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How to Disassemble & Restore a Log Home

Marlene Affeld

All across the United States, rustic and natural old log cabins stand as a tribute to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of woodworkers of the past. Many of these cabins have been loving preserved and maintained and are used as family homes today. However, many noble log structures have suffered neglect, termite infestation and decay. Salvaging an injured log structure is a work of love, patience and applied restoration techniques. Following basic guidelines, you can restore a damaged log home to its original glory.

Older Log Home
  1. Evaluate the condition of the structure. Look for evidence of insect infestation, rotted logs or timbers and foundation settling. Enlist the services of a log home restoration professional to determine if the home is salvageable, and to provide a cost analysis for the project. Many of the steps in disassembling and restoring the structure may require the services of a professional. However, much of the work can be accomplished by the experienced do-it-yourself homeowner.

  2. Acquire suitable replacement logs from a log home builder that supplies the same log type as found in your log cabin or home. The majority of damage to older log homes is in bottom logs which have been exposed to excessive moisture from snow build-up or from moisture trapped against the logs by foundation shrub plantings.

  3. Use a hammer and chisel to chip away rotted material until solid wood is evidenced. Treat the wood with wood preservative and fill in the area with wood epoxy, following the manufacturer's application instructions. This method will work on small areas of wood rot.

  4. Remove logs that are rotted through by cutting out the damaged area with a saber saw equipped with a metal cutting blade. The blade will cut through nails, screws or wood spikes that may be holding the log in place. Repair any damaged areas on the adjoining logs. Cut a replace log to fit the space from which the damaged log was removed. Fit the replacement log and secure with steel plates.

  5. Chink the log in place with a chinking material that matches the remainder of the chinking materials used on your log home.

  6. If the entire base logs are rotted away, a professional log home restoration company can jack up the entire structure and remove the damaged logs. A new foundation can be built of timbers or logs. The new foundation may then be faced with stone or brick which will hide the "newness" and blend the repairs into the facade of the home.

  7. Clean all the logs on the home with a pressure washer. If logs are severely stained with mold or mildew or UV damage is evident, the logs can be restored to their original luster by using a blaster, which uses walnut husks, ground corn cobs or sand under pressure to "blast" away the surface damage. You can rent log-blasting machines from home building supply stores, or you can enlist the services of a log home restoration professional. Reseal the logs with a petroleum-based log oil.