The Log Home Neighborhood

An online log home community for log home enthusiasts.

Hi all. I am very new here, just found and joined the site tonight.

My wife and I are starting the planning process to build a modest log home. We have two daughters, and are looking to build a 3 bedroom/2bath home. We are in western Maine. We don't yet have a building site picked out.

I am the one who needs to understand how things are done and what the pros and cons are of different methods. I prefer to rely on experienced and unbiased sources of information. Hence I am trying out this online community.

I have been reading some about building methods, and am encountering terms that I don't yet understand. There is the butt-and-pass method (touted by some as the pure traditional and longest-lasting method with the least amount of settling), the Scandanavian full scribe chinkless, the Canadian chinkless, and then all the various milled products. I really want a simple and more traditional log home that will be durable and provide the maximum insulation, so I am leaning towards building with full logs, not milled products. I don't yet know who are the best log home craftsmen in my area, and I need to learn enough to be able to evaluate the various builders that are available to me.

I found a few posts by a professional chinker on this site, and I admit my own ignorance of what chinking even is...but if there are chinkless methods that have been developed, is that because chinking is something to avoid? or does it change the aesthetics? or is it more costly?

I think that I am really looking for some reliable information resources to help me learn about the different building methods so that I can evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and relative costs and make an informed decision for myself. Is there anyone here who is willing to weigh in on these questions?

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Paul -

I will leave the different building methods to other professionals. What I can talk about is chinking! I'm Charis with Sashco and chinking is a product we manufacture.

Chinking, back in the day, was the mortar/cement/mud mix stuff put in between log courses to seal it up. These days, chinking is generally thought of as synthetic, textured caulking-type product also used to seal between the logs. Chinking isn't "bad" or "wrong", it's simply a different aesthetic look. Chinked homes are generally more popular in the western and southeast US.

"Chinkless" is a bit of a misnomer, in our opinion. While many of the chinkless style homes don't necessarily need any sort of sealant up front (chinking or caulking), most will require one or the other at some point down the line. The logs will expand and contract over time, shrink some, etc. etc., which will stress any joints and eventually requiring sealing in a least some places. You won't necessarily have to use mortar-looking chinking. There are products out there that are textured & match stain to help maintain that "chinkless" look while also sealing the home as needed.

Hope that gives you a least a little info to be watching for. Be wary of anyone who tells you that "you'll never have the caulk or chink your home". It is nearly impossible to buy a log home that won't need some sort of sealant eventually.

-- Charis
Charis, Your words: ""Chinkless" is a bit of a misnomer, in our opinion"........"logs will expand and contract over time"..........where do people get this information???? Is this the company mantra?
I am sorry but I take exception to your statements above.........I just visited a home that I built 18 years ago in Michigan and there is no need for chinking then nor now.......Of course, there is caulking required from time to time at the notches but by no means does this house need chinking......You sell chinking and I sell quality......let's all be truthful here and stop this nonsense about chinking every house because the quality wasn't there in the beginning......
Tim - As stated, that was in my opinion. I have been more than transparent in my posts on this forum and others about who I am and who I work for. (In fact, that was in my 2nd sentence!) People can certainly choose to take or leave anything I say and make their own decisions based on the abundance of valuable information available from forums, manufacturers, applicators, and homeowners out there.

I also want to point out that I made no assumptions in my post about quality, only about logs themselves. They do expand and contract over time, not necessarily in large amounts. I only said that most homes will "eventually requiring sealing in a least some places", which you agreed with above. I never said that every home had to be completely chinked.
Paul,
Welcome to the site. There are lots of very friendly [and funny] characters to give you all kinds of advice. I have no vested interest in this company but you may want to talk to Ward's Cedar Log Homes (Ron Silliboy) about the different building methods. They are in northern Maine and might be worth a visit for you. They have been in the log business a LONG time and they have been very helpful in teaching me lots about the process. I have found them knowledgeable, low pressure, and very honest. Their competitors speak highly of them, too. Good luck!
Thanks, gang. I certainly didn't mean to start any fights over the chinking question. I am sure that in log homes, as in most things, there are pros and cons to various methods. I am simply trying to learn about them. Having a healthy debate helps me to learn these things, so I appreciate the perspectives offered by Charis and Tim.

However, being derisive about someone's motives does not help any of us.

Tim, it seems that you are a builder, so I am interested to hear more of your opinions on the strengths and weakness of the various building methods.

I am coming to understand that some building methods require chinking, and some may not, but most will require knowledge of where sealing is required. It seems that a master craftsman can build a log house that does not require chinking, but there is not an abundance of those kind of craftsmen, and I don't know if there are any in my area. Certainly the last thing I want to do is choose a building method that would require chinking and have someone talk me into believing that chinking isn't required. If I can learn the facts from those with experience, then I can make an informed decision.

Norb, I have heard of Ward's. I think they have a rep very close to where I live. I love everything about cedar except for its cost, especially here in Maine. We have to ship our cedar in from out west and it is very expensive. There is an abundance of fir and pine and some hardwoods, and I would rather build with locally available wood. But I will certainly check out their products.

As of today, I am leaning toward the Swedish cope style with the notched corners, using whole logs if possible. I just want to make sure I learn what I need to know to get it done properly.
Paul, It really all depends on your wants, hope and desires and pocketbook.....There are builders like myself who build "chinkless" log homes and have done so for the past 30 years with great success.......Unfortunately, (like any other business)......people have entered the Handcrafted business who use the term "Handcrafted" but they have made the product quicker, dirtier and cheaper and the layperson is like a lamb going to slaughter as they simply don't know and can't get up to speed.....Charis likely sells a lot of chinking to these people.....It is really like any business.....It depends on the integrity of the owners of the company......We are design builders and have seen drawings that don't resemble the quote......Why are you (the client) expected to know the difference between a 10' and 12' plate height???? Unless you are knowledgeable.......you may miss this on so-called comparable quotes......trust me a 12' plate height in a Handcrafted Log Home is going to cost you about 30% more.......size of logs? Does it matter? We know of a kit log home company that uses 6" pine logs and calls them R-19....outright, outrageous lie!!!!!!! I won't get up in the morning to Handcraft a log home with "pecker poles".......We use a minimum 14" top diameter that is about R-20+......How simple is that..........you measure the smallest part of any log in the wall system and you won't find anything less than 14".......what does "mean diameter" really mean......nothing.....NADA.......It depends on the taper of the logs used.....On and on it goes.........grading.......species........I am still learning myself and will gladly answer any questions....IF I don't know the answer, I will tell you.........
Tim,

I am looking for a builder with your attitude about doing it right. The problem is, how do I find one, and how do I evaluate his skills?

It has always seemed fairly obvious to me that a 6x8 milled log is not going to have anywhere near the R-value of a nice 14 or 16 inch log. I am really hoping to build an energy efficient house that can be heated with wood or wood pellets. It doesn't seem like a kit home with 6 inch logs is going to be much more energy efficient than a stick-built, but will certainly cost more to build.

Anyway, the whole discussion is looking moot because my wife told me today that she really doesn't want whole logs. She prefers to have flat walls on the inside, rather than the natural textured round half of logs.

Oh well. I am still going to try to convince her of the value of a house built with whole logs. We'll see...

Be sure to point out to your wife that you can have flat log walls inside (even with a handcrafted log home) Our walls are made to be chinked but I'll bet there's a clever handcrafter out there who could do a full scribe with a flat hewn interior.......
Susan,

Thanks. That is a great picture. Those wide logs are going to look beautiful when they are done. I wonder what the chinking will look like.

Clearly I have much to learn. Everyone here has been very helpful.

What kind of wood are you using?
Paul, Design is one of the most important things when it comes to energy efficiency with the roof insulation being number two on the list.......walls account for only 15% of the total energy consumption of a home......windows are your enemy R-2 in most cases. Susan, you are coming along......Do you need to borrow the chinking gun? I will glad to send it along.......We have some chinking to do later in the summer........it just sits in the basement taking up space.
Thank you for your generous offer, Tim. But I'm happy to say that Ric bought me my very own chinking gun - nothing says 'romance' like buying a new tool for the missus, huh?

BTW, that picture was from early last fall right after we had the rough plumbing inspection. We're currently working on the hvac rough in (hope to finish it up in a couple of weeks) I refuse to do any staining or chinking on the interior until we have our framing inspection and can close up the eaves...the birds keep getting in the house and pooping all over the place, the last thing I want to do is to clean birdy pooh off fresh chinking! LOL!
Thank you, Tim. I know what you are saying about windows. We live now in a stick-built colonial that has many large windows. It faces west, which is nice for views of the White Mountains, but it costs thousands every year to heat this place. We use a combination of oil, wood, and electric space heaters.

It sounds like an experienced log home designer might be worth the cost in order to get a design that will be as energy efficient as possible.

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