOT pilot the bottom ones yet.

Always use pilot holes before using screws.

Always use pilot holes before using screws.

Preparation is key to this, I also like to find the center point of the ridge beam, if it’s a longer roof there maybe more marking needed, it’s easier to do it on the ground rather than a head of a ladder.

Find and mark the ridge beam according to how many rafters that will be against it.

Find and mark the ridge beam according to how many rafters that will be against it.

In this gazebo my center rafter will be here.

In this gazebo my center rafter will be here.

For bigger roofs you can also mark the ridge beam for the exact positioning of the side rafters.

For bigger roofs you can also mark the ridge beam for the exact positioning of the side rafters.

Fix the corner rafters to the king pin if applicable to your build. Some will be larger than others but the principle is the same when a pin is supplied.

Screwing the corner rafters together.

Screwing the corner rafters together. he rafters will normally sit to the top of the pin. If there is a chamfer on the pin it can go either way but looks nice facing down.

Use a prop of whatever material you like to get the rough roof height, this helps greatly in your build. I tend to tack the corners of the rafters into the ring beam until I am certain they are in the correct position.

Corner rafters lightly fixed with the kingpin being supported with a prop.

Corner rafters lightly fixed with the kingpin being supported with a prop.

Another example of using a prop. A customers ingenuity with his step ladder.

Another example of using a prop. A customers ingenuity with his step ladder and a fishing rod?

Another example of a prop being used, it really does help your install.

Another example of a prop being used, it really does help your install and in bigger roofs such as this it keeps things level.

Now go to the other end of the building and again using a prop fit the corner rafters.

The opposite end of the gazebo fitting the second set of corner rafters. Again we are using a prop.

The opposite end of the gazebo and fitting the second set of corner rafters. Again we are using a prop lightly screwed into the side of the pin.

Both sets completed and stable.

Both sets completed and stable. note the bracing we are using across the middle to make sure we keep everything inline.

Fix the ridge beam which you will have piloted beforehand.

Fix the ridge beam to the king pin which you will have piloted beforehand.

Props removed

Props removed and all four corners in place the ridge beam fixed.

Don’t worry at this point that it isn’t level or straight. If the measurements of the parts were correct according to the plan and you are sure you have used the correct parts then this will come good when you add the remaining rafters, at this point you can spend a lot of time worrying, please don’t.

Log cabin corner rafters in place. It can often look wrong and not level but don't worry about this at the moment.

Log cabin corner rafters in place. It can often look wrong and not level but don’t worry about this at the moment.

Wood and roofs can play tricks with you!

You’ll notice that we’re using the wonky banana parts we accidentally made at the beginning by not following our own advice. We’re still not worried about them either as it will all work out – we had considered calling ourselves to make a complaint and ask for replacements but decided we wouldn’t get too far!

Pyramid Roof Side Rafters

Now you can start to add the side rafters into the king pin if applicable. I only fix the top ones first, don’t fix them to the walls or ring beam yet. You may want to check the fixings in the corner rafters at this point and fully send the screw home as we know they were in the right position as the ridge beam was reached and has been fixed.

Fix the corner rafter as we are happy with its position

Fixing the corner rafters as we are happy with its position, it’s roughly level and has been spanned without a problem. Note, regarding the gazebo we are installing here we are using the longest screws through the rafter into the ring beam. For log cabins I also recommend screwing all rafters into the ring beam. It is strictly not necessary but I prefer to do it for extra strength.

Log cabins will have notches created by the ring beam of the cabin and there is only one way to locate it. Technically you don’t need to screw through the rafter into the ring beam but I ALWAYS do this, weighing just short of 16 stone I like to make sure the roof is as strong as possible when I get on it to shingle.

Log cabins will have notches in the main ring beam so location is easier. You don't have to but I recommend you source some longer screws and fix all the rafters into the top log.

Log cabins will have notches in the main ring beam so location is easier. You don’t have to but I recommend you source some longer screws and fix all the rafters into the top log.

The side rafters screw to the king pin, level with the top of it.

The side rafters screw to the king pin, level with the top of it. Don’t let the fact that the ridge beam is slightly higher, it will all work.

Fitting the side rafters into the kingpin

Fitting the side rafters into the kingpin

The following side rafters can now be added. We have already marked the location of them on the ridge beam so we don't have to try measuring from the ladder.

The following side rafters can now be added. We have already marked the location of them on the ridge beam so we don’t have to try measuring from the ladder. When rafters go to the ridge beam they will be flush with the top of the beam.

Fixing the lower edge rafters

We now start to make a few adjustments and there is a little bit of mucking about at this point, it’s best to be methodical and work with the building getting the ridge straight. It can take some adjustment, it may also be necessary to release the corner rafters again to get everything perfect. Take a slow and steady, thoughtful approach to this.

Remember these pictures are of a gazebo, a log cabin generally has notches in the main ring beam for locating the rafters. Some pushing and pulling maybe necessary to locate them. See my advice above regarding screwing the rafters into the top log.

Back to the gazebo install:- As we are confident the corner rafters are well positioned we measure the overhang either side of the center rafter taking our cue from the corner rafter overhang.

Measure the center rafter. We want them to be the same either side.

Measure the center rafter. We want them to be the same either side.

Also check that nothing has gone wrong with the top wall or ring beam, a quick eye to check it is still straight. Bracing normally keeps things nice and straight. Log cabins will be easier as you will have numerous logs keeping it straight but please still check for straightness.

Check by eye that the ring beam or top wall is nice and straight before fixing the lower rafters.

Check by eye that the ring beam or top wall is nice and straight before fixing the lower rafters.

Methodically work around the rafters getting the alignment just right or as near as damn it. Remember our banana rafters will be throwing things out slightly. If you need to push a rafter in slightly the clamp is very handy.

We're using the clamp to put some pressure on the refter to push it in further. There was a slight bow in the ridge beam so with a little push we can take the bow out.

We’re using the clamp to put some pressure on a rafter to push it in further. There was a slight bow in the ridge beam so with a little push we can take the bow out. Don’t forget to use pilot holes before screwing!

Sometimes it goes really smoothly, other times it can take some playing with. Please expect this as part of the building process with any pyramid roof on a log cabin or gazebo.

This particular gazebo has some additional bracing.

Additional bracing being fitted in the rectangular gazebo. Of the three size of screws we had in the fitting kit we're using the smallest ones.

Additional bracing being fitted in the rectangular gazebo. Of the three size of screws we had in the fitting kit we’re using the smallest ones here.

With that, the roof structure is complete, time to put on the roof boards.

Roof structure completed ready to accept the roof boards.

Roof structure completed ready to accept the roof boards.

Ready for the roof boards.

A log cabin roof complete and ready for the roof boards.

Roof boards and Banana Rafters

We’ve still got a problem with the bowed wood we created. We did decide to ring the office and make a serious complaint, we even demanded someone comes and rectifies it for us.  Unfortunately we were met with laughter by the sales team so we’ll crack on.

Does this look like a real problem though to you, some fitters may worry over this?

This is the worst bowed rafter on one corner.

This is the worst bowed rafter on one corner. It’s a cracking example of a problem you can encounter with timber which can be easily overcome.

We don’t want to start with this yet until we have the building stabilised, pushing on this to straighten it without strength elsewhere would not work so we’ll come back to worrying about this a little later.

We’ve already sorted out our roofs into the triangle sections, this makes it so much easier and quicker and you can easily see how they are going to go together without confusion. Please note with the gazebos you will also have spare straight end cut boards should you need them, don’t let them confuse you and put them to one side in case you need a spare due to a split or knot you don’t like.

Roof section already laid out. This is the two ends of a rectangular pyramid roof

Roof section already laid out. This is the two shorter ends of a rectangular pyramid roof.

Extended triangle laid out, two sets for both sides.

Extended triangle laid out, two sets for both of the longest sides. Note due to the length the lower edge of the roof is made up of two pieces of board. For log cabins you may have a center roof section instead with two outer triangles. Regardless it helps the install to lay out the roof section so you can see it before you install it.

We had some discussions on the best way to do the roof boards and the best way to advise you. Both Wayne and I differed on how we did it and you may have a different idea as well, there really is no right or wrong way of doing this.

I like to test a triangle section first so I will tack the first board and then lay in all the others. Tacking every few boards. This then tells me if the triangle is going to fit and whether I need to cut any boards, as I’ve only tacked it I can remove the boards and adjust easily.

To minimise trimming I can raise or lower the triangle and perhaps only trim the leading edge board at the bottom. Once I’m sure it will work I then fix fully and use this as a template for the rest of the boards.

This isn’t the way we have done it on this building example though. The is Wayne’s (Tuin UK Service Manager) method and seems to work very well, he’s fitted a few more buildings than me so I’m bowing to his experience on this one. You may well have a better method.

Regardless though expect to have to trim roof boards for a perfect fit! Wood is wood and we are only human, it is very rare that you will get the perfect situation intended by the factories design computer for a perfect fit without adjustment, a few millimeters out here and there will affect the fit of the boards, it’s impossible to get the roof structure 100% perfect. If you have to trim a few you have made a near perfect roof. If you have to trim a lot you are quite a bit out somewhere but as long as it looks good at the end it is all that matters

Tacking a roof board, all around on the first layer flush with the bottom of the rafter.

Tacking a roof board, all around on the first layer flush with the bottom of the rafter.

Tack your first roof board and carry on around the whole building first, this will tell you the alignment is correct, it should be sitting roughly to the center of the rafter. Don’t worry if they don’t meet together perfectly, if you’re happy with the alignment then nail home fully.

One roof board all the way around on the leading edge flush with the bottom of the rafter.

One roof board all the way around on the leading edge flush with the bottom of the rafter.

After again assessing the building and our self created bananas we decide to start at the place that is the best, this is the furthest away from the really bad bow. There’s other smaller ones  we created by our dodgy storage the we want to remove as well. Using a plank and our trusty clamps we remove the bows as we go around the building.

using clamps we can brace of other rafters and push or pull bows out.

Using clamps we can brace off other rafters and push or pull the bows out as we fit the roof boards.

We then add five more boards and fix them with the nails provided. Don't be tempted to use a nail gun.

We then add five more boards and fix them with the nails provided. Don’t be tempted to use a nail gun.

Don’t be tempted to use a nail gun when you’re doing the roof, please use the nails we provide. Two nails in each board across every rafter. Note the gazebo roof boards are flat edged, all the log cabin roof boards are interlocking Tongue and Groove.

Steadily work around the building, if you have to you can remove slight bows as we are doing with a clamp and plank.

Steadily work around the building, if you have to you can remove slight bows as we are doing with a clamp and plank.

We now come to the worst bowed rafter we looked at earlier. As we have now boarded all the other sections of roof we have stabilised the building more and given it a lot more strength to brace against taking the bow out is now no problem at all.

Badly bowed rafter

Badly bowed rafter which will not look very nice from inside. This is easily removed as below.

A little bracing is all that is needed to bend the bow out.

A little bracing is all that is needed to bend the bow out when the roof boards are nailed on. This bow will be removed and will disappear, adhering to the shape we’ve asked it to maintain.

With the roof boards nailed on the clamp can be removed and what looked like a huge problem has magically gone

With the roof boards nailed on the clamp can be removed and what looked like a huge problem has magically gone

What bowed rafters? There’s no bananas here!

This is what I love about wood. By working with it and thinking about it most things can be overcome. Wood is very flexible and can be moved, pushed and cajoled into working with us.

We can carry on laying the rest of the boards on this gazebo, do not worry if it’s not particularly neat where it joins. As long as you can nail it on the rafter it is fine as all will be covered by the roof covering.

Don't worry too much about the join at the corners or other rafters, all this will be covered.

Don’t worry too much about the join at the corners or other rafters, all this will be covered.

When you come to the small triangle pieces at the top of the roof it’s a good idea to pilot hole them or you will break them guaranteed.

Always pilot hole the small pieces at the top of the roof to stop them splitting.

Always pilot hole the small pieces at the top of the roof to stop them splitting.

As I said there is always adjustment and cutting to do with any roof and this was where we needed to trim on this particular roof.

The last two final boards needed trimming

The last two final boards needed trimming to fit. As expected and normally you would have to do more. Not bad considering we had big bows as well.

Completed Roof and Notes

With the roof structures and boards on the final roof covering can now be added. You have the choice of Roofing Felt or Roof Felt Shingles. The latter looks for nicer and lasts forever. If you are fitting roof shingles please see the advice and videos on the shingle page linked to a couple of lines above.

For flat roofs you have a choice of either EPDM or Easy Roof Membrane. You could also use the ERM on apex roofs as an alternative to felt.

Gazebo roof structure complete ready for the final roof covering.

Gazebo roof structure complete ready for the final roof covering.

Roof structure and roof boards complete on a log cabin ready for the final roof covering to be applied.

Roof structure and roof boards complete on a log cabin ready for the final roof covering to be applied.

Notes.

The square, pyramid roof construction of a log cabin is pretty much the same as the rectangular roof described above. For the square roof gazebos it is a little different and uses a truss system making it easy to do and a lot less complicated. This looks good in a gazebo but I wouldn’t want this system in a log cabin.

Square roof truss system used in making a roof on a square gazebo.

Square gazebo roof construction using truss type beams.

Square gazebo roof construction using truss type beams.

Some buildings will have additional corner rafters as the above and below pictures show (the ones in the corner). I will fit these after I have put on some of the roof boards as you can then push it up into the roof boards for a perfect fit. For a log cabin you will need to put them in the notch before the roof boards go on.

Corder bracing coming from the corner rafters could be fitted after a few roof boards have been put on, you can then push the rafter up to them for a 100% perfect fit.

Corner bracing coming from the corner rafters could be fitted after a few roof boards have been put on, you can then push the rafter up to them for a 100% perfect fit.

There are different ways of doing things, you could also start from the top of the roof as this install was done, there really is no right or wrong method and all fitters will chose their own. This page is only my advice and you may have a better idea to accomplish your install quickly and easily.

You could also start from the top of the roof. There is no real right or wrong way of doing it, just personal preferences and what works for you and what you feel comfortable with.

You could also start from the top of the roof. There is no real right or wrong way of doing it, just personal preferences and what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. Note the smaller kingpin in this roof.

I have come across one or two buildings where the roof boards are not pre-angled. I actually prefer this as you simply nail them in, mark with a chalk line and cut down the line, to a certain extent it saves a lot of mucking about getting the perfect fit.

I prefer roof boards like this, they can just be nailed on and cut down to get a perfect joint on site.

I prefer roof boards like this, they can just be nailed on and cut down to get a perfect joint on site.

Finally please only use nails in your roof boards, a great deal of the overall strength of any building comes from the roof. Two nails in every board across every rafter. And please, NEVER use staples in the roof like this customer did.

Staples sued in the roof construction made a VERY weak building and it didn't fare will in a huge storm!

Staples used in the roof construction made a VERY weak building and it didn’t fare will in a huge storm with the roof boards lifting in places.

Log Cabin Carpenters or Builders

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!

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

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

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

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

Log Cabin Base

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unsuitable blocking of a timber frame base

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Untreated timber being used as shims will very quickly rot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Log Cabin Walls

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

Gap appearing in a log cabin wall

Gap appearing in a log cabin wall

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

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

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

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

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

Log Cabin Roof Shingles

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

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

Every tile, unfortunately, is installed upside down.

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

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

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

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

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

Upside Down Log Cabin

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

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

 Botching a Log Cabin

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

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

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

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

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

He later admitted he was not prepared for it.

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

This is the finished building:

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Berggren log cabin carport and garage.

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

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

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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.