The Log Home Neighborhood

An online log home community for log home enthusiasts.

Proudly beaming in both sun and moonlight, the quintessential log home is an expression of a homeowner’s unique and personalized lifestyle. From a ski resort to mountain lodge to a cabin on the river, your home is a ray of life, extending its welcoming hand out to greet guests and welcome you home. Directing the experience to be either relaxed or stately, the exterior of your home is often the first thing considered before committing to a certain home plan.

For many log home enthusiasts, choosing the overall look of their home is often an accumulation of many months, and even years of careful planning and research. From site location, home orientation and architectural design, the face of your home will likely have a very distinct, custom style before the process is over.

But did you know that the types of finishing materials and also color scheme can have a profound effect on not only the overall look but performance of your home?

You may have scoured magazines and the internet for that perfect vision of your future perfect rustic haven. Clipping photos and discussing with likely specialists like stainers, roofers, masons and landscapers. Each having their own opinions and sharing their experiences, your vision may exacerbate into information overload quickly.

To help simplify the myriad of choices to sift though, here are a few pointers to help you select the best palette for your lifestyle:

Exterior Stain: Covering the majority of the exterior field area of your home, color makes all the different. Lighter, transparent stains show more natural effects of wood’s character, but darker stains typically protect longer against damaging UV rays. Certain architectural styles traditionally favor lighter/darker tones and contrasting details. Consider those factors first, and then decide if you like dark or light hues. Then select a color family: Golds, Reds, Browns, Grays or “colors”. Now, your choices are now narrowed down to two or three possibilities. Sample them on an actual log or wood sample and view it outdoors in all forms of natural light before deciding.

Window/Door Cladding: With many options available, the most popular today is aluminum clad windows and doors. Offered in many colors, this is a minor detail worth a second look. Classic tones like bronze, taupe and cream are timeless and simple. Traditional tones like green and berries speak the universal log home language. Custom colors like chocolate, slate blue and sage green set a new precedent in personal customization and expression of style. Whatever your flavor, keep in mind that these windows or doors will be a permanent fixture on your home for many years to come, and that trendy looks can date faster than they can appreciate.

Roof: First things first- what will give you the best performance combined with maintenance and look will ultimately lead you to the material of choice. Whether it is metal standing seam, slate tile, or even architectural asphalt shingles, the combination of texture, color, roof pitch and color can dramatically change the look of your home. Metal offers the opportunity to express your style with color. Earth tone shingles hug the earth and blend into its natural environment. Darker roofs shorten a tall home, while a lighter shade lifts the eye up and reflects light.

Hardware/Lighting: Ever see the perfect log home, but maybe something either didn’t feel right, or was so beautifully coordinated to perfection? Door hardware and accessories are like the jewelry of your home. Maybe you like a more rustic, hardy look. Or the sophistication of a soft curved oiled bronze. Maybe an aged verdigris or copper is more your style. This “jewelry” sets the formality of the home - from elegant to down home country. Consider the best quality you can afford, in standard sizes should they ever need replacing on a custom door. If this element is neglected, you may be surprised to find a starter grade in a finish installed that may not wear well for your use or draw unnecessary attention to a forgotten item. Why buy and install these items twice when you can do it once and do it right.

Masonry: Whether natural or cultured, the stonework on your home is an important element of your home, much like the muscles on the frame. Strong and commanding, stone can mimic a European estate or mountain lodge. Think of what types of naturally occurring stones are common to your home’s locale. Be it river rock or flagstone, choosing an indigenous stone look will complement rather than dictate your style and how it relates to your natural landscape. Do you like a random handful of color, with both lights and darks in no particular pattern? Or does your home call for the symmetry and geography of drystack ledgestone? Even if you have two different shades both inside the home and out, keeping a similar style is essential. Contrasting stones lose the harmony and bring a noticeable change in focus.

For more information, log on to www.wisconsinloghomes.com or e-mail me at sgauthier@wislog.com.

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Tags: Choosing, Exterior, Finishes, Homes, Log, Wisconsin

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Comment by Terry Tadysak on October 6, 2008 at 8:24pm
How refreshing to have someone with your attitude and integrity helping others who choose to build a log home. As a family, When we began this adventure of wanting to build a full log home, we discovered that many log home builders left much of the details and long term issues up to the home owner to figure out. I am convinced that many who considered building or having someone build them a log home were scared off by the unanswered questions about log care, staining, maintenance, and design choices. Many log home builders encourage the home owners to 'save money' by prepping and staining the logs themselves and direct them into 'neverland' to decide on what methods should be taken to prep and treat the exterior of the logs, what type of stains are the best choices, how the log's moisture level is critical when deciding to apply the stain, etc. I cannot begin to tell you how many people I have talked to who, after spending several thousand dollars having a beautiful log home built, went to the local hardware store and accepted the advice of some good intentioned youngster on what the best choice for an exterior stain would be for their log home. I think the log home builder who has compiled all these details, choices in design ( how high up off the ground the logs should first start, how much of an overhang on all sides should be included in the design, step by step methods for prepping, staining and properly maintaining a log home interior and exterior, and sharing all these details with their clients to take those fears out of this ambitious project will be the builder to rise to the top in this industry. Helping homeowners to make 'intellegent and well informed choices' on all these matters of construction and care should be the primary goal of all quality log home builders. Looks like you are well underway in doing just that for those you tutor and assist in this regard.
Comment by Stephanie Hintz on October 6, 2008 at 10:35am
Terry, Yes I would agree that choosing exterior stain goes much further than simply choosing color. The blog above does focus more on the aesthetic side (interior/exterior design) of selecting finishes. Assuming that homeowners should be working with a log home company that is educated on properly sealing wood homes, has access to quality coatings, and has a staff of experienced experts takes some of the guesswork out of choosing a product for homeowners. And yes, design plays an integral role in safeguarding your home- especially deep overhangs. For example, I work with several top companies that offer film forming and penetrating stains, of which both have pros and cons to usage, application, longevity and yes, even color choices. There are so many variables in what makes a coating the right choice for each home. Keeping the homeowner properly educated on log home care, and building a positive rapport, say a maintenance support system of sorts, is what I have found to be successful. Helping homeowners make comfortable choices is just one element that seperates an honest professional from someone simply looking for a sale.
Comment by Terry Tadysak on October 5, 2008 at 10:22pm
Your choice of exterior stain is much more important then 'color'. Is the choice you make designed to allow the wood, a once living thing, to breathe or will it trap moisture and promote wood rot and decay ? Is the stain you select a coating substance or penetrating stain designed to absorb into the fibers of the wood to protect and preserve ? Will you first treat your bare wood with DOT or borax salt products like TimBor or Borada-D to help prevent mold, mildew, wood rot and insect infestation ? Will you remove mill glaze from the bare logs or wood siding with a product like X-180 so your stain will penetrate properly ? Has your rood been designed with sufficient overhang to keep the water/snow off the logs in most climate situations ? ( I have a 32 inch overhang on the sides and 7 foot front and rear that keeps the logs dry in almost all wather conditions. ) Wood experts seem to perfer oil based semi transparent penetrating stains over water bourne. TWP made by Gemini products lightens with age and restores to its original color when putting added coats on for maintenance.
When giving advice, painting with too broad a brush can steer home owner builders into poor choice selections. Contact U.S. Forest Products Lab, review Texas A&M reports on research done on exterior stains. These folks are in the most neutral unbias positions to inform others on what has been tested and works better then other choices.

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