Log homes are built tough. Where other types of housing have succumbed to extreme weather like hurricanes and tornadoes, their log home neighbors have stood strong. Why? It’s all thanks to a carefully engineered building system.
A building system is a pre-determined way of assembling the various components to ensure high levels of structural integrity. Simply put, it’s a plan. How it pertains to log homes is that you can’t just start cutting down trees and setting the trunks on top of each other. The idea is to methodically plan how to stack the logs and hold them in place so that they’ll support each other, the weight of the roof, interior walls and floors — not to mention the furniture and people who live there.
The basis of the building system is engineering, grounded on a thorough knowledge of how wood reacts to various forces, not the least of which is gravity. To meet building codes, log walls must be rigid enough to resist vertical, lateral and shear forces. To create this rigidity, engineers apply complex mathematical formulas to such variables as log size, wood species, profile, corner style, moisture control and the total size of the home. These engineering calculations can range from a few pages for an individual design to a few hundred pages for an entire line of standard floor plans.
The engineered building systems that log home manufacturers develop and that builders follow determine how the individual logs function as a stable unit. The challenge of any of these systems is to accommodate not just the weight of logs, but also their tendency to move and support other components, such as the roof. Solutions involve the shape of the logs, the way they are stacked and connected and how they’re sealed.
There are many ways to design and build log walls and roof systems. To do so properly requires knowledge of many factors. Here are some of the key structural stresses that affect your home’s construction: