Installing Exterior Doors

Another night working on the house – installing door frame.

This is a follow-up post on building your own exterior doors, which was covered in my last post. Building doors is a satisfying project. It can be tedious and sometimes stressful, but only in the sense that you want to make sure things are exact. If done correctly, the end result will bring you satisfaction for years to come. In this post, I’ll discuss installing doors in door frames and some issues we ran into with hardware for custom doors.

Door Frames

A lot of videos I watched on door frames made it seem complicated. None of them covered exactly how to do it for a log home. An LHBA Butt & Pass log home is easier than most as will be seen below. Most folks just buy “pre-hung doors”, which include the frames. With pre-hung doors, mostly what you do is make sure the frame is square using shims and such. Since pre-hung doors are covered heavily out there in internet land, I’m not going to cover it.

With a custom-made log home, I decided everything – from how big to make the holes in the walls for receiving the frames, to how big to make the doors to fit in said frames. I decided to go with standard sizes – 36″ wide, 80″ high. Maybe down the road, someone else may want to replace the doors with manufactured doors (I have no idea why anyone would do this, but at least with my house, they could). But I also made sure that you can fully open my doors – meaning you can open the door to the point where the full 36″ opening is available to shove a couch through. Should be plenty wide. This was all covered in a previous post.

A note on the frame lumber: I noticed that outside of LogHouseNut’s 6″ wide frames for his doors, my 4″x16″ frames are quite large. Many log home builders go with 4″ lumber, but not many go with 16″ deep. I’ve seen a lot of 4×10, or 4×12. We had very crooked logs, and on each course, they don’t always sit exactly over the log below, so our walls are not perfectly plumb from row to row. Our logs average 17″ in diameter, but some are smaller or larger. We used larger logs near the ground, and the smaller ones near the roof, so the opening for doors might be anywhere from 20″ at the threshold to 12″ at the header, depending on the location of the door. I decided that a 16″ door frame ties all the various sizes of logs together and looks good at all heights. Plus, I like the “portal” effect of the entrances with this size lumber.

I saw a lot of folks on the LHBA forums saying large lumber is hard to install. I used pulleys and a crowbar to install mine, and it was not hard. Heavy, but not hard.

A note on installing the frame in a LHBA Skip style butt & pass log home: other types of log homes stack the logs right on top of each other. When the logs dry, they shrink. When they shrink, they settle, meaning the whole house will shrink in height. This can crush your door and window frames. To compensate for settling, other methods teach you to account for the settling by cutting extra space above window and door frames, and then covering it with a “false header” or trim.

With the LHBA method, rebar holds the logs in place. The logs shrink, but they shrink towards their own centers, and grab tightly to the rebar. This means there is no settling of the structure, so you can cut your door frames as tight as you like. I decided to leave a bit of space for insulation and also so the chinking looks uniform.

Once you understand this secret about why an LHBA home won’t settle, it opens up an entire world of possibilities. Stairs go right where you want them. No engineering work to calculate the amount of settling for a specific type or size of log. No special screw jacks. No slip joints or slots needed to allow for movement in your door frames. No “years of experience cutting copes”. No expertise needed. No planning on how to attach the roof to the house. No special hardware. LHBA is truly a style for “the everyman” (and woman) builder. It is an extremely advanced and genius method.

Why a LHBA Butt & Pass style home won’t settle

Door Hardware for custom made doors

Almost universally true

I believe I found an exception to the universal rule of “Good, Fast, and Cheap, but you only get to pick two.” I’ll explain: my doors ended up being 2.5″ thick – much more than a standard exterior door, which are usually about 1.75″ thick. I thought the doorknob would be able to stretch to accommodate the extra 3/4″ – but not the ones we bought. If you buy a schlage or a Kwikset, they sell extension kits for about $8 – you get extension posts for the screws, and a metal tube that extends the twisting post. I tried to fabricate my own fix for the ones we bought, but couldn’t find a 3/8″ hollow brass square tube. I presented three solutions for my wife to pick from:

  1. new hardware (good, but not fast (shipping) or cheap)
  2. jerry-rig the existing hardware (fast and cheap, but not good)
  3. use standard hardware and modify the door (countersink the doorknob) (surprisingly: cheap, fast, and good)

She chose to countersink the hardware into the door. I was a little nervous about cutting into the door, but it is a simple solution, and meant we didn’t have to rely on my hokey hardware solution that could possibly fail down the road. And if we ever change door locks, another standard set of knobs will still work.

Doorknob and lock countersunk into door

Since I had already cut the hole for the standard installation, it was difficult to cut a new larger hole. The standard hole was about 2 1/4″ diameter. To countersink the base of the doorknob, I found I needed a 3″ diameter hole to accommodate the base. It seems that you could just guess on the location of the new outer ring of the hole, but the eye has a way of noticing when things are out of whack, even by just a tiny amount. Incidentally, research has shown that human fingers can detect a change of depth just a few molecules thick between two surfaces.

Anyway, to ensure that the new secondary hole (which doesn’t go all the way through the door) was centered on the existing hole, I just used the scraps from the holes I had already cut – stuck them on the end of the drill and used that to center the new hole. On the second door, I drilled the 3″ hole first, then used the center to drill the smaller hole.

I ended up needing to cut about 5/16″ from both sides of the door (5/8″ total) to get the hardware to fit and function properly.

Summary / Next steps

I think they look good and will last a long time. The front door is almost installed, then we move onto windows (a new adventure, yay!). All of this is in preparation for chinking the outside.

How to Build an Exterior Door

1921 Gallmeyer & Livingston “The Union” table saw / jointer combo. Useful for making extremely accurate cuts.

The Setup

The front door of a house says a lot about what’s inside. It also says a lot about the designer / builder. Much has been written about front doors. And you can’t just use any old door for a log cabin – they don’t look right. I couldn’t see building the entire house, and then “buying” a door – just seems like a cop-out. Yes, I know – I bought shingles instead of froeing them from cedar…. 🙂 I was surprised when I looked at front doors at the hardware store – they can be extremely pricey. And if you want something grand with side glass – plan on $5,000+. A simple solid wood door with character at the orange box place is about $1,000, so I knew there had to be a better way.

The LHBA recommends building a Z-door, and many of our members build wonderful doors in this style. It is simple and effective and looks great on a log home. I don’t mind the bolts on a Z-door, but my wife didn’t like the look.

A nice looking z-door.

I like the fortress look myself, with 6″+ thick doors and wrought iron hinges, but let’s not go all medieval here, ok? I like being married more. 🙂 I’ll make one for you if you want, later on when I get my woodworking shop up and running. So then I thought, ‘what if the bolts and the z-frame were on the inside, and we put the tongue and groove boards on the outside?’ After I weeded out the sliding barn door images, I found this one:

https://baileylineroad.com/how-to-build-a-door/

Beautiful door by Steve Maxwell, see link above for plans!

Julie said she liked the clean look of this door and said I could build it, if I followed the plans exactly. Yes, I like to stray a bit and add my own flair to things. 🙂 It should take about 6 hours or less to build this door. You’ll need at least one night overnight for the glue to dry, and probably two nights of drying if you want to do a really good job.

Materials

Turns out, I couldn’t follow the plans exactly, as not everything is 100% spelled out in these plans. For example, what size finishing nails will work? And in one part, he talks about “gluing and screwing” the inner frame, but doesn’t say where to put the screws. Probably a well-trained carpenter already knows, but I’m mostly self-taught. I came up with my own method in these areas, and I think it is very good. I believe this home-made door is very solidly built, and if sold in the orange box store, would probably retail for $500 – $700. If you can make exact cuts on a table saw, you can build this door.

Materials and Tools list:

  1. 5/4 decking lumber. 3 @ 10′. These are 1×6’s that are a full 1″ thick.
  2. 1×6 pine tongue and groove. 14 @ 8′.
  3. 1 @ 2x4x8′ for making trim.
  4. 1″ poly/EPS foam insulation sheet
  5. minimally expanding foam spray
  6. knife or hacksaw blade
  7. titebond III glue. 2 bottles.
  8. polyurethane sealer. 2 regular sized cans- it says masonry, but should work fine.
  9. construction screws. box of 2″.
  10. wood screws. box of 1″ stucco screws (they have a very low profile head).
  11. finishing nails. box of 1-1/2″
  12. Tools: hammer and a scrap of wood for a block, table saw, chop saw (for bevels) tape measure, square, pencil, drill/driver, small plane, sander.

Materials will run about $145, not including hinges/door latch. Labor is about 6 hours if you know what you are doing, not including letting it dry overnight (2 nights are needed). But remember, this would be a $500 door at the box store. At least.

The process / problems / solutions

The inner frame

  1. Run the 5/4 decking lumber through the table saw to make it exactly 5″ wide. Then cut two long pieces at 79″. These are your legs. You should have enough scrap to make two side pieces that are 35″ long. Make another 35″ long piece out of the third piece of decking lumber, and save the last length for the angled braces.
  2. Cut the lap joints: This is where the door gets its strength so take your time on this step. Each leg has 3 half lap joints that are 5″ wide. Cut the two joints on the ends, then measure down to find the middle one, just like he says in the plans above. Except I found that the spacing is not 32 1/2″ like he says – it is 32″. (32″+32″+5+5+5 = 79″). Measure twice, cut once. The better you cut the lap joints – meaning the tighter they fit- the stronger your door. Cut corresponding lap joints in the side pieces. The table saw or a router can be used to cut the lap joints. Set the blade at exactly half the thickness of the lumber – should be 1/2″, but do a fit test on some scraps to be 100% sure. If you’re 1/32″ too high on your cut, that’s still ok – then you can sand it to get the exact fit you want. The lap joints should be perfectly flush when the pieces are fit together. I just lay the flat piece on the saw, and push it through with 85 passes until it looks good.
  3. Once the lap joints are all flush and tight, and you checked all your corners for square, you are ready to glue. Lay the whole thing on the floor and glue the lap joints. Then use the stucco flat top screws to hold it together. Double check that it is square. Don’t screw this part up.
  4. Once the frame is glued, you can cut the angled braces. They should be about 40 1/2″, but I don’t measure them that way. Instead, draw a center line on your stock, and lay the door frame over it – lining up the corners of the frame with the center line on the stock. Trace the corners from the frame onto the stock, then cut them out with the table saw. Pay attention to which way you lay them- you want the braces going up from the bottom of the door. This is how the weight of the latch edge of the door is transferred over to the load bearing hinges. When you nail the sheathing on, you won’t be able to tell which way the angled braces run, so write “top”, “hinge”, “latch”, and “bottom” to remind yourself.
  5. Fit the angled pieces in place and glue the butt ends to the corners of the frame. Drill pocket holes near the corners of the angled braces and use construction screws to attach the braces to the door frame.

Sheathing side one

  1. Once the frame is glued, you can sheath one side. Run the first 1×6 T&G board through the saw to cut off its groove. Only do this to one board! Don’t do this to the other boards! Line up the formerly grooved side with the edge of the inner door frame. Glue anywhere the wood frame will touch the 1×6 sheathing. Your 1×6 might be bowed. Line up the ends first and nail them in place, then muscle the bow out of the middle if you have one. This first board sets the standard for the other boards, so do a good job with it.
  2. Keep the clamps in place while you nail the other 1×6’s in place.
  3. Apply polyurethane sealer in the groove of each 1×6 just like he says. Also glue the frame where the sheathing will touch. Use the block and your hammer to make each T&G fit tight to the previous board. Nail through the tongue, right in the joint at an angle. Probably 3 nails per 5″ of frame is good.

Insulation

  1. Turn the whole thing over. Cut out triangles of insulation and glue them in place in the spaces between the angled braces. Do as he says in the plans and leave about 1/2″ gap all around the insulation. Wait for the glue to dry! Otherwise, the spray foam will push the pieces around as it dries. Don’t ask me how I know…. (This is where you should stop for the night).
  2. After the glue is dry, fill in the gaps between the insulation and frame with the foam spray. It’ll dry in about 30 minutes. Then use a knife or hacksaw blade to shave off the excess.

Sheathing side two

  1. Nail the second side of sheathing just like the first.

Trim / Hinges / door holes

It’s probably easiest just to make your own trim. Find the thickness of your door – mine was 2.5″. Cut a 2×4 down to this size. Then turn it on its side and make 2.5″ x 1/2″ trim pieces out of it. Bevel the ends at 45 degrees. Use a planer to flatten each edge before installing the trim. On the hinge side of the door, flattening should be easy. On the latch side, you’ll have small gaps between the tongues and the door frame. I just used the scrap from cutting off the grooves in “Sheathing side 1, step 1”, and glued it into the gaps. Once all the edges are planed, glue and nail the trim, making sure not to put nails where the hinges or latch will go.

Use a kit to install the door holes and hinges. Yes, it is worth the $25 for the kit with templates, hole saws, and stuff. Make sure you follow the “top” and “bottom” you marked out on your door. Don’t use the wimpy 1″ screws they give you for the hinges – use nice long ones.

Conclusion

almost done. Needs a door frame / stain / etc.

It is a beautiful door. We will stain it to match the logs. I will post pictures on a subsequent post of the doors installed in their frames. I think the doors weigh over 100 pounds. They are a bit thicker than a normal door, but that’s how we like it.

First Exterior Door Frame

The Setup

We’ll have three exterior doors. The first one is on the actual back side of the house. We wanted a door with a large window in it so plenty of light can come into the house, and also so we can look out into the backyard. The next one will be on the side of the house in the kitchen. This will be a utility entrance – pull into the carport, drag all the groceries out of the car and use this entrance to bring things into the kitchen. The front door will be the formal entrance. Use the front door if you don’t know us very well.

Our logs vary in diameter by quite a bit – from 24 inches down to 12 inches. How to build a door frame that will accommodate those differences? My idea was to go somewhere in the middle of everything and make door frames that are 16 inches deep. And beefy- at 4 inches wide.

In this post, I’ll explore how to make a door frame for an existing door that works for a log home.

Materials

We left a lot of trees standing when we were stacking walls because they were too crooked for that part. But for a door, you only need it to be straight for about 7 feet, so we have plenty of wood for that. And to purchase a 4×16 from almost anywhere is pretty expensive.

I tried to get the most out of each piece of the tree.

Putting it together

I was surprised at how heavy they were – still wet – they weigh about 500 lbs when fully assembled. I had to use the block & tackle to get them into the house to dry.

Once we had enough lumber, we had to decide which piece went where, then line everything up and bolt it together. It’s not really important how you hold the door frame together at this point because the strength comes when you bolt it to the walls, but I went ahead and used two 1/2″ x 8″ lag bolts and washers on each joint.

Installation

I dragged out the pulleys again to put the frame in place. Cutting the logs is pretty scary at this point- you can’t un-cut logs. It just so happened that the top log would have had about 2″ of excess above the head of the frame. We thought that might look weird, so we’ll just settle for extra chinking above the door frame. No big deal.

Also, at the bottom of the door frame, you have to think about how high your floor is going to be. We went back and forth on this one. There are two ways to do the frame height:

  1. line it up so the finished height of the threshold is the same height as the finished floor.
  2. make the threshold just a bit taller than the finished floor.

Advantages of #1 – you can sweep dirt and debris right out of the house, with no lip of the door in the way. Disadvantages are that if you have carpet or a rug or something, you’ll want to make sure you get this height perfect so the door doesn’t drag on the floor. Advantages of #2 are you can get away with less than perfect on your floor height. We went with #2. I had to cut out quite a bit of the 1st layer of log to get the door frame to fit just right. Once installed in the wall, you get the whole frame vertically level, and then bolt through each log in the wall. Tighten or loosen the bolts as needed to keep the frame square. And put some bolts in the header and the threshold if you want to make it extra secure.

stick a door on it and finish it

Even though I made the frame perfectly square, installing it into the house couldn’t help but deform it- tightening down the lag bolts always bows things a bit, so we had to fiddle with the frame a bit to get everything perfect. I’m glad I bought a doorknob hole cutting kit- makes everything so much nicer. We also bought 1×2 lumber for stops. And some cool looking weather stripping.

Conclusion:

It was a lot of work. It always is. Making a door frame from tree to finished frame is quite a job. The most surprising thing was when the door frames were being built, Julie said over and over – “they look too big”. I was worried she was right. But when we installed them in the log walls, they look regular. The next adventure is to build my own doors for the other two entries. A lot of folks in our group build Z-doors. They are quick and easy, and very sturdy, and add a nice touch to a log home. Since I’m a rebel and like to do things the hard way, I’m going to build a Z-door where the Z is on the inside, following these instructions: https://baileylineroad.com/how-to-build-a-door/

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:

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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.