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Thoughts on chinking a small cabin with variable gaps and smallish round logs

I'm building a small log cabin out of green logs that I cut this summer (poplar) and will chink it in the spring, after they set and settle and dry.

There's lots more contextual information in my own blog, here and here. I may do anything from the traditional to the new synthetic stuff.

It's an ongoing process, and I'll enjoy blogging about it here in addition to my own cabin blog, which digresses too much for a dedicated website like this.



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Comment by Roy Trembath on October 29, 2010 at 5:05am
Hi Will
Nails every 3" is perfectly reasonable, I went with nails every 2". Make sure you spend some time researching the technique, it is easy, but it is not simply filling the gap with mortar.
Good luck.
Roy.
Comment by Will Gatlin on October 28, 2010 at 4:30pm
Thanks folks -- I think I'll find a good recipe for a cement-based mix. Hopefully the logs will stay pretty still after they dry out fully. I have deep eaves and it's not very high, so even driving rain shouldn't wet the walls.

I'll use nails every 3" to hold the cement. Does that sound reasonable?

Will
Comment by CharisB on October 28, 2010 at 3:34pm
Let me clarify my comment on cement being weak: if the logs undergo some major shrinking or moving, with the synthetic chinking adhering to both the cement and the logs, the cement will more readily fail than the wood or synthetic chinking will. The chinking will hold on to that cement for dear life and the cement will eventually give way. So in that sense, the cement and other things like it are inherently weaker than the chinking is. (I think that my comment was perhaps misread to include some sort of comment about cement's structural strength...that is a completely different issue.)

That said - unless you have wet logs that will go unprotected and therefore be taking on & giving up large amounts of moisture (thus making for more major movement), the case I describe above most likely won't happen.

Hope that clarifies a bit. -- Charis w/ Sashco
Comment by Roy Trembath on October 28, 2010 at 3:06pm
Hi Will
Your cabin looks great.
I have built using cement chinking and it works great if applied correctly and costs very little. One important factor which the commercial synthetic cannot avoid is that it "seals", which creates a sealed cavity in the middle between the logs which moisture will collect in, causing your logs to rot. A serious detriment to your cabin. No doubt about it.
Cement chinking (if done correctly) is porous and allows the logs to breathe, which keeps them dry, and costs a mere fraction of the synthetic types and is easily done yourself.
A lot of the advice that you get here will be from commercial people who only want to sell you a product and may not be in your best interest - beware free advice.
If you want to see the proof, check out my website.
If people tell you that cement chinking is "inherently weak", consider that advice as odd, since the chinking does not contribute to the structural strength at all, it is merely to stop the wind and rain.

I too am a man who believes in doing it all myself. Good luck to you.

Best regards
Roy.
Comment by CharisB on October 18, 2010 at 11:47am
There are some who've used various items (we have a picture in house of someone who used some Fruit of the Loom...yes, THAT Fruit of the Loom... to seal some gaps). There are recipes online for various chinking materials. Some people will use that and then use synthetic chinking at the very edges between the make-it-yourself chinking and the logs to seal it up better. Doesn't hold as well (make-it-yourself chinking, be it portland cement or other materials, are inherently weak) but may be a bit closer to your Thoreauvian ideals, while still keeping the place warm! Something to think about...

Charis w/ Sashco - www.sashco.com/log - cbabcock@sashco.com
Comment by Will Gatlin on October 14, 2010 at 12:21pm
Hi all -- thanks for the excellent recommendation. I've researched it and have no doubt that PermaChink or one of the other synthetic products along with backer rod would be the ideal solution.

However, the whole project was inspired by principles of Thoreauvian simpilicity and making stuff instead of buying it. I'd like to find an acceptable solution that doesn't cost $200+ for a five-gallon bucket, and that utilizes older methods. I've been warned away from portland cement yet don't want to mix clay, sand and horse manure, either. Any suggestions?
Comment by Will Gatlin on October 11, 2010 at 2:45pm
Thanks Kevin! I'll research that for sure. Nice thing about having to wait for the logs to dry is having time to think before I act.
Comment by Kevin Piatz on October 11, 2010 at 12:58pm
Hi Will,
If you want to do a little more research on Chinking check out this link; http://www.permachink.com/guide/sealantsguide.pdf
It is to the Perma-Chink Systems sealant application guide. From your picture it looks to me like you will want to use Perma-Chink with Gripstrip behind it as a bond breaker. Perma-Chink was developed about 30 years ago and still leads the pack in performance and longevity. Good luck with the project!
- Kevin, PCS

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