Richardson Log Homes LLC offer a Thoreau-inspired lifestyle that attracts people drawn to nature. But they can also be expensive and challenging to build, so careful planning is crucial. After the wall beams are stacked, carpenters install doors and windows to complete the weather-tight shell. Next, they build the roof, which can be conventionally framed for two-story homes or constructed from a log-and-beam system.
A properly insulated log home can be as energy efficient as a conventional stick-built house. The main areas where insulation is most important are the roof and floor. Log homes are generally well insulated because of the timbers’ massive nature and wood’s natural ability to retain heat during the day and release it at night. This reduces the heating/cooling required to maintain a comfortable temperature.
However, like any structure, log walls can leak air. This is a common problem that can be remedied with a proper sealant and a yearly inspection.
There are a number of different ways to insulate log walls including open cell spray foam, cellulose, mineral wool and traditional chinking. Each has its advantages and disadvantages but the most important thing is to make sure the insulator is not restricting the natural movement of the logs. This is why we do not recommend adding insulation to the gable end of the home as it restricts this movement.
The other major factor to consider is that logs are hydroscopic and absorb water very quickly. This can promote wood rot and insect infestation. To minimize this risk, all logs should be treated with a fungicide and insecticide before the construction process begins. In addition to this, generous roof overhangs, properly sized gutters and downspouts and drainage plains around the home are all critical to moisture control. All of these measures combined will ensure that the logs remain dry and help prevent costly damage and expensive repairs down the road.
The floors of a log home are a high impact feature and a major decision in the overall design of the home. The flooring selection must balance price, durability and looks. The ideal choice is wood flooring, sourced from sustainable forests, which adds value and warmth to the property and is easy to maintain. Other natural choices are tile and stone, which add texture and color to the rooms and blend well with the natural light in log homes. Carpet may not seem like the most traditional option for a log cabin, but it is the most comfortable and provides sound absorption to help reduce noise.
Flooring is also important for log home resale and longevity, as it is often a key selling point for buyers of log homes. Laminate is an inexpensive option, but it doesn’t look as nice and doesn’t add to the resale value of your property. Hardwood floors, on the other hand, will last a lifetime with proper care and will add value to your property.
Besides being a beautiful addition to your property, wood is an excellent insulator and helps keep energy costs low. Depending on the type of logs used, and how they are assembled, your log home can be as energy efficient as or more efficient than a traditional frame house.
Choosing a roof system is another important decision when building a log home. Using log rafters or heavy timber trusses will allow you to view the log ceiling from inside your home, while still allowing for roof insulation. Another option is to use a built-up roof system in which you install decking over the log trusses and then add batt or solid foam insulation between the decking and the logs.
A log home’s roof system is important, not only for its structural role but also as an aesthetic feature. Whether you choose a traditional log cabin with 2 rounds of scribed or a post and beam timber frame style, each roof offers a different visual effect.
As you can imagine, log homes have a lot of different structural components, from ridge beams to wall studs and log roof trusses. Each has its own challenges and unique characteristics that need to be carefully considered when building.
While the first few generations of log cabins were built with gaping roofs to ventilate cooking and heating fires, modern methods use a combination of pinned and spiked connections between the logs to make a stronger, more weather-tight structure. These methods use rebar or large threaded stock to be driven through holes drilled in the foundation and extend up past the subfloor. Then, each course of logs is drilled to sit down over these pins and spiked together in a couple places. This keeps the logs from expanding or contracting as they dry out, which would cause them to crack and rot.
The roof is the most vulnerable part of any log home, as it is exposed to the elements for far longer than the interior walls are. For this reason, it is very important to ensure your roof is well-sealed. This includes log-to-log, log-to-girder and log-to-wall sealing. Then, a good roofing material like shingle or metal is installed over the top.
Metal roofs are growing in popularity for their durability and energy efficiency, while shingle roofs still work well for many log cabin homeowners. A new trend is using a bitumen membrane under some shingles to provide an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Log cabins often appear in scenic settings that are a part of the wilderness or countryside. They feature walls of windows and intricate roof trusses, as well as open floorplans. But a log home has some special challenges to overcome, including how to provide access and support the utilities.
The key to a successful building project is the understanding that log homes shrink and settle over time, so special construction methods are required to accommodate them. For example, window and door openings are framed to leave space at the top of the frame so that units can move freely as the log wall height changes. Likewise, second-floor and roof systems are typically framed on adjustable jacks to allow for movement without crushing the interior partitions.
A wide range of roof systems is available for log homes, but the simplest is a conventionally framed shingled roof system. Many homeowners save money and time by having their roof sheathing installed at the same time as the walls. This is referred to as “rough-in.”
Once the roof is in place and the log shell is weather-tight, carpenters install doors and windows. They also finish the mechanical systems such as plumbing, heating and cooling. These components are referred to collectively as the “mechanical work.” Generally, these systems are installed by subcontractors who specialize in each trade.
Log homes come in a variety of styles, including full scribe, post and beam and chinking. A chinked log home uses natural-shaped wall logs that fit together with notches, while a full-scribe home features marked and cut logs that fit snugly over each other.
Whether nestled in the forest, perched on a mountain or overlooking a lake log homes are beautiful no matter where they are located. But, like any home they need to be maintained.
It is important to keep in mind that a log home will need more maintenance than a conventional home because of the materials used and the structure of the logs. Regularly checking your log home for pests and ensuring the roof, foundation and other areas are properly sealed are just a few of the things you will need to do.
Another key maintenance item for a log cabin is keeping your windows clean. Since windows are the primary source of light in a log home, they should be cleaned regularly to make sure that there is no build-up of dust or other pollutants which can affect the clarity and color of the glass.
When designing a log home it is important to consider the size and shape of the window openings. To help avoid air leakage due to shrinkage, the windows and doors are often made slightly larger than the openings and then slotted into place. Nails, screws or lags are then placed through the slots and into the butts of the logs to provide a secure fit. This allows the logs to settle without crushing the windows or doors from above.
When choosing windows for your log home it is important to choose those with high visible light transmittance (VLT) ratings. This will ensure that you have the most natural light possible while reducing energy costs. During the winter, windows that allow for solar heat gain can help offset heating costs in cold climates. In the summer, if your windows are designed to reduce solar gain, you can help cut your cooling costs as well.