The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Log Home Living - Safe in ANY Storm!

Posted on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 @ 01:15 PM

custom log home

People often ask me what the advantages are of living in a log cabin home.  Because I lived in Florida and now live in South Carolina, I tell them that for safety sake, as well as other personal reasons, my custom log home will weather most any storm and survive where frame homes and brick homes will not.

In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo made landfall on South Carolina beaches in the early morning.  What followed was a devastating event that destroyed not only homes but roads, power lines and other necessities in every day living.  In 1992 South Florida experienced Hurricane Andrew which blew ashore with the same type of destructive force causing even more heartache for those in and around Homestead, Florida.

We moved from Florida to South Carolina in 1991, but had friends and relatives in the South Florida area when Andrew came through.  We also had relatives in Florence, SC when Hugo blew threw so we knew what type of life altering events these natural disasters can have on houses and everyday life.

It never occurred to me the strength of a log home until reading a few articles over the span of about 3 years as well as a comment made by the person who constructed my home.

In 1990, a log home magazine featured an aerial photo of a log home in South Florida shortly after Andrew.  You could see that the structure lost some shingles, but the home was intact as well as all the windows and doors.  What really caught my eye were the concrete pads on either side of the log home where frame homes used to be!  Those homes were wiped completely off of their concrete slab foundations and blown away.

In the mid 1980's, Appalachian Log Structures featured two photos (a before and after shot) of one of our home in South Charleston, WV.  A freak tornado touched down and brought a 52" diameter oak tree across this home.  The solid log wall construction along with the strength of the heavy timber roof framing and 2" thick tongue and groove, split the tree in two.  Of course some of the shingles were damaged along with some of the OSB and solid insulation.  In addition the heavy timber ridge beam was cracked and needed replacing, but otherwise the house withstood the impact.  Their insurance agent, after inspecting and photographing the damages stated that if it had been a frame home, it would have been destroyed - a complete loss!

In 1992 while our custom log cabin home was under construction, the builder took me aside one day and said that over the past three years he had been repairing a lot of homes from the damages that Hugo left behind.  Damaged roofs, porches and the like were all effects of the up-lift from the high winds.  As he was putting our heavy timber roof together he could not help but share with me that "if this house were here when Hugo came through, it would not have touched it"!  He was very impressed with the strength and stability of the roof structure and was convinced it would take a lot more that a Category 4 Hurricane to take apart my log home.

Over the years I've read even more stories about log home surviving floods, when frame and brick homes were washed away.  And because of the solid wood walls, the flooded homes were quicker to move back in to since the pink fluff/batten insulation did not have to be replaced (batten insulation looses about 1/2 of the R-value when exposed to moisture) and there were no worries about mold/mildew because of the lack of batten insulation and dry wall.

Another story out of California where a wildfire jumped a team of firefighters who found themselves caught between two burning fronts.  Fortunately, there was a log home with a metal roof close by which they escaped to.  The photo shows this log home to be the only survivor in the subdivision and saved all of the firefighters.  Once again, the solid wood walls withstood the flames with some charring.  As a thank you for saving their lives, the firefighters removed the char from the log walls and the house was like new again.

Not only are log homes beautiful, but they will keep you and your family safe from the storms and other events that Mother Nature may throw your way.  When you are ready to build your beautiful, strong and protective log home for your family, contact on of our Log Home Building Consultants to help you get started.

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building consultant

Part 4 of 4 - Log Homes are Better than Conventional Built Homes

Posted on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 @ 02:21 PM

custom log home

Beyond a steady stream of visitors seeking to soak up some rustic ambiance and connect with Mother Nature, there are other advantages for owning a log home over more conventional construction. Longtime homeowners say log and timber homes offer rich rewards over the stick and brick homes of their neighbors.  Here are 3 more advantages...

10) The Eyes Have It
If you’re worried about mold, mildew or insect infestation, then a log home offers clear advantages since you’ll be able to see anything untoward, just by taking a stroll around your home and visually inspecting the logs. This quick detection leads to a less costly remedy. In contrast to a conventional home, the sealed wall cavities can be a hidden refuge for mold, mildew and insect infestation, which can cause far more damage before its detected.

11) Superior Craftsmanship
Conventional custom homes can have their fair share of beautiful carpentry, but this is typically limited to trim and millwork. In log homes, examples of fine craftsmanship are at every turn, in the handcrafted staircase with its branch-like spindles and balustrade, in the hand-scribed large timbers overhead in the cathedral ceiling, in the one-of-a-kind light fixtures.

12) Peace & Quiet
Log homes are often quieter than stick built homes, thanks to the same thermal mass that provides energy efficiency and the sound deadening affects of wood walls, according to a white paper produced by the National Association of Home Builders Log Homes Council. “The acoustical benefits of a log wall, therefore, are the reduced transmission provided by its solid mass and the sound deflection provided by the profile of the log (the angle, shape, and texture of the log surface),” the paper concludes.

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This article is reprinted from a Log Home Council webpage.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home

Part 3 - Log Homes are Better than Conventional Built Homes

Posted on Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 02:11 PM

custom log home

12 Advantages Log Homes Have Over Stick & Brick Construction

Beyond a steady stream of visitors seeking to soak up some rustic ambiance and connect with Mother Nature, there are other advantages for owning a log home over more conventional construction. Longtime homeowners say log and timber homes offer rich rewards over the stick and brick homes of their neighbors.  Here are three more reasons to consider a log cabin home.

7) Super Energy Efficient

Provided the home is sealed properly (between the foundation and the first course of logs, between log-to-log connections and where the roof system meets the log wall), you can have a super energy efficient home. Indeed, some builders routinely build log homes to meet the DOE’s “Energy Star” standards. This means it will be 30% more efficient than what building codes call for, saving you serious coin over the life of the home. “Today we can build a log home to be 15 to 20 percent more energy efficient than a conventional home,” says builder Mike Gingras, owner of Seven North Log Homes in New Haven, Vermont, who has designed and built Energy Star-rated log homes for the past 18 years.

8) A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Hanging a picture in a home with drywall is a big ordeal, involving a stud finder, a hammer or drill and bruised fingers—maybe even a bruised ego, since your spouse may tell you to move the picture, requiring patch work. Homeowners report the simplicity of hanging a picture is one the simple joys of living in a log home.

9) Rustic Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t High Tech

While rugged is appealing, roughing it is definitely out. That’s why today’s log homeowners increasingly want a hideaway that’s connected, automated and secure. Many log homeowners are adding backup generators (in case of power outages), security system and a CAT 5 wiring system that can accommodate high speed video, voice and data, as well as a host of new communication technologies on the horizon.

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Watch for Part 4 of this 4 part series coming soon!

This article is re-printed from a Log Home Council white paper.

Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, dream log home

Part 2 - Log Homes are Better than Conventional Built homes.

Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013 @ 02:04 PM

custom log home 12 Advantages Log Homes Have Over Stick & Brick Construction

Beyond a steady stream of visitors seeking to soak up some rustic ambiance and connect with Mother Nature, there are other advantages for owning a log home over more conventional construction. Longtime homeowners say log and timber homes offer rich rewards over the stick and brick homes of their neighbors.  Here are three more reasons to consider a log cabin home.

4) Fit the Land
Since this organic building material comes from nature, the resulting structures blend into the topography like a 10-point buck on opening day. Log homes naturally integrate right into the landscape, rather than being awkwardly imposed on it.

5) Fast Framing
If you choose to use a precut and pre-drilled log system or a handcrafted home, the shell of your home can be framed on site faster than conventional stick framing, which will reduce the likelihood of weather-related damages or mold and mildew issues. With the right crew and building system, it can be weather tight in as little as two weeks—for an average sized home. In conventional construction, your home is exposed to the elements for far longer, which could lead to mold issues within framing of the home, where it can thrive undetected for years.

6) Warmth of Wood
Warm to the touch (as opposed to the always chilly sheetrock), wood has something called “thermal mass,” a natural property in the logs that helps keep inside temperatures of homes comfortable in all seasons. This allows log walls to collect and store energy, then radiate it back into the home.

Watch for part 3 of this 4 part series soon!

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This article is re-printed from a Log Home Council white paper.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home

Log Homes are better than Conventional Built Homes - 4 Part Series

Posted on Fri, May 17, 2013 @ 01:56 PM

Custom Log Home

12 Advantages Log Homes Have Over Stick & Brick Construction

Part 1 of 4

Beyond a steady stream of visitors seeking to soak up some rustic ambiance and connect with Mother Nature, there are other advantages for owning a log home over more conventional construction. Longtime homeowners say log and timber homes offer rich rewards over the stick and brick homes of their neighbors. The benefits start with the building materials.

1) Trees are Renewable Resource
Since trees are a renewable resource, log homes come with a solid green pedigree. When a home is made from solid logs, you are effectively taking the carbon contained in those logs out of environmental circulation over the entire life of the home. Moreover, some log home producers harvest standing dead timber (done in by pesky insects) or purchase logs from forests certified as sustainable. Some builders are constructing log homes to green building standards as well.

2) Long Lasting
Got a know-it-all in the neighborhood who thinks his brick home is durable? Inform him that log homes still in use in Europe routinely date back more than 800 years. And one log-constructed church in Russia is reportedly more than 1,700 years young.

3) Withstand Mother Nature’s Wrath
The log home industry has countless stories of these homes successfully weathering the worst weather Mother Nature can dish out, including the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When Rita’s winds caused a giant oak tree to crash through the roof of Menlo Klingman and his wife Mickey’s 1,700 square foot log home in Eastern Texas, the home’s solid log walls withstood the weight of the toppled tree and prevented more damage “There is no doubt in my mind that this log home saved our lives,” says Mickey.

Watch for Part 2 next week!

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This article is re-printed from a Log Home Council white paper.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home

Where in the World is Appalachian Log Structures?

Posted on Fri, May 10, 2013 @ 09:29 AM

China Log StructureSince 1979 we've been manufacturing and pressure treating quality log homes and log home building products.  Today, we're continuing the tradition and are proud to be one of the few log home manufacturers to be owned and operated by the same family that conceived our company so many years ago.  During these years we've successfully delivered thousands of dream log homes.  Although our main market is North America, we've had quite a few go beyond our borders and quite literally, half way around the world.

One of the first exports shipped was to a US citizen living in Japan.  Due to the limited logging on this island nation they had to look elsewhere for the supply of timbers as well as a design and a building system that would be approved by the Japanese.  West Virginia's economic development department in association with their counterparts in Japan brought together this homeowner and Appalachian Log Structures.  We helped the homeowner design his dream log cabin home and engineered it to Japanese standards to withstand the frequent earthquakes that country is known for.  Not only did they purchase the log home building materials from us, but they also loaded in to the container countless "western style" finish items (lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, etc.) that were hard to come by over there.  It was quite an interesting project and a good one to cut our teeth on.

We also fielded a call from Australia where a gentleman learned about our use of borates in the pressure treatment of our log home building materials.  The ever present termite in western Australia had this homeowner look the world over to find a product that would withstand this insect and one that would protect his dream log home investment.  After visiting our home office in Ripley, WV and our mill in Southern West Virginia he was satisfied that he found the right company and the right product to meet his needs.  Needless to say, the person sent from Appalachian Log Structures to do the Technical start up on this job had quite a bit of Frequent Flyer miles built up upon his return!

Over several decades we've supplied Jamaica with more than 30 structures not only for residences but also for resorts and Inn's.  Our first foray in to this market was also driven by clients looking for log home building materials that would withstand not only the humid/moist climate and termites that Jamaica has but also the pounding of hurricanes that frequent the island.  This time we had several folks from Jamaica visit our facilities and took orders for not only several houses but also for a commercial structure.  Recently we assisted a client with adding a 2nd story to his existing Inn near Negril which was followed by shipping three smaller rental cabins using our Sportsman log on the same property. 

In 2006 we were contacted by a company in China inquiring about our log homes.  After numerous emails and research they decided to send a representative to visit our facilities.  We were glad to show him our National Headquarters in Ripley, WV as well as our mills in Princeton, WV.  Once he saw the logs coming through the mill and could put his hands on the finished product, he was sold.  All other product he had been using previously (coming from Russia or Norway) had not been as large or as finished.  That it was also pressure treated with borates was icing on the cake!  Quality product was what he had been searching for worldwide - only to discover it in West Virginia!  The photo above is the first structure they built which was a "Refreshment Hut" on a golf course.  I called it the "19th hole"!

Just as we like it here at home in the USA, sometimes folks in other countries just want to have someone listen to their dreams and show an interest in what they want to accomplish.  The log home building materials we shipped to Mexico all started with an email stating that he liked on of our floor plans and thought it would look nice setting on his mountain top.  Others thought he was crazy but he had a dream and we helped him achieve it.  He loves his log home and it does look GREAT sitting on that mountain top.

Whether you live next door to us or half way around the world, we're interested in helping you with your dream log cabin home no matter how big, small or crazy in design.  When you're ready to come and see what folks from all over the world have searched us out for, we're ready to show you what we've got.  Be sure to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant and set an appointment to talk about your log home project.

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Tags: log cabin home, dream log home, log home building consultant

A Company's Legacy of Log Homes

Posted on Thu, May 2, 2013 @ 02:50 PM

log cabin home

Looking back 21 years ago, my wife and I were putting the finishing touches on our log home and preparing to move in. Over the previous 18 months, we planned, sketched, met with banks, met with builders, scheduled the work to be done and prepared for our journey in to the building process. We started construction in March of 1992 and by mid-September were moved in. Building a log cabin home in South Carolina during the summer months is NOT the best of planning but we successfully pulled it off.

Along the way we learned quite a few things about building a log home and the construction business in general. Over the past 21 years I’ve been willing to share these experiences and assist several hundred homeowners to successfully move in to their log home.

There are several employees, including myself, at Appalachian Log Structures Inc. that live in log homes and have done so for quite a few years – over 200 years combined in total. My father, the founder of Appalachian Log Structures, who passed away in 2010, lived in two log homes (my mother still does), the President of Appalachian personally built both of his log homes (lots of sweat equity there!), our VP of Marketing has built and lived in two log homes, our VP Sales lives in #13, the 13th log home to roll off our line over 33 years ago (see photo above). The Manager of both our production facilities in Princeton, WV built his home in 1992 as did my oldest sister and her husband who since has moved in to my Grandmothers log home and remodeled it. Over the years we’ve had other employees and family members build log homes and they are still living in them today.

In addition to employees most all of our Independent Representatives either live in or work from a log model home (or sometimes both!).  Several of these Independent Representatives are also experienced builders who have become expert log home builders.

So you see, when you contact someone at Appalachian Log Structures you have the opportunity to speak with someone that has first hand experience of building and maintaining a log home – experience that is valuable to someone just starting the process. In addition, all of us are willing to share our knowledge and experience so that you too can have the opportunity to live the log home life like so many us have been blessed to do.

When you are ready to start your log home, we’re here and waiting to assist you. We’re only a phone call or a short drive away so come on by for a visit and let’s get you started on your dream log cabin home. Contact your Local Sales Representative today!

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Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, log home manufacturer, log construction, log cabins log cabin kits

Spring Cleaning your Log Cabin Home

Posted on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 @ 08:44 AM

custom log home

Although spring came a bit late this year (and in some parts of the country - they're still waiting for it) NOW is the time to start planning the spring cleaning projects on your log cabin home.

If you plan on rinsing off your log home, there are some great cleaning products that are "green" and easy to use. Most of these products use an oxygenated bleach (no chlorine) which removes not only mold/mildew but also pollen, pollution, dust, dirt, etc from the surface of the wood. These products do not require pressure washing so most any homeowner can wash down the exterior of their beautiful log home with just a water hose.

Should your plans include applying another coat of an exterior finish, now would be the time to consider some great additives to help repel carpenter bees and/or additives to help eliminate the growth of mold/mildew. These additives are easily mixed in the exterior finish and will help reduce the amount of future maintenance.

Another sign of spring is the buzzing of bees. Carpenter bees make their appearance in early spring and start their annual short lived but sometimes damaging effects on your log cabin home. There are some wonderful products that will help control or eliminate these pests, and come in kits to either spray or hang on around the home. Although the bee traps look kind of silly - from personal experience - they REALLY work!

Don't forget to check your downspouts and gutters to make sure they are draining properly and that the water is draining away from your foundation. Remove all the fall and winter debris from the valleys in your roof so water properly drains from these areas into the gutter system. Trim back any landscaping that may be too close to your log wall to allow air to flow around plants and the wall to inhibit the growth of mold/mildew. A good overall visual check of the exterior of your home is a good idea at least once a year and spring is as good a time as any to get this done.

If you are looking for some helpful products to use during your log home spring cleaning be sure to visit the Maintenance Products section of our web store. We offer many quality products and can get them shipped to you quickly!

For more information or insight on maintenance for your log cabin home be sure to contact your local Log Home Sales Consultant - most of them live in log homes and are happy to share their experiences and suggestions to keep your home happy, healthy and looking GREAT!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log cabin homes, custom log home, log home sales consultants

Protecting Your Log Home from Forest Fires!

Posted on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 @ 12:20 PM

log cabin home

Dad was a forester, earning his degree from WVU (West Virginia University) and working in the woods or around timber for most all of his life.  Spending a season or two in fire towers he passed along his respect for the proper care and treatment of forests to his kids and immediate family – especially his respect and concerns for fires.  When building my log home in 1992, he knew that we were located on 11 acres of totally wooded land and it was surrounded by forests beyond.  We spoke about and designed the building site so a fire break was included around the house in case one of a forest fire.

Recently I ran across an article* in a building magazine mentioning most of the ideas my father had about protecting my dream log home against these fires and though I would share them with you too.  Whether you are just now starting to build a log cabin home (or any home for that matter) or still planning your dream log home here is some good food for thought.

“Forest fires are more than just fire.  They can become a “firestorm” – a deadly mix of unending fuel supply and thermally-induced high winds that roll into a blast furnace, and approach, uninvited, with the speed and power of a locomotive.  Seemingly non-combustible materials burn or disintegrate.  Sheer winds uproot trees, fences and roofs with unnatural ease.  Superheated embers fly, bounce and crawl into fresh territories to advance the wall of flames ever faster.  To understand this power, picture a 3,000 square foot house burned to its foundation in less than eight minutes.  It has been described by its victims as a “fire-tornado”.  Often, fire breaks are the only answer, starving the flames of combustibles that fuel its insatiable appetite.” 

“What can be done to brace against such disasters?  As witnessed in recent events such as the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado, quite possibly nothing, short of a fire break.  Still, there are many efforts that you can make in your building and landscape design to ensure the property is more fire-resistant, and may stave off more serious destruction.”

Walk the property, and look up.  Encroaching trees with overlapping crowns, proximity to other buildings and prevailing winds can make the property an easy reach for forest fires.  Create a “green belt” around the structure – usually referred to a Zone 1.  This is a 30 feet clearance on all sides of the structure, free of combustibles including dead brush, firewood, propane tanks or debris.  Trees near a house may look cozy, but to be safe, clear out all trees from Zone 1 of the property.  If that is not possible, trim overhanging branches a minimum of 6 feet away from the building.  Keep lawn and foundation landscaping in the green belt low and well-watered.

Create a “fuel-free” zone around the buildings. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris, and consider specifying decorative stone, rather that mulch near the building.  Consider your landscape design for fire safety; keep portable or permanently installed gas grills away from the house.  Combustible outbuildings and garden structures like gazebos, bridges or decorative wells can invite fire closer to the building; make sure these structures are a good distance away from the primary structure.  If you have wood fencing attached to the building, this can lead fire straight to your structure like a wick.  Create a barrier of non-flammable fencing a minimum of 6 to 10 feet from the property walls.

If a building is in a high fire danger area, it is mandatory that your use fire-rated materials on your construction.  For roofing, metal, slate, tile and some fire-rated fiberglass or polymer tiles may do the job.  A metal roof with a Class A rating is an excellent deterrent against fire.  

If your roof has skylights, use tempered glass skylights, rather than plastic ones.  Double paned or tempered glass windows offer extra protection that can help keep a fire from entering the interior of your structure.  The temperature differential between the hot forest- fire air outside and cooler attic air can cause a strong vacuum effect, pulling fire in to the structure.

Use a finer 1/8th-inch opening steel screen on your eaves vents; while coarse screening may keep out the birds, you will need something smaller to keep airborne embers for being pulled in to attic spaces.

Create fire breaks in your landscape design.  Use driveways, walkways, and water features to create vegetation barriers.  Even low stone or cinder block walls along the property line can serve as an effective fire break.  Prune trees so that trunks are clear of branches and undergrowth 6 to 10 feet from the ground.

When building your log home in the forest, keep these ideas in mind so your investment is properly protected from forest fires.

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*Part of the blog is from March 2013 Metal Builder Magazine and an article written by Doug Myer, Metal Panels, Inc.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home

More than just Log Homes!

Posted on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 01:46 PM

Although we've blogged before that we do more than just log homes, I thought you might like to see and read about some of the projects we've been working on this year that are more than just log homes.

log trail shelterA few years ago our Arkansas Independent Representative, Jerry Allensworth, was approached by the Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) about some shelters they were looking to construct along the 233 miles of walking trails through Oklahoma and Arkansas.  These 3-sided shelters are open in the front for easy access for hikers and their equipment.  Offering basic shelters to first-come, first-served outdoor enthusiasts these structures offer a place to rest, slog trail shelterleep and cook some food while enjoying a leisurely walk along all or just part of the trail.  Recently through fund raising events and a grant, a total of 12 new shelters will be built along this trail to add to the existing shelters that were previously built. Previous shelters used cedar logs, however with cedar being so expensive these days they looked for a good alternative.  Using Appalachian's Borate pressure treated materials - they found it offered all the benefits of cedar but also offered significant savings on the investment. Working with the US Forestry Service to approve the design and the sites where they will be located, the project finally got off the ground this year.  The first three shelters were delivered a few weeks ago and the first shelter is already built.  Using all volunteer staff to construct these shelters, it's quite a project and one that we are proud and honored to be chosen for.

Log Trail CabinAlso, in the fall of last year we were awarded a contract to construct and deliver 6 of our Trail Cabins for use at a campground in West Virginia.  These log cabins use our 4"x8" logs and are designed to be built on a wooden platform similar to a sub floor so they may be picked and moved.  Designed for campgrounds, back yards, storage building, man-rooms, hobby houses or other small areas that may be remote,sportsman log trail cabin we offer these in both a pre-built ready to ship and use OR un-assembled so you can buillt it yourself.  Like the rest of Appalachian Log Structures materials, the logs are pressure treated with Borates to offer long lasting protection against wood digesting insects and decay.  A definate benefit when clients are looking for long term protection without a lot of maintenance.  These cabins will be ready for rental this summer and I'm sure the family's renting them will appreciate their beauty as well as their uniqueness.

If you have a project that is not necessarily a residential log structure don't forget to think of Appalachian Log Structures when considering who to contact with your ideas.  We've done all types of commercial structures as well as cabins and shelters so keep us in mind for these special projects.  We're ready to hear what you have dreamed up!

For more photos of both the trail shelters and cabins visit our facebook page and view the albums there.  We'll keep them updated as our partners send us their photos.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building materials, log cabin