log home
Home Remodeling

How to Build a Log Home

Whether perched on top of a mountain, nestled in a forest, or overlooking a lake, log homes make stunning additions to the landscape. They can also be incredibly energy efficient, thanks to thermal mass and tight sealant systems. Even though they use wood, today’s ecologically conscious log home builders at https://richardsonloghomes.com/ only use trees harvested from sustainable forests. In addition, reforestation practices are used to help offset any loss of healthy trees.

Construction Process

log homeLog homes offer a timeless beauty that connects you with your land. They also provide energy efficiency and less maintenance than other types of homes. But, like any house, they do require regular cleaning and re-staining to preserve the wood and keep pests at bay. To ensure your log home remains in good condition, it’s important to plan ahead and understand the construction process.

The pre-construction phase of building a log home typically takes several months or even a few years, as you locate land, choose a company and floor plan, arrange contractors, and secure financing. Thorough planning during this phase paves the way for successful construction of your dream log home.

Once you have a solid foundation in place, work begins on the first floor of your home. Conventional wood joists are often used for this level of the structure, but many builders now opt for a stronger and more authentic timber or log joist system. This system incorporates a double or triple 2-by-10-inch rim joist, which provides support for the log walls and an extra-wide surface for spiking the first course of logs.

As work progresses, it is critical to check wall heights frequently using a plumb bob or spirit level to make sure that the log walls stay perfectly vertical. Also, a builder should inspect the corner joints for tightness. Some log home producers use a special technique for corner joining called butt joints, which are constructed of overlapping dovetail logs to create a strong and durable connection. Other common joint types include saddle joints and mortise and tenon.

In addition to ensuring the logs are properly joined, a builder should carefully monitor for settling and shrinking of the logs, which is a natural process that can occur when logs dry out. To help minimize these effects, builders may use chinking to seal gaps between the logs. Chinking consists of either a natural product such as moss or a synthetic sealant such as polyurethane.

Throughout the construction phase, it is helpful to have a clear channel of communication with your builder and closely monitor his progress. Sign off on payments only after he has attained certain milestones, such as the delivery of logs or completion of a log course. This will prevent misunderstandings that can derail your project.


Log homes are built using a wide variety of materials. Most log home producers sell a “package” that contains the majority of the building materials needed to construct your log home. Packages can include everything from a trailer load of logs, which are cut to precise length for your particular log home plan, to the complete construction package including windows and doors, roof framing timbers and lumber, interior walls and other finishing materials. Some producers also offer pre-cut packages where the logs are not cut to size on site, but in a factory and shipped to the build site ready for assembly.

The most important material for a log cabin is the wood that will be used to construct it. Most log home builders use either kiln dried or dead standing spruce, pine and/or red cedar. These are very durable woods with good grain characteristics, allowing for a long service life without major splitting and cracking.

Other important building materials are the chinking and stain to seal the logs, and the roofing system that will cover them. A quality log home needs a roof that is high enough to prevent rainwater from pooling around the low-lying logs. This will prevent moisture and insects from gaining entry to the logs.

Another crucial building material is a solid foundation and basement or cellar, which will keep the logs off the ground and provide a solid base for your home. Many times steel girders are used to support the log walls for added strength and longevity of your log home.

Many of today’s log and timber homeowners want a rustic hideaway that is connected, automated and secure. This means backup generators, security systems and a CAT 5 wiring system that will accommodate high speed voice, video and data communications. Additionally, log and timber homeowners are requesting more maintenance on their log and timber structures such as cleaning, re-staining and re-caulking.


The final touches of your log home are what make it your own. These finishing touches can include a variety of elements that enhance the beauty of your home and give it that unique, rustic character that you desire.

Some log homes leave their interior logs bare to highlight the beauty of the natural wood, while others opt for a more traditional look and use drywall. In either case, the choice is a matter of personal preference and budget.

Another finishing element that many choose to incorporate into their log home is wainscoting, which adds a traditional accent to the home while providing protection from moisture and dirt. Other finishing touches include post caps and flashing, which secure the roof to the log walls. These finishes help to ensure a long-lasting, water-resistant roof that protects the logs from moisture and insects.

The doors of a log home can also be finished in various ways, including using pre-finished doors that are painted or stained to match the trim of the house or using rough sawn door skins with natural chinking. Some people even choose to have their doors hand carved with scenes and animals.

Insulation is also an important part of any log home. The insulation is placed between the floor joists to improve energy efficiency, as well as to create a comfortable, warm living space. It is important to use a high-quality product that will be effective for the climate in which you live and will perform correctly.

Once the logs have been hewn, scribed, and joined together, they are usually treated with a preservative to prevent insect infestations and wood rot. A clear sealant can be applied to the exterior of the logs to further prevent these deterioration processes. A vapor barrier is also often applied under the flooring to prevent moisture from seeping into the logs, which can cause mold and mildew.

Some companies offer complete log home packages which can include everything from a trailer load of logs hewn and cut to precise length for a particular floor plan, to roof framing timbers and lumber, roofing materials, interior wall studs, and flooring. These packages typically come with a warranty and can save time and money for the consumer by allowing them to skip the step of having to hire their own craftsmen to build their log home.


Log homes require a bit more maintenance than other types of construction. They need to be cleaned, re-stained and re-caulked on a regular basis. Without these tasks, the wood will begin to deteriorate and could become unstable or damaged. A good rule of thumb is to plan on having these tasks performed twice a year.

The wood in a log home naturally absorbs moisture and humidity and needs to be properly sealed to protect the structure from damage. The most common problem in a log home is mold and mildew. Mold can develop in any area of the home where moisture is allowed to accumulate. This can be due to sprinklers spraying directly on the logs, leaking gutters or splashing from downspouts, landscaping greenery planted too close to the house, and other factors.

When mold or mildew is present, it is important to clean the affected areas with an eco-friendly cleaning product and a soft brush or sponge. It is also a good idea to wash the entire exterior of the house to remove any dirt and debris that has collected. If a pressure washer is used, it is important to use only low-pressure so as not to damage the finish of the logs or underlying materials.

Another important task is to inspect the logs for insect activity. Small holes in the logs can indicate a pest infestation. Insects that can cause significant damage to a log home include carpenter bees, termites and other wood-boring insects. If you find any signs of these insects, consult a local pest exterminator to recommend preventative measures and corrective action.

Cracks and crevices in the logs are not only attractive to insects, but they can allow water to seep in, causing rot or mold and mildew. There is a variety of caulking and chinking products available that will allow you to seal these cracks, making your log home air and water tight. Consult a log home professional for advice on what products will work best in your geographic area.

Gutters are also an important part of a log home’s drainage system. They need to be free of blockage, so they can drain water away from the logs. Also, check that they are securely attached to the house. A good rule of thumb is to check the gutters regularly throughout the year and have them repaired as needed.