17 Feb Know When Your Log Home or Cabin Needs Refinishing
All log homes will need some type of surface maintenance to provide protection from the elements and preserve the wood from harm.
To test your finish, use a spray bottle to mist the logs with water. If the water beads up and runs off like a freshly waxed car, then it’s doing the job. If the logs soak up water, then it is time for another application of finish.
How soon your home will require refinishing depends on many variables. Severity of weather exposure, care during preparation and stain application, as well as the quality of the stain used are primary factors. Homes in our area usually show finish failure first on the south and west sides (due to sun exposure and weather) and even the best oil-based finishes require application as often as every 2-3 years. Acrylic finish systems can be expected to last much longer.
The mechanics of a traditional oil finish require the sealant to perform an almost impossible task: remain on the surface offering protection from the elements, while it simultaneously soaking deeper into the wood. As professional applicators, we work with finishes from a variety of manufacturers. Until recently, oil based finishes remained a cost effective means of sealing and protecting your log home. But government regulations are changing that.
Oil finish manufacturers are being required to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) to meet federal EPA regulations. Many of these new finishes have been “watered down” to meet the restrictions and we find that the same finishes we applied just a couple of years ago are no longer made with the same formulas. This has prompted the development of new (and better) finish technology.
The current industry movement is in the development of water borne acrylic finishes. These finishes are environmentally friendly and dry to a water-repellant breathable finish which functions like Gore-Tex clothing. The finish allows moisture from the logs to exit while preventing the intrusion of water from the outside. Another feature of these finishes is that they remain flexible coatings that won’t chip and flake away from the logs.
Acrylic finishes use a multi-step process to obtain the best results from each of the system components. The stain colorant is derived from transparent aluminum oxide pigment: tiny particles of colored aluminum flakes which provide the desired color pigment while blocking and reflecting the damaging UV rays of the sun.
Once the existing log surface is properly prepared two coats of stain are applied to the logs, each applied to the point of saturation. The first coat soaks into the wood and dries. The second coat then saturates the wood out to the surface where further back brushing assures uniform coverage. These stain coats seal the wood and provide a beautiful transparent finish engineered to protect the wood from harmful UV damage.
The stain coats are followed by a clear acrylic topcoat which is very similar to the clear-coat on your automobile. This topcoat seals and protects the logs and their stain finish, adding UV protection as well. Available in either gloss or satin sheen, this coating encapsulates your log home with in a layer of breathable, acrylic protection. We’ve also had great success with adding a contact insecticide to this topcoat: carpenter bees just don’t like to even try to drill into it.
Long-term upkeep of acrylic finishes is greatly simplified. As long as the clear acrylic topcoat is maintained, the stained wood surfaces never come into contact with the elements. In the worst-case situations (high sun, south facing walls) a reapplication of clear topcoat can be expected in about 3-5 years and protected sides are expected to last 5-7 years or more before any recoating. Perhaps the best feature of this process is that reapplication can be easily accomplished by the homeowner, if desired. The clear topcoat is easy to work with and is applied over the existing finish. So long as there is a serviceable topcoat maintained on your home, it is expected that the existing finish should never need removal or restaining.
We have been applying acrylic finishes for several years and have found the PermaChink LifeLine products to absolutely live up to their reputation as the best in the industry. When your home’s surface needs attention, consider PermaChink’s low-maintenance acrylic system. Contact us determine how your home can be upgraded to this finish with beautiful results.