The Log Home Neighborhood

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Hi All,

Just joined the forum, been lurking for a while. Some real worthwhile discussions and knowledge on the forum.

Living in Canada, and wife and I just bought our first log home. We are overjoyed and really looking forward to our future here.

A do have a few questions however that I need some help with...

1. Ouside finish is in pretty good shape, needs some checks filled and some caulking in a few corners....after washing and filling checks I may want to put a new coat of stain do I know what type of stain (oil or water based) has been used previously? I like the colour and do not want to go darker just want to refresh what is already there. Could I use a clear (with UV protectant and just go over existing stain?)

2. How do I find out what type of wood was used in the construction? I am such a newbie to this, was told it was Douglas Fir (we have lots in our area) but would love to confirm this some how.

Thanks everyone,


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Good morning!  Welcome to the neighborhood.  We're always glad to have lurkers join.

In order:

1) To know what kind of stain it is, here are some quick questions to ask as you look at it:

a) If it's fairly "plastic" looking and you can see many areas of peeling, it's most likely a film former, which means a water-based or a water-oil emulsion or an alkyd dispersion stain, most of which can be re-coated with a water-based product.

b) If it's fairly dull and dry-looking, and you can't feel anything on the surface but a waxy or oily residue, it's almost certainly an oil-based product.  In that case, you will have to use another oil-based product.

You can also try these tests to help determine what the product is:

- Apply a 4% sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide solution to the sample to see if yellowing occurs. If it does, then it is an alkyd or oil-based system. If not, it is most likely an acrylic latex. OR (this next one is easier)
- Soak a sample of the product or a piece of the wood in pure ethanol (or Jim Beam, if that’s what you have) for 4-5 minutes. If the sample is noticeably softer or it curls, it is an acrylic latex. If it remains hard and stiff, it is an alkyd or oil-based system.

It will depend on what you have on there what you can use to re-stain.  If those tests still leave you questioning, it's generally best to use an oil-based product for maintenance, just to be safe.  

In any case, it is best to apply the maintenance coat of stain first, then do any caulking of cracks last.  Of course, before you do any maintenance, make sure the surface is clean and sound.  That means free of any dust, pollen, bird poo, loose wood fibers, mold/mildew, etc. etc.  Once that is done, THEN apply your stain.  Finish by filling in checks and cracks.  Whatever you do, make sure you're using a stain that is chemically compatible with the caulk.  If you're caulk won't stick to the stain, choose a different stain.  Using products made by the same company is always your safest bet, but if you choose to use products from different companies, be sure you check on that compatibility.

I would not recommend you use a clear this time around, although that may be a possibility the next time you need to do maintenance.  Unless the clear coat is specifically designed for the stain you already have on there, it's a crap shoot as to what kind of performance you'll get out of it.

As to wood type...if you can't find out who the builder or manufacturer of the home was to begin with, you'll need a piece of the wood to try & determine species. We've know people who take that to the local agriculture department at their nearest university and some smart student has helped them figure it out.  

Long reply! Hope that helps some.  Feel free to stop by our website at to watch helpful how-to videos and to download our log home inspection checklist.  It's simply a list of things to look for when you do an inspection so you can know what to look for.  

Charis w/ Sashco - -

Thanks Charis for the great information, this is very helpful!



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