Log Cabin Treatment Gone Wrong

Winter 2017 (update at bottom of page for Winter 2019)

As I’m writing this it is January 2017 and this is relevant as you read this post.

Occasionally we will receive pictures asking for advice on treatment when something has obviously gone wrong with a log cabin. We can also receive complaints about treatment that has been applied to our log cabins from customers who have used our own treatment or other log cabin treatment we have recommended.

Please see this page for our advice on the treatment of log cabins with our recommended treatments, ours and also others. Please also see this file for a discount from a local company who we highly recommend as do other professionals: Brewers Discount.

When treatment goes wrong

We will receive pictures such as these which do look rather awful and the poor ol’ log cabin is starting to look really sad. We usually receive pictures such as these during the late Autumn and Winter when there is a lot more moisture in the air, more rain of course and snow, generally pretty rubbish weather.

This will be when the treatment that is applied is really tested.

Here’s some examples of what will happen when it all goes wrong and your lovely log cabin starts to get some horrible problems.

Bad staining is forming at the bottom of the cabin.

Bad staining is forming at the bottom of the cabin.

Door trims have started to discolor

Door trims have started to discolor

Discolouration and marking of lower logs

Marking and possible spores forming on the door.

We also get sent pictures such as this which are a bit of a fib, you can see that there was a lot of discolouring before the treatment was applied. Perhaps there was a problem before hand?

A bit of a fib, you can see that the discolouration and marks are present under the treatment.

A bit of a fib, you can see that the discolouration and marks are present under the treatment.

This winter we also received this picture.

A picture of an internal wall sucking up moisture and resulting discolouration.

A picture of an internal wall sucking up the weather and resulting discolouration of the inside of the logs that are still wet. Wood is a sponge unfortunately!

All of the above problems are NOT caused by the treatment, they are ALL caused by:

  • Application of the Treatment
  • Amount of the Treatment used.
  • Depth of treatment applied – Basically the number of coats applied.

Please see this article where I talk about specifically about the depth of treatment and moisture content in a Log Cabin

Treatment Experiment

Every year I expect to get complaints such as the above, we get pictures and very occasionally we get arguments that the treatment has been applied as we advise or the manufacturer has advised.

January 2016 I made an experiment board so I can be sure of my advice and to give examples. Here it is:

Experimental treatment boards.

Experimental treatment boards.

These are my logs I painted and fixed to the side of our Shepherd hut display, in front of this is a veranda to make sure the logs are not in permanent sun light, I was trying to reproduce a sheltered postion.

I dated these in January 2016 as a reference and started with no treatment, one coat and all the way up to six coats of treatment. I only used our own supplied treatment which was:

Now a year later this is quite interesting and does show quite clearly what happens with the various coats that have been applied.

Now I can actually see this rather than rely on advice from my own experience, the treatment producers and experts have given me in the past, this is starting to show up where the faults may lie, now I can actually see what is happening and confirming what the faults in a treatment could be:

  • Application of the Treatment – how well and how carefully has it been put on.
  • Amount of the Treatment used.
  • Depth of treatment applied – Basically the number of coats applied.

No Coats

My experiment started with no coats of treatment at all.

No coats of treatment have been applied, this is completely bare wood.

No coats of treatment have been applied, this is completely bare wood.

As expected the wood is discoloured and not looking great. This though is of course not wood rotting – wood does not rot if allowed to dry out naturally. You can see though that some fungal spores are starting to form within the structure.

If you don’t ever treat your cabin you can expect the whole building to look like this. Treatment of log cabins

Completely untreated log cabin.

Completely untreated log cabin. This one is now very old but is still not rotten but it doesn’t look great.

Please see my advice on treating your log cabin, you really don’t want this happening to yours:

Carefree Protectant Timber Treatment

Here’s my experimental board using our Carefree Protectant Treatment

Carefree protection board

Carefree protection treatment board

You can see what happens with one coat of treatment, it simply is not enough. We recommend four coats of this treatment. Actually it only requires two coats but PROPER coats and this is always the problem with a totally clear treatment, you cannot see the damn stuff, you have no idea where you have treated! It was easy for me with a small log as I am pretty sure I coated it correctly.

Please note the ‘one coat treatment’ and compare to the pictures at the top of this post. Similar?

Now look at the ‘two coats’ log, you will still see some discolouration, mainly with the tongue part which has borne most of the weather and maybe also where I was a little thin in my application.

Then again look at the third log, it’s better but finally look at the fourth…. now everything is well covered, we know even on the parts you are missing which is happening with a clear treatment you will be getting at least two proper coats on the log.

This of course doesn’t just apply to our own very clear Carefree treatment but also to other producers of treatment.

A clear treatment, in my experience is the WORST to apply as you cannot see where you have been and that results in problems such as those shown in the pictures above.

Embadecor Timber Stain

Here’s my experimental board using our Embadecor Stain Treatment

Embadecor timber stain experimental board.

Embadecor timber stain experimental board.

A stain or a paint is a lot easier to apply properly as you can see where it is and how you applied it. This has worked very well and I am not seeing anything bad here. But there are big differences between one coat and three coats. Please see the previous articles on advice, three coats will at least give you the depth your require to keep your log cabin from problems and absorption as shown in one of the pictures above.

Embalan Timber Paint

Here’s my experimental board using our Embalam Paint Treatment

I was really pleased with the paint, it went on well, I tried a further experiment one that was as standard:

Embalan standard paint

Embalan standard paint

With one costs you can still see the grain coming through, maybe like one of the ‘fib’ pictures above? Three coats is working well (most paint suppliers will recommend three coats and often include an undercoat) Four and five are perfect!

Then I tried mixing, we wanted a darker colour for the highlight on the doors and window of the Shepherd Hut:

Mix of paints from the Embalan range.

Mix of paints from the Embalan range.

Maybe it was due to the colour but this worked really well, yes there is a difference in the coats, maybe four seems to be the best?

Treatment Recommendations and Problems

With my experiment I think I have shown what happens, I’m going to leave the logs out for another year to see how this develops and follow up in 2018.

My advice …. is …. please follow my advice and avoid some horrible problems happening with your log cabin … oh and don’t cheat or fib ….. the Autumn and Winter will decide how well you have treated your Log Cabin.

Also, please watch out for:

  • Application of the Treatment – how well has your coverage been applied?
  • Amount of the Treatment used – Have you applied the right amount of coats?
  • Depth of treatment applied – Basically the number of coats applied. Have you applied the right amount of coats according to recommendation?
  • MAKE sure you treat the door and window trims and quadrants / beads- These are often missed as it is close to the glass and hard to do and you maybe applying a thinner coat?- Maybe consider removing the glass for better coating.
  • Be careful at the lower levels of the log cabin. These four or five logs get the most weather, treat them accordingly.
  • Be really careful when using a clear treatment to thoroughly cover the log.
  • Pay extra care to lower logs any ledges / tongues.
  • Thoroughly coat the corners and any joins.

Continuation

I am going to leave the experiment up for another year to see what happens, this is really quite interesting ……

More … I’ve recently been asked about our treatments:  This post relates entirely to the Tuin range of Log Cabin Treatments and clarifies what and how we recommend they are used if you choose to use our range.

UPDATE – Winter 2019

My experiment continues with the treatment boards and it’s still pretty interesting what is happening 3 years on.

My timber treatment experiment which I started in 2016 as a way to see exactly what can happen.

The embalan paint if still performing well. The board right at the bottom received no treatment at all, it’s interesting to see there is no rot whatsoever. We’re proving well that three coats and above is giving the best protection. I’m also proving that timber, when allowed to dry naturally does not generally rot.

I did also start another experiment in August 2017 just to see what will happen to a log in constant ground contact. I’ll come back to this is August 2019 to see what, if anything, has happened.

The mix of Embalan paint is also doing very well, the three to five coats are still almost perfect.

The Embadecor stain is doing the best and even with one coat it is still looking very good. Again thought, three to four coats is performing the best. However, bear in mind a stain is just that, ideally it needs a top coat of a sealant such as the clear embadecor or the carefree to ensure the wood is sealed, especially in the corner and joints.

My favoured treatment is also still doing very well. You can see though that as it is a totally clear treatment it is essential to make sure of coverage. I wish I had painted the ends rather than just the surface as you can see how the weather has pushed in. Again three coats and above is most effective.

What if it has gone wrong?

For an easy solution on how to get the timber clean again before re-treatment please see this post: Cleaning a Log Cabin

Timber – Wood – Log Cabin Cleaner

I’ve been playing a lot today with a new product, I’m still experimenting with it and will produce a blog on it soon.

Here though is my first video on it ….. great for cleaning your timber cladding, your old log cabin or in fact any type of timber as far as I can see so far:

Tuin Log Cabin Treatments

In other posts I talk about the importance of a good quality treatment which is correctly applied in regards to Log Cabins and what happens if it is not done well with the best products or not done at all, these posts are here:

In these posts I gave general advice on treatment but did not specifically or simply talk about our own treatments and what we recommend if you choose to use them. I have had a few comments on the posts regarding this so will now answer this in relation to our own Tuin Timber Treatments and how to use them with your log cabin.

Timber Treatment Types

We have six types of treatment for your log cabin:

Factory Treatment Options

Spray Painted – Undercoat only:

This is ordered at the same time as you order your log cabin, it is an undercoat service only and provides two coats of spray paint, it is best to choose a colour that will compliment your final two top coats after installation. Ideally you will use two coats of Embalan Timber Paint for the two top coats.

Using this service will save you time and also give you some confidence it is protected from the elements straightaway. I do though find this quite expensive and do not always recommend this service as it can delay your log cabin delivery for up to 8 weeks.

This is our Flow Log Cabin and pre spray painted in Grey

Immersion Treatment:

The second of the two factory options of treatment, this, like the spray treatment will also need two further coats of additional treatment once it is installed. This treatment is where the entire log cabin and all its parts are put into a vat of rot proof treatment and allowed to soak for hours. This then allows the wood to absorb the rot proof treatment. It is then separated and allowed to dry naturally. Like the spray treatment this will extend your delivery by several weeks.

Personally I do not really like this treatment in anything other than a Log Cabin Gazebo or a Log Cabin style Garage as everything is treated and in brown, green or silver grey it can make the building very dark inside.

Remember that this is only a rot proof treatment, two further coats of treatment will be needed for it to be protected from the weather and to prevent it absorbing water thereby creating water marks and wild expansion and contraction in the log cabin due to the moisture content in the wood.

The perfect treatment on top of this from our ranges is the Carefree Protectant Timber Treatment. Two coats, well applied, are required for full protection.

An immersion treated cabin in green being installed – I like immersion treatment for Gazebos such as this, I’m not so keen on a full building as it makes it very dark inside.

Log Cabin Treatment Options – Self Applied:

Carefree Protectant Treatment:

This is now the very best selling treatment we offer, it is state of the art and is a simply amazing product, please see the Carefree Protect Timber Treatment page for all the details. I thoroughly recommend this and have been using it on everything from a log cabin to hardwood furniture.

Ideally this is used on it’s own (other than the immersion treatment), no base coats of preservative are required or any other product. For full protection for years we recommend three – four, well applied coats.

It is available in a number of colours and all finishes are slightly satin, the clear is VERY clear which people love. It is expensive but I think it is worth the cost. If you love the wood colour and want it to shine the Clear Carefree is Amazing!

I would not recommend using any other product with this or painting anything on top of it other than more of the Carefree treatment when re-application is needed. Saying that, I am told that you can paint on top with anything but i personally cannot recommend it having not done it myself. I also cannot see any point in this as this is a great treatment on its own.

Carefree timber treatment, 3 – 4 coats are required. These logs are an ongoing experiment of mine from January 2016 showing the effect of different layers.

Embadecor Timber Treatment:

Embadecor Timber Stain can be used on its own if you require a stained finish. Like Carefree no other treatment or preservative is required. Again like all good treatment you will need to apply three – four coats if you are using it on it’s own. Lots of colours of stains are available, please see more details on the Embadecor Timber Stain page. Embadecor treatment should be used as an undercoat for the Embalan Timber Paint.

If you like the stained look whereby there is a colour but with the grain of the wood coming through then I recommend this stain highly (still not as highly as the carefree though)

Embadecor timber stain, 3 – 4 coats are required. These logs are an ongoing experiment of mine from January 2016 showing the effect of different layers of the stain.

Embalan Timber Paint:

This is a very high quality paint in solid colours, it gives great coverage and is available in several colours. This is on par with what I consider to be the best UK paint – Sikkens. To use this successfully it is recommended at least one – two coats of Embadecor timber stain (clear) as the undercoat. Further details of this paint can be found on the Embalan Timber Paint page.

Embalan timber paint, 3 – 4 coats are required if used on its own. These logs are an ongoing experiment of mine from January 2016 showing the effect of different layers of the paint. If you use an undercoat of 2 coats of clear Embadecor stain then two top coats are required of the Embalan paint.

Impregnation Fluid:

If you have a hot tub, a jacuzzi, a freezer or fridge in your log cabin or even if it is being shut up for a long time then it is a good idea to protect the inside of the cabin. The impregnation fluid is excellent for doing this, it is clear and goes on like water and will inhibit the formation of damp spores and guard against fungi / mosses forming. You can paint / stain over this as required. This is only a rot proof treatment and does not guard against the weather. This is also an excellent treatment for timber that is already suffering from not receiving any treatment at all to kill any bugs that may be present before applying a proper treatment outside.

Carefree Timber Cleaner:

I will come back to this as I’m still experimenting with the product. Suffice to say this is a 17 years old building that has NEVER received any treatment at all as an experiment. Now I am looking at how to clean and refurbish it. This was using the new product and took literally a few minutes to achieve. Guess which bit we treated with the timber cleaner?

Picture taken of a 17 years old log cabin which has never ever received any treatment or love in its life. A liberal spray of Carefree Timber Cleaner is doing just that.

A quick test ….. more to come in a blog post and product launch.

Log Cabin Treatment Summary

I’ll give a quick run through of my recommendations and combinations of treatments using Tuindeco range to sum up.

  • Spray undercoat – TWO further coats of treatment will be required using Embalan timber Paint.
  • Immersion Treatment – TWO further coats of treatment will be required, these can either be Embadecor Stain or Carefree Protect. I would not recommend the Embalan paint without applying two undercoats of the stain first.
  • Carefree – Only use this on it’s own, nothing else is required, 3 – 4 coats is perfect for 100% protection. No undercoats or topcoats are needed. Just use Carefree and nothing else.
  • Embadecor Stain – 3 – 4 coats gives 100% protection, nothing else is needed. lightly sand between coats.
  • Embalan Paint – 3 – 4 coats is good and can be done so without an undercoat if you wish. BUT, for best results use at least one coat of clear Embadecor stain as an undercoat. For the perfect solution use two coats of clear stain followed by two coats of paint.
  • Impregnation Fluid – Ideally use inside when damp conditions persist – one – two coats.

For my other posts on the treatment of your log cabin timber please see the posts below: