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My husband & I are thinking about tackling the staining of our newly built home on our own to save money. Sashco will be providing the stain and said they could talk us through this. Has anyone done this? Any unforseen problems? Thank you!

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Hi Kevin,
We ended up having the builder do it (due to my husband traveling too much) but we did the caulking on the tongue & groove ends ourselves. We put 2 stain coats on and next year we'll put the 3rd coat on and the sealing coat (we broke it up to save $ this year as we had other things to purchase for our newly built home). Sashco said said we'd be fine w/ 2 coats but everyone else told us to go 3. What do you think?
Well I am not sure just yet. I am looking to learn about the experiences of others with the sashco transformation. I do know that certain colors have more pigment. The pigment plays a major role in UV protection. The darker colors offer greater protection, but many owners prefer the lighter colors. That is the reason behind 3 coats. As long as you maintain the exterior with recomended intervals, I would think you could "add a coat" at your convenience. It might make more sense to recoat every 2-3 years verses 2 coats every 4-6. Then you get a fresh coat more often which would "renew" the exterior each time. This of course is assuming you are doing it yourself, and not paying someone else for labor. Does this make sense? :o)
One thing that's often overlooked is running some tests of actual samples...and make sure they're on the same type/age/moisture as what the final product will be.
Both Sashco, and Log Home Store offer samples...the latter also has wood cleaning and brightening samples available.
You might take a look at the article on prepping you log home prior to finishing at:
http://www.loghomestore.com/nl-care.html.
Regards, Scotty
I am a refinishing contractor and about 80% of the stain I use is Transformation. If you properly prep, clean without bleach (sorry, not trying to cause a fight, but bleach is bad for the logs), use CPR, a non oxidizing bleach product sold at almost any store that sells log home stuff, osborne brush, much easier and quicker than sanding, 2 good even coats of transformation and yearly maintenance, and I would be shocked if you needed to re-stain in the next seven years. We actually give a seven year warranty on transformation, and lifetime warranty when chink is used on Transformation (backed by Sashco).

There are plenty of professionals and seasoned home owners to offer plenty of help and advice when you tackle this. Good luck and have fun!

Dave
Log Home Finishes
I am a Sashco Dealer and love the products they sell, you'll be very happy. I would be sure to pressure wash, bleach, and osburn brush it. This adds many extra hours but it's well worth the time. I would also give it three coats

Justin Wright
American Logs and Siding
You can do it but you have to be both diligent and careful.

When spraying, first and foremost you will want to spray the color evenly over the logs. Second, you will have to watch for runs, which will be legion. Logs have unpredictability built in. You have to brush over (backbrush) every square inch that you spray, several times, and you will have to watch each wall for a few minutes to make sure a new drip doesn't form where material puddled in a check or something. If you have a handcrafted house with the usual variation in log width, its not uncommon for a run up high to drip down on a log down low, and you might miss both problems. Be patient. If you are a type-A personality, you might not want to do this yourself.

You won't spray the color perfectly with the first coat. The second coat helps even out the color. Just keep the evenness in mind.

The second coat will want to run more than the first because the logs are no longer absorbing anything. (I need to mention that all of my experience is with water based stains, and Transformation is probably not quite as bad in the run department. If it ends up that I am overstating the issue, I apologize. But better safe than sorry.)

You want to do entire walls in one go. Its fine to stop for lunch before you go around the corner, but don't stop mid-wall.

Don't stain the front of the house first. Spray a less often seen wall or two and make sure you are doing it right (avoiding run's, getting it even, etc) before showing off your talents to the world.

Test how much color the log ends absorb by spraying a scrap log. You want to spray log very heavy to be sure they have a good coat of finish, but the heaviest spraying might be with the clear coat later on. the test will tell you how dark the log ends will be with various levels of color. (This may be finessing things more than you want to deal with. It might not be worth it. but do spray the clear coat extra heavy on the logs ends and brush it in.)

Keep in mind that down low the tendency is to forget to spray under the logs (and up high, the tops of them). After you've sprayed, get down on your knees (or up on the ladder) to be sure you got good coverage in those spots. I'll tell you this now but you'll probably ignore it: Don't ever trust that you sprayed everything and not look. Don't depend on backbrushing to spread to stain over unsprayed areas. That won't work. Be sure everything is sprayed and brushed.

Oh, if your roof system has tongue and groove laid over purlins, be aware that as you spray sections up high, the color can run between the purlins and the boards and run down to lower sections where you might not notice the drip. Runs on the ceiling are particularly ugly. Watch for them. You'll kick yourself when you remember I told you this, too late.

Be careful spraying into corners. Amateurs tend to spray up to the corner from both walls and get the material on heavier where the logs meet, making it noticeably darker there. Better to almost stop a little bit short on both walls and depend on the overspray and a bit of brushing to even things up.

Never spray in the sunlight, or at least in warm sun. Or over hot logs. Or even in the partial shade of a tree. One house I worked on had the "shadow" of a leafless early spring tree burned into one wall because the painters had sprayed it on an unusually warm spring day and the stuff dried faster where the logs were warm and it was obvious where the tree was during the backbrush process (this was with a water based stain, which probably performs differently than Transformation, but staying out of the sun is still good advice.) Follow the shade.

Spraying up high is uncomfortable for some people, and the discomfort translates to less competent work in those areas. Inside or out, if you can't find a comfortable way to work at heights, doing it yourself might not be the best idea. Of course if your house isn't very high this isn't much of a problem. Its those 30 foot walls....

Take your time and make sure you have masked and taped off windows, light fixtures, etc. well. And removed the masking materials as soon as you can after the last coat goes on. If there have been leaks behind the mask or tape, its usually still wet for a couple of days and is easier to clean up at that point. Once it dries its much harder. Also, it makes the masking tape stick to the surfaces you didn't want it to stick to, and in general makes a mess. The sooner the better.

I won't comment on log prep. The brand of finish I prefer doesn't require all the preliminary brushing, etc. Just clean logs. But I'd rather not get into a heavy duty discussion of brand preferences. Its like religion and politics to log people.

If you do use the Osborne brushes, never press hard real hard. It wears them out quicker (they are spendy), and when they get splayed out (the bristles start spreading out) they don't work as well. Use moderation. Also be careful with brushes in corners. Forcing them tends to lighten the logs more on the inside corners (including the tails) than the rest of the logs, and this is especially evident after staining.

Too, don't let the Osborne brushes touch wood boards such as sofits or ceilings. The sanding action will immediately cause light spots every time it hits, and such things will be obvious when you stain. Better to have some of the green scrubby things you use for pots and pans and use those vigorously in any spot the Osborne can't or shouldn't be used. It takes elbow grease, but I assume you've got lots of it if you're in the mood to do this stuff.

Use a big-honking, slow speed grinder for the Osborne brushes if you're going to use them. Too high a speed splays them out faster, and wears them out faster. I always used a big DeWalt. Heavy, but it did great work. I believed I used a DeWalt DeWalt D28493N , or one of its predecessors. 5000 rpm. Don't use a high speed one (11,000). That ruins the Osbornes quickly. Too much centrifical force.

I don't like using Osborne brushes on new logs if the logs are hand-peeled. The hand-peeled look is smoothed off and not worth what you paid to get it done. Personal preference thing. Its less of an issue if the logs are turned.

You are probably best off if you have one person spraying and two people backbrushing. Have the backbrushers watch for uneven spraying so they can tell the gun operator, and too have the backbrushers constantly check each others work as well as their own. I can't emphasize how easy it is to overlook runs.

Three backbrushers are better. One is worse. You decide.

The backbrushers should have extendable poles, and make broad back and forth movements (8 to 10 feet is fine) which helps even out the color, and is quicker too. The backbrushers are not taking small strokes, except perhaps when they find a drip to brush out.

Optimally, each backbrusher should have two brushes, one on the end of the extendable pole, one by itself for use in low or tight areas. Or when on a ladder working under the eaves where the pole is hard to use. Or they can just pull the pole brush out and use it when they need it sans pole. However, I've had such bad luck finding good brushholders for my pole (they break so easily these days) that I try to avoid that strategy.

I prefer using brushes that have round handles. You put one of those adjustable paint brush holders on the end of the pole and put the round handled brush in it. This lets you easily twist the brush around to different angles so that you can get in every nook and cranny. (Most brushes have squared off handles and are hard to twist around in the brush holders) It also allows you to take off the brush holder and unscrew the brush handle and then screw the extendable pole right into the brush for when you're doing the ceiling.

Don't scrimp on brushes. Get good ones. I prefer Wooster brushes (Lowes, I believe, or better paint stores) . They seem to last forever. And given the logs are hard on brushes because of the check and stuff the seem to catch them, the better the brush the better your work will be. You're saving money by doing it yourself, but you're costing yourself if you go with things like cheap brushes. Frazzled brushes do frazzled.

When I can't get Wooster's, I use Purdy's, but they don't have round handles and don't last as long.

Yes you can do your own staining. And no doubt save a lot of money. Just don't go into it too casually. Be serious. Be determined. And be critical of yourself to make the quality better.

Good luck. And don't forget to wear face masks to protect your lungs. You want to enjoy your house for a long, long time.
ChinkerBob,
That.....was a spot on post!
Beth
Thanks Beth. I probably got a little carried away, and my editing proves it was late. The frazzled brush line right towards the end should have read: "Frazzled brushes do frazzled brushing" or something like that.

Its easier to say "Yep you can do it" than it is to be the one doing it, so I wanted my encouragement to be realistic.
I totally get that. I hate to get to a house and see it was done poorly be the owner, prior owner (in many cases) or wannabee pro who cut corners. It's meticulous work.
Beth
Awesome post Bob!

General question. Assuming the chinking will outlast stain, Do you stain right over existing chinking, or do you attempt to mask the chinking?
Sadly, taping off chink is quite impossible. Not worth the effort.

The best approach to a chinked house is to use a water-based stain that can be maintained with periodic clear coats. The clear will not discolor the chinking very much, as long as you don't have dust on the logs that ends up being mud when you backbrush the clear finish.

Depending on the regular variables, such as location, exposure, etc. a well applied stain job should last 10-15 years without a recoat of color.

When you do recoat you can either accept that your chinking will be a new color too, or do a skin coat of chinking (very thin coat) over the old stuff. Naturally there is a limit to how many times you can do this before you house becomes only chinking, no logs, but since the flexible chinking materials have only been around for a bit over 25 years, it hasn't come to that yet for most people.

Some people are smart and chink with a color that is very close to the color of the logs, so that subsequent color applications will be irrelevant to the chinking. I don't think it looks as good (generally) but it is an option.

Matching colors is a good option for those who don't really like the look of chinking but appreciate how well it seals the house.

Reapplying a brown stain over brown logs with gray chinking will result in a brownish chinking, but not something that automatically turns the same color as the logs. If there was a lot of contrast before, there will still be contrast. Its a cheap fix.

If I were trying to do a major overhaul on a house that needed refinishing bad (due to neglect) I would be tempted (money permitting) to cob blast the house, restain it and do the thin coat of chinking thing to make refresh it.

At some point one would want to strip out all the chinking, restain and rechink anew with a thinner chink bead, but that's something that our descendents will have to deal with. Shouldn't happen in our lifetime.

There are chink "paints", but they look like paint when they are done, and I don't like them. I used Weatherall chinking, which has sand in it that gives the surface a fairly good mortar look, and painting over that sand makes the surface monotone. Just don't like it. However some brands of chinking are monotone to start out with, so it is less of an issue.

These are all questions people should ask when they decide to get into log homes. Maintenance is a lot more work on these babies. However, don't get discouraged. Over the years I've made it a point to ask homeowners how they feel about the extra work of log homes, and almost to the person they have all said it is worth it.
Another great post Bob.

So, the bottom line is if you have a chinker, keep up your top coat of clear sealer and don't let it wear down to the pigment layer or you will be asking for ChinkerBob to come out and lay down another layer of chink. Sound's good.

I like your last statement. "almost to the person they have all said it is worth it". In my experience, I have found the same thing. People love their log homes even with the extra work.

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