17 Feb Frequently Asked Maintenance Questions
In our line of work, we are fortunate to meet log home owners throughout the Midwest and Southern states and often many of the same repair and maintenance log home questions are on their minds.
How often should I reseal my log home? The short answer is usually every 3-5 years but this can vary due to many factors. Sealant manufacturers are reluctant to make absolute projections of their products’ longevity due to variances in the type of sealant, choice of color (darker shades provide more UV protection), which side of the house (prevailing UV and weather patterns), what type of surface preparation, and so on.
The answer to how often your home should be resealed can be determined by some easy (and no-cost) testing. One simple test is to throw a cup of water on the surface and observe whether the existing sealant is performing its job. If the wood doesn’t repel water, it is time to reseal no matter how much time has passed since the last application. In addition to observing how water reacts to the surface, be alert to any mold growth evident on the wood. These areas are typically marked by black or green spots and need to be chemically treated prior to resealing.
Sealant application should be part of your ongoing maintenance program. For example, once your entire home is properly sealed the south and west walls will usually need recoating first (often within 3-5 years). The north and east outside walls are more protected from UV sunlight and weather, and may need resealing only every 5-8 years.
Acrylic finishes require the least amount of long term surface maintenance and properly maintained, the home should require only minimal topcoat maintenance for upkeep.
What are the Small Black Spots appearing on my logs and roof shingles? We often get calls about tiny, “black specks” appearing on log walls, decks, and asphalt roof shingles. These are actually mature spore masses expelled from fruiting bodies of a fungus known as “shot gun” or “artillery” fungus.
This fungus develops in organic mulches. Spores can be “shot” as high as the second floor of a building, and according to scientists, the fungus can generate up to 1/10,000 of a horsepower when expelling these spores. Once airborne, the spores settle on organic surfaces (like your log walls) where artillery fungus can complete its life cycle. This is usually a greater problem in spring and fall, under cool, moist conditions.
These spores are one to two millimeters in diameter, black, sticky, and globular in appearance. The spores can also ruin the appearance of exterior wood surfaces, though it is easily treatable when the wood is refinished.
How can I tell when my home needs the existing finish stripped before resealing? If the existing finish has been properly maintained, it should never require stripping. But if the existing surface has suffered damage (UV degradation, sealant failure, water absorption) applying the most expensive sealant will be a waste of time and money.
A quick and simple test of the wood’s condition is to scrape a dull screwdriver blade (or the back of your thumbnail) across the grain in an obscure spot. If the finish (and underlying wood fiber) is easily removed, then the dead wood must be stripped before resealing.
Another test is to apply a patch of duct tape to an obscure area of the wood, and cut an “X” through the tape (and underlying wood) with a razor knife. When the tape is removed, if the tape brings wood fiber with it along the edges of the cut, it is time to strip the existing finish.
Is there anything that can be done about those annoying carpenter bees? You might be surprised by how many of your neighbors keep badminton racquets on the front porch and pay the kids a bounty for swatting these pests. The best long term solution we have found is to add a contact insecticide (made specifically for carpenter bees) to the sealant when the home is resealed.
Existing carpenter bee damage can be easily repaired using commonly available materials and proper treatment will discourage these pests from returning. We have an entire download dedicated to dealing with carpenter bees.