Log Home Construction: Which Wood Is Best?

Which Wood is Best for Log Home Construction?

Much has been written about which wood species is right for log house construction. In this article, I will draw on many years of experience to spell out the pros and cons of some of the common wood species used commercially for vacation cabin construction.

Lodgepole pine is most likely probably the most common and trusted wood species for log wall construction. It is commonly straight with a low taper as a result of slow growth from the dry climate where it can be found. It is moderately strong and possesses low to moderate shrinkage in the seasoning process. Lodgepole Pine offers only moderate to low bug and decay resistance and great care have to be taken to make sure that the logs are treated for insects and decay.

Spruce is the one other species that is frequently used in log construction. Spruce is traditionally used inside Interior of British Columbia when lots of North America’s log homes come from. Spruce usually grows straight with little or no taper rendering it a good candidate for log construction. However, it is common for Spruce to grow with the spiral grain. Spiral grain logs really should not be employed in construction and doing so will surely have disastrous results. Spruce, like Pine, is moderately strong and it has moderate shrinkage throughout the seasoning process; and like Pine, it gives you only low insect and decay resistance. Spruce logs often need more maintenance than many of the other species especially Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar.

Douglas fir is a good selection for log shell construction because it grows straight with the low taper and is quite strong. However, Douglas fir, like Spruce, can grow to have a spiral grain. Spiral grain logs should not be utilized in log wall construction if at all possible. Douglas fir logs are strong and so are well suited for beams and purlins. Douglas fir has moderate shrinkage and moderates to high insect and decay resistance. Douglas fir log home often looks more uniform than the others because of the low taper.

Western Red Cedar (WRC) could be the final along with my opinion the best option for log home construction. Quality WRC logs have low to moderate taper and low moisture content. WRC logs will shrink the smallest amount of type of wood during the seasoning process. WRC is almost always straight-grained and offers high natural insect and decay resistance. WRC is moderately strong thereby perfect for log wall construction. WRC is additionally the only real species that grows using the “butt flares” that are becoming increasingly popular in log homes. The flares provide the customer with a way of making their house unique and give it a much more rustic and “hand-crafted” look that differentiates it in the cookie-cutter design of log homes seen in many areas.

Before deciding on the logs for your residence, you must do some investigation into what is available in your location. The logs I mention above are by far the most widely used logs today however some may not be for sale in your area. Having said that, I recommend that your buy the best logs available for your household even though you require them shipped for you because remember “the logs are the sole part of your brand-new home that you just cannot upgrade later”.

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