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LOG HOME GUIDE
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STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
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WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
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.
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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 to Avoid) , 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.
More about insulation and thermal mass in comparison with traditional solid log homes is at LOG HOME WALL INSULATION VALUES.
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.
Also see THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS.
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