Floor Joists – Part III: subfloor

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almost done. having a door (not installed yet) shows the scale…

In the last post, I finished the joist installation. Before installing the 4×8 3/4″ OSB panels for the subfloor, I wanted to get everything as near as possible to level.

The set up

The 2×12 double beams are made out of 20 foot long boards. They are not perfectly straight over that distance. When I installed them, I checked carefully for any crown in the boards, and placed it up. But you don’t want your joists following the crown of the beam. I used a water level to level the joists, and followed that line when installing them. The idea was to shave off any discrepancies from the 2×12 double beams after the joists were in.

I bought an electric planer, rechecked and marked any high points in the beams or joists with the water level. I found that the rim joists had quite a bit of warp to them. The rim joists are made from lumber that I got for free from a guy when I was trying to get 2×10 sleepers for the roof. He threw them in for free because he just wanted to get rid of them. Turns out he gave me 160′ of 2×12’s – enough to use as rim joists throughout the house. But they were also the most warped of my lumber – probably because they sat around at his house for a few years. But they weren’t warped too much – the worst one was probably 1/2″ out of wack. So I cut off the excess rebar on the piers, and planed everything down.

The problem with a “real log” home…

…is that logs aren’t straight. yes, it’s true. There is no reference point for laying out the floor, nothing to say, “use this as your zero and measure everything off of it.” One website said to line up your floor with the longest wall in your home….which we don’t have yet. Which is another difference between a log home and a regular home- I can install the entire finished floor right now because none of my interior walls hold up the next floor or the roof. But it’s extremely easy to mess up what should be a square home, but isn’t because of crooked logs.

So I started with the joists. When I laid them out, I started in the center of the house so a line stretched through the house would intersect the RPSL’s and GSL’s in the middle. Some folks would say just box around the RPSL’s so you don’t have to do a half joist in front of them. But it didn’t matter on my RPSL’s since they are much bigger than 16″.

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I marked every 16″ across the entire house. At the corners, I made sure the space between the last joist and the rim joist was less than 16″ to meet code. It didn’t have to be perfect, but within an inch or so of all the other corners was fine.

The must-haves:

  • make sure the joists were exactly parallel with each other, across all 3 sections of joists
  • make sure all joists were exactly 16″ apart

The nice to have was:

  • that the floor joists were more or less parallel with the edges of the house.

So, really, you kind of ignore the crooked walls, and just do the best you can.

Installing the subfloor

The plans say to use 3/4″ 4×8 plywood or OSB. So I called my favorite supplier, and they delivered it the next day. I started laying it out on the joists right away.

It was nice, for the first time, to have a hard dry surface to stand on. It really is a milestone when you get a floor in. Up until now, all we’ve had for surfaces to stand on has been “the ground”. But without it being glued and nailed, we still had to watch our step to avoid falling through the joists.

Everyone loves math

Ha ha, just kidding. But I did use math to make sure my subfloor isn’t all wonky and sits on the joists properly.

First, I decided that it would be easier to start on a row of subfloor that I could lay all the way across the house. I thought about starting at one wall, and working my way towards another wall, but figured if my measurements were just a bit off, 40′ is a long way to magnify the problem. Much better to err at half that distance – so start in the middle of the house. The 8′ side of the OSB should be perpendicular to the joists, while the 4′ side should be parallel with them. They also need to be laid out like bricks so the seams of the 4′ edge don’t line up all the way across the house. How to get the OSB perpendicular? I used a 3-4-5 triangle:Capture

  1. I took a string and stretched it on one side of the RPSL/GSL combo near the middle of the house, making sure that when the OSB pattern reached the front and back of the house that I wouldn’t have a 1′ strip of OSB up against the wall. It would be ideal if the last gap was 4′ wide. Next best would be a 3′ gap. So I placed the string at a point near the middle where I could make this happen.
  2. With the string nailed temporarily in place to a joist on near the wall, I marked a spot on the string 4′ from the nail (right in the center of a joist, if you’re paying attention to the 16″ spacing).
  3. I marked another line on the same joist 3′ away from the first mark (the red lines).
  4. Starting at the nail, I used my tape measure to find at what point on the joist my 5′ mark on the tape measure would hit the center of the joist.
  5. I had to move the nail several times before I felt confident I had a perfect 3-4-5 triangle (the double arrow in the diagram represents moving the nail on the string (in green). I also used a large framing square to check several points on other joists along the string to see if the string and the joist it crossed were set at a right angle.
  6. Once I felt like I had the correct spot, I got my daughter to snap a chalk line (the coolest job in carpentry) where the string had been. The chalk line is the reference point for laying out the OSB subfloor.

Getting around the RPSL’s and GSL was my wife’s job, but cutting the OSB is my job. We make a good team!

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Getting up to the wall and making the OSB fit against the first row of chinking was also my job. I used a regular compass to trace the bumpy line of the wall onto the OSB, and then cut off and fit into place.

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Once each panel is rough-fitted, I apply construction glue and then ring-shanked nails to permanentize everything. Yes I made that word up. And THAT is when it feels like a milestone. My daughter has been waiting the entire build to ride her bike inside the house. She said, “I really like this, Daddy, it’s so solid it feels like I’m riding on a sidewalk!”

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Next steps

With the subfloor installed, it’s time to figure out where the doors and windows go. Once that is done, we can get going on more chinking, at least on the outside. The inside will have to wait for the electrical to get finished.

Meanwhile, my wife is excited to put down tape where all the walls should go. She’s been waiting for that moment the entire build because with crooked and tapered logs, you don’t know exactly how much room you’ll have in the bathroom, or anywhere else, really. The logs are really big and take up a lot of space on the inside of the house.

When we place the finished floor down, I’ll have to repeat the 3-4-5 process to line them up as well.

Floor joists – Part II: beams and joists

The setup

With the rim joists installed, it was time to install the two double beams. They are 20 foot 2×12’s sandwiched together with 1/2″ bolts and nuts, there are 4 boards in each of them, and they span 40 feet across the house, supported by 5 piers each. There are two of these beams. I decided to install one, then attach all the floor joists to it, then install the second one later. Space is at a premium inside my cabin with all the lumber and osb stacked inside.

 

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When I set the forms for the inner piers in the ground, I didn’t know how beautiful a water level could be for making things flat. I remember there was a lot of rain, some issues with the inspector, scheduling help from the kids, having to bury the pier forms the night before the concrete truck came – it was kind of a rush job due to the weather. All of that meant I could only hope that the piers would be at the correct height on pour day.

Installing the double 2×12 beams

Well, they weren’t level. So, I boxed them in with scrap wood, and made more concrete – I used something like “5,000 psi +” concrete to make it as strong as possible. This brought them up to the correct height, using the water level to figure out where that would be.

My wife realized that it was our anniversary during one of the pours, and gave me a nice little reminder of what we are building – a home:

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she’s a keeper. 🙂

With the piers now at the correct height, I worked on installing the double 2×12 beams.  The beams sandwich the rebar coming up out of the pier – this is accomplished by cutting a little channel for the rebar to fit in on each beam, and then tightening the bolts on the beam. At that point the beams grab onto the rebar and hold tight. They should be plenty strong.

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1st double beam in, and 1/3 of the joists installed.

With both beams in, I could work on the rest of the 2/3’s of the joists. I think there are around 90 joists in this house. I made a video of some of the details of installing the floor joists here.

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all the joists are in!

One small detail- boxing in the RPSL’s and GSL: I got a little creative here, but the subfloor needs something to sit on, even next to the RPSL’s:

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Next steps

There are a few places where the beams “crown” a bit- they bow. The recommendation is to place the beam so the bow is on top – like a rainbow. Over time, if the beams settle, the bow goes away. Some of my bows were a bit more than I was comfortable with, so I got a planer and shaved off the most offending areas. I didn’t shave any of the joists – just the beams and the rim joists. I want to completely avoid a squeaky floor.

Once I feel good about how level everything is, I’ll glue and nail the osb panels. This would be easy, but I have to cut around the RPSL’s, and then there’s the issue where the logs make it so none of the house is square – there’s no reference point. That’ll be in the next post. 🙂

Floor joists – Part I: Rim Joists

Note: This happened before the chinking post, but I got too excited about chinking! So here you go….

The setup

Staining is done. Gutters are done. Logs are dry. But the ground inside was staying moist – like, all the time. I thought after I got the roof on things would eventually dry out inside the cabin. Weirdly, they didn’t. Our water table is somewhat high, but not overly high- I dug down 4 feet and didn’t find any water. It must just be “the humid South”. I researched and found that installing a vapor barrier – basically 6 mil plastic (like really, really thick garbage bag material) held down with gravel or pins would help. At least two folks over on LHBA did this and it really helped. I can attest that is true – it is unbelievably drier inside now to the point that I’m not worried about mold on my joists anymore. Nice. It was, as usual, a lot of work.

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Now, onto: “How to build a floor inside a log cabin on piers”. We had to consider:

  • how to start out level
  • what are rim joists
  • attaching to inner support piers
  • span lengths (follow the plans – no problem)
  • floor joists – 16″ on center, parallel wall to wall, all the way throughout the house

how to start out level:

I didn’t trust that my piers are level. I was sure that I didn’t set them up perfectly when I poured the concrete. Also, with all that weight on them (I seriously estimate the weight of this house at about 290 tons, compared to a standard home at around 35 tons), it’s possible the piers have settled a bit. Not by a lot – probably less than 1″. But I want the floor to be as level as possible (secretly, I want the title of “flattest floor on Earth”). My neighbor had been offering his 360 degree laser level ever since I showed him the inside last year. The laser level sits on a tripod, and spins out a laser line. You just go around and mark the line it shoots out on the wall, then line everything up.

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I tried it. It was too dim to see the laser line. Even inside the dark cabin, the bright sunny day was too much for the laser. Also, the adjusting knobs to fine-tune making it level were broken or stuck- I don’t know. I resorted to leveling it using the tripod (pain in the….), and also making the laser stationary (not spin), and had my wife manually turn the dial while I drew short lines on the wall every few feet.

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But when I went to set the first few joists – nope. Something wasn’t right- my joists didn’t seem to be level, according to the line I drew on the wall. I looked online and found a guy on “This old House” saying he doesn’t trust any method of leveling a foundation – string level, laser, or water in a tube – he always double-checks one with another. I bought some clear tubing from the hardware store, and got my wife to help me. Took us a bit to figure out the water level, but the results were impressive. The lines I drew were only about 1/16″ thick, yet we could both tell a difference with the water level when it was at the bottom, middle, or top of the laser line.

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Working our way around the inside of the house, we found there were 2 or 3 lines from the laser level that were off by just a bit – less than an inch, but enough that we drew new lines using the water level. I made a video and a “job aid” on leveling rim joists:

video: using a water level

job aid: leveling-rim-joists

Rim Joists:

These are bolted to the 1st row of logs and rest on the piers along with the logs. They are just 2×12’s. You simply shave off a bit of the 1st layer of logs if there are knots, and use 1/2″ x 6″ – 8″ lag bolts every 2 feet. After putting up a few joists, I found that one of the joists I put up had quite a bow in it on the end that threw off the joist next to it. The water level helped verify and set me at ease on the lines. Live and learn.

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Inner support piers

There are 6 inner piers on our plans. They are 13-ish feet apart N-S, and almost 10 feet apart the other direction. A double 2×12 beam spans this area. The floor joists are attached every 16″ to them or to a rim joist. Maybe a picture will help. The yellow line represents the double 2×12, the orange line represents one (of the 96) 2×12 floor joists:

Capture

Span lengths

I found out while researching building a deck a rule of thumb on span lengths- essentially, you can span in feet 1.5 times the number of inches that your board is thick. So, a 12″ board can span 18 feet. Shorter spans are always better (and more expensive).  The longest span is 13 feet on my design. 

With the rim joists installed, I went and chinked the first row because the chinking will partially cover some of the floor. 

floor joists

There is an engineered product called an i-beam, which is basically a letter “I” where the vertical beam is a piece of OSB, and the top and bottom are a laminated plywood. They are really strong, and very straight. And are really susceptible to water damage. And more expensive. So I said no. The floor joists are hung on the rim joists or double beam with Simpson or similar hangers. The ones I bought require 12 nails each. ugh. Oh well. At least my imaginary pet elephant will be happy.

Let’s roll (muh Trump check)

yup. I’m converting that cash into lumber. I consider money pretty unstable at this point. The faster I can turn it into a house, the better off I’ll be.

Next steps

I’ll install the floor joists, and then after checking and rechecking for level, glue and nail the OSB subfloor. 

At some point, I’ll need to insulate the floor (code). But talking it over with my wife, we decided this can be done at any point. I think it would be easier to get my electrical and plumbing installed and then go back and do the floor insulation, so it’ll have to wait for now. But instead of just 1/4″ metal screen under the floor joists to hold the insulation in and the critters out, I think I’m going to copy my friend Ivan and install 1/2″ OSB to the bottom of the joists. The vapor barrier goes to the “warm side”. I found out that in the South, it’s more often warm than cold outside, so our vapor barriers should be installed towards the outside of the insulation. In the cold North, it’s often warmer inside the house (a full 6 months of winter, plus cool Spring and Fall weather), so the vapor barrier goes on top of the insulation, and under the subfloor.

Then we’ll think about windows and doors, chinking, framing the gable ends, 2nd floor, etc. All that stuff could be done at any time, but I’d really like to have a subfloor to roll my scaffolding around on while I work on the gables, getting the last of the bark off the ridge pole, cutting windows, and etc.

The plan is now for me to build the doors. Exciting and scary. I want them to be strong, but I’ve never built a door before. Up until now, anyone that wants to see the inside of our home has to crawl under the logs and stand on dirt to look up at it. In my opinion, it’ll be a milestone when we can open a door and walk in. Also makes a more secure place to store materials.

A preview of chinking

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It was still wet in this picture – looks like a river, though.

The setup

I installed the rim joists- they are 2×12’s that are lag screwed to the inside perimeter of the home, and they provide a place for the floor joists to hang from. While installing them, I noticed some of the rim joists ended up being higher than parts of our first row of logs. Our logs are very tapered, which means some of them are 28″ on the bottom, and 12″ or sometimes a bit less than that on the top. I started wondering, “if the rim joist is near the log at this point, how am I going to chink after I put the subfloor in? Maybe just spray foam at those points?” I discussed with my wife. She thought we should go ahead and chink just one row for now. That way, when the subfloor is installed, we can butt it up against the logs and/or the chink and not worry about how to chink later. Not everyone does this, but we decided it would give us a consistent look. So, the floor joists are on hold while we chink one row.

Plus, we thought chinking one row will give us an idea on what tools and equipment we’ll need to start looking for now so we’re ready when we ramp up to chinking the whole house.

Preparing to chink

LHBA uses a secret recipe for their chink. It is made out of Portland cement, sand, and lime (garden lime works fine). It is closer to what was traditionally used for chink on log homes than anything out there on the market. The ratio of the ingredients is the secret. While researching this post, I found a lot of myths out there regarding mortar chinking- that it retains water (it doesn’t – how could it? it’s cement – does your driveway retain water? no.) Or that it will crack – wrong again- here’s a picture of a LHBA home with 50 year old chinking. This is after the home went through a 6.8 earthquake:

 

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picture from LHBA article on chinking

Most other types of log homes you’ll see have some kind of latex or silicone-based chinking that contains sand or something to give it the look of traditional chink. Based on their calculator, I’d need about $14,000 of the factory stuff:

 

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LHBA recommends against latex/silicone types of chinking for a few reasons:

  1. Very expensive.  I can buy as much sand as my trailer can carry for under $20. Two trailer loads ought to do it. Lime is $3 a bag, but I might find it cheaper at some big farm co-op somewhere. The portland cement is a bit more- like $14 for a 90 lb bag. I’m about halfway through my first bag, and I dropped a lot of mortar on the ground during my learning curve. I still need to do the outside, but figure just over a bag per row times 15 rows. So that’s the expensive part. So maybe $500 for chinking.
  2. Bad for the logs. Silicone and latex chinking products are water phobic, so they keep the water out – of themselves. It’s possible the water can become trapped behind these treatments and pool up, and then not have a way to drain away. They definitely don’t let the log breathe like it should. Real mortar chinking is natural and it breathes and allows moisture to drain and evaporate. Which is great for keeping the logs mold and mildew-free. And not rotting.
  3. Easy to apply? I’ve seen a video where a guy slaps on real cement mortar chinking – he does 10′ of chinking in about 20 seconds. I’m not that good. But it’s only row one – give me a minute, ok? 🙂

Knowing all this, I’m not sure what the appeal is for the latex/silicone based chinking.

Tools

I needed some masonry tools, of course.

  • I bought a little 2″ trowel, and then rounded the corners as instructed by the fine folks on LHBA. Round corners makes it easy to smooth out the chinking.
  • a mortar board.
  • a kitchen spoon (thanks Shark!). yes really.
  • stucco lath, stapler
  • lots and lots and lots of nails for my nail gun.

materials

  • portland cement
  • sand. in bags for now. probably buy a pile of it. My daughter is looking forward to a pile of sand to play with…
  • garden lime.
  • a mixing bucket. When we really get going, I’m already on the lookout for a cement mixer.
  • stucco lath for the really big gaps (>5″). (“your cabin has gaps that big???” yes. As they say, if you can’t chuck a cat through your gaps, it ain’t a real log home).
  • insulation
    • That bag of glass wool I found on the side of the road…
    • and some Rock Wool – the rats hate it. None of that pink stuff. I hate that stuff- itchy. used to hate it at the phone company when I had to crawl up in a ceiling stuffed with that nasty pink stuff.

Chinking

  1. insulation
    1. 20200507_181316The glass wool is really nice- it has the texture of soft cotton. Just stuff it in there until you have enough that there’s a somewhat firm surface for the mortar to stick to. Or use Rock Wool (not as nice, but more rat resistant) – get the non-paper backed kind. Cut it into strips and stuff it in there. Ideally, you have insulation on the indoor side of the logs, and then another separate run of insulation on the outdoor side, with an air gap between them. With my crooked logs and their gaps- just do the best you can.
  2. nails
    1. ka-chinkI used framing nails. Hot Dipped Galvanized (HDG) if you can afford them, but anything will do. Probably 3″ is best. And a nail gun. With a modified “Ka-chink” nozzle on it (thanks Rod and Ronnie): A rubber hose about 2″ long fits over the nose of the nail gun (or I used a piece of pvc pipe and a compression clamp), which holds it away from the log so the nail only goes in about an inch.  The rest of the nail is then bent vertically to hold the insulation in place.
  3. sometimes lath
    1. For big gaps. Cut to size and staple in place.
  4. mortar
    1. slap a big pile of mortar on the mortar board and slide or slam it into place with the trowel. don’t work it to death- slap it in, and try to smooth it only once. Let it dry some, then go back if you want to make it nicer by smoothing it some more.
    2. My wife had her doubts- the mortar goes on really dark. But it turns a very light gray when it is dry, so she felt better about it at that point.

Results:

I had a terrible time on my first try- my mortar was too wet. It’s actually kind of comical:

1st try – fail.

You actually want it to be surprisingly dry so it can hold itself up. But not too dry- it won’t hold together. My wife made an excellent video of the whole process:

2nd try – much better

I’m really excited about the results. With my curvy logs, the mortar looks like a river flowing between the logs. It is really neat looking, and totally custom. It is definitely a one-of-a-kind log home. And not in a bad way. It pops.

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Next Steps

Floor joists. And then the subfloor. Really really. Then I can roll the scaffolding around in there. Besides, I need to cut out doors and windows before I do any more chinking. But it was really good practice on some areas that will probably never be seen.

Staining Logs

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1st coat done, except for a few spots here

It’s been a lot of work getting to this point where we can stain the logs. About 9 months. Why has it taken so long? So many reasons, that I guess I should start at the end of the last major milestone- the roof.

Summary: June 2019 – March 2020

I got the roof on June 2019. I had promised myself and my wife that I would finally get that truck working and install the new motor. So I took a month off from the cabin and worked on the truck- replacing parts as I went. I got it running by August, but then my son’s car needed a new motor. So I worked on that for a couple weeks. Then my truck’s new motor blew a head gasket. Wha??? So I tore it apart – and found the company I bought it from (on Ebay) had gone out of business. Grr. They didn’t torque the head bolts correctly- a few of them came right out – no breaker bar necessary- weren’t even tight. What else did they do wrong? So I carefully went through and replaced everything I could find that wasn’t right. Had to wait for the machine shop to surface the heads, make some of my own parts (like a belt tensioner bracket that you can’t buy for some reason) etc. So that took another couple weeks.

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Lil’ Red lives!

Pressure washing, buffing, filling holes, caulking, sanding, and gutters:

Meanwhile, at the cabin, in between waiting for parts for the truck, we had decided to pressure wash the whole thing and apply the last treatment of borate. I mixed up 7 gallons and sprayed liberally. Pressure washing created fuzz, so I went back and buffed that; then filling in the bee holes- at least a month to fill with caulk and then go back and top off with wood filler. Then another month to sand off the filler – and while sanding, I decided to just go ahead and do a good job on the outside, and a really good job on the inside.

Once we got into the new year, it started raining. It rained almost every day from January through February. For almost 6 weeks, we never had more than one day without rain. Broke some records. I worked on sanding and filling in holes on the inside when it rained, and the outside when it wasn’t raining. Water was still splashing up on the lower logs on the East and West sides. I thought a porch was the answer, but it wouldn’t stop raining enough to pour concrete, so I changed plans and decided on gutters. When we finally got more than one day without rain, I got one side installed.  Some LHBA folks hate gutters. I guess it doesn’t rain where they live? But here, the rain was so heavy at times that it would splash up from the ground and onto the bottom layer of logs. Once the gutter was installed, the logs stayed almost completely dry, and were almost ready for stain. But first-

Stopping the bees

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Stopping the bees was our biggest concern. I researched eliminating them and came up with a planned approach:

  • fill in the bee holes (they are apparently “lazy bees” – they don’t like to drill new holes)
  • build traps (they are apparently kinda dumb, too)
  • treat and stain the logs (they don’t like preserved wood – they are picky)

Bee season begins this month- if it ever warms up. The holes are filled in and I have a lot of bee traps. Last coat of stain is almost complete – just have a section on the North side to work on. I’ve seen a few carpenter bees, and one new hole on a rafter where I think I missed applying some stain. There are some smaller carpenter-like bees that I haven’t been able to identify – but I am fighting them off- I’ll build some smaller traps for them in the next few days, and haven’t seen them building many nests- maybe one or two where I haven’t stained. Working like mad to try and get the thing stained before the heat / bee season is fully upon us. We’ve had several cold fronts come through this month, so it’s a strange year where it won’t warm up, but this is buying us some time.

Finally, the stain

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I like the stain. it is a water-based stain made by Sashco called “Capture”. The color is “natural”. I bought it from Katie & Meredith at Pioneer Log Systems in Tennessee. They have been really great with their service. We wanted to keep the logs as light in color as possible. It goes on thick and heavy for the first coat. For the second coat, I tried for thick and heavy as well, but it can only take so much. Anyway, the second coat dries to a very elastic and tough looking coating. I didn’t like the look at first, but it is growing on me.

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Left: no stain. Right: after one coat. 

It ties all the logs together, colorwise. I do like how light the color is- we wanted to keep it as close to natural as possible. And it doesn’t give off much vapor- very easy to work with and water clean up. We are just using 4″ brushes. It’s been suggested to spray it on, and then brush it in, but I think I would just waste stain because of the large gaps in my logs.

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I don’t think she’ll ever finish…. 🙂

So far, it is covering almost as advertised – even though I have a lot of knots. I went ahead and bought just one more bucket (total of seven, at $300 each. yeah- ouch). Sashco said it would take about 1 bucket to provide 2 coats of stain on about 800 sq ft of logs, which is one wall on my house. My walls are about 40′ wide x 20′ tall, so I calculated about 4 buckets total for both coats – one for each wall.  I think the knots have added at least one bucket so far to the mess, as well as the large surface area caused by large logs.

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sanding fascia boards…with my 40′ ladder.

I stained the fascia boards on the front of the roof- thinking that I didn’t need to sand them first. Nope. So I sanded the stain off and re-did them. Much better (see pic) – it ties in well with the logs.

And it seems to be keeping the bees away- I’ve only found three in my traps so far. A few have been buzzing around, and I quickly dispatched them with our “Made in the U.S.A.” flyswatter – it is a heavy duty swatter – not quite big enough to take care of a bear, but plenty for bees.

I also bought a taller ladder – I thought I could get by with a 24′ ladder, but I finally woke up and realized I can’t reach the peak of the roof- and what if wasps decided to build a nest up there? I wouldn’t be able to reach them. Plus, I still need to sand the ridge pole and remove some bark. It’s 33′ up. The new 40′ ladder is scary, but solid. I don’t like using it, but it works. I made some of my own modifications to make it easier to handle (“easier” is relative).

Next steps

We’re working under a state-wide mandatory “stay at home” order during the Covid-19 outbreak….but they didn’t say which home! Joking aside, I read the order carefully- outdoor activities are acceptable as long as you remain six feet from other humans. Our tiny 3.5 acres allows us about 600 feet of distance, so I think we are better working there than we are cooped up in the city. And we’re not stopping anywhere – not even for fast food. And I have mixed feelings about the whole virus thing anyway. I think the virus is real, but the response to it is over the top. We’ll see if the powers that be pull another “post 9/11 freedom grab” on us or not. Back to the matter at hand….

With the stay at home order, only hardware and grocery and fast food stores are open for the most part. I worry that with all the funny money being injected into the economy, it won’t be long until prices begin to rise. I’ve already turned some of my cash into floor joists; later, I’ll turn the rest into lumber, subfloor, and etc.

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Bought some gravel for the driveway, and then once I had that ready, the gravel guy came back with more to shovel under the house. Got the vapor barrier installed, and most of the gravel is now under the house, just in time for the 100+ 2×12’s I got for the floor joists. I was going to do engineered I-joists, but if they get wet, they fall apart. And they are more expensive. After that, I’ll cut windows and doors, install the 2nd floor cants, and then close in the gable ends. Then insulate the cracks, and chink, and move onto finish the inside, which is the next big exciting part.

Guest Post: Homemade Face Mask

As many of you might know, my wife is a talented seamstress. With all the scary news about catching Covid19, she decided to make her own face masks. Her instructions are below: 

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I know that a homemade fabric mask is not the same as an N95 mask. So I wasn’t going to even bother making one until my friend who owns a pharmacy put out a desperate plea for help. “We’ve been told to use whatever measures we can to protect our staff and I can’t get any masks even though I’ve been ordering them since February,” she said. “If you want to make some I’ll give them to my staff and my at-risk patients. Something is better than nothing!”

I decided to download a couple of patterns from the internet and try them out. I was disappointed because the masks didn’t fit snug next to my face, and I could actually feel my air flow going in and out of the gaps above my nose. I also didn’t like the masks that had elastic gathering up the sides of the mask.

But I took the parts of the mask patterns I liked and combined them with my own ideas and came up with this pattern. It is simple to make, and because there’s a pipe cleaner over the nose, it hugs your face. I made some masks for my family and we noticed that the masks get sucked inward when we breathe in, so they must be working!

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I read this article that lists the effectiveness of different materials against 0.02 micron particles. I made several masks out of some of these fabrics and I will tell you down below which ones work the best with my face mask pattern. You can download the pattern and instructions here as PDF: bestfacemask.

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I couldn’t wait to try making my mask out of a tea towel. I even wanted to double it to make the mask more effective. But the towel was way too thick and bulky, so I had to settle for just one layer, and no lining. I turned all the rough edges in and zig-zagged them. I put the pipe cleaner in and zig-zagged over it.

I think the tea towel mask looks cute, but it’s hot and hard to breathe through. Also, because the towel is so bulky, the pipe cleaner doesn’t get bendy enough to conform to my face well. This one’s a fail.

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100% cotton t-shirt

Next, I made a face mask for my husband out of a 100% cotton T-shirt. I used the T-shirt for both the mask and liner, so the t-shirt is doubled. The t-shirt was a little bulky, but not too bulky to prevent the pipe cleaner from working. This mask stretched a lot as I sewed, and doesn’t hold its shape very well, but my husband likes the comfortable stretchy feel and says it’s easy to breathe through. Win!

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quilting fabric + cotton t-shirt

Then I made a mask out of some lightweight quilting fabric and used a cotton t-shirt as the liner. It’s a little bit warm but overall works well. Win!

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Cotton sheet + flannel

I read that hospitals that use homemade masks suggest using flannel as the lining. The flannel is soft against the skin, and it absorbs moisture from breathing. When I tried this mask on, I told my husband, “Oh! It’s so comfy! Try this one!,” and he tried it on and said, “mmmmmmm!”  Unfortunately, I think it would be too warm to wear for an extended period of time, but maybe that’s because the flannel I used is really thick.

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Ralph Lauren bed sheet

The last one that I made is similar to the striped one. One layer is 50/50 cotton/polyester bed sheet, and the other layer is a 100% cotton Ralph Lauren sheet. It’s lightweight, easy to breathe through, and cute! Win!

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Very comfy and good coverage

Update:

After washing these masks in the washing machine, I noticed the pipe cleaner worked its way through and was poking out of the T-shirt fabric and the flannel. So, I would mark those fabrics as a “fail” for this pattern, unless you bend down the ends of the pipe cleaner to make them not pointy.

Gutters!

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You can’t hardly see the gutter in this photo

I didn’t think I would do gutters. In some parts of the LHBA world, gutters are a dirty word. The thinking goes like this: with enough roof overhangs – usually 4′ for each story, and 8′ on the gable ends, gutters aren’t needed. I’ve mentioned before that the finished home will have wrap around porches, thus the reason I only have 4 foot overhangs on my two-story house.

I found out about a month ago why, when the wind blows, the rain still comes in – even though I have the roof finished. Mosseyme says without the chinking, the gaps in the logs are big enough that when the wind blows, there’s nothing stopping it from going right through the house. It makes sense if you think about it- wind is forced to go around a solid wall, but it blows right through a fence – therefore, if there is rain along with wind, it’s going to go right through the “fence” (log walls) until I get it chinked.

In my last post, I talked about installing a porch. I even dug some preliminary foundation holes, and then foolishly thought it would stop raining long enough to pour concrete. I was a fool. Sure, last weekend, we had our first full 2 days without rain this year (it’s the middle of February). But when I checked the forecast last weekend, I saw that more rain was predicted this week. And that made me mad. Ok, not mad, just frustrated. I already knew gutters would cost a bit, but they also install pretty fast. So I bit the bullet and bought a bunch of 5″ gutters and the hardware. And some flat black paint because – really – white gutters on a log home look really tacky.

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I hadn’t quite connected two gutters together in this photo. I fixed that. Also note the porch post holes in the ground below…

Preparation

I was surprised at how far spray paint has come in the last few years. The label on the can specifically said, “dries in 10 minutes”. I was thinking, “yeah, right. Maybe ‘tacky in 10 minutes’, but I doubt ‘dry’.” But it was cheap. And it was dry in 10 minutes, just like they said.

A ten foot gutter takes almost an entire can of spray paint. I had 6 gutters and 4 cans of paint, and barely had enough. I didn’t paint the inside or the top edge because the paint will eventually flake off in the rain, and you’ll never see it from the ground.

Pre-install

I researched gutters carefully. I wanted something cheap, yet durable, and with availability for replacement parts. I have done a vinyl gutter on a previous home, and the while the main hardware (gutters) seemed inexpensive at first, I got nickled and dimed to death with the special hangers and foam/plastic connectors.

Having them professionally made is intriguing- they come out with a machine and make the gutters in one piece out of a roll of sheet metal. They are bent into the correct shape by a machine with rollers. But it’s not economical for the guy to come out and make them and then let you install them. And you can’t buy a single gutter in a 60′ length and have it delivered, either. (It’s a great business model, actually….)

I ended up settling on good old fashioned aluminum gutters- light, strong, won’t rust, can be painted, hardware available almost anywhere. Also stupid proof.

Install

I put a nail in the middle roof on the eve board, about an inch down from the shingles. I stretched a mason line from one end of the roof to the other and used a mason string level (it shows declination angles of 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ per one foot of length). I stayed just this side of the 1/8″ per 1′ line, hoping I could get it down to 1/16″ per foot. Then I nailed the blocks described below along this line for the entire length of the roof. This ensured the gutters are slightly angled (not level) so the water will naturally flow towards the downspouts. My mason string bubble with grade markings (the white one below) came in handy:

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My eves are actually on an angle compared to the ground, while the gutter instructions say to make sure you install the gutters so the top edge is parallel to the ground. Since my roof is a 6/12 pitch, this means that I could use blocks with a 30 degree angle to offset and make the gutters level, so I got out the chop saw and nail gun and put up blocks every 2 feet on the eves:

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Also, they say to install downspouts every 30 feet or so. This became a problem because to do this, I would have a downspout right in the middle of the house, and two on each end. I decided against this and came up with finding the middle of the house, and angling the gutters down on both sides from the middle towards the edges. Also, with 8 feet of overhang, there isn’t anything to tie the downspout to right at the corner, so I attached the downspouts near the corners of the log walls. The gutters angle down in a very wide ‘W’ pattern, with the downspouts attached at the bottom of the ‘W’, and the middle and corner of the roof being on the three high points of the ‘W’. You can’t even tell from the ground, since the grade has a slope of about 1/16″ per foot. Over 30′ of gutter on each side of the middle of the roof means the gutters only drop about 1 – 7/8″ over that span. Here’s an exaggerated diagram- red represents the gutters, blue represents water and downspouts, and black represents the logs and the roof. The downspouts ended up being in the outside, rather than the inside corners:

Capture

Unintended and happy consequences are – since the roof already has a bit of a wave in it, adding gutters only help draw attention away from the roof. I can’t tell from the ground anymore that the roof has a bit of a wave in it. It’s the principle of art where the “eye loves a line”.  <- I read that somewhere in a history of mathematics book. Off topic: did you know that straight lines rarely exist in nature? It’s only humans that like (and make) straight lines. In nature, everything twists and turns- there are beautiful spirals and perfect circles, hexagons, elipses, etc., – but no long straight lines.

It was scary installing them with my scaffolding. The scaffolding instructions say to only use it on hard flat surface, but I threw the instructions away. I had to make do with rolling it around in the mud and dirt, which wasn’t always level. A few times I thought the scaffolding was going to tip over just from my using my air nail gun. But it didn’t, and I’m very blessed.

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18 feet tall scaffolding. scary at that height. Oh, and a gutter.

Downspouts

I used self-tapping sheet metal screws to hang the downspouts. Cutting and fitting at that height is a bit challenging, but doable. Eventually, the downspouts will lay on the porch roof. I’d like to attach rain barrels and use that to store water for the dry season at the end of summer.

Next steps

I’m pretty pleased with the results. It rained 2″ after I got them installed. I wasn’t there while it was raining, but came out later and saw where the water had washed out onto the ground. All the logs on that side are completely dry, and I’m pretty tickled about that.

I’ve sanded two outside walls, so they are ready for stain. I’ve sanded almost half the inside walls. I ordered some stain this week, but I need to wait for a few dry days where the overnight temps don’t drop below 40 before I can apply it. Carpenter bee season is in just over a month. If everything works, it’ll be slim pickings for them.

Porch needed

This might be another post where we are getting ahead of ourselves, but I wanted to capture this discussion as well.

The logs are still getting wet. You can see it in this video. This was part of the plan, even after the roof was finished. I was hoping to just finish the roof, move in, and then add the porch. But while filling bee holes, and with the heavy rains we’ve received lately along with wind, I see the bottom layers of logs still getting wet. This is somewhat expected. But they are also getting wet even when there’s no wind. If the rain is heavy enough, it is hitting the ground and splashing up on the logs. Even with 3′ of height from the ground. This is unexpected. There are a few factors I know, and some I recently was informed of:

  1. The roof has such a large surface area (56’x30′ x 2) , that it drains a lot of water. 3′ of height to the first log apparently isn’t enough to stop the splashing.
  2. This is “The South” where we get a lot of water.
  3. It’s a 2 story house. If I was not installing a porch, I would have planned on having 7′ overhangs (3.5′ overhang for every story).
  4. As it is, I have almost 8′ overhangs on the gable, and 4′ overhangs on the eaves. The plan was always to install a porch, so I didn’t see the point of overkilling the roof overhangs (longer rafters = longer sawmill track = bigger trees = more decking, more roofing, more osb, more shingles, etc.), because I knew a wrap-around porch was in our plans. Just not now.
  5. This was new to me, thanks Mosseyme: Without chinking, there is nothing to stop the wind from blowing right throw the house (gaps in logs). Over that 23′ drop (see #3) or so, rain has space for the wind to blow it off course and into the house. Normally,  (Ok, scratch that) I’m learning in the South that nothing is normal, and the weather can do whatever it wants.

So, I’m rethinking the “wait another year + before adding the porch” because the logs are getting wet now, and will be until I get that porch built. But all is not lost. My wife reminded me that we could just build the roof over the porch, and leave decking it until later, which would

  • get the lower logs protected right away
  • save me time on installing the porch decking

I like this idea. With that in mind, I started drawing to answer the question “What should our deck look like?” Here it is:

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Notes on this drawing:

  1. I was originally envisioning the West side of the house in this view. But I realized all four sides would have similar views, just with stairs or the carport. Ahh- the carport- more on that below….
  2. My biggest question is still how do you wrap the porch around the pass logs that stick out at the corners? I don’t know. I assume I’ll have to shave them off. For now, I’m going to build a “West Porch” and an “East Porch”. I’ll build them as far as the corners of the house, and not wrap them around just yet because my gables aren’t framed in. After the E-W porches are built, I’ll frame in the gables. Don’t need the porch getting in the way of my scaffolding and hauling materials up to the gables. After the gables are done, I’ll frame in the North and South Porches and figure out how to wrap the whole porch around the house.
  3. Gutters. I’ll get this out of the way- gutters do help direct all those thousands of gallons of water away from the lower (porch) roof. I’ll route them down the side of the porch beams, and eventually into water barrels for use in the garden or whatever. Yes, it still gets dry in August sometimes.
  4. Roof slope. The main roof is 6:12 pitch. But that doesn’t look right on the porch roof. And there is no hard and fast rule on matching the slopes of two roofs. Normally, the porch roof slopes slightly less than the house roof. I’m going with 3:12, which is pretty flat, I know, but you’ll see why below with the carport…I know 3:12 is below the recommended pitch for shingles, so I’ll have to add “special underlayment” to compensate for the lowered drainage rate.
  5. Carport. We’re tired of getting wet on the way to the house. However, I don’t want the garage attached to the house because fumes. Yes: “because fumes”. So, we need a carport and a detached garage. From my figuring, I need about 10′ of width for each car. But if we keep the carport roof slope the same as the rest of the porch, it would get pretty low before reaching the width needed for 2 cars. Julie had a great solution- park the cars perpendicular to the house- let the headlights face the house instead of parking parallel to it. This means the carport can be 14-17′ long, and we can just make it 30′ wide – enough for 3 cars.
  6. Dimensions:
    1. Porch roof height: about 9 feet, I figure.
    2. depth: 10′
    3. roof overhang: 12′.
    4. deck height vs inside floor: it’ll compare to the inside finished floor height in this manner:
      1. inside floor: 12″ (11.75″) joists, 3/4″ subfloor, 1″ finished floor = 13.25″
      2. outside deck: 10″ (9.75″) joists, 1.5″ decking = 11.25″. Later, we may enclose part of the porch into a large laundry room by adding 3/4″ subfloor, and then 1″ finished floor to bring the height to 13″. Trying to plan ahead….
    5. deck height vs ground: hoping for a deck height below 30″, so I can avoid handrails. Wife might override me on this one….

Here’s a bird’s eye view:

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Notes on this one:

  1. it’s a lot of roof. A lot. But you only live once, right? And we do want to see this thing still standing in 400+ years, right? Ok then. Roof it is.

I’ll let y’all know how it turns out….

Wood floors

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I work on it at night. 

Yes, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but this discussion has started and I wanted to capture it.

You’d think you just go down to the big orange or blue box store and buy some hardwood. But no, that’s not how we’ll do it- mostly because they don’t sell what we want. There is a confusing amount of choices to make when it comes to floors. For our cabin, we get the luxury of installing the same floor throughout the entire 1st floor BEFORE we ever install any interior walls. It’s a perk of a LHBA log home because:

  1. 1. we don’t have any load bearing walls on the interior like they do in every episode of HGTV.
  2. 2. cutting the floor material every time you need to meet up with an interior wall is a pain.

What is the best type of floor for the home we are building? And by “best”, I mean:

  1. Durable
  2. Easy installation
  3. Cheap
  4. Long lasting
  5. Beautiful
  6. Practical

There are a lot of options, but here’s what we’ve looked at doing:

Type of floor

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concrete floors – http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/interiorfloors/design-ideas/log-cabin.html

There are concrete floors– Ronnie (of LHBA) does this a lot- and they look great. He installs pex before pouring, and then hooks it up to provide radiant heating. This requires at least a concrete slab, so it wasn’t an option for us since we planned on having a pier foundation. Plus, I really did want the pier foundation for two reasons: 1. lots of airflow to keep things cool under the house during the hot, humid summers we have in the south. 2. Even though our property shows up on the FEMA map as being 600 feet from the outermost band of a 1,000 year flood zone, I’m still not taking any chances, and piers gave the house an extra 3 feet of height, just in case.

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tile floor: https://www.offgridquest.com/images/1596/Log-house-kitchen-with-stone-tile-work_7062.png

Tile floors– this would be nice for spills and leaks, but I worry about getting it right everywhere- it must be perfectly level everywhere. Also, I have a piano to roll in there- I really don’t want to break tiles with that thing. And even though we have hot humid summers, my toes told me they don’t like cold tile in the morning.

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carpet with wood

Carpet – Well, we entertained the idea, but when looking at cabins with carpet in them- we both decided it just looks ugly to us. Maybe for the upstairs, but not the main floor. I personally feel like carpet holds dust, dust mites, and is generally bad for the air, but I was surprised that there are studies on both sides of the issue, and there’s a lot of disagreement on this idea. Either way, we thought it looked ugly in practice, so we’re not doing it.

This leaves wood. But not so fast- what kind of wood? engineered? solid? Hardwood? Softwood? What shape of edge- flat boards? Shiplap? Tongue and Groove (T&G)? What type of attachment method? Face nailing? Blind nailing? peel and stick? glue or no glue?

Wood Floors

I asked around on the LHBA forum- Rod said even the engineered stuff isn’t staying flat- he installed it in his camper. That was surprising. I thought it might be better, but I’m actually a snob and want real wood. So that narrows our choice down to either hardwood or softwood. The heavy piano is a problem. Even though I believe shellacking it *could* make it hard enough, I’d rather just install oak or something and *know* it’s hard enough.

But still- not so fast. I put red oak in my old house in Utah- it worked out great, but the boards were only about 2″ wide. For this cabin, we both agree that we want really wide planks- like 12″ wide. But the orange and blue people don’t sell them in that width normally, so we are going to have to use a lumberyard.

That still leaves the attachment method and the edge- T&G would probably be expensive for the mill do for us. I imagine shiplap to be cheaper and easier. Or, I’ve heard folks just doing planks with no edge and face nailing the planks. LogHouseNut (LHN) did this, and then used tung oil to protect the wood.

And on the face nailing issue, Rod was a purist- advocating “cut nails” over standard nails from a nailgun. I looked into cut nails- there’s a company that makes them using civil war era equipment – no joke. But LHN said he’s been disappointed that even though he went through all the trouble to use cut nails, not one person has ever asked about them. Probably because once they’re installed, the average person can’t tell the difference between the head of a cut nail and a regular nail.

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This guy has 1″x12″x12′ oak planks. And the same in pine. 

On a not-so-satisfying-note about wood floors- everywhere I read, they all agreed that wood floors must be installed cross-wise of the floor joists. My floor joists will have to run N-S, due to the layout of my pier foundation, which means my finished floor will have to run E-W, which means when you enter my front door, the floors will run left and right- I wanted them to run front-back (N-S). Oh well. I mean, I can’t easily move the piers…. 🙂

Capture

And finally, there are a lot of determining factors on the width of the plank- some websites say they can only be installed in an area where the humidity only varies “a little”. They say Colorado is a terrible place for wide planks because the humidity can vary so much. But here in the south- we have high humidity most of the time- is this also bad? Nobody knows. And what do they mean by “bad”? Some say it doesn’t matter if you have an AC system. Also, they say don’t install wood floors before you have the AC working – need to keep the humidity level. But that would mean I’d need the house to pass the final inspection (can’t turn on the power until I get an ok from utilities), meaning – what? – I just leave the subfloor until I’m ready to move in? I don’t think so. No. I’m thinking these ‘experts’ might not be so expert when it comes to the real world.

Summary

We’d like to go with very wide – hopefully 12″ wide – oak plank floors, made from rough-sawn lumber, installed E-W, probably glued to subfloor, face-nailed with ring-shanked nails, and then slightly counter sunk. Floor sanded, stained, and then sealed. Oh, and it’ll come with a “if you ever want to remove it down the road, good luck” guarantee.

One guy on C-list sells a rough cut oak board (1″x12″x12′) for $18 each. I’ll need about 1600/12 = 133 boards. It looks like I can get 1600 square feet of  the stuff for about $2400 or less. I have never seen pictures of a floor with planks that wide in a cabin. If I can get out to the local mall, I might take a few of a floor I saw there with very wide planks. When I saw it, I just stopped and stared. I don’t even know what they sell in that store, but the floors are awesome!

Buffing logs

 

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I know you guys are all excited for me to finish the house, but we are low on funds at this point, so we are working on projects that don’t take a lot of money, but do take a lot of time. Hang with me, I’ll get there……

Now that we are under roof, the logs will stay nearly dry forever (we hardly ever get sideways rain here in the South), which means we need to borate them one last time. We’ve only done two things to the logs since we cut them down- peel them and borate them. I’ve written about the peeling and borating in the past. According to Skip, the man behind the LHBA Butt & Pass method, that’s all that needs to be done. Gray weathered logs are not a problem with the LHBA style, due to the large roof overhangs and the borate. But gray logs are ugly in my opinion, and my wife and neighbors agree. So, in anticipation of borating and staining the logs one last time, I pressure washed them. Some still had bark that I missed while peeling, and all of them had chunks of dirt from being dragged over to the building site. They really needed a good cleaning.

There are actually two ways to clean the logs- wet (pressure washing), or dry (corn cob blasting or with sand or glass media). The dry method involves renting a machine, buying a bunch of crushed corncobs, and spraying the thing. That costs lots of money. The pressure washing just requires a pressure washer, and about “4,000 gallons of water”, according to a frantic call from our utility company, ha ha…!

The problem with pressure washing, I found out, is the fuzz that is left over afterwards. It’s a gloppy paper-like residue that sticks to the logs- really, it’s just the sun-burnt or bleached  outermost layer of logs I sprayed off. You need to get it off the logs before borating or staining – otherwise, it will soak up the stain and borate and waste your money. And it looks ugly anyway.

Sigh.

Fuzzy logs = More work.

It’s surprising (not surprising) that there aren’t better methods to get the fuzz off (I know- corncob blasting is the method)….But seriously- you’d think there would be a cheap attachment that you can stick on a drill and brush the logs with. (Sorry, I’m not doing this by hand). But no – there are expensive attachments, but I couldn’t find cheap ones. And a drill is not made for cleaning the fuzz off of 6400 sq ft+ of logs. In defense of the expensive attachments, Slamasha reports it working very well, and he’s happy with the results from his $99 nylon cup brush that attaches to a power buffer, like the kind of buffer you use to wax your car.

I kept researching and found a nylon bristle brush for $20. That sounded much better.

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Why nylon? Why not sandpaper or wire brushes? Well, I tried sandpaper on an inconspicuous part of a log – and it scratched up the logs. The wire brush was worse.

I also tried green scrubber scotchbrite pads – the kind you use on that 9×13 lasagna baking dish. mmmm….Lasagna….Sorry- the scotchbrite pads hold up well- except when you get close to a knot or a sliver- then they get destroyed.

Plus the idea is to buff the logs, not sand them- they are already pretty smooth.

After buffing, I can then borate, and then stain the logs. I’m so glad the staining part only has to be done once in a while, and the buffing and borating only has to be done once.

Bee holes

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Unfortunately, our logs sitting out on racks for a year attracted carpenter bees. The borate doesn’t help in that situation because the bees don’t actually ingest the wood, therefore, the poison doesn’t hurt them. However, I found a few helpful websites that claim to know how to get rid of the bees. Here are some of the suggestions:

  1. Fill in the holes with caulk (or dust and then caulk), then cover with wood filler, and sand smooth. The bees are attracted to previously used nests, so this covers the holes.
  2. Get plenty of bee traps- a 4×4 with a mason jar screwed to the bottom. Bees go in, but they don’t come out. Some folks are complaining about killing the bees, but I’m a fan of the Bible, where man was designated as lord over the whole Earth. Dominion means being in charge. I don’t mind carpenter bees- but they do not belong in my house. And I’d like to meet a naysayer who has a more ‘environmentally friendly house’ than mine, that is of a similar value. Trust me- I like nature, but I also value order. The two can co-exist.
  3. Stain the logs. Carpenter bees are apparently very attracted to a log in the early stages of decay- I mean, they aren’t attacking standing trees. Staining the logs preserves the wood, and is less attractive to bees.
  4. Not mentioned on any articles I found, but bees don’t seem to like to burrow into wood that is shaded. It’s curious, but I found when working out there in the spring that the bees would be busy on the sunny side of the house, but not in the shadows. As the sun moved throughout the day, so did the bees. They would even leave if I waved my arm and caused a shadow over a place where they were trying to land. I think our wrap around porch will help in this area.

It is a very time consuming, but necessary step. And with the sudden cold weather blast we just had, this is putting a lot of our progress on hold, as we can’t apply stain if the temperature is less than 50.

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On the left: done. On the right: in progress.

Staining

Lots of debate here. But what I found was stain is made for specific things- you shouldn’t use deck stain on a log house, according to most manufacturers – something about stretching and peeling. Some folks think that is bunk, but I think I’ll go with the specialized product on this one.  There is also oil based and water based stains. We like the idea of an odor-free home that isn’t off-gassing dangerous smells, so we looked at water based stains, which have come a long way in the last 20 years.

We settled on a company called Sashco. I checked their website for dealers in my area, and found one nearby. I called them for samples, and received them the very next day. We read the literature, which was mostly advice for kit log home owners, and went outside and stained a log to see if we liked the colors.

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I can’t tell the difference between the two colors, but it does look nicer stained.

On the inside, Sashco doesn’t recommend staining the logs, but instead recommends just putting a nice clear coat on them. From what I’ve heard from other LHBA members, the natural look on the inside makes the build go faster, but dust tends to settle on the logs and is really hard to remove- you can’t just wipe them down. The clear coat helps with dusting.

That’s all for now!