How to Stain & Seal a Log Home

There is nothing like the rustic look of a traditional log homes.

Preparing Log Siding for Staining

In addition, modern log homes are comfortable, spacious, and energy-efficient. To keep your log home protected from the elements and looking good, it's important to stain and seal the logs. Staining a log home is relatively straight-forward, but there are a few tips and tricks that will help you achieve an attractive and long-lasting finish.

Step 1

Before you do anything let your log home sit for 30 days after it's been built. Logs can hold a lot of moisture, and high moisture content can prevent stain from soaking in properly.

Step 2

Clean the logs down with a wood cleaning product. The wood cleaner will remove any dirt, gunk, and grime that may have accumulated on the log surface. Apply the cleaner and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Then scrub it down with a nylon bristle brush. Rinse the logs down thoroughly with water after cleaning.

Step 3

Use a wood brightener to lighten the logs back up if they turn dark after cleaning. Certain types of wood contain high levels of tannin. This naturally occurring acid can bleed to the surface of the wood and cause it to turn dark. Oxalic acid, the main ingredient in wood brightener, will neutralize the tannins and return the wood to its original luster. Apply the wood brightener and let it sit for 45 minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly with water.

Step 4

Let the logs dry for at least 24 hours before applying stain to them.

Applying Stain and Sealer to Log Siding

Step 1

Select a quality log home finish. Look for a product with a high solids content, 60 percent or higher. Solids content is the ratio of effective ingredients to solvent. The effective ingredients are oils and pigment. Solvent helps the oils and pigment penetrate the wood, but ultimately solvent evaporates. Good quality oils protect the logs from moisture. High-quality pigments are important because the pigment is what protects your logs from the sun's harmful ultra-violet (UV) rays. A penetrating oil-based log home finish is a complete product that both stains, and seals your wood. While some people like the high-gloss look of a urethane over the top, this is not necessary to protect your log home.

Step 2

Apply the stain using either a paint brush, roller, or sprayer. Work along the length of each log. If you are using a sprayer, it can help to have a partner follow behind with a brush to work the stain into the grooves and spaces between logs.

Step 3

Feed the wood as much stain as it will absorb, but avoid applying too much. The stain should penetrate pretty quickly, within 15 to 30 minutes. After this, take a dry brush and remove any excess stain that is sitting on the surface of the wood. A penetrating oil stain will not dry hard; excess stain can stay tacky and attract dirt, dust, and mildew.

Step 4

Add another coat if the wood still looks dry after the initial coat. Occasionally very thirsty logs will require three or more coats of stain before they are properly saturated. Just be sure to clean any excess material off the surface of the logs and you should be okay.

Things You Will Need

  • Wood cleaner
  • Wood brightener
  • Wood stain
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Paint brush, roller or sprayer


  • Cleaning your log home with a mild solution of wood cleaner a few times a year will extend the life of your stain and keep your home looking good.

About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.