Some Common Log Home Problems & Their Remedies


Carpenter ants will create tunnels in foam panels
Carpenter Ant Tunnels in Foam Panels:
These foam panels came out of a pine tongue-and-groove ceiling. There was no evidence of a leaking roof or other moisture problems. The home-owner removed part of the ceiling because he noticed wood dust accumulating on the floor and wanted to inspect the extent of the damage. In this case the carpenter ants chewed tunnels into the edge of this foam panel and along the surface. Typically, carpenter ants are attracted to moist wood because it is easier to chew. Carpenter ants don’t ingest wood as a food source, they chew tunnels in order to live in wood.

To Avoid: Use borate infused foam panels. Remember that only about 5% of the ants are visible so spraying visible ants is not an effective remedy to stop them.
To Remedy: Replace damaged foam panels with borate infused panels. Check thoroughly for any roof leaks and repair if necessary. For an insecticide, consider using a Bug Kit or Carpenter Ant Kit.

wasp and bee holes in logs
Solitary Wasps and Bees:
They will utilize beetle exit holes to place food and eggs within. Once placed, the insects will create a dirt wall to seal off the hole. Once the offspring hatch, they bore a tiny hole through the dirt wall and leave the log. The small amount of powdered dirt that is left behind can be mistaken as signs of a beetle infestation. However, the bees or wasps do not harm the wood and are only using it for nesting purposes.

To Avoid: Fill any existing beetle holes with a quality caulk or chinking.
To Remedy: Clean off any existing dirt and seal all holes with a quality caulk or chinking.

Cracked ChinkingHow to repair cracked chinking
Cracked Chinking:
In this case, the log joint was deeper than 1/4" and backer rod was not used. What happens is the logs will naturally expand and contract and since there is no bond breaker to allow the chinking to stretch in the middle, (you can review why you need a bond breaker here) the caulking or chinking cracks in the center.

Depending on the condition of the caulk or chinking, the material could be completely torn out, a backer rod installed, and then caulk or chinking reapplied. An alternative to removing all of the caulk/chinking material is to run a length of packaging tape down the middle of the joint, over the chinking material as shown on the right (the tape will act as a bond breaker). Then cover the old caulking and packaging tape with a new layer of caulk or chinking as shown.


Water Spots on Decks
Water Spots On Decks:
The spots had formed on a customer’s deck after applying WR-5. The problem occurred after it had rained and the finish had not fully cured.

Prevention: The Application Guidelines for WR-5 mentions: “Weather Check: Apply between the temperatures of 50° and 80° F. Do not apply when hot, wet or windy weather conditions are expected within 36 hours. Always wait for moisture to dry before application.”

When applying a finish, care must be given to avoid rain damage while the product is drying. Consult your local weather forecasts to find a weather-friendly time frame for your project. If rain is possible or imminent, protect freshly coated surfaces with plastic tarps. Be sure to secure tarps properly to avoid wind damage during the rainstorm.

Treatment: In a case like this, the customer can try to clean the deck with a wood cleaner like CPR, rinse, allow the deck to thoroughly dry, and then apply another thin coat of WR-5. The alternative is to strip the finish and re-apply the finish protecting it from rain during the 36 hour time period.

It is important to note that this kind of problem can occur regardless of the brand of finish. It also underscores the necessity for applicators, whether homeowner or professional, to read application guidelines for each product they apply and to be prepared in the case of unexpected inclement weather.

Another water-related deck issue that can happen with X-100 and other heavy oil based finishes is that the finish will appear milky after wetted by rain. This too results when the finish has not fully dried. If you experience this, allow the deck to dry—do not walk on it at all. The milkiness should disappear as the finish cures. Note: Remember when applying deck finishes to never let them pool on the deck surface. Brushing out all finish puddles will really minimize this problem.

log stain backbrushing failure
No Backbrushing:
This is an example of stain that was sprayed on and not backbrushed. Backbrushing forces the stain into the wood pores, increasing absorption and adhesion. Photo courtesy of Continental Products.

When spraying logs with stain or finish, immediately backbrush the wood with a good quality brush.

Unfortunately the finish will need to be removed either by stripping, sand blasting, or cobblasting.


lap marks on logs
Lap Marks:

You can see the definite streak in the finish where one side is lighter than the other side. This happened when the logs were being finished. The applicator stopped at that point (probably at the end of the day) and then resumed later (probably the next morning). The overlap area of the finish will always cause a dark streak in the wall because of the build-up of finish in that particular area.

Prevention: When coating logs with stain or finish, never stop in the middle of a wall. Finish the entire wall before taking a break or quitting for the day. Coating across an entire log is also a good way to prevent lap marks.

Treatment: Other than stripping off the finish, you could go back and try to touch up the area, feathering from darker to lighter. This blending may not completely remove the lap mark but will make it less noticeable.