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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
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DEFINITIONS of Mobile Home, Doublewide, Modular, Panelized
DEFINITIONS of ENGINEERED WOOD OSB LVL etc
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
KIT HOMES, Aladdin, Sears, Wards, Others
LOG HOME GUIDE
MOBILE HOMES, DOUBLEWIDES, TRAILERS
MODULAR HOME CONSTRUCTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
PORCH CONSTRUCTION & SCREENING
PRE-CUT & KIT HOMES
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
ROT, FUNGUS, INSECT DAMAGE
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
This article explains the insulating and heating properties of log homes, comparing solid log structures, slab-sided log homes, and conventionally framed homes.
This series of log home construction and maintenance articles provides information on the inspection and diagnosis of damage to new and older log homes and includes description of log house and log siding insulation values and alternatives, and also a description of the characteristics of slab-sided log homes as well as all other types of log home construction.
We include illustrations of log structures from several very different areas and climates in both the United States and Norway. Our page top photo shows a modern kit log home constructed in New York State. For modern kit and factory-sourced log structures we include details of common construction and building defects that cause water and air leaks and ultimately rot damage and we point to key problem areas that need to be inspected carefully when buying or maintaining a log home.
Readers should see R-VALUES & THERMAL MASS in LOG HOMES, also see Energy Efficiency of Log Homes where we introduce the R-value of solid wood, log home air leaks, and the thermal mass of log homes. Readers whose homes are drafty, leaky, or otherwise too cold and who have high heating bills should also see these air leak articles: AIR BYPASS LEAKS, AIR LEAK DETECTION TOOLS, AIR LEAK MINIMIZATION, and AIR SEALING STRATEGIES.
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Thermal Mass & R-Values of Solid Log Homes Compared with Insulated Wall Wood Structures
Average R-value or Insulating Value of a Solid Log Wall
Solid wood has an R-value of about R-1 per inch of thickness. A round log wall using 8" diameter walls is not, however 8" in uniform thickness; that wall thickness is reached only across the center of each log.
The scalloped wall surfaces will certainly be less than 8" (R-8) in thickness where log faces meet one another. Compute the average wall thickness of solid wood to arrive at a reasonable R-value estimate for a solid log wall. Typically for an 8" log the average log wall thickness is around 6 to 6.5".
Consider Thermal Mass in Addition to R-Value of a Log Home
Log home enthusiasts argue that in measuring comfort one should not only consider the "R" value of the building walls and roof but also the thermal mass of the building. High thermal mass (provided by the mass of solid logs in a log home) means that the building will be slow to change in temperature.
We agree that overcoming drafts and un-wanted air leaks is the first priority for making a building comfortable and for reducing heating or cooling costs in cold climates. INSULATION R-Values & Properties provides detailed estimates of the insulating values and properties of various insulating materials.
A large thermal mass in any building tends to make temperature changes occur more slowly than in structures lacking that feature. As a result, occupants of solid log homes often assert that they find their building very comfortable in both heating and cooling seasons.
Log Slab Sided Log Home Insulation R-Values
Slab-log sided homes such as the one shown here and discussed in detail at Slab Log Cabin Siding are generally built over conventional wood-frame walls that allow conventional wall insulation.
This cabin was renovated using 2x6 wall studs to permit extra in-wall insulation as well as the application of solid foam insulation on its exterior walls. The walls of this building were framed to about R-20. Very important as well, the builder did a great job assuring that the home would be draft free.
After a horribly incompetent installation of an in-floor radiant heat system (by the same builder who did so well on framing and insulation) we had to abandon the heating system for this Minnesota cabin. Luckily the cabin is so tight and well insulated that we discovered that we could heat it for at least three seasons using just a few portable electric baseboard heaters. See RADIANT HEAT Floor Mistakes to Avoid.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about log home insulation and the insulating value of solid logs
Questions & answers or comments about the insulating, heating, and cooling properties and comfort of log homes and other solid wood log-constructed buildings
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Log Home Design, Inspection, Maintenance, Repair References & Product Sources