Should I consider chinking my log home?
Proper log home maintenance doesn't just
require regular staining. When you want to preserve a log
home's integrity and appearance, you have to maintain its chinking as well.
Chinking keeps bugs, precipitation, snowmelt, wind, heat and cold outside right
where they belong. Without chinking, a log home ceases to function as a home at
Logs, as you are surely aware, do not fit
perfectly together when they're stacked on top of each other. Unless they're
precision cut super logs, they will form sizable gaps between themselves.
The solution to this problem is chinking. As
an ancient construction technique, chinking was originally performed with
rudimentary materials: good old-fashioned mud, clay and straw, which the
builder used to seal up the joints (i.e. gaps) between logs.
Unless you're a survivalist, you probably want
to stick to modern chinking. It's made of pure acrylic, it's highly adhesive,
it's appropriate for all climates, it daubs just as easily as mortar, and it
maintains a tight bond between parallel logs as they shrink and swell in
response to different atmospheric conditions.
Does Chinking Do?
Chinking's first and foremost purpose is
preventing air, water and pests from passing between logs. In addition to
keeping a log home's occupants inside a comfortable and dry envelope, chinking
also preserves a log home's integrity. Wood starts to rot when its moisture
content hovers between 14 and 20 percent. Chinking stops that from happening!
Chinking's secondary purpose is cosmetic –
although the importance of a log home's appearance is never to be understated.
If you have a chinkless log home (which was built with logs
that were cut to fit closely together), you may still apply chinking to the
gapless joints if you wish to create a more traditional log cabin appearance.
Chinking also enhances a log home's cosmetics when its color contrasts nicely
against the stain or finish.
Does Chinking Last?
Modern chinking product has been on the market
for over 40 years. Many of the first log homes to be treated with the acrylic
compound still possess perfectly serviceable chinking!
Realistically speaking, chinking lasts for an
average of about two decades (so long as it was applied correctly to begin
with). If you live in a gentler climate and maintain your chinking annually,
you can reasonably expect it to last twice that long. Within 20 years of
installation, chinking usually only requires replacement when it is physically
You Clean Chinking?
It's a good idea to clean chinking whenever
you clean the rest of your log home's exterior – or at least whenever you stain and finish it.
Once you have washed the logs and their
chinking with a suitable wood cleaner, inspect the logs for checking, cracking, gaps and other uneven
areas. Clear these voids of debris and cut away any surrounding loose chinking.
Next fill in the voids with chinking product (which lasts up to three years
once it is opened; the reason why it is available in smaller
"touch-up" sized tubes). Finally, paint or stain over the chinking
just as you would the logs.
Note that chinking will not take the same
color as wood when it is stained. You would be well advised to do a test run
before committing to a stain. Alternatively, you may change chinking's color
with specialized paint.
Chinking a DIY Project?
Chinking smaller checks and gaps is a
relatively straightforward process. But what about larger chinking projects?
Can a DIYer do it by themself? Yes – so long as they follow the chinking
product's instructions closely and don't mind working on a ladder, lift or scaffold.
The exact method you should use to chink your
log home depends on the product you are using and a few other factors. That
said, here is a rough outline of the chinking application process to give you
an idea of what kind of project you'd be signing up for:
- Ensure all
surfaces are clean and dry, and that the wood is 40 to 80 °F. Have ample
water ready to clean application tools and remove stray chinking product
before it dries where it isn't wanted.
- Apply backer
rod between each joint. It is a foam product that ensures chinking only
adheres to the logs' tops and bottoms, and which can be stapled or adhered
chinking with whichever tool you prefer: spatula, grout bag, chinking gun
or chinking pump. Aim for a thickness between 3/16 and 1/4" to
prevent future flaking and fracturing.
- Use a
spatula or damp foam brush to smooth out chinking immediately after
- Wait about
three to four weeks for the chinking to fully cure. Warmer, dryer weather
will shorten curing time.
Are you planning on chinking your log home in
the foreseeable future? Then we welcome you to contact Lovitt's Coatings today! Our friendly and
knowledgeable team will make certain you choose the stain and wood cleaner
you'll need to get the job done right!