Re-staining a Log Home

Re-staining a log home can seem like a daunting project. So understanding what stain is and how to choose the right type for your log home, cabin, panabode or cedar siding house is important to get the best value and longevity when refinishing your wood structure. With over 20 years of experience, we are the experts when it comes to restoring your home back to it’s former glory.

What is stain?

Stains are designed to penetrate into the wood. Like the name suggests, a wood stain contains pigments that physically change the wood’s color. This gives the wood protection against harmful UV rays. Stains also have excellent water-repelling qualities. There are many different types of stains, ranging from transparent stains, to semi-transparent stains, to solid stains. The right level of opacity depends on the type of surface and your personal preference. Applying a stain is a bit trickier than sealers, and is best left to professionals. Although a wood stain is more expensive than other alternatives it can last up to 5 times longer and looks more professional. So you certainly get your money’s worth.

How often do I need to re-stain my log home or cabin?

A log structure should be re-stained every four to seven years. The time between staining is going to vary depending on where your log structure is located. If the building is located in an era that is exposed to a lot of rain, wind, hail, snow, dust and sun, then the building will need to be re-stained more often. When logs are exposed to the elements, they will begin to deteriorate at a much faster rate. Choosing the right stain is important to ensure the logs are properly protected from the elements.

How do you re-stain a log home?

In most cases, we recommend removing the old stain or coating by blasting the logs or wood with crushed glass. This media is as fine as table salt, silica free and 100% environmentally friendly. 

Once the old coatings are removed and the logs are brought down to bare wood, a new stain can be applied.

How do I choose a log stain?

Low prices and convenience make it tempting to buy your stain at a home improvement store, but there could be an unseen cost. For maximum, long-term performance, log homes and wood structures require specialized stains that contain additives not typically found in your average wood stains and sealants. The best log stain is formulated to prevent moisture from entering the fiber of your logs and has the right amount of pigment to prevent sun damage. Generally speaking the darker the stain, the more protection the logs will receive from UV rays and weather.

Each log home stain company has its own formulation, all of them working hard to produce  the best product that will last for the longest period of time, and for the most reasonable price. This has created a multitude of systems across the log home industry. The type of wood, the environmental conditions and the age of the home all play a role in the decision making, as do time and price. We recommend that a number of test samples in different colours from different manufactures are applied to find the most suitable stain for your structure.

Can you change the stain colour on a log home?

Yes, but you cannot apply a new stain colour over an old stain or coating. We recommend removing the old stain or coating by blasting the logs or wood with crushed glass before re-staining a log home. This medium is as fine as table salt, silica free and 100% environmentally friendly. 

Once the old coatings are removed and the logs are brought down to bare wood, a new stain colour can be applied.

How much does it cost to re-stain a log home?

There is no simple answer. It will depend on the state of the existing stain, age and condition of the logs, the extent of any weather or UV damage as well as possible mold, mildew or rotting wood. 

We provide you an estimate free of charge. In many cases this can be done by submitting high quality photos of the building or structure.

Re-staining a log home

Is preservative and stain the same thing?

Most stains are not registered as wood preservatives, even though they are designed to protect wood surfaces. Stains protect the wood surface primarily by improving water repellency. Other qualities, such as UV and mildew resistance, are typically formulated to protect the stain itself, rather than the wood. 

Two basic types of finishes or treatments are used to protect wood surfaces from weathering: those that form or coating on the wood (film-forming finishes) and those that penetrate the wood surface. Film-forming materials include paints, solid-color stains, and varnishes. Penetrating finishes include preservatives, water repellents, and pigmented semitransparent stains.

A good acrylic latex outdoor house paint will generally outlast a good oil-based house paint. Latex paints are also more porous than oil-based paints; they can “breathe” while they shed water. This characteristic may contribute to their longevity. However, if water enters the wall from an interior source, it’s more likely to get trapped in the wood beneath an oil- based finish, and it can cause the paint to blister and encourage decay. Moreover, oil-based paints tend to become brittle. 

Acrylic polymers are more resistant to sunlight than oil-based paints and therefore do not weather as quickly. However, woods like redwood and cedar have water-soluble extractives that can bleed through latex paints. The best way to prevent this is to seal the wood with an oil-based stain.

Learn more about the log home restoration process

Lifespan of various finishes

FinishesLifespan
Water repellents6-12 months
Clear water repellent1-2 years
Pigmented water 2-3 years
Varnish2-3 years
Solid-color stains3-7 years
Semi-transparent stains3-8 years

Note: the life span of water repellent and semi-transparent stains can be extended by applying a maintenance coat and re-finishing if dis-coloration caused by mildew or other factors is a problem. 

We will assist you to select the finish that best suits the application.

What is the best log home stain?

For maximum, long-term performance, log homes and wood structures require specialized stains that contain additives not typically found in your average wood stains and sealants. The best log stain when re-staining a log home is formulated to prevent moisture from entering the fiber of your logs and has the right amount of pigment to prevent sun damage. Generally speaking the darker the stain, the more protection the logs will receive from UV rays and weather.

Each log home stain company has its own formulation, all of them working hard to produce  the best product that will last for the longest period of time, and for the most reasonable price. This has created a multitude of systems across the log home industry. The type of wood, the environmental conditions and the age of the home all play a role in the decision making, as do time and price. 

We recommend that a number of test samples in different colours from different manufactures are applied to find the most suitable stain for your structure.

How long does it take for stain to dry?

Many manufacturers suggest that a stain dry for up to 24 hours. This is based on wood that has not been sanded with 60 to 80 grit sand paper which leaves the wood with a glass like non-porous finish.

Stain dries much quicker on a log that has been blasted, as blasting slightly profiles the substrate surface, opening up the pores of the logs and wood, allows allowing stain to penetrate deep into the woods cell structure, drying very quickly and ultimately providing long term superior protection from the elements.


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