-Protecting Your Home Through Planning-
Most questions concerning the protection of wood have to do with either the weather or insects. Fortunately, with a little planning and the use of high quality products, wood can last beautifully for generations with little or no deterioration. How is this accomplished?
RippleCraft suggests a number of precautions that a homeowner can take to ensure that the home of their dreams never succumbs to deterioration.
- Design your home with adequate overhangs and the proper placement of gutters.
- Keep installed gutters clear from blockage.
- Build porches and decks in a manner that take into account splash back and drainage.
- Keep the top of windows and doors sealed to avoid moisture damage.
- Always keep wood out of direct contact with the ground.
- Apply and maintain a good wood sealant to your home.
Selecting a good exterior seal is paramount. While there are a number of good products available to consumers, the one that RippleCraft uses most frequently is TWP, manufactured by Gemini Coatings. We have used a number of stains over the years but use TWP most often because the product lasts a long time, it is relatively inexpensive when compared to many stains on the market, and for the ease with which it can be applied.
TWP is a unique combination of chemicals that preserves and enhances the natural warmth, beauty and integrity of new and old wood. All TWP products penetrate deeply into the wood, highlighting existing grain patterns with amazing clarity and warmth. This product is specifically designed to provide protection against the four major causes of wood degradation; wood rot, water, sunlight and mildew.
TWP has unsurpassed color retention properties. Accelerated and natural weathering tests show superior performance compared to conventional clear and semi-transparent wood finishes. TWP penetrates deeply without excessive surface film build up. Many stains on the market are surface oriented and subject to peeling, blistering and chipping. TWP will not crack, peel or blister.
103 Dark Oak
104 Black Walnut
105 Cape Cod Gray
106 Prairie Gray
Additional TWP products numbered from 500-504 meet the states’ of California, New York and New Jersey requirements for usage and correspond respectively with numbers 100-104 for color.
TWP 100 is formulated to protect the wood surface while allowing the wood to gray naturally. It is not intended for color retention.
Colors 101-104 may be intermixed freely for various color effects. Colors 105 and 106 may only be intermixed with each other or blended back with 100 Clear for a reduced color effect.
-Application of TWP-
SPRAY: Use airless or conventional garden sprayer. Use minimum amount of pressure necessary for proper spray pattern to reduce misting. Tip size requirements will vary depending upon the airless pump output. The first coat should be a saturation coat. A second coat, if desired must be applied immediately after applying the first coat. When spraying decks do not puddle the product. They may be removed with a lambswool applicator or rolled out. Excess product that does not absorb may cause premature film failure.
BRUSH AND ROLL: Apply a uniform coat maintaining a wet edge. For best results and avoiding lap marks finish 2 or 3 continuous board lengths, thereby avoiding lapping in the middle of boards.
DRY TIME: Overnight, depending upon temperature and humidity.
RECOAT TIME: Second coat must be applied wet on wet.
COVERAGE: 100-300 square feet per gallon depending upon wood porosity.
CLEAN UP: Use mineral spirits. Clean up spill before TWP dries. On glass, use sudsy ammonia cleaner. Product will require the use of paint stripper if allowed to dry thoroughly.
FINISH CARE AND MAINTENANCE: Avoid continual soaking of surface from sprinklers. Tap water will leave unsightly salt deposits. On surface with full sun exposure a light additional coat may be required when surface shows excess color loss on aging, while the remainder of the unexposed areas are in good condition. Decks are easily maintained by applying periodic very thin coats after the original application shows aging.
TWP is sold in one gallon cans or five gallon pails and can be drop shipped to your location. (Additional shipping charges will apply.)
5 GALLON PAILS
TWP 100, 101 $23.50 per gallon
TWP 102, 103, 104 $24.00 per gallon
TWP 105, 106 $27.00 per gallon
TWP 500, 501 $28.00 per gallon
TWP 502 $29.00 per gallon
TWP 503, 504 $30.00 per gallon
1 GALLON PAILS
TWP 100, 101 $24.50
TWP 102, 103, 104 $25.50
TWP 105, 106 $26.50
TWP 500, 501 $28.50
TWP 502 $30.00
TWP 503, 504 $31.00
The milling of logs leaves a smooth and clean surface. However, this pristine look will deteriorate during the manufacturing, loading and building processes. Paneling, decking, trim and other wood components are also susceptible to this dirtying.
As soon as a home is shipped to the job site, the sun immediately begins its attack and starts the slow but steady process of weathering. The sun’s work is gradual so you may not notice any change for a few weeks. However, the ultraviolet rays of the sun are slowly graying the wood. Fortunately, weathering is only a small fraction of an inch deep and will sand off quite easily. Unfortunately, while the depth of the problem is small, it is the breadth of the weathering that creates the bulk of the labor.
The effort of sanding a log home can easily reach into the hundreds of labor hours depending upon the size of the home and the degree of dirt and weathering. We have seen owners spend literally weeks hand sanding their home to get it clean and evenly colored. We have even seen log homes sealed (even pictured in magazines) where the sealant on the home was simply applied over the discoloration–magnifying it.
It is this labor aspect that we were addressing when we first attempted blasting.
Here is what we discovered.
- Blasting a 2,000 square foot house (inside and out) will take approximately two days with adequate equipment.
- You can estimate one hour of clean up for every two hours of blasting.
- Depending upon the media used, blasting will alter the appearance of the wood. The blasting media tears away the soft fibers of the wood and leaves harder fibers less affected. This gives the grain a more pronounced appearance while the wood as a whole looks “softer.”
While the cleaning of the wood was done much more quickly and efficiently, our greatest discovery had to do with the sealing process. We discovered that blasted surfaces will require much less maintenance than surfaces with a smooth factory or hand sanded appearance. The reason for this is that the blasting made the wood much more permeable. When before we were using a sealing product designed to cover 200 square feet per gallon, these same sealing products were now being used at the rate of 1 gallon per 70 square feet of surface. The blasted wood was able to receive nearly three times as much sealing product and the time between reapplication of seal was greatly extended.
The blasting of wood is optional and many customers prefer cleaning their logs with other methods. We simply feel that the obvious benefits of blasting at least merit its consideration alongside other cleaning options.
Few log home customers entertain the idea of building a log home without some initial concern over the home’s ability to withstand the attack of insects. However, with minimal attention to the details, your home can be permanently removed from any insect’s buffet table.
Nearly any home built today will contain some wood. With few exceptions log homes are no more susceptible to insect attack than is a stick frame home, but stick home buyers concern themselves much less with an insect problem. There are four types of insects that can provide some threat to any home; termites, powder post beetles, old house borers and flatheaded borers. Each of these four types, however, can be managed with a little common sense and planning.
Termites are the most notorious of wood attacking insects. Similar in appearance to ants although more closely related to a cockroach (as if termites didn’t give me the heebie jeebies already,) termites are generally categorized into three groups; the subterranean termite, drywood termite and dampwood termite.
Subterranean termites live almost exclusively underground and find their way into homes by tunneling. Most estimates place overall damage of the Subterranean termite to between 80% and 95% of all termite damage in the United States.
The subterranean termite is extremely dependent upon moisture for its survival and it is this that is it’s Achilles’ heel (perhaps Achilles’ thorax would be more apt.) By controlling the moisture and environment of your building site and finished home, you can significantly reduce your susceptibility to termite attack.
Drywood Termites and Dampwood Termites differ from Subterranean Termites in that they do not live their life cycles underground. Both still are dependent on moisture though, the dampwood variant living above ground in moist wood, and the dry wood living above ground while metabolically producing moisture from the dry wood it eats.
Use these termite avoiding tips when constructing or maintaining “any” home.
- Keep moisture and dampness away from your foundation. Channel roof runoff away from your home with the proper use of gutters and downspouts. Make certain that the ground surrounding your house is sloped or graded away from the structure.
- Limit the humidity in your crawl space with the placement of venting. A rule of thumb is for two square feet of venting for each 25 lineal feet of wall space. You should place one vent on each wall that is within five feet of every corner. Keep the vents clear from vegetation growth. Install a vapor barrier on crawlspace soils to reduce moisture.
- Eliminate the disposal of wood and paper scraps from the backfill. Remove stumps and roots from the areas directly around the home.
- Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. An 18 inch gap between the soil and wooden portions of the building is ideal. However, at least try to maintain six to eight inches between ground level and porch steps, lattice work, door or window frames, etc. Pull or grade soil back away from the foundation. Wood posts and stairs embedded in concrete can also be paths of entry by termites.
- Do not store materials against the home or foundation. These items can serve as termite bridges whereby they can gain access to your home around termite treated areas.
- Firewood should be stacked away from the home and be stored off the ground on top of either treated or non-cellulose based standards.
- Wood mulch is a termite feast–especially when damp and moist. When mulch is used, avoid its contact against wood house components like door frames, etc. Pea gravel or crushed stone are much less attractive to termites.
- When maintaining the lawn surrounding a log home, clip grass short around the foundation. Shaded and cool areas next to a house will seem more inviting to a termite.
- Put a colored seal on your home as quickly as possible. Termite “swarmers” will tend to ignore homes that aren’t naturally colored–choosing instead your neighbors rotting shed that you want destroyed anyway.
Powder Post Beetles
Powder Post Beetles can present a serious threat to log home owners. The best prevention method against borers is using kiln dried building timbers as the kiln drying process kills all resident eggs/larvae. If the larvae and/or eggs of the powder post beetle are not killed, the can remain resident within the log timbers themselves for up to seven years. At the end of their life cycle they can reproduce a second generation. Since these borers have the ability to re-infest dry wood an infestation can last indefinitely and therefore can create tremendous amounts of damage including potential structural weakening.
Flathead Borers present infestations of a shorter duration since they lack the ability to re-infest dry wood. The biggest cause for concern are the characteristic oval shaped exit holes that the borer leaves. Any structural damage is rare. Using kiln dried wood in your home removes the danger of this insect’s infestation.
Old House Borers
Old House Borers have a similar life cycle to the Powder Post Beetle being able to re-infest dry wood. Noisy eaters, these beetles are often detected by the noise they make while munching on wood. Using kiln dried timbers is the sure way to prevent this infection.
One advantage that a log home has over a stick built home in terms of insects is that a log home’s wood is exposed. Insect activity produces frass, a light powdery residue evacuated from the holes and tunnels of insects. In a stick built home this frass can remain undetected for a very long time while in a log home frass is much more likely to be detected.
If you do detect an insect infestation call an expert exterminator. Most chemicals used for termites are tightly controlled insecticides and should be used wisely. If you have thoughts of digging out the termite colony you will need a strong back and a will of iron. Termite colonies can contain tens of thousands of individuals, and can also reach a depth of 20 feet underground. Happy shoveling.