Wednesday, March 22, 2017

End Grain Protection for Logs

Trees are living, breathing organisms. Even after they die and are used in construction as logs and timbers, they continue to function as living, breathing structures. The cell structure of wood is designed like a bundle of straws, perfect for channeling water, nutrients and other things critical to the life and processes of the tree. When the tree dies, however, that structure remains. The 'straws' are still there and they will still suck up water and channel it just as designed to do. This is why in order to protect logs and other wood structures, it is important to protect the exposed end grain and prevent the 'straws' from sucking up moisture, which will lead to rot. Wood is a strong, renewable, environmentally-friendly, and all around excellent material for building. The key to its longevity is to keep it dry so that it will last for centuries. A major key to keeping it dry is protecting the end grain.

Several ways to effectively protect the end grain on log and timber structures is in design considerations, borate and stain saturation, end grain sealers, and physical barriers like decorative caps and post jacks.

Design Considerations
The most important consideration for protecting wood from decay is in design. Long roof overhangs are well worth the extra cost in the protection they give to logs and timbers. Log ends should not jut past the roofline or sit in the path of a dripline. Although timbers reaching past a roofline may look neat, design should follow function, and leaving the end grain exposed to prolonged moisture exposure is a formula for decay.

One easy way to help protect end grain from prolonged moisture exposure is to profile horizontal logs with a back-slanted cut. An angle of cut that leaves end grain facing upward will collect water and channel it back into the log. A straight vertical cut would be preferable. Even better would be a profile that slants backward so that the end grain is protected under the overhang of the log itself, in addition to the roof protection.

The design of post placement is also an important consideration. Moisture doesn't only come from above as rain, but it can be absorbed from below as moisture from the ground or as sitting rainwater on the slab. Log or timber posts that sit right on the slab will suck up water like a straw and quickly lead to decay. Protecting that end grain with a sealer, a sill seal, and/or even better with a vertical lift, and the log post will last indefinitely. Vertical life can come from post screw jacks or even stone or concrete footings with a moisture barrier between.

Saturation with Borates and Stain/Finish
Regardless of how the end grain will be protected, first saturating the raw wood with a copper preservative or borate preservative (such as PeneTreat or ArmorGuard) will provide rot protection in the wood in case of moisture exposure. Additionally or alternatively for log or timber ends that might be in high risk due to moisture exposure, concentrated preservative rods like Bor8 Rods or Cobra Rods are also an option.

To block the absorption of moisture into the wood, it's beneficial to saturate the end grain with whatever stain or finish is being used on the rest of the home. This can be soaked into the end grain to the point of refusal so that being saturated with the resin and solids of the stain, it will not be able to take on water so easily in the future.

End Grain Sealers
In addition to saturation with the stain/finish being used on the rest of the log surface, some opt to give the end grain and additional layer of clear coat protection with an end grain sealer. This could be just an extra later of the top clear coat from the stain system being used, or it could be a sealer designed specifically for end grain. Two options available on the market are oil-based Log-Gevity End Grain Sealer or water-based Log End Seal.

Sedona Post CapTiara Post CapDecorative Caps
Decorative post caps are a popular choice for vertical posts. Both functional as well as aesthetic, decorative caps, such as copper post caps, are a way to protect the upward-exposed end grain while also adding an accent to wood structures.

Sill Seals and Jacks
Protecting the bottoms of vertical log and timber posts is important so that they don't wick up water from the ground or concrete slab. A closed cell sill seal is one way to do this. Post screw jacks also help keep the bottoms of the post from wicking moisture, while they also allow vertical posts to settle with newly constructed log walls.
Screw Jacks
By protecting the end grain from water and taking other precautions to keep moisture out of the wood, log and timber structures can last centuries to come. Contact Schroeder Log Home Supply, Inc. with any questions about protecting the end grain of logs and timbers.

Questions? Give us a call at 1-800-359-6614 or contact us through our website here.
Schroeder Log Home Supply, Inc.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chinking Damaged by Birds

Reprinted from our LogCore Newsletter Spring 2008 edition and The Log Home Maintenance Guide

You can see where birds have pecked irregular shaped holes into the latex chinking looking for insects and even where they chewed into the backer rod.

Birds can hear the insects moving within the log work and they are trying to reach them. The insects have either found within the logs soft, moist wood to nest in and hatch their young or are feeding on the wood itself.

The insect infestation of the logs needs to be treated first. Look for other small holes (accompanied by fine sawdust) in the log work. Using a syringe, inject the holes with an approved insecticide. Plug the holes with caulking or a mixture of wood glue and sawdust. For more information on the prevention and treatment of insects see Chapter 4: Insects starting on page 30.

Once the insect problem has been dealt with, fill holes with similar caulk or chinking to seal them from future infestation and moisture infiltration.

Unlike mortar chinking, synthetic caulk and chinking will adhere perfectly to old caulk or chinking as long as the surface is dry and free of dust and debris. Apply a small amount of new chinking over the holes and spread out with a foam brush to form a seamless patch.

Monitor the chinking and logs over the next few months to see if any more holes materialize. If so, repeat the treatment until they stop appearing. Typically, once the insect problem has been effectively dealt with, the birds should leave the chinking alone.

Reprinted from the Log Home Maintenance Guide.

Questions? Give us a call at 1-800-359-6614 or contact us on our website here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Applying Lifeline Finishes Over Penetrating Oil-Based Stains

By Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.
Reprinted from our LogCore newsletter Summer 2014 edition

We often get asked if it is acceptable to apply a Lifeline finish systems over an existing oil-based stain. It would be nice if there was a simple yes or no answer to this question but there’s not. It depends on a number of factors including how many coats have been applied, how long the stain has been on the walls and which oil-based stain are we talking about. In general it is ALWAYS best to remove an existing competitive finish before applying Lifeline. All too often a homeowner has no idea what is on the walls let alone how many coats were applied. What they do know is that they want to apply something on top of what’s already there to avoid the cost and effort of stripping the surface down to bare wood. This approach is very risky, especially with a water-based, high performance film-forming finish like Lifeline. Let’s look at some of the individual parameters that have to be dealt with.

Appearance: Perma-Chink’s Lifeline stains are transparent finish systems. This means that any discolorations or residual pigmentation that remains on the wood will show through our finish systems. With few exceptions our finishes have little or no hiding power. Once our Lifeline system has been applied it essentially locks the surface of the wood in place and if you are dissatisfied with the final look and appearance it can be quite costly and time consuming to remove the finish, take care of the discolorations, and start over again
Adhesion: How much residual oil still remains in the wood and is it enough to interfere with the adhesion of Lifeline? These are questions that are just about impossible to answer. Yes, a small test area may quickly determine that there is a problem but if a problem does not show up within a few days there is no way to tell what may happen over a period of several months or years. We have seen several issues that were directly attributed to the prior application of oil-based stains. Peeling occurred around checks and fissures because they had been flooded with an oil-based product during the initial staining process and although most of the oil had evaporated from the surface of the logs the checks had retained enough oil to reduce the adhesion of a water-based film.

Blisters: When several coats of an oil-based penetrating stain have been applied to a wall within the course of a few years the underlying wood can become so saturated with oil that it may take a long time for it to evaporate. When a homeowner finally decides that it’s time to change to a quality finish like Lifeline pressure washing with water may appear to remove most if not all of the residual oil pigments and prepare the surface for the Lifeline finish. The wood may look clean and bare but in reality the old oil carriers may still be in the top layer of wood. With the application of the first coat of Lifeline these oils are now trapped in the wood. Yes, our finishes breathe water vapor but oil molecules are much larger and can’t make it through the film. Now weather comes into the equation. If the days stay cool and cloudy until the entire finish system is applied and has time to cure there’s a good chance that nothing of consequence will occur. But if the sun comes out and heats up the wall while the finish is still soft and pliable the oils contained in the wood will begin to evaporate creating blisters in the finish.

This can occur after the first coat, second coat, or the entire finish system has been applied. One thing that these types of problems have in common is that they typically show up within a week after application.

If you plan to apply Lifeline after having applied a penetrating oil-based stain what is the best way to minimize the chance of forming blisters? The product to use in these cases is S-100 Finish Remover. S-100’s formulation includes a strong detergent package that will help make the residual oils water soluble and easier to wash away. Once the finish is removed using S-100 allow the surface to remain bare for a couple of months to allow any remaining oil to evaporate. When you are ready to stain, wash the surface with Log Wash, allow it to dry and apply the first coat of Lifeline.
©Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

WeatherSeal's Chemistry

By Continental Products Company
Reprinted from our LogCore newsletter Spring 2014 edition

WeatherSeal is different because it is thick when properly mixed. Its color also will appear lighter
and more opaque when initially applied to the wood surface than when it starts to dry. That is because there is water in WeatherSeal which distorts its true color. As the water evaporates from the surface of the applied WeatherSeal, its actual color and transparency is revealed.

To someone who has never used WeatherSeal, it can look pretty scary when first applied. Just be patient, the color will change within hours.

Because of WeatherSeal’s unique chemistry, it applies thick, dries thin. The water makes it puffy. As the water evaporates, the resins, oils, and solvent left on the wood surface thin out and absorb into the wood.

Because WeatherSeal is thicker, more can be deposited on a wood surface than standard thinner stains. Consequently, more WeatherSeal is applied with one coat on a wood surface than can be applied with thinner stains. This fact, plus the confusion about WeatherSeal’s thick chemistry, causes WeatherSeal to be mislabeled as a surface coating and not a penetrating stain. This is not true.
WeatherSeal does penetrate (as much as most competitors, which in reality isn’t all that much anyway) but because of WeatherSeal’s thick chemistry, more (and better) material can be deposited on the surface than the thinner stains, thus allowing more WeatherSeal protection to remain on the surface. For a longer life, and greater protection, the wood surface needs some type of shielding. WeatherSeal does both… it absorbs and it coats.

Applying Weatherseal On Decks
Prior to staining, clean the deck surface with either the bleach solution formula (1 qt. bleach, 3 qts. water, 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate, 2 oz. Dawn® detergent), or a deck cleaner.

Use a deck brush to scrub clean and then pressure-wash (500-750 psi) or hose down completely with a fresh water rinse. Allow to completely dry before coating. If the lumber is green (above 18%) allow to dry 2-4 months before cleaning and coating.

Once the lumber is dry (below 18%), apply 1 to 2 coats of WeatherSeal. Two coats are especially recommended on new uncoated decks. Two coats will provide a more uniform and richer appearance, a longer service life, and better protection. Wait until the first coat is dry to touch (slightly tacky is OK) before applying the second coat. (A second coat will not spread smoothly and evenly over the first coat if the first coat is too sticky.)

On previously stained decks, a thorough pressure wash and cleaning of the stained surface is mandatory. Depending on the type and amount of old stain remaining on the deck surface and its appearance, stripping of the weathered stain to bare wood may be necessary.
Once the final coat is applied and dry to touch, wait 3-4 days (70˚F/21˚C) before gently placing furniture and allowing light traffic and approximately 10 days (70˚F/21˚C) for normal use. (At this point WeatherSeal will still be softer so care should be taken not to drag furniture, walk with muddy feet, let dogs run wild, etc.)

Note: WeatherSeal will not achieve its full hardness for 21-30 days at moderate mid-70˚F daytime temperatures, However, within 7-10 days at these temps, WeatherSeal will achieve 80 - 90% hardness.

Questions? Give us a call at 1-800-359-6614 or contact us through our website here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sap Seeping From Sides of Finished Logs

Sap and pitch can seep from logs for years after the logs have been cut and the building finished. This usually happens while moisture is leaving the wood, carrying pitch to the surface. Also, the logs could have been summer cut when they contained more moisture, sap, and pitch. It is always best to cut logs during the winter months or early spring when moisture, sap, and pitch are at a minimum.

Treatment: If the sap or pitch is dry and crystallized it can be scraped off with a metal putty knife or sanded off with an Osborn buffing brush; the remaining residue can be cleaned up with a mild solvent such as rubbing alcohol. If the sap or pitch is still wet, wait until it has stopped running. A cleaning agent like X-180 can be used to remove the wet sap, or let it dry and then clean up with a mild solvent like rubbing alcohol. If you clean it off while it is still wet, it will probably continue to ooze back out over the area you have cleaned. You may want to just let the sap continue to seep out until it stops before trying to clean it up.

Reprinted from our Log Core newsletter Fall 2016 edition

Questions? Give us a call at 1-800-359-6614 or contact us via our webpage here.

Green Logs, Green Homes

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! It's a good time to remember that unless you specifically stained them to be that color... green logs aren't lucky!

What are green logs?

One way to define green logs is logs that are still wet from being recently cut and have a moisture content of over 18%. In new construction, green logs should be given appropriate settling consideration, such as space above the windows (a common rule of thumb is 1/2" for every foot of log wall). Green wood with moisture content over 18% should also be allowed to dry before applying a final stain/sealer finish. If the wood is too wet, not only could it potentially degrade the penetration and/or adhesion of the coating, but a finish applied to wet wood could also trap moisture behind it and lead to mildew growth or even decay.

Although not common to log homes, green logs could also be defined as green-treated wood, which is wood pressure-treated with a copper preservative that gives a greenish hue. Logs are more typically treated with a borate preservative, but green-treated wood might be seen in deck boards, railings, steps, or other additional features on a log or cedar home. Brand-new green-treated wood can be so saturated with the preservative that any wood stain may have trouble penetrating and/or adhering to it. For this reason, a general rule of thumb would be to let green-treated wood season for at least six months before applying any stain/sealer.

Green logs might also be defined as wet logs with moss or algae growth on them. This is a sign of big trouble and too much prolonged moisture. Whether it is a log at ground level getting too much rain splashback, or a north-facing wall with a leaky gutter, a green log is not a good sign and should be taken care of immediately. Cleaning, preserving, restoring, or possibly partially replacing, are all steps that might be taken after fixing the issue of water exposure.

And yet, while a green log isn't necessarily good, all log homes are green and that's great! In this respect, green means environmentally friendly. Logs are a completely renewable and often locally resourced building material. Even as they grow as trees, logs have taken carbon-dioxide out of the air through the process of photosynthesis. The waste product from building is completely biodegradable. Logs have thermal mass that absorb, retain, and radiate heat back into a home. So while logs may require some attention to resist the natural process of nature, there is no doubt that log homes are green in a good and environmentally friendly kind of way!

Questions on how to keep your log home 'green' in a good way while preventing your logs from going green in a bad way? Give us a call! 1-800-359-6614 or online through our website here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why Do We Need Sapstain Control?

By Gary Schroeder (revised and reprinted from our Spring 1999 issue of Log Core newsletter)

Wood, and in this case the log, was a living substance; as soon as the tree is cut the biological breakdown of wood begins. The wood is protected for some time by first the bark and in the cold months of the year, temperature. As soon as the bark (shell) is removed, fungi can land on the unprotected wood and start its work. The steps of rot are mold and mildew, sapstain, white stringy rot, brown cubical rot and then just organic powder. The mold and mildew attack the surface to break the shell, then the sapstain goes into the wood deeper to start the transportation of water down into the wood to help decay. Next comes the white stringy rot with white filaments coming to the surface to seek out water and bring it deeper into the wood. Then the rotting fungi starts to basically unglue the individual wood cells to bring it back to powder.

A sapstain control was used to stop sapstain If we can slow down the breakdown of the shell, then we can prolong the breakdown of the internal wood fibers. Through spraying on a diluted preservative, we can accomplish this task. Now not all woods deteriorate at the same rate, for the white oaks, cedar, redwood and many others have toxins within the wood cells to help retard the rotting process. However, the pines which are softwoods have a tendency to rot more quickly. Pine wood also has less density because the cells contain more air that permits quicker entry of the fungi. Enough of why, and on to what deterrents we can apply to the surface to retard the fungi.

We have several products out of a multitude of products on the market. The products we choose to carry are Sansin Timber-Tec, TM-5 First Treat, Sta-Brite P, and PQ-80. We carry these because they are more environmentally friendly than others. However, do not be fooled with the word “friendly”. Any material in stronger concentrates can still be unfriendly.

Sansin Timber-Tec is diluted 1:1 with water. Two options are available: M-30 provides the natural light color of fresh pine and C-20 provides a light honey color to the wood once dried. Its water repellency and UV protection helps during the construction phase

TM-5 First Treat can be diluted 1:1 with water, and in some rare occurrences can be diluted 2:1 if dry weather is expected or if applied to woods that do not sapstain easily. The ingredients in TM-5FT deter rot, sapstain, mildew and mold. However, because it is working within the wood and at times on the surface, it may not stop natural graying and mildew. If reapplied as the previous applications weathers off, it will repel mildew better.

Sta Brite P & PQ-80 are both super concentrated and can only be shipped from the manufacturer or picked up at our Grand Rapids, MN office. Stay Brite P mixes at the rate of 2.56 oz. per gallon or 12.8 oz. per 5-gallons of water, or as the contractor wants to mix it. This product is highly effective and has a bleaching agent in it that will lighten the logs. PQ-80 is similar to the Sta Brite P but contains Copper 8 quinolinolate that is safe for use on food boxes. This product leaves a brownish pigment to the wood. Note: These products are only sold to builders.

To Remember: Fungi need moisture to live. Because moisture is such an important factor to sapstain and rotting, we are mainly concerned about these during the time the wood is cut and to the point that it reaches 20% moisture content. Dry wood does not need protection of this type. Dry wood only requires a finish to keep it dry.

The other thing to remember concerning spraying on mildewcides and finishes is that it causes a film barrier to prevent other liquids from entering the wood. Because of this barrier, it is a requirement to break this barrier down at a later date by pressure washing to allow other products to enter the wood. Some people may wish to apply a borate product like PeneTreat before spraying on the sapstain control. This is permissible. There are different mixing application rates for PeneTreat and the sapstain controls. Because of these different mixing and application rates, it is best to spray them independently. This can be done in either of two methods. First, spray on before sapstain control or Second, pressure wash surface after the house is up and then apply the PeneTreat. This application is recommended so that the most amount of PeneTreat is absorbed into the logs prior to applying the finish.

Questions? Give us a call at 1-800-359-6614 or contact us here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

2017 Catalogs- Hot off the press!

We print them once a year, and they are here! If you are on our list, you should be seeing our new 2017 catalog in the mail shortly.

Our annual catalog is packed full of tips and information on log home care, including our full line-up of products to build, maintain, or restore a log home: stains, finishes, caulk, chinking, backer rod, log tools, preservatives, tenon cutters, books, videos, and more.

If you haven't received one and would like to, the catalogs are free! Request yours here.