The manufacturer’s standard wall height is 8 feet, but most homes we build have 9- or 10-foot ceilings in keeping with the lodge aesthetic so many homeowners want. We use temporary bracing at corners and near doors and windows to hold everything plumb while we work our way up the wall. Where framed interior walls meet the log exterior walls, we make a kerf in the logs to receive either T&G paneling or drywall.
Dried to about 19 percent moisture content, kiln-dried logs are noticeably lighter than green logs. Most can be carried and lifted into place without struggle by a pair of workers. Logs are identified on their ends, and a framing plan provided by the manufacturer shows their location in the structure. T-shaped braces hold the walls plumb while they’re assembled.
Where stick-framed interior walls meet the log walls, saw kerfs make it easy to install drywall or paneling that doesn’t require fussy finishing or scribing. The kerfs are made on site with a circular saw and a chisel.
One of the greatest challenges with log building is hiding the plumbing, hvac, and electrical systems. Our strategies vary according to where the systems are located. Concealing them on the house’s first level is easiest: We almost always have either a sawn-lumber or an I-joist floor system where we can run pipes, ducts, and wires.
On the second floor, pipes and ducts are harder to hide. Generally we build a conventional floor system above the log-shaped ceiling joists and tongue-and-groove ceiling planks. This has the added advantage of making the house a lot quieter. Although the log joists and 2-by ceiling boards can be load-bearing, sound passes easily through the single layer of solid material, making the home very noisy floor-to-floor. Plus, even if we tried to save the client money by eliminating the second-floor system, we’d still have the expense of trying to hide the mechanicals, which is labor-intensive and creates design and aesthetic problems.
Most interior walls are stick-framed and covered with either drywall or tongue-and-groove paneling, so we use the stud bays for running the mechanicals between floors. We avoid putting pipes or ducts on exterior walls, but we do have to install electrical devices in them. Routing the wires from the floor cavities below limits the number of logs we have to drill through to reach the boxes.
Using a cardboard template, a worker draws the outline of a work box.
Then uses a 1/2-inch drill with a Forstner bit to hog out the material. A small router finishes off the recess.
Windows and Doors
Kuhns Bros. cuts the logs to length, which creates the rough openings for doors and windows. The log ends have a 1/2-inch groove cut from top to bottom. We insert plywood splines into the routed grooves and seal them with a heavy application of Sikaflex urethane sealant. We then install a wood buck over the splines and seal the joint between the wood buck and the logs with another bead of Sikaflex. The window is nailed to the wood bucks and trim installed over the nailing fin. We use a foam gasket between the logs and the window buck at the top and bottom. The log that forms the bottom of the opening is beveled so it sheds any water to the outside.
A carpenter taps in plywood splines.
That mate with dadoes in the backs of door and window bucks.
The window fins are fastened to the bucks, then covered with trim.
Doors and windows are cased with pine trim to match the logs. The preassembled picture-frame casing is scribed and let in over the window’s nailing fin.
A layer of peel-and-stick flashing over the fin seals the joint.
We use Sikkens (866/745-5367, www.nam.sikkens.com) and Sashco (800/767-5656, sashco.com) products for finishing the exterior because we’ve had good results with their adhesion and durability. Lighter stains, we’ve found, last three to five years and darker stains five to seven. We add a product called Bug Juice (Walla Walla Environmental, 800/247-9011, wwenvironmental.com) to the stain to prevent damage from wood-boring bees. Roof overhangs and window casings are generally stained to match the rest of the house.
To seal and protect the log interior, we use Sansin’s Purity Clear (877/726-7461, sansin.com), which prevents the wood from darkening or yellowing too quickly.Bill Averette co-owns Mountain Dream Homes in Blue Ridge, Ga.