When building a conventional home, we don’t really think about what materials it will be built with. The thought is more about efficiency and finishing materials. But those considering building a log cabin are definitely thinking about the best wood to use for log cabin, as they know how crucial a decision it is.
There are several different species and kinds of wood that log cabins can be built with. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 300 different kinds of wood, however, they are not all the best choice for constructing a log cabin. Rather, there are seven types of wood that are regularly used for building, and of those seven, just three are good for new construction.
It’s not just about what type of wood is best, but also its resistance to insects, the color, how will it hold up long term and how much does it shrink or wrap as it gets older.
Woods are not going to act in the same way. This is also true even within a single species. You will find a lot of variation, which depends on how old it is and where it was grown. Prior to constructing your log cabin, be certain you fully understand the various kinds of woods accessible in order to make the best choice for your new home.
Best wood for log cabin and wood material
Looking beyond the species of the wood is an important factor in selecting the right wood. Narrowing your search to the most common woods used such as spruce, redwood, cypress, fir, cedar, oak, pine and any variations is good, you should also contemplate other significant characteristics.
First one, how old is the wood? Trees that have aged have less sapwood and more heartwood. Heartwood gives the logs the resistance to fungus and insects. It also gives your logs more stability and durability and warp and shrink less. Trees that are newer tend to be sappier, particularly if they grew quickly. Want you need are tress that were grown slowly to get the best quality wood.
The second thing to consider, is the location the tree was grown. Trees have more heartwood if they were grown at higher altitudes. The result is stable and durable logs that last longer. Trees grown at lower altitudes such as on a farm, might not provide material that will last long.
Lastly, does the supplier you buy the logs from kiln dry the logs? When logs are dried slowly or kiln dried, they won’t warp, split or crack so they seem to last longer and are more stable than those that are not kiln dried. Those that are not, will dry eventually, but minus that step, you take the risk of splitting, warping and cracking, along with shrinking. Kiln dried logs could cost more, but it’s worth the cost to ensure your logs last longer.
What kind of wood is used for log homes
Also take into consideration the species of wood. Their characteristics vary and can make one species better than another for definite purposes. Woods having the same name can vary, such as red or white cedar, red or white oak and yellow, white or red pine.
Types of log wood
Pine is considered a soft wood. They are extremely common for building log cabins, as long they are old enough to contain some resistance to decay. The best pine to resist decay is yellow pine, while the least resistant is white pine. The rate of shrinkage is high, however, once it is dry it’s more stable. Using fresh pine can bring a lot of settling and shrinkage in the beginning. You could see some cracks depending on how much sapwood there is.
If red pine is correctly maintained it’s a great choice for a log cabin as it will remain very strong. However, cedar compared to pine can endure the outdoors better. Pine requires a bit more attention than cedar.
Pines are usually incorporated into the build, but not for the whole project. Red pine is a good choice economically as it grows copiously. A species of wood to better prevent decay and damage from insects is white pine. But because it does not grow with the same ways of red pine, it will be more costly.
Best wood for log cabin
The most popular for constructing log homes is cedar. It naturally resists fungus and insects; it is aromatic and beautiful. This is a great choice for interior walls, if you are planning on having wood walls inside. Be sure to get older cedar so it is not too sappy as it may spilt.
The features of cedars are perfect for log cabin homes. They have a natural ability to resist water. It’s never a good thing to have moisture in the wood, specially for a big investment such as your home.
Western Red Cedar is ideal for a log cabin as it has the capability to grow straight up, so it will make longer logs. It is softwood, so it will be lighter, better insulated than other alternatives.
Another good choice is white cedar, although it does have some disadvantages due the way it grows and its size. The logs will be smaller; therefore, the connected areas may not be as nice looking to some potential log homeowners.
Cypress is costly, so it is not typically used as much as other materials. It’s safe to say it is the most expensive wood that is used for log homes. Its shrinkage rate is low and it has a higher resistance against decay, fungus and insects. It does contain more heartwood, giving a longer lasting log home, but it is hard to find.
There are many variations of fir, making it both hard or easy to find, depending on where you live. Generally, fir has a low shrinkage rate, but may have low resistance to fungus, insects or decay. Fir logs need to be treated to prevent those problems.
Spruce can be a good option if you live in New England. It is inexpensive and does well in higher altitudes. The shrinkage rate is reasonable, the decay is poor and it is resistant to fungus. This wood has to be kiln dried and treated to get the most out of the wood.
Oak is usually used for bigger log homes and can be costly. There is shrinkage during drying, so you should kiln dry it to be sure there is no warping. White oak’s resistance to decay is high, while red oak’s resistance is low and needs to be treated.
On the west coast, redwood is a common material. It is resistant to insects, decay and fungus with very little shrinkage. It can be costly, specially for the dark colored heartwood, and in some places difficult to get.
Hardwood log cabins are durable and strong. Poplar, oak and walnut are the best choices. They can be simple to put together and are really nice looking. There is one disadvantage using hardwoods, and that is the cost. Depending on where you leave, hardwoods can be quite pricey.
No species of wood is going to be flawless. But you should have no problem finding one that has most of the features you are looking for. Although doing all this research on wood species is not dazzling, it is a crucial step in constructing your new log cabin home.