Ongoing Log Cabin Maintenance

Hello and welcome to what we hope will be a useful guide towards the ongoing maintenance of your log cabin,.. yes it may come as a surprise to some but just like a lot things in this world, log cabins do need to be given some attention every now and then to ensure they operate as intended.

As much as we would love to provide you with a completley self contained product that requires zero maintenance it simply isn’t possible with this sort of building.

Please expect to have to perform the odd bit of aftercare.

Firstly lets just have a brief recap on how our log cabins are made so we can all get in the right frame of mind, by now you may have already installed your log cabin which means you will of already read our comprehensive online Installation manual, Or perhaps you’re still in the planning phase.. Either way we would suggest viewing the above to gain more clarity and perspective on the whole project.

Before I started working here, When I thought about “log cabins” I would immediately cast my mind to the wooden buildings seen in films made from round tree logs sitting in a snowy forest somewhere nice and peaceful.

Snowy Log Cabin

Yes Please

Who wouldn’t want to buy one of these right!.. although you may need to make some life adjustments or sell a kidney to stump up the funds for this sort of project.

Our Log cabins are made a little differently and we like to think more financially and garden friedly, they consist of flat solid wall logs in a range of different thicknesses, stacked ontop of one another which then interlock in the corners with Wind and Weather Proof Connections.

TUIN Log Thicknesses

28mm – 70mm Log cabin logs

These wall logs will in most cases rest on what we call Foundation Beams to bring them up and off your base, These foundation beams as a minimum will be pressure treated for longevity.

Standard foundation beam being used in a build

Basic Foundation Beams

Our basic foundation beams being used, protecting the first layer of wall logs

After the walls are up you then turn your attention to the roof, These come in different styles and sizes of course but the principle around them is the same. You start with the purlins/rafters then the roof boards are fitted ontop to create the solid wooden surface to fix your roof covering to.

Lauren log Cabin being built

The roof being assembled on our Lauren 70mm Log cabin

Then low and behold!.. you have yourself a whole new building ready to be used for whatever you can imagine. looking for Inspiration?

Completed Lauren log cabin

A completed Lauren Log cabin

Easy Right… for some more information about fitting out buildings please also visit our Fitting Tips page.

So there we have it, thats the building up and ready to use but how do you keep it looking and performing as it should and what other considerations should you be thinking about to keep it a fully functional, problem free living space.

Perhaps the best way to go through some of the key points will be to break the cabin down into six areas .

  • The Base for the cabin
  • The Foundation beams
  • The Walls of the cabin
  • The Doors and windows
  • The Roof
  • Additional hardware and extras

Bases

The base is the first thing that gets laid and is critical for both the longevity of your building and its actual construction, i’m not here to talk about what base you should or shouldn’t use as all these details can be found with in our Base Support page already and in reality theres very little you should ever need to do to maintain it which is lucky as it becomes very inaccessible with a lump of a log cabin sitting on top.

However something to look out for would be subsidence, Let’s say you have a concrete slab, or a compact base with slabs ontop.. with the weight of the cabin ontop has it sunk it some places?.. hopefully not but its worth keeping that in mind to check if you find yourself with a misbehaving building.

Or perhaps you have built the cabin ontop of a raised Timber Platform and under the weight of the building one or more of the corners have sunk throwing out the top level like this unlucky customers did.

A sinking timber base

See the gap?.. Customers timber base had sunk in the middle

Luckily for this customer the timber base was fairly accessible from underneath so he was able to add additional support to bring it back level

Another important aspect of a base is damp proofing, using a Damp Proof Course ( DPC for short ) or a Damp Proof Membrane ( DPM ).

A DPC is generally used underneath your foundation beams, its purpose is to protect the underside of your foundations from rising moisture seeping up through your base as well as providing protection against ingress from the outside.

There are other ways to achieve the same level of protection, My favorite is to use a TAR product, painted on both the underside of the foundation beams and ontop of the base that they sit on.. applying this thickly will also service in sealing the perimeter helping prevent ingress.

A DPM is used underneath the concrete slab or ontop of it, This will again protect the underside of the cabin/floor from moisture that tries to rise up from and through your base into the building.

Advice on using a Damp proof course in your base.

Advice on damp proofing

Ideas for Damp proofing

Preventing this moisture from rising up within the building is very important, it can cause unwanted growth with in the building as well as other Unwanted Issues.

garden-furniture-mold

Mold with in a cabin

Nasty right!

Ventilation does play a big part in preventing this as well which we will cover in a moment but if you notice that a once dry and mold free cabin starts to experience these types of problems then a review of your damp proofing may just be in order.

Foundation Beams

Now these are also very important and often in truth the cause of great confusion at first with our more traditional shed building customers.

So just qucikly, Unlike a shed where you would expect to see a row of bearers all running the same direction with a floor built directly ontop..

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

Typical shed base

A typical shed with bearers running the same way

The Foundation Beams servce a different purpose for this type of building. they only span under the perimeter of the cabin (as well as any internal walls that might be featured).. What they DO NOT do is span in the middle where the floor goes later on.

Their purpose is to raise the first logs off and away from the base which in turn protects them and provides added room in the middle for a floating floor

We have different types of foundation beams to offer but they all serve the same purpose and will generally sit ontop of your base with a DPC in between. This will generally be enough to keep unwanted ingress from entering your cabin but where two foundations beams butt join together you should think about enhancing these connections with a decent sealant/sealer.

Walls Of the cabin

Treatment

Well here we go, We are starting to get into this now as once the walls are up you can finally start to get a good feel for your log cabin, as we mentioned before the walls are made from individual logs stacked ontop of one another to from a very solid wall, They interlock in the corners with fancy Wind and Weather Proof Connections which go along way to ensure that your cabin remains water tight… But as we also explain this isn’t where the story ends and you cannot just leave the logs as as they are and expect the building to be watertight which leads us swiftly onto a very important part of maintaining your log cabin which is TREATMENT

So let’s start by asking a question.. What is Wood?

Wood is basically a Sponge and this is how you must treat each individual part of your cabin, if you zoom right into the endgrain you will see that it’s made from straws all joined together which was once used to draw water and nutrients to the parts of the poor tree that once needed it.

Wood is a sponge and is made up of straws all drawing water for the tree.

Close up of timber

Wood is a sponge and is made up of straws all drawing water for the tree

You can easily see from these pictures that when we look closely, wood is full of holes and it’s these little buggers that will be causing a problem as they all fill with water or, drain of water as seeing as we killed the poor thing there is no tension of water to rely on.

For an untreated piece of wood especially this is happening constantly, it’s trying to reach the same moisture content as the surrounding air. This is known a Relative Humidity and is a measurement of the amount of moisture in the air around us.

In the summer the wood will expel moisture and shrink, In the winter they will absorb moisture and swell which will loosen and tighten the joints where the logs interlock.

Prevention

A lot of customers will fairly just assume that “treatment” is only applied to safeguard the wood, stop it from rotting ect but in truth this is just one of its benefits. Treatment is also there to try and limit this natural movement as much as possible , We want to limit the amount those sponges can absorb and expel moisture by clogging up the straws contained with in.. we do this by reaching the recommended depth of microns.

A decent treatment should provide the following benefits

  • Protect the surface from weathering (including UV damage)
  • Seal wood on wood joints with in the cabins construction
  • Reach the required micon depth ( 80-120 microns ) which helps limit natural movement
  • Provide the desired finish for appearance

More information on Timber Treatment specifically can be found within the other support articles we offer

I hope the above all makes sense as it then leads on to the ongoing maintenance of your cabins walls. They must be treated and they must be treated well, please do not expect to only have to treat your building once throughout its life time and Please Please Please use a decent treatment in the first place.. To many times have we had angry customers over the phone shouting, screaming at how dreadful it all is and how disappointed they have become….to only find that they hadn’t applied enough coats, hadn’t kept up with the re-treatments or instead used a lets say “less expensive” brand in the first place.

We recommend our own Tuin Treatments or specific ones found locally such as Sikkens, Sadolins and Kingfisher which we know work well at achieving the desired depth of penetration.

You will not cut the movement out entirely which is fine because the building is designed to handle a certain amount without any fuss.

So as the logs of the cabin move ( which they will ) you may then need to re-treat certain areas of your walls, Paying particular attention to the end grain and interlocking notches where they join another wall, these are the most vulnerable parts. You will also need to make note and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in terms of reapplying dates.

Overgrowth around the cabin.

This part is mainly aimed towards landscaping and storage rather than the cabin itself.

I’ll start by repeating one of our bold statements that we confidently make about the properties of timber, .. Wood will never Rot … we promise… Well, we also go onto say that so long as it is always ventilated, . so if it gets wet and is then allowed to dry it will be fine.

but what if it can’t dry?, What if air can never reach some parts of your cabin due to overgrowth, shrubbery, stacked rocks, Muck ect…

What if you decide to store things right up against the side of the cabins wall such as logs for a burner and leave them there for a few years while they season..

All of a sudden the wood will not be able to breath, vent and dry, Water could then sit there all winter which will eventually cause you all sorts of grief

Please be mindful of your walls, Make sure they are free from direct contact with anything which could cause a water trap, keep ontop of your gardening in those hard to reach areas as if you allow overgrowth to take over it can really ruin your day… you may even decide to call us.. complaining about the timber quality in the first place… “sorry but its wood” we will tell you.. “it only rots if its not allowed to vent” we will try and explain… you won’t like that.

Daisy log cabin

A Daisy log cabin free on all sides allowing decent circulation

Movement In log cabins

As we know by now the walls of the cabin move as the logs Expand and Contract throughout the seasons, the design allows for that just fine.

But what if you want to fix something to the wall like a mounted TV bracket or some shelving to store those garden tools.. I always tell people they can do whatever they like to these types of buildings so long as they follow the golden rule which is.. “You must always allow for vertical movement with in the logs” further explained with in our Dealing with Expansion and Contraction page

Another consideration for some, if your cabin happens to feature vertical posts that supports a canopy or large overhang you will need to periodically check that the adjustable post anchor that we supplied is set at the right height to match the rest of the cabin.

So let’s say you happen to own a building like our Kennet log Cabin

Kennet Log cabin

Our 28mm Kennet Log cabin

Remembering that the wall logs expand and contract, that front post will need to be adjusted from time to time as the seasons change becuase it will not move to the same extent, This is achieved by simply adjusting the nut that sits beneath the smaller plate on the anchor.

Post anchor being adjusted

Post support being adjusted

Doors and windows

I think the best way to approach this section will be to start by gently reminding you that just like the walls, The doors and windows are predominantly made from wood, you remember all of those straws?.. Sponges.. yup this wood is no different

Sure,..the doors and windows tend to be made from timbers which are laminated together which does improve their strength and reduces the possibility of movement but its still wood and it still has those straws.

Treatment

The correct treatment of the wall logs is very important.. but I would personally say that the correct treatment of the doors and windows is even more so and here’s why

Unlike the logs, The doors and windows do not have the same luxury of being fully and always supported.. The wall logs are locked in place and would do well to move in any unexpected sense.. but the same cannot be said for the swinging doors and windows… they are only connected to the cabin via hinges which means if the level of treatment isn’t correct or sufficient you may eventually encounter unwanted warps or twists to occur making them much harder to operate.

When first delivered the doors and windows normally arrive deep with in the pallet, This is on purpose as it provides needed support and compression while in an untreated state to prevent warps and twists… but at the very least the pallets are always banded tightly.

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

How our doors and windows come packed

Doors packaged with in the log cabin package to provide compression, preventing movement

You then unpack the doors and windows, Please store them flat and again under compression until ready for installation and treatment. While in situ you need to be very attentive with your treatment and often customers will not give them the attention they sorely require. Treatment should be applied both sides evenly and heavily.. To many times we have had customers upset becuase their doors have warped and to find out after that they didn’t treat it fully or correctly..

An extremely warped door.

A twisted/bowed door

A very twisted door, Do we think this was stored correctly prior to installation?

Hardware

Luckily, even the most twisted door can be corrected with the simple application of a Turn Button or Key,.. you would of already seen these in action in gardens throughout your life time i’m sure as we explain within our other Support Page so don’t panic too much but like most things prevention is better than a cure.

Please keep ontop of your door and window treatment.

Let’s move onto those hinges that we mentioned earlier, The doors and windows will come with their own style of hinges so you can operate and use them.. A lot of the time they are cup hinges that look similar to this

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

Hinges commonly found on our buildings

Typical Cup Hinges

Now remembering what we discussed before, while treatment will limit the amount those pesky straws can absorb and expel moisture.. it will not cut it out entirely. You will at some point need to adjust the hinges of your doors and windows so please expect to do so, We go into more detail about this with in our other Support Page

A lot of the windows we send are top hung which operate from the inside via a simple Window Stay, we have all seen them and they do the job nicely

Its always easier to pre-treat the windows and doors before they are fitted so you can be sure of full coverage but sometimes this isn’t always possible. or perhaps it’s just time to recoat them following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Top Hung Window

Common type of top hung window on our Emma Log cabin

If you find yourself having to unhang this type of window from the cabin please be aware of an important Safety point before you proceed. The hinges are only designed to keep the window in place with in the constraints of the supplied window stay which means if you lift it up further, the hanging part which contains the glass could slide off. Be ready to take the weight and seek help from another if needed.

Window Stay Limitations

Be careful when lifting the window beyond the stay limitations

While on the subject of door/window furniture, let’s also talk briefly about the actual locking parts, The cylinder, mechanism, latches ect

These are pretty much self contained but some considerations should be made such as occasionally adding some lubricant with in the metal workings so everything operates as it should.. you don’t want the metal parts seizing up.. also consider oiling the exposed elements to keep rust and corrosion at bay.

Also think about fitting a traditional hook and eye’s for your doors so that during use you can keep them securely open, what we don’t want is the wind catching your new doors and smashing them against the walls… thats how things break which nobody wants.

Hook and Eyes

Hook and Eyes being used on our Chloe log cabin

Glass

That’s about it for the actual hardware, but what about the glass that lets in that sought after natural lighting.. what do we possibly need to consider in terms of maintenance.

The panes of glass are dry fitted into a rebate contained with in the door or window, this is all done prior to delivery as it’s much safer to transport while in place.

The panes of glass can always be accessed if ever needed, they’re only held in by wooden beading which can be Removed With ease as we show with in our Glass Support Article

How the glass is held in place

Glass held in place with removable wooden beading

There’s a few things that we need to think about and one of them which is often not really considered is the seal between the glass and that wooden beading.. is it sufficient?

Going back to treatment by this point you will have fully treated both sides of your window or door right up to the glass.. This alone will typically be enough to prevent water from encroaching between the two surfaces and finding a way into the cabin.

You may also ask yourself, Surely they will come pre-sealed in some way right.. why wouldn’t they be…..?!

Well actually no, they do not. The glass is just dry fitted inside the rebate of frame… thats not becuase we couldn’t be bothered or we’re just trying to save a few pennies on some silicone here in the office to keep the accountants off our backs. It is dry fitted for good reasons!

Firstly, While the packing team do their best to pack the pallets in the safest way possible, we are talking about several tons of a log cabin being moved around and transported over huge distances by several hauliers so things can happen and your glass could arrive damaged ( rare but possible ) .. its glass.. it can break!

For those of you that have used silicone before you will know that it can act abit like glue at times.. so in the unlikely event that you receive your cabin and some of the glass is broken its then an absolute nightmare and down right dangerous to go around and dislodge the broken shards from the inner frame and in the past when units were delivered pre-sealed we received right ear falls from angry customers and rightly so.

Hopefully you agree and can see why we do not send them out pre-sealed, So once you have treated the frames in full and you then go on to notice ingress, all you need to do is either run some sealant along where the glass meets the exterior beading… or if you want you can remove the beading and silicone where the glass directly fits into the inner rebate instead.

Refitting the glass is the reverse of taking it out. If you wished to you could add a bead of silicone sealant although this is not necessary.

Sealant being used

Silicone being added with in the rebate

Movement in log cabins

Moving on slightly, Let’s think about how the frames actually fit into the walls of the cabin for a moment

Back to Movement again ( sorry ) The door and window frames are made with dry, fixing free U-channels which slot over the wall logs which means they will not constrict anything as it moves.

The U-channels are formed by what we call fascia boards… some call them architraves.. they’re basically just planks of wood screwed to the frame to create the U shape. These cover up the all important expansion and contraction gaps which are left above and to the sides of the frames ( please do not in-fill these gaps with anything )

Log cabin doors and window installation

Fascia boards fixed to the perimeter of the frame to create a U-Channel

 

So a few things we need to consider in terms of ongoing maintenance,

Have the inner sides of the fascias been treated correctly, fully? ..Well they should be as they also play a good part of sealing the outer perimeter of the frames.

Have you accidently sent fixings through these fascias which then also penetrate the moving wall logs underneath?.. if so please remove them as you will be preventing those logs from moving with the rest and you will most likely end up with gaps in between those logs.

Or, Perhaps you have noticed gaps around the door frame but are pretty adamant that there are no fouling fixings.. Try loosening the fascias and then re-tightening them.. if that doesn’t work then send us some pictures so we can have a look with you.

Maybe you have treated the underside of these fascias but you have noticed some signs of ingress? In this situation we may just need to enhance the seal between the two wooden surfaces.. Removing the fascias and adding silicone or draft excluders will normally cut that right out .. Just let us know and we are happy to send you some FOC.

Log cabin Extras

We can provide an array of Log Cabin Extras to complement your log cabin and their requirement depends mostly on the circumstance

Before we touched upon the importance of Ventilation which helps prevent moisture from building up within the sealed cabin, If you are not constantly in and out of your building should consider adding Air Vents to allow a continuous flow of air in and out of the building.

Also think about what you store within the cabin, White goods especially kick out a lot of moisture so be sure to install vents to combat that.

We also offer Storm kits as an extra, These are spring loaded metal rods which are used to ensure that the roof of the cabin remains tied down to the rest underneath, most applicable to those in very exposed areas or for those cabins with large exposed canopy/overhangs… please consider the application of a Storm kit

Shingle Glue is an option to consider, Very handy again for customers in exposed areas but generally if you are installing in the winter it is suggested to safeguard the shingles until you summer next rolls around.

We highly recommend Guttering for your log cabin, Not only will this help filter roof water to the desired location it will also serves in protecting the walls and perimeter further down from unwanted ingress and splash around the base.

We also sell a product which is very useful for coating the inside of the walls, Its called Impregnation Fluid on the website and is a very powerful Anti-rot, insecticidal treatment which you could consider, Please note that in inside of your doors and windows will need more than just this product alone.

The Roof

The roofs on these cabins should really be pretty self contained, so long as the roofing material was installed correctly there isn’t really that much you should ever need to think about.

Just keep an eye on any unwanted growth ontop, Moss can sometimes start to build up which should be removed as and when you can. Overgrowth can prevent the surface from ever drying out fully… also if you happen to install the cabin in the winter and moss manages to build up before the summer comes back around it could limit the amount of heat that gets to the tiles which is needed to bound all the those bitumen strips together.

An old log cabin shingled roof

Build up of moss

Serious overgrowth, Overdue a clear out we think

It will also be a good idea to periodically check underneath the roofs fascias for any nests which long term could start damaging the wood.

before those fascias are even applied they should be pre-treated as they are hard to reach once installed, Just like the other parts of the cabin you will need to revisit the treatment after a set timeframe and these higher parts are easily forgotten about and missed.

We hope this helps and we are happy to answer any unanswered queries that may come to mind, Please also revisit our installation manual for much much more.

Summary

  • Keep half a mind for your Base, Check the levels if you start to notice anything strange happening with the cabin on top
  • If you start to experience high levels of condensation within the building consider checking your damp proofing and joints between the foundation beams.
  • Remember that wood is a sponge, Keep on top of your treatment and please use something decent., Recoat those vulnerable areas and meet the guidelines set out on the tin.
  • Treat the doors and windows well and frequently
  • Fit hook and eyes to your doors to prevent unwanted wind damage
  • Keep your green fingers busy, Stop overgrowth from taking over and allow air to fully circulate around the cabin.
  • Do not create water traps around the walls of the cabin
  • Be mindful when fixing anything to the walls, Remembering your cabin likes to move
  • If you find water ingressing around the glass, they need sealing further
  • Guttering should always be fitted to better protect your cabin
  • Add Air Vents to prevent the build up of moisture
  • Consider the need for other log cabin extras
  • keep half an eye on your roof, remove overgrowth frequently

 

Log Cabin Contraction

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

Mr Currie commented on my post:

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

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

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

Log Cabin Contraction Problem

This was the problem:

Gap

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

awfw

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment Based on the Log Cabin pictures received

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

Dear Mr Currie,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards, Richard.

Mr C’s Reply following my Assessment

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

aew

You will notice the the wall logs have contracted and are sitting directly on top of the door frame

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

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

Doo

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

Solving the Log Cabin Problem

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

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

Contraction and Expansion in Log Cabins

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

Notched log cabin log above the door to allow for contraction

Notched log cabin log above the door to allow for contraction

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

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

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

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

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

Log Cabin Contraction

At certain times of the year I will get the odd complaint about our Log Cabins from buildings that have been installed in the Autumn and Winter, Early Spring. The height of the complaints will come in around July and August.

Some customers will be nice and ask for advise, others will launch into a big complaint and are not very pleasant to deal with on occasions.

I then have to gently walk through the problem with them until it can be resolved and 100% of the time it is the customer’s own making.

The pleasant guy asking for advice will locate the problem and it’s solved.

The unpleasant guy will demand we go on site and then find the problem for them and all of the time it’s when they paid a ‘Qualified Carpenter’ or a ‘Qualified Joiner’ to install the building as it cannot be their fault.  Unpleasant guy then gets very upset when we charge for our attendance.

To solve this I thought I would write a quick post about this seasonal complaint and here’s a few examples:

Logs have shrunk in the heat.

Logs are coming apart.

Gaps appearing

Gaps appearing in the log cabin walls

Gaps and twists starting in the wall logs

Gaps and twists starting in the wall logs, this one is showing at the top of the wall

Gaps starting to show in a wall of a log cabin

Gaps starting to show in a wall of a log cabin, these gaps are spaced all the way up the wall.

Log Cabin shrinking

Log Cabin shrinking with gaps to the side of the door.

Gaps starting to appear

Gaps starting to appear

Contraction of Log Cabins

This quick piece is talking about the problems we have with contraction. No doubt, about six months from now, I will write one with the opposite problems, that of expansion, both are a powerful force in timber.

Throughout the articles in this blog I talk about expansion and contraction a lot and it cannot be overstressed the importance and the power of this. If you are going to own a log cabin you’ve got to believe me.

Here are some previous articles where I talk about this feature of timber in depth:

My online Log Cabin Advice Manual also talks about this.

Log Cabin Logs

A log cabin log is obviously made from the length of a tree and we try to pick the best bit close to the heart. It not going to grow or shrink much in its length but it can change quite a bit in its height when part of an install.

I’ve had a customer tell me ‘I realise wood moves but this is excessive’ It is not excessive, it is what wood does and it cannot be controlled or helped.

In the moisture content article above I reference some figures that will show a cabin has a potential to move a LOT!

Here’s a good example of a log cabin in contraction, followed by an expansion example. In either case you will see the untreated wood start to show. This is why I advise in other posts to remove the fascia and paint behind them so you do not see this happen either in contraction or expansion:

Contraction example:

Contraction exampe

Contraction example

Another contraction example

Another contraction example with untreated wood showing

Here’s the opposite, an expansion example, notice the original paint lines

Expansion example, notice the original paint line

Expansion example, notice the original paint line

Another example of contraction, please make sure you paint behind door and window fascia to avoid this.

Another example of contraction, please make sure you paint behind door and window fascia to avoid this.

Installation Problem

Of course none of this is helped if the installer is not aware of this or understands this and please believe me, anyone with ‘Qualified’ followed by ‘carpenter’, ‘joiner’ or ‘builder’ will make the same mistake as someone who has never built one before. The difference being of course your average customer will read the information before installing.

So why are we seeing these gaps and why am I having a complaint against our lovely log cabins?

Quite simply, the installer is trying to interfere with the movement of the logs and is restricting them moving. This will be things like:

  • Adding extra timber into gaps meant for expansion
  • Fixing door and window fascia to the logs
  • Fixing door and window frames to the logs
  • Installing shelves, electrics, brackets, 
  • Lifting door and windows up to fill expansion gaps
  • Fixing the logs in many other ways
  • Fascia in corner buildings above the door allowing the cabin to sit on the door frame

Here are some examples of the cause of all the above with pictures:

Fixed Fascias

This door fascia has been screwed to the logs. There was quite a few of these in the install

This door fascia has been screwed to the logs. There was quite a few of these in the install

Gaps appearing

Gaps appearing in a corner building. This is where the fascia above the door has been fixed and no allowance made for contraction allowing the door frame to slide behind it.

Fascia being fixed to the logs restricting their movement

Fascia being fixed to the logs restricting their movement

Door fixed to the wall logs

Door fixed to the wall logs – luckily I caught this one as the picture was for a door query but you can see nails through to the logs and this is a potential complaint in either expansion or contraction. Thankfully the customer removed these before any problems was caused in about 6 months time.

Timber infills

During the winter the wood is likely to be at its biggest and sometimes customers will worry about a large gap they find above a door frame or a window frame. Without realising what it is for ‘Qualified’ …. carpenters, joiners, builders … will be tempted to fill the gaps;

Timber used to fill the expansion gaps.

Timber used to fill the expansion gaps. In this example you can see there is a timber block above and to the side of the window frame. So with this Winter lead solution we come to summer and gaps are appearing all over the cabin and I get the complaint!

Extra timber placed above the door frame

Extra timber placed above the door frame. This wood block has removed all expansion and the whole log cabin will now be sitting directly on to the door frame.

Timber insert placed in the expansion gap

Timber insert placed in the expansion gap and also as an extra problem the fascia is also nailed into the logs.

DIY storm Kits, Brackets, Shelves, Curtains etc

I Haven’t really got pictures of these sort of things that I can show you as it may identify the customer’s cabin but this was an unusual one:

Strapping to act as a storm kit and bracing

Strapping and bracing. The customer had some sort of shelving system attached the sides of the cabin and I remember he was also concerned about bracing for storms as he was very exposed in the highlands. The ingenuity was very good but this was holding the cabin very rigid and when the summer got here gaps started appearing.

If you want to install shelves, black boards, bars, brackets etc you can do so really easily but please consider the expansion and contraction. The articles referenced earlier explains how to do this so you do not have any problems in the long run.

Electricity in Log Cabins

I wrote an article about Electrical installation in Log cabins ages ago and although I have let my personal accreditation lapse it still hold true and we reference this quite liberally, electricians must be made aware of the expansion in log cabins.

Here’s how to do it:

Flexible expansion to allow for the cabin to move.

Flexible expansion to allow for the cabin to move.

This is what can happen if you do not tell your electrician that a log cabin is made of wood and expands and contracts:

Log cabin has contracted and no allowance has been made for the trunking. This is a potentially dangerous situation as all the wire and terminations will be under strain.

Log cabin has contracted and no allowance has been made for the trunking. This is a potentially dangerous situation as all the wire and terminations will be under strain.

Consumer unit is fixed across two logs, this will cause problems in both contraction and expansion and may cause numerous problems least of all it compromising the installation itself.

Consumer unit is fixed across two logs, this will cause problems in both contraction and expansion and may cause numerous problems least of all compromising the electrical installation itself.

Summary of contraction in a Log Cabin

Log cabins move, whether it’s one of ours, someone else’s, regardless of thickness, all wood moves, it can’t be helped. It’s full of straws and these straws will suck in and expel moisture:

Layer upon layer of straws all drawing water for the tree. Many now support the Cohesion method theory where a tree draws its water using the tension of water.

Layer upon layer of straws all drawing water for the tree. These straws stay open and need to be treated to block them up.

You can see from the structure of the wood that these straws need to be blocked up, amongst other things this is the purpose of a good quality treatment and sufficient coats, these articles explain more:

I’ve said it several times, please don’t use anything cheap on any log cabin, we’re trying to inhibit the movement. A cheap treatment will not do this and you will have quite a bit of movement over the first year.

We do find though that after a year and the full season cycle we will never hear from a log cabin customer again. If you are going to have a problem with expansion or contraction it will be within the first six months of ownership as you will have either treated it well or the straws will start to collapse and die more.

If you have a log cabin that is showing these signs, before you complain to us or the person you bought it from whether it is our product or not please check the following:

Check for:

  • Fascia screwed / nailed to the logs
  • Any restriction to the logs at all
  • Shelves, curtains, brackets, fixings on the wall
  • Expansion Gaps above and to the side.
  • Finishes above Corner building doors.

This is all applicable to any log cabin, I hope it helps if you are seeing these problems whether you bought from us or another manufacturers building.