Preparation & Finish of a Handcrafted Skip Peeled Log Home

Dave from Wisconsin Writes; We are building a hand crafted log home in central Wisconsin. The white pine logs average 20" in diameter and have been hand peeled using the "skip peeled" approach. We love the skip peeled look but are curious about how we should prep, and seal the logs to accommodate the "skip peel" approach.

Can you provide assistance on the preparation and recommend cleaners, stains, sealers and chink that will work best with a skip peeled look? The logs have retained roughly 30% of the cambium layer - giving it a true two toned look.


Dear Dave; Thanks for your question, all of the Sashco products we sell are designed to work in unison to produce a system of protection for your home. All of the products from preservatives to sealants are checked for compatibility with each other to insure that there are no conflicts in use which would affect the longevity any product in the system.

When cleaning logs there are a variety of methods and products out there to clean with. If your logs are relatively clean and unstained it may be as simple as a light washing with a garden hose or a pressure washer. If using a pressure washer you may need to take special care to preserve your skip peeled look and not wash off the cambium layer that is giving the logs that two toned look. We use a pressure washer to remove the bark from the logs used in our log furniture and that is exactly what we do, remove the cambium layer. If you have stains you can use one of the many chemical cleaners out there Sashco's CPR is a good choice for many applications. But, you can also use a mixture of 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water, TSP (Tri sodium Phosphate) or one of the many other products out there designed for cleaning and removing stains. It all depends on the degree of cleaning required and what you are trying to accomplish. Just be sure to follow the manufacturers directions and protect adjacent surfaces and plants. Some products are caustic to some wood species or can harm your landscaping plants. 
Do to the size of your logs, your home may experience a great deal of movement over time. That makes the choice of a good quality chinking material critical.  As the seasons change and the logs dry, each log will expand and contract independently. That means that any product you use will need to be designed to absorb that movement and stick to the log surfaces. Good joint construction is a must, as well as the use of a chinking that will both adhere to the substrate (the logs) and expand and contract with their movements. I your case I would recommend the use of Chinker's Edge Chinking, (here is a link to the Chinker's Edge Data Sheet it has both the elastic qualities you need for expansion and contraction, plus the adhesion you will need to seal out the elements at each joint. Chinker's Edge has the add advantage of longer workability and it will not eat styrofoam if you are using it as a backing material which is common in handcrafted style log homes.
Remember when I mentioned good joint construction, when dealing with logs of your size this is very important. What you want is two point adhesion, that means that you only want your chinking to adhere to the top and bottom points where it contacts the logs. Not across the entire chinked surface. This insures the maximum amount of stretch and elongation without tearing the chink joint in the middle. The 1/4" joint depth shown below is a minimum recommendation. The larger the joint in width, generally the deeper the joint needs to be in depth. Check the data tech sheet for the product you are using for recommendations.
The backer rod or other material that you use to back your joint should resist adhesion by the chinking. There are many things that you can use as a backing material, backer rod, grip strip Backer Rod or styrofoam board will all work. Each has advantages, some such as styrofoam have disadvantages. One of the disadvantages of styrofoam is that some chinking products will eat it. It is always a good idea to check with the manufacturer of the chinking product and the backing material for compatibility issues before starting a project. And as I mentioned before, always do a small test area with any new product or process to check for reactions to your site conditions and your satisfaction with the look of the finished product.
Again, when selecting a product to seal checks and cracks in your logs, the movement of the logs will need to be a major consideration. Our Conceal textured log caulk would be an excellent choice. Besides it's ability to blend in with the wood, Conceal has excellent adhesion and elastic properties which make it the perfect choice for large logs such as yours. Be sure to use backer rod when filling cracks over 1/4" in width to get that two point adhesion.
Staining and sealing your skip peeled logs will protect them from the sun and rain. When you select a finish system for your logs, you will want to find a product that is both transparent and highly durable. I hear a lot of people say I don't want to stain my logs because I like the color they are right now. That's great, but part of keeping your logs a stable color requires protection from the sun and that's what the stain does. It acts as an umbrella to shade your logs from the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays. The pigment in the stain is actually a bunch of small flecks of color, which when applied to the surface in the coating effectively act as a shade over the wood. By selecting a light colored transparent stain, such a Sashco's Transformation in Natural color you can achieve the best of both worlds, staying as close as possible to the natural color of your logs and providing the protection they need. Just remember that the lighter colors of stains require additional coats to provide the same level of protection. We can provide you with liquid stain samples so that you can select the color that suits your taste.
I hope this helps, we will be happy to work with you to estimate quantities and answer additional questions. Feel free to email me any other questions or give us a call at 888-315-7627.

Posted August 7, 2006- This article was written and provided by; Bryan Olmsted, President Ozark Log Home Supply, Inc.

Bryan has well over 20 years experience in the construction industry, and has been involved in the design and construction of numerous projects from medical facilities to log homes. He has worked as a estimator, job superintendent, construction manager, general contractor and retired as President and CEO of Olmsted Construction Co.,Inc. in May of 2006. Besides the knowledge and experience gained through 20+ years as a commercial/residential general contractor, Bryan has completed training and been certified on NFPA's Life Safety Code, overseen the renovation and retrofitting of Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, Missouri in it's accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, and has extensive knowledge in the application and use of Sashco Log Home Products, as well as the construction and finish of log homes and structures.

If you have questions for Bryan or any of our contributors contact us at Ask the Experts and we will attempt to answer them.