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Does any one out there know if you cut down a live tree how long it takes, approx., to air dry ? And if you cut down a standing dead timber, shouldnt the dead one be ready to use for construction ? I was told that a fresh cut tree wont shrink in length, but mostly in circumfrence, also don't you think bringing air dried tmbers into your construction project could introduce a bug or larvee problem ? Is there a way to combat the bug issue ? Seems like just spraying borate on them wouldnt debug them.
I'd love some input. Thanks to all. Greg Beck

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Make sure the logs were de-barked immediately after falling. Borate will help with bugs that eat the wood but not all borers do that and it doesn't necessarily de-bug but rather deters bugs from them because they can't digest the wood once borate is in it. I would suggest to borate. Then finish the logs soon thereafter.

I'm sure the details on any given wood is species specific. Here in Montana they routinely use standing dead timber killed by Pine Bark Beetles. But the best time to harvest the trees is two years after they die, which gives them time to dry out while stills standing. Three years is too long, rot sets in. Some trees start rotting sooner, and the good log home companies reject those logs. The bad ones buy 'em up and use them. Such is life.

In the case of the beetle killed logs in this area, as I understand it they are not infected any more after two years because the beetles want fresh wood, not dead, and any eggs they laid have hatched by the next season, a year before they trees are slated to be harvested. But you may have other problems to deal with in your area, and you would need a forester or someone else qualified give you the specifics.

If you're still talking about cutting the logs into flat boards for siding, presumably you would want to cut the boards while the logs are still fairly wet and then stack the lumber to air dry. Again, whether or not this is going to introduce bugs into the equation is a regional issue.

And if you are sawing the wood up, you'll still want to get the bark off the edges of the boards because that's usually a good place for unwanted critters to hide.

I should note that I've never seen a log home that didn't have at least a few bugs living somewhere in the logs as the house goes up. Out west we seldom use the borates. But once the house is stained and it has been lived in for a couple of years, most of the bugs die off and that's that. What you are wanting to do is use the wood as siding to look like flat logs and the wood won't be all that thick (I had always seen it as thick, but Rick Taron a photo for you of very thin siding on a house and it looked good, so that's probably the way to go), and I suspect that just using normal precautions against wood eating critters will work.

You'll want to check around regarding borates. If you spray it on the boards and then the boards stay exposed to moisture (rain, humidity, etc) the borates will be pulled back to the surface, because they are "water-loving". The interior of the wood won't be too well protected. If you can spray and then keep the boards dry, they'll probably be fine. Again, I'm not an expert on borates so I'm just giving you some things to ask experts about.

You'll also want to know if you will need to reapply borates to the siding once it is on the house and before staining, assuming a few months or longer has passed.

If you're going to be putting the siding over a conventionally framed house wrapped with Tyvek, the bugs in the wood probably won't be migrating into the framing material, etc. That's just a guess, but I hope its an educated one.
Hi, Bob
I was talking about wood in general, but to be specific, I brought up the forum because I want to use trees for porch post, I didn't know if I should use standing dead or fesh cut, air dreid for the porch post, also I'd like to bring in some trees inside to use. Thanks, Diggin the imput, Greg
Hi Greg,

You would be ok using fresh or standing dead if you are only using them for porch posts. Your moisture content of the fresh cut log will vary depending on the environment and time of year cut, so your air dry time will vary as well. The most important thing to remember about porch posts is to keep the off the porch at least 1" - 2"; and this can be accomplished by placing them on a cement disc approximately the same diameter as the log. If you don't do this, it will probably rot from the bottom in as little as a couple years. I would strongly suggest a good glycol-based borate like Shell-Guard RTU, especially on the bottom half.

If you do end up using fresh logs, let them dry at least a year before you apply any finishes. This will assure good adhesion for your stain, whether it be oil or latex based.
Hi Greg Beck,

To answer your questions about (Does any one out there know if you cut down a live tree how long it takes, approx., to air dry. I reommend 1 drying season or 1 year. Again before staining or caulking make sure the moisture in under 18% and preped before staining or caulking the structure. You can use a Moisture Meter to check this.

Also make sure you debark the wood. Bugs like to hide in the bark.

All logs & and tree's cut will shrink. (It's the nature of the beast) It will expand and contract in the first 5 years of the log home completed.

All timbers are prone to bugs, although a borate would help prevent them. Some bugs do not digest the borate until they get the product on them and they go to clean themselves.

A borate will penetreat anywhere between 1/8 of inch to 3/16th of inch into the wood.

You can prevent bugs by using a borate or adding a insecticide to your stain.

I hoped this helped!


You're getting all kinds of good advice here. Don't you wish they had a discussion forum about dating when you were younger?

There will be little shrinking lengthwise as the log dries from a green state to a dry one. So you don't necessarily have to use really dry logs for posts, whether inside or out. But Timeless Woodcare is right in advising that you don't finish the logs until they have gotten down to around 18% moisture level or less.

You were advised by Timeless Woodcare to make sure the porch posts are lifted up off the porch, using concrete pads about the size of the post. I would go slightly smaller for reasons that I discuss regarding the interior posts in the next paragraph. You will want not only to seal the bottom of the log before installing it (I trust the product Timeless Woodcare suggests will work just fine), but also put a piece of roofing felt between the concrete and the post, especially if the post is still green, because the finish may not adhere as well as we all would like, and the roofing paper provides an additional layer of protection.

On the interior you want to keep the log just a little bit up off the floor. I would cut a piece of good plywood or something else 3/8" or so thick, and slightly smaller than the bottom of the log. The only reason this is important is that the log will probably be exposed to some weather before the house is dried in, and water sitting on the floor can wick into the end of the log in a way reminiscent of the old celery in colored water experiment you probably did in grade school. And since the water sitting on the floor is often quite dirty, the log soaks up the dirt and gets very discolored. You don't want this to happen. If you know the thickness of the flooring you are going to use (which you should) you can lift the interior posts up by just a tiny bit more than that amount and (with the slightly smaller shim under the log being out of the way) the flooring people an slide the flooring under the post and it will sort of look like it grew there.

You can do something similar on the outside with a flat-stone covered porch or something, but you have to be certain water cannot be wicked into the log. So leave a larger gap, though it doesn't have to be too big.

Resist the temptation to build up a wooden on concrete structure up around the logs on the exterior. I have seen many situation where rock was built up the post, burying the log in concrete. Inevitably this will let moisture get in between the wood and the concrete and introduce rot.

Since you are currently planning to build a conventional house with log siding, you don't have to worry much about setting like you would with a real log home. People reading this that are building all-log homes may have to put jacks under their posts to help deal with the movement.

Note quite related but I'll toss it in. Since you are going for a flat, hand-hewn look on your siding, you might consider sawing square logs instead of using round ones, and doing the same hand-hewn look on them. It wouldn't change anything on the advise you've gotten here for treating or installing, but it would have the advantage of drying out the logs faster and I suspect it might look better. Just an idea.
I have seen people on this site and elsewere use trees in there construction that weren't debarked, mainly for porch & deck post, it looks better to me, more natural. How mauch of a big no no is this, looks like the people who did it are doin just fine.

I doubt very much anyone has gotten away with this for very long. Seallng the bark with a stain or any other preservative is unlikely to protect the wood in even the short run. The upright posts on the deck with the bark on them are doomed unless the house is in the Sahara desert. Water will get in between the bark and the wood, and it will rot. Unless there is a way to encapsulate the entire log in plastic, I can't imagine that the posts will last long at all.

If anyone knows of actual long-term success with barked logs outside I'd like to hear about it. I can't imagine it working. And if someone has had success, be sure their climate is similar to your own before you decide its a good idea. The difference between your Missouri climate and the climate in the high Rockies, for instance, is night and day. Success in Aspen couldn't possibly translate to equal success in your area.

I've worked on a couple of houses where they used barked posts in the interior, and they were faced with the bark gradually flaking off over time. It didn't necessarily flake off by itself, but people bumping the post while walking by, carrying furniture past it, etc. would knock bits and pieces off, and it ended up looking a bit ugly.

Now this was with pines, which don't have particularly durable bark. Many hardwoods have much more durable bark and it may be that you could use some of them inside, but I would stay away from bark on exterior logs. Something that looks cool for only a few years and then has to be replaced isn't really cool. Especially given the effort and expense required to do that.
Greg, you can use a log the day you harvest ..whether dead standing or not. If you need some timber for 1/2 of what you can get it else where... I have 120+ acres of very nice dead standing Ponderosa timber.


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