17 Nov Log Home Spring Cleaning
Certain maintenance rituals greet the log home owner annually and when properly maintained, your log home can remain a source of beauty and pride for years to come.
Exterior Finish Care: acrylic finishes like those from PermaChink and Sashco benefit from annual cleaning with a log wash product specifically made for that purpose. These soap based solutions contain phosphoric acid which serves to prevent surface growth on the exterior wood. Cleaning is simple: mix the log wash according to directions, apply with a typical pump-up garden sprayer, applying to the wall from the bottom up (this prevents streaking as the cleaner attacks the dirt) and rinsed from the top down. A garden hose is sufficient but if you are looking for a reason to buy a pressure washer it can be used if you keep a safe distance back as you rinse. Stubborn areas such as mud dauber nests or bird excrement can be removed by using a long-handled car washing brush available from an auto parts store.
Manufacturers of oil-based finish products generally recommend reapplication of stain every 3-5 years so it may be time to reapply or consider transitioning to a newer, low maintenance acrylic finish.
Decks: exposed decks (not under porches) are the most abused wood surfaces on a typical home. The lumber is generally of a lower grade soft wood variety, the deck boards and handrails are constantly soaking up UV rays and walk boards frequently “cup” to hold water. Annual cleaning with a sodium percarbonate based cleaner will kill any growth in the wood, which is critical prior to reapplication of stain product. A great deck cleaner that will also strip some older oil based finishes and remove damaged gray wood can be made by mixing about 12 ounces (think size of a soda can) Oxyclean (available in the laundry aisle) with about three gallons of warm water (warm water helps dissolve the powder). Stir to mix, then pour off the mix into a pump up sprayer. Be careful not to pour undissolved powder into the sprayer as it will clog the tip. This solution is best applied early morning before the deck heats up, then pressure washed off (to strip off an old oil based finish) or thoroughly rinsed if simply cleaning the existing finish.
If you are re-staining the deck there are a variety of suitable stains available from the big home improvement stores. For the most part, they all will need frequent reapplication. Just as with stripping, finish application should be done when the deck is cool to prevent evaporation of the product before adequate penetration into the wood.
Carpenter Bee and Woodpecker Damage: nothing signals the approach of spring like the return of the carpenter bees. These pests reuse existing holes for nesting and left untreated woodpeckers will feed on the bee larva resulting in significant wood damage left behind. Existing holes should be probed with a wire coat hanger to disrupt any existing activity, then dusted with a suitable contact insecticide. The most common ones used by log home owners are Drione, Deltametherin, and Cypermetherin. Seal holes after application using a log home specific caulk (like PermaChink Energy Seal or Sashco Conceal) and when it is time to re-stain consider a contact insecticide additive for your finish topcoat.
By Wayne Bell