Design Your Own Home June 19, 2024

True Log Home vs. Log Sided Home

A true log home is built from stacked log walls with other log members for structural uses such as ridge beams, purlins, support posts, floor joists, girder beams, etc. The exposed logs provide both the structure and the beauty to these homes. Some ‘log homes’ are only covered in log siding and are not a solid log home. The most telltale way to tell the difference is a solid log home design is shown with log tails stacked up on the corner of the first floor of the house that extend out beyond the corner. The log tails are usually 12″ in length. If a home has a corner post mounted on the corner instead of a the log tails, then most likely the design is for a log sided home, not a solid stacked log home.

On this 3D log shell design that was drawn for Cowboy Log Homes, notice the log tails on the corners of the front of the house to the right. The log tails are stacked in a saddle notch style – with all the log tails visible on each side of the corner. Now look at the shed dormers on the second level. Notice that there are vertical log posts on the corners, AKA “packman posts”. Also when you look inside of the upper floor the logs look flat on the inside. That is because the shed dormers are conventionally framed and covered with matching log siding. The vertical log corner posts are used to trim out the log siding.

Now look at the attached garage. The garage is also log siding. How can you tell? Because the inside of the log walls looks flat and the outside corners are trimmed with vertical log posts.

So why does the log home “Eureka Plan” use a combination of stacked logs and log siding with vertical corner posts? Because it is very difficult to build with solid logs on the second level. The log tails complicate the construction of the home. With the settling issues and post-supported roof system, the natural settling of the logs also makes the loft level harder to seal again penetrating weather.

Which is better? This question begs to be asked in light of the explanation above. For those that like the look of log but don’t want to invest in a log package to build their home, log siding is a good alternative. With log siding, the interior of the walls of the home are still covered with sheet-rock or another wall finish so the homeowner does not have to “look at all wood” for on the interior of the home. There is also a concern with lightness. Some people fell log homes are too dark so they would rather limit the log look to the exterior.

Another issue involves long-term maintenance. It is much easier to peel of rotten log siding than it is to deal with rotten logs. Getting replacement logs can be a torturous process. Very few mills can provide just a few logs to replace damaged ones. Often minimum orders of logs are 2000 lineal feet to fill a whole semi. Another drawback is the difficulty in carving a log out of a log wall and then inserting a new one. Logs overlap log-to-log so slipping a log out is not a possibility Instead, a hole literally has to be chainsawed or sawz-alled into the size of the house to remove the rotting member.

So why choose a solid log home? Many times people want a log home and are willing to accept the reality of the maintenance it will require year to year. There is simply no replacement for a solid log home and the pleasure afforded by the warm wood. With a high quality stain and a homeowner that is diligent in re-staining, calling an exterminator spring and fall, and keeping an eye on the overall all condition of the home, log homes perform well. Some of the oldest existing structures in the United States today are stacked log cabins from the frontier days.