I believe that log home consumers need to be better informed. I have been involved in log home construction since the late 1970's when I was the wood products specialist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Texas A&M University. There has been much improvement in the log home industry since then, but the consumer pitfalls are still plentiful. This is why I wrote a book asking the important question, "Should You Choose A Log Home?". It is available at Amazon.com. My hope is that this book will create serious discussion about the log home industry's need to become better standardized, based on reliable independent research, particularly on log drying by size and species.
My book arms the consumer with some basic knowledge about wood that every one thinking about building a log home needs. It compares lumber framed walls to those of solid log mass. For many reasons, lumber framed homes are the best choice. That's why they so greatly outsell log homes. The log home industry, after making a slight come-back in the middle to late 1970's, is still not well organized. Many companies still do not conform to established log grading rules. And, in my opinion, established rules are lacking when it comes to protecting consumers from improperly dried logs. The opposite is true for the lumber industry. There are research backed grading standards accepted by the industry as a whole. The lumber industry uses research established drying schedules for lumber up to 3 inches thick which controls defects like warping, checking, cracking, splitting and wood collapse. And, moisture gradients that occur during wood drying are well established for lumber up to 3 inches thick. Lumber grading rules clearly define lumber dried to prevent wood decay and lumber dried to a proper moisture content that prevents excessive defects associated with wood shrinking and swelling once placed into service. This type of research is lacking in the log home industry and many log home consumers learn this the hard way.
Log homes require constant and expensive maintenance to keep them attractive and free from log rotting, particularly in hot, humid climates. Once again, the log home industry has done little to help consumers finish their log homes with the best finish choices. Rather, they sell finishes that consumers are attracted to because of how they look, but within a few months or years are cracking, peeling, fading, mildewing and turning dark due to repeated applications.
There is much more information provided such as log home energy efficiency, foundations, building techniques and finishing. And, I spend considerable time discussing the best wood species for logs, proper drying and finishing. I also recommend logs for the area in which consumers live and discuss laminated logs and those produced from dead standing timber. There is also information on log home history and that of lumber framing, giving advantages for using lumber framed wall construction. So, I hope my book will stir the water and cause much needed debate about whether one should build a log home.