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I'm building a cabin up in northern Michigan (think: waaaay up north) and I'm looking for a really durable exterior stain that'll last through the crazy snow storms there. Does anyone have any suggestions for stains and where to find them?

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Lovitts Emerald Gold

www.lovittscoatings.com

The secret is to do prep work, then regardless of which brand of stain you choose, your stain will last as expected.

I would search these forums for past topics. There is a huge thread on the "best exterior stain" with all kinds of opinions from homeowners, contractors, and salespeople. When you narrow it down to a few that you would like to try do a cost comparison based on price per gallon, get samples and try them, and like Colorado Log Home Finishing suggested, do the manufacturer suggested prep work and follow their maintenance guidelines.

Thanks for the advice! I did some digging around the forums and on Google, and it seems like Perma-Chink Lifeline Ultra-7 is a good choice.

I love Outlast Q8 stain.   It has a beautiful color and will last 4-5 years.

We just stripped and restrained our 40 year old red pine log cabin with Lifeline 7 and love the results. We live in NE Ohio.

After a great deal of research and testing I decided on TWP 100 series by Gemini Coatings. This is an oil base penetrating stain that has held up on my full log home and log sided garage quite well for the last 7 years. I did not need to put my second staining on the full log sunny side of the home until the 5th year. TWP retail sells for about 35.00 per gallon. In some states that more heavily regulate VOC levels you may need to use the 1500 series of TWP.

Most water based stains are coatings and like paint lay on the surface of the wood. Ask, " Is this product a coating or a penetrating stain?"

Also, do not get talked into a clear coat as a final coat. These manufacturers want you clear coating every two to three years. The clear coat traps moisture and your logs will show signs of mold, mildew, darkening and eventually rotting if they cannot breadth. One of the responders suggested 'listen to your builder!'. My observation has been that almost all long home builders want nothing to do with staining the logs and most recommend products with high profit margins that they can make money selling. They are anxious for you to buy their stains at retail prices but want nothing to do with staining your log home. Most say 'you can save money doing the staining yourself, its easy." Staining when the logs are prepped properly, you use the right product and do it properly is not hard and you do save money BUT the builder does not want the liability when you use their recommended product should they put it on and 3 to 5 years later the stain looks awful and is no longer protecting the logs/wood.

Google Gemini Coatings and look at their videos on how to stain. Very educational. Make sure your logs are at or less than 15% moisture when staining, clean the logs, treat them with Timbor or Borada-D ( borax salt ) to prevent mold, mildew, rotting and ward off over 100 wood boring/wood eating insects, and use the right stain -begin at the bottom and go up. ( if you start on the top all your spills and runs will be visible when your done.) If you are still in the design stage then design large overhangs 30 inches on the sides, 6 feet front at back, install gutters, keep bushes and vegetation off and away from the logs, start your first row at least 24 to 30 inches above final grade so the lower logs are NOT under the snow in the winter.  

Call the U.S. Forest Products Lab and ask them their opinion about oil based penetrating stains on logs verses other products: which hold up best, do not need re-staining every two or three years and do not require a clear coat over the stain. I am a log home owner NOT a stain manufacturer and NOT a builder. I took the time to do the research and test products out, talk to others who own log homes and stained them on their own or had to hire others to do so, or remove some bad product and had to start from scratch.

Do not be scared off buy wanting to build and own a log home. When done with the right materials and stained properly you will NOT need to be staining every 2 or 3 years. That's nonsense when you use the best stains and prep your logs properly before staining.

I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. If you are interested in additional suggestions on prepping and staining exterior and interior logs and log siding send me your e-mail address and I can send you some suggestions. send your e-mail address to Virginian.tt@gmail.com

How bout a timeshare to eliminate the problem of interval staining? Timeshare interval ownership allows minimal cost to any one individual involved. Dividing the cost of staining on the timeshare amongst multiple owners is a sure way to minimize cost too.

After much research, I used Permachink Ultra 7 last summer. I'm in Maine, and it still looks perfect one year later. There's no mildew and no problems. I used the oak color, which ironically gave me the best cedar color on my Western Red Cedar logs. My log railing guy uses permachink and he loved my color, but never thought of using the oak color on cedar. I have a co-worker in Maine with a pine home, and her husband only uses Permachink on the logs. I don't have a recommendation for decks, though. I used Cabots Australian Timber Oil and it made my cedar really dark, which was better than maintaining a light colored deck. But I have to re-apply every other year to keep it looking consistent. Better than stripping, and better than looking at mildew. I know Permachink has a decking stain, but I don't think it's supposed to be great for my wr cedar deck. Whatever you use on the logs, you should know that linseed oil is food for mildew. Stains with linseed oil base will attract mildew. They counteract this with mildewcides, but the Feds don't let them put much in anymore. You can add some on your own. Mildewcides break down under UV rays, and the mildewcides in the current decking products on the market usually break down in weeks not months. So I recommend finding something with a good track record for not attracting mildew. On my logs, I was much more concerned about this than my deck, since the deck is easier to refinish. The deck, however, is the harder surface for the stain companies to address. I can't find a paint contractor around who will guarantee a finish on a deck because of all the current problems.

When I visited Hochstetler Milling the salesman brought me to the north side of the mill where they had a wall with different sections of wood nailed to it. Each section was stained with a different stain manufacture. All of the stain was applied at the same time. I forget how many it was but at least a dozen or more. It was exposed to the south so the sun beat down on the wall. I seen for myself which stain held up to that. Sikkens held up the best. It kept its color and water resistant's longer and better.

The saleman for the different stains that didn't hold up stated it was applied wrong. Hochstetler said have at it, apply it the way you think it should be applied. Again Sikkens product came out on top.

Hochstetler didn't have a horse in the race he just wanted to find out which stain was the best so it can be used on his log homes when built.

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