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Log slab construction: this article explains the construction, inspection & maintenance of a slab-log sided cabin. We explain how log-slab sided buildings are built, & how they work and including suggestions for durability, economy, and comfort in these modern log homes. We include illustrations of log structures from several very different areas and climates in both the United States and Norway.
Guide to Log Slab Sided Homes or Log Siding - new construction
This series of articles provides information on the inspection and diagnosis of damage to new and older log homes and includes description of log home insulation values and alternatives, and also a description of the characteristics of slab-sided log homes.
Our page top photo shows a 2007 cabin restoration project. Slab log sided homes and cabins are buildings constructed using conventional wood frame or other methods, and whose exterior is covered with rounded wood siding cut or milled from logs.
However these homes or portions of homes built in this manner are not constructed using solid logs.
Our photo (left) shows areas of building walls re-constructed using conventional 2x6 framing with fiberglass batt insulation in the wall and ceiling cavities.
The log slab siding design also permits use of wood frame or panelized construction capable of providing very high wall or ceiling insulating values, though we did not take that approach on this building.
Since a contractor who was not properly educated completely ruined the in-slab floor radiant heating system by an improper installation (see RADIANT HEAT FLOOR MISTAKES) , the owners have resorted to portable electric heaters to keep this building habitable in winter.
Despite very cold Minnesota temperatures, that tight construction and a good insulation job (by the same contractor) lets the owners heat the cabin to comfortable temperatures using several portable electric heaters.
Our photo at left shows test-color staining in progress on a section of log slab siding before installation on the cabin.
Good practice coats both sides and all edges of the cabin siding with a preservative stain before the siding is nailed in place.
From the exterior log-slab sided buildings look like a log cabin or log structure and, depending on the choice of designs, can even include protruding overlapped logs at corners as a cosmetic detail.
That detail was not included on the log cabin shown in our photo above.
Comparing the Insulation Value of a Solid Log Home to a Conventionally Framed Home
A 6-inch fiberglass frame wall has an "R" value of about R-19 while a 6" log solid wood wall has an "R" value of about 1 per inch or about R-6 in insulating value.
When a solid log wall is built using logs rounded on one or both exposed sides, the nominal log diameter does not give an accurate estimate of the wall's insulating value. That is because portions of the wall are constructed at a thickness less than the full log's diameter. The average wall thickness should be used to calculate the "R" value of a solid log wall when rounded logs are used.
Thermal Mass of Solid Log Homes Compared with Insulated Wall Wood Structures
While the "R" value of a solid log home is almost certainly less than that of a modern conventionally-framed stud wall home insulated with fiberglass or other products, the wall "R" values alone do not accurately describe the comfort level of a log home. Provided that the log construction has been well-built without drafts or leaks, the thermal mass of solid log walls is considerable.
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.
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Questions & answers or comments about the design, framing, construction, & maintenance of slab log sided homes.
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"The Logless Log Home," Jim Robbins, New York Times, 05/05/2010 Home section, p. D1 & D6.
"Shop Talk," Martin Mintz, AIA, Builder Magazine, April 1986, detailed solutions for log shrinkage movement by using a "T" jamb at windows and doors. A January 1986 Builder Magazine article shows window installation details in 8" thick log walls.
"Caulking, Chinking, Insulators, Sealants - which System works Best," Log Home and Alternative Housing Builder, Nov-Dec 1983.
Insulating Characteristics of log homes were neatly summarized by Roger Rawlings in "Log Homes in a New Light," Rodale's New Shelter, April 1983, p. 28
Lincoln Log Homes Marketing, Inc., 6000 Lumber Lane, Kannapolis NC 28081 704-932-6151
Merrimac Log Homes, Henniker, NH, sells log home products, milled log home kits, log siding, and log home plans and log home construction accessories. 866-637-7462 or email@example.com - merrimacloghomes.com
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Design of Wood Structures - ASD, Donald E. Breyer, Kenneth Fridley, Kelly Cobeen, David Pollock, McGraw Hill, 2003, ISBN-10: 0071379320, ISBN-13: 978-0071379328
This book is an update of a long-established text dating from at least 1988 (DJF); Quoting: This book is gives a good grasp of seismic design for wood structures. Many of the examples especially near the end are good practice for the California PE Special Seismic Exam design questions. It gives a good grasp of how seismic forces move through a building and how to calculate those forces at various locations.THE CLASSIC TEXT ON WOOD DESIGN UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LATEST CODES AND DATA. Reflects the most recent provisions of the 2003 International Building Code and 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction. Continuing the sterling standard set by earlier editions, this indispensable reference clearly explains the best wood design techniques for the safe handling of gravity and lateral loads. Carefully revised and updated to include the new 2003 International Building Code, ASCE 7-02 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, the 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction, and the most recent Allowable Stress Design.
Diagnosing & Repairing House Structure Problems, Edgar O. Seaquist, McGraw Hill, 1980 ISBN 0-07-056013-7 (obsolete, incomplete, missing most diagnosis steps, but very good reading; out of print but used copies are available at Amazon.com, and reprints are available from some inspection tool suppliers). Ed Seaquist was among the first speakers invited to a series of educational conferences organized by D Friedman for ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, where the topic of inspecting the in-service condition of building structures was first addressed.
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting: A professional reference designed to assist surveyors, engineers, architects and contractors in diagnosing existing problems and avoiding them in new buildings. Fully revised and updated, this edition, in new clearer format, covers developments in building defects, and problems such as sick building syndrome. Well liked for its mixture of theory and practice the new edition will complement Hinks and Cook's student textbook on defects at the practitioner level.
Masonry structures: The Masonry House, Home Inspection of a Masonry Building & Systems, Stephen Showalter (director, actor), DVD, Quoting: Movie Guide Experienced home inspectors and new home inspectors alike are sure to learn invaluable tips in this release designed to take viewers step-by-step through the home inspection process. In addition to being the former president of the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), a longstanding member of the NAHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the Environmental Standard Organization (IESO), host Stephen Showalter has performed over 8000 building inspections - including environmental assessments. Now, the founder of a national home inspection school and inspection training curriculum shares his extensive experience in the inspection industry with everyday viewers looking to learn more about the process of evaluating homes. Topics covered in this release include: evaluation of masonry walls; detection of spalling from rebar failure; inspection of air conditioning systems; grounds and landscaping; electric systems and panel; plumbing supply and distribution; plumbing fixtures; electric furnaces; appliances; evaluation of electric water heaters; and safety techniques. Jason Buchanan --Jason Buchanan, All Movie Review
Straw Bale Home Design, U.S. Department of Energy provides information on strawbale home construction - original source at http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/designing_remodeling/index.cfm/mytopic=10350
More Straw Bale Building: A Complete Guide to Designing and Building with Straw (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series), Chris Magwood, Peter Mack, New Society Publishers (February 1, 2005), ISBN-10: 0865715181 ISBN-13: 978-0865715189 - Quoting: Straw bale houses are easy to build, affordable, super energy efficient, environmentally friendly, attractive, and can be designed to match the builder’s personal space needs, esthetics and budget. Despite mushrooming interest in the technique, however, most straw bale books focus on “selling” the dream of straw bale building, but don’t adequately address the most critical issues faced by bale house builders. Moreover, since many developments in this field are recent, few books are completely up to date with the latest techniques. More Straw Bale Building is designed to fill this gap. A completely rewritten edition of the 20,000-copy best--selling original, it leads the potential builder through the entire process of building a bale structure, tackling all the practical issues: finding and choosing bales; developing sound building plans; roofing; electrical, plumbing, and heating systems; building code compliance; and special concerns for builders in northern climates.