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I would like to get my cabin refinished and chinked on the outside. I live along Lake Pepin in Wisconsin and I am looking for someone reliable who knows how to refinish and then chink a cabin.

It is just the upper level and the cabin is 24 X 40.

Does anyone know where I might find such a person or company? I am an hour away from the Twin Cites and or LaCross or Euclaire.

Thanks in advance for the leads.


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How solid are the logs? Are they sound? Is the surface weathered like old logs laying around in the woods or are they in pretty good shape? I'm asking about the worst of the logs, south side exposed to the sun, north side wet all winter, wherever there might be problems. This will affect your choices when you decide what to do.

Are there any walls that have snow up against them all winter long? If so, when combined with an old finish, they are probably pretty wet. They will have to be dry before they can be stained. You may have to put Impel rods in them to help keep them dry.

Do you have mildew, or worse yet, moss, growing on any of the logs. Hopefully not, but if you do thats a sign of persistent moisture and you will want to find a way to deal with it.

Also you mentioned frost on the logs. This may because you live on a lake and the air is wet (most likely) but I have seen some inherently wet logs get pretty darned frosty every time it freezes. If only a few logs are getting frosty, examine them more closely to be sure it is not because the logs are waterlogged.

You can either corncob blast the finish off or sand it off. The first one is faster, but if you're willing to sand it yourself you can save some money. In either case, if you don't have sound wood under the finish in spots, you may have to go so far as to have some of the logs either replaced or otherwise fixed.

Once you have clean, sound logs, you can put most any finish you want on it. The critical factor now as you look for a contractor is to understand the condition of the underlying wood.

Once you get the house stained and chinked and you are in it during cold weather next year, keep a little booklet of 3M stickie notes handy, and as you wander around inside the house and feel cold spots, mark them with a sticky note. If the cabin is old enough, you might find yourself going through a lot of paper but its an easy way to mark the cold spots so that when you do get out the caulk gun or hire someone else to caulk, you will know what spots need to be dealt with.

You can do the sticky notes thing now but presumably chinking the exterior will fix most of those.

I don't know what sort of joint you have between logs on the interior, but you may find yourself tempted to caulk between the logs on the inside because to be honest, one layer of chinking does not a high R-factor make. The logs will still get cold on the outside and much of that cold will transfer in past where the chinking is and then leak between the logs. This is a fact of life in many log homes, and even though there are gaskets, sometimes 30 years later they are more or less squished flat and sort of useless.

Can you see daylight between the logs from the inside? If not, things may not be as bad as I'm painting them. If you can, I would advise against relying on just the exterior chinking. You could deal with the interior in a few years if you are on a tight budget though. The exterior is obviously the place to start.

Also keep in mind that many of the bugs and much of the cold might be coming through in places other than between the logs. You will want to, for instance, pull off all of the exterior window and door trim and recaulk around each of them. The trim probably needs replacing anyway. Make sure you seal not only between the logs and the window bucks, but also between the bucks and the windows themselves. Depending on how the windows are mounted you may have to seal that part on the interior. You may also have leaks in the roof system if logs go through stud walls or if the roof logs have twisted away from the roof material. If you have a conventional roof, that part may be fine but where it sits on the log walls may be a source of cold and bugs. Again, a few photos would help us tell you where to look for problems.

Your chinker will want to chink the 'verticals', the log corners where they stack on top of each other. I'm assuming with D-Logs that you have butt and pass corners, but whatever style corner you have, the chinker will want to take extra steps in the corners to assure that everything is sealed there.

If you could post some pictures of the worst logs and the interior and such perhaps we can give you a few more pointers.

I just re-read you original post and realize that you said the logs were on the "upper level" which probably means you don't have much water damage to deal with. I'm leaving my post intact in case it can help someone else with a similar situation.

Good luck with everything. Keep us posted about what you're up to and let us know what kind of luck you're having finding a contractor to help you.

This is most insightful. I see few if any of the problems that you talk about. My logs are well of the ground level, more then 2 feet in the worst case. I have large overhangs with great water drainage all around the foundation. I have gone around the cabin poking the lowest logs and find virtually no rot anywhere.

After thinking about what you have described on the frost issue-I now have a new theory. Where I see the frost is on the upper logs right outside the bath room. I only see the frost when the temperature is below zero. That is why I am thinking there be some moisture or air migration in this one area. This is the only area I seem to have a problem in.

I understand about chinking on both sides and I will probably do that at some point.

If I were to sand the logs instead of corn blast them, would I use a circular sander or what would you recommend. I have looked at renting a corn blaster but I have to go 150 miles to pick it up and then return it.

I take it you would not recommend a chemical non-toxic stripper?

If I sand then do I put on a sealer or primer coat before a final coat of stain? The different stain products seem quite confusing and I would hate to make a mistake picking the wrong one. I really would like a honey gold stain.

Thanks for your time in the reply. I now have a much better direction.


If you're going to sand it would be easiest to chemical strip the logs to get most of the finish off and then clean off the resulting fuzz/gunk with an Osborne brush attached to a large, low speed grinder. The goal is to get off all the loose wood, caused mostly by the use of the pressure washer to wash off the stripper, which kind of fuzzies stuff up. The brushes are spendy, but if you're nice to one, it should last for the entire house. Think they're in the $80 range.

You have to do the tight spots where the sander won't fit with green ScotchBright pads (I think thats what they're called), scrubby things you can pick up in the cleaning section at KMart or the grocery store. If you're going to use one of these brushes, let me know and I'll give you more specific instructions.

You'll want the most non-toxic stripper you can get your hands on since you are so close to a lake. I assume you would rather eat the fishies than hurt them.

I can't speak to what oil-based finishes require, but once you have the logs cleaned up with the sander you just start spraying on the color. The brand I am most familiar with requires two coats of color and one coat of clear.

I discussed the finish considerations in a bit more detail last week in another discussion. Scroll down about halfway to see my first post, then I think I added more after that, as did a few other people.

The corn blaster might still be a better deal because you will probably spend less time overall working on the house if you blast rather than do all the sanding, even including the travel time back and forth. Of course if gas prices jump back up all bets are off :-)

Be aware that corn blasting takes some finesse. You can make a mess of the logs if you aren't careful about things like pressure and how close you get to the logs.

A good chink pump costs $5000 to $7000 new. I might be able to track down a used one for you for a lot less. Be sure you get a machine that can pump the brand of material you choose. Some chink pumps can't pump everything out there. If I tracked down a used one for you it could pump anything. I can probably find one in the $2000-3000 range. On the bright side, once you were done you could probably sell it for about the same price, especially as the economy gets back in shape in a year or two.

How much chinking do you have to do? How many linear feet. You can get a rough estimate by measuring the length of a wall and multiply it by the number of vertical lines it has. Don't worry about subtracting windows and doors for the rough estimate. You will need to chink the top where the roof sits on the logs and usually the base where the bottom log sits on the foundation, so don't forget to include that footage. You apply the chinking about 1/4" thick, so you need to figure out how wide your chinking would be at the point in the gaps between the logs so that you can figure out how far one 5 gallon bucket will get you. As you can imagine, your logs will use far less chinking than a hand-crafted house with wide gaps between the logs.

Anyway, knowing how much chinking you have to do would help me calculate if a chink pump is worth it for you.

I don't know for sure how wide your lines are, but assuming they are fairly narrow, a pro would charge you about $2.50 per linear foot plus travel, per diem and lodging. Depending on the chinker, how he chinks and how much experience he or she has, a typical chinker can chink 250-750 feet per day. Two can do twice that, etc. Use that info to figure out the lodging costs. It could be more per foot. I don't know for sure what people are charging these days. I doubt it would be much cheaper. Compare your time and the cost to do it yourself and base your decision on that.

(The great variation in per-day footage comes from the gap I usually see between chinkers who trowel their material on and chinkers who "brush" it on with foam brushes. I've never figured out why anybody would use foam brushes, but its pretty common in the industry. And its slower. I've troweled every major brand of chinking out there with no problem, but I guess its a personal thing.)

Oh yes, the moisture around the bathroom window. I mentioned earlier about pulling the trim and resealing around all the windows. Hopefully that would take care of the problem.

You don't perchance have a bathroom vent coming out right around that area do you? Sometimes they are vented out side walls and that could explain the problem.

Anyway, hope this helps you get started deciding what you're going to do. You've got a few months before it gets warm enough to work outside, so hopefully you can make your plans in the meantime.

Hi Ike Eichhorn,

Your are welcome glad we both could help you!

Now if our weather will corporate it will be all good!

Great thread guys!! :)
I'm a handcrafted log builder in Michigan. I may be able to help you with your home.
I am a chinker in the Vail, CO area and will be travelling back to Wisconsin this summer and would really like to discuss your project. I hve been chinking very large high end log homes for the past 10 years and I am quite versed in all aspects of your project. Chinker bob has given you some excellent advice. Please contact me if you care to discuss this project. Thank you
Hi Daniel,

What part of Wisconsin do you work in. I am along the Mississippi outside of Stockholm.

call 800-564-2987 they have independent chinkers and stainers that will do the job.They are located in Mi.

Thanks so much for the information. I really appreciate it.

Ike - Looks like you have received an abundance of good info here! Call Sashco's Customer Service Dept. at 1-800-767-5656 for the names of people in & around WI who do log home finishing, or you can also visit our website here: All of the people listed are experienced log home professionals who will help you get the job done right.

And, of course, feel free to email me if you have any questions -

Good luck!

Thanks for this. I will do some more follow up.



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