Log Staining

Choosing the right stain for your log home!

freshly stained log home sidingLatex vs. Oil-Based Stains

Choosing a log home stain can be one of the most important decisions to make with your log home or cabin. If the wrong materials are applied, it can become very costly to remove and start over. Always use a good quality stain that is made for log homes. It needs to be able to sustain all the movement in the logs caused by temperature change and not crack or peel from it. NEVER use paint on your log home. Paint does not allow the logs to “breathe” like latex stain does. Oil based stains are also not recommended for the same reason.

We recommend using Life Line stain from Perma Chink™. We have used it for over 20 years, and when it is applied correctly and maintained properly, it will last for many years. The key to any log home finish is keeping up on the maintenance protocol from the manufacturer. Most finishes require some clear coat or maintenance coat every three to four years. Be aware of some oil-based stains that have color in their maintenance coats. Every time you apply, it will get darker. After two or three times, it will loose its original look and have become quite dark.

Another thing that will help maintain the finish is giving your log home a light bath every year. Removing any dust, dirt or tree sap that has accumulated on the logs will help keep the finish from breaking down. Apply Log Wash at a low pressure to soak for a bit. You may have to scrub with a soft brush for heavier soiled areas and rinse. You can use a power washer for this process but stay back 10-20 feet so that you are just misting it for rinsing purposes.


When preparing a new home or cabin to stain, sand all rough spots, splinters, and marks left from the construction process. A light bath with Log Wash from Perma Chink™ is then recommended to remove the dirt and sawdust. You should always apply a good quality borate treatment before staining to help stop log rot and keep any wood-boring insects from entering the wood. Borate can only be applied to bare wood, so once you have stained; it is a waste of time and money to try to put it on your home.

There are several types of borate. One is a powder that is mixed with warm water and applied. This kind of borate offers excellent protection for bugs but minimal protection for rot. Then there are the pre-mixed solutions that also give good bug protection and a little better rot protection.

Finally, there are the glycol-based, mix-it-yourself-type solutions that will provide the best wood penetration toward rot protection and insect control. The drawback to this mix is that it can take up to two weeks to dry before the home can be stained. The more moisture content in the wood, the deeper these solutions will penetrate. All types of borate mixes should be applied to the point of run-off. Always follow the label instructions. When preparing a log home that has an existing finish, the old finish should be stripped off if it is peeling, cracking or has black mold growing under it.

Corn Cob Blasting

We recommend corn log home with dark staincob blasting since it is a dry process that will keep your logs dry and ready to stain the exterior immediately. Dry logs are happy logs! Moisture is your enemy with a log home and the less water, and moisture applied the better. DO NOT power wash old finishes. It will drive the water so deep into the wood fiber, that it will never dry out properly and may cause black mold to grow under your new stain over time.

Using a power washer to try and strip finishes will work great on the dry, broken down stained areas, but will drive the water into the wood. Under the overhangs, porches and up in the peaks of the gables where the stain is still in good shape, it will not remove the finish well enough to stain, and will likely cause a blotchy look after the new stain is on. If you do have to corn cob blast, we recommend that you hire a professional for at least this portion of the project.

Get Reference Samples

Always get references! Most log home stains are semi-transparent to show off the wood grain. Remember too, the darker the stain you use and can enjoy, the longer it will hold up to the sun’s UV damage. If you want a more cost-effective approach, you can use a solid color latex stain. It looks like paint, covers like paint, but still has the stain breathing qualities. It also holds up against the sun for years, if applied properly. If this is the route you take, we recommend Sherwin Williams Woodscapes Latex Stain.

For assistance with any of these issues or to purchase most of these materials, visit www.timelesswoodcare.com. Or you can email mike@logrepair.com with any questions or cost estimates.

Water and Pest Solutions

We can help you pinpoint water and pest problem areas as well as consult with you on solutions for correction. If necessary, this can include the installation of Borate solutions.

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American Log Restoration

2387 Bayne Road
Twin Lake, Michigan 49457

Phone: (231) 258-0382
Toll Free: (877) 788-LOGS  Ext. 1

M&M Log Home Care

3297 Holiday View Drive
Traverse City, Michigan 49686

Phone: (231) 590-8118
Toll Free: (877) 788-LOGS  Ext. 2


American Log Restoration - North Carolina Office

PO Box 1142
Brevard, North Carolina   28712

Phone: (877) 788-5647