Log Home Chinking

By Rob Roy

I recently built myself a log cabin from white oak. Being a novice at home construction, I used caulking between the logs. The house has aged for only a year now, and the crack already need to be rechinked, since rain gets through the caulking during storms.

What should I use to chink these cracks to weatherproof my home? Also, should I remove the remaining bark from the logs at this time to leave it intact?

Logs separate from their chinking or caulking, for a variety of reasons, including log shrinkage (and the expansion of the wood during rainstorms), differential movement resulting from uneven snow loading and the freezing of moisture that has penetrated the existing chinking. If the gaps between the logs are small, and you’re confident that nearly all the initial wood shrinkage has already occurred, the most economic solution is to re-caulk with a good-quality acrylic/silicone compound, such as Red Devil Lifetime caulking, which comes in gray, white, clear and a whole slew of other colors. Larger gaps can be filled with either of the following two chinking compounds. Perma-Chink offers a vartiey of choices, and try Weatherall 1010 Chinking. All of these products are visually attractive, and (unlike rigid cement-based chinking), they’ll “give” with log movement. And yes, you should remove the loose bark prior to rechinking, in order to discourage both insect infestation and moisture accumulation.

 Rob Roy, director of the Earthwood Building School