LOG HOME BASICSWritten by Mercedes Hayes
As we start to research log homes, it quickly becomes apparent that there is much more variety than one would ever think. Not only do log homes come in all shapes and sizes, but logs themselves come in as many variations as you can imagine. Once you decide on look you want, you can start eliminating manufacturers that don't provide your system.
There are two categories of log homes: handcrafted and milled log homes. Initially, you may not realize what you are looking at, but there are some basic guidelines that will clarify differences. A handcrafted log home is just that; logs are peeled by hand, notched by hand, and in many cases, each log is scribed to fit exactly on top of another log. In many handcrafted homes, logs are stacked alternately, so large end of a log is stacked on top of tapered end of log beneath. A milled log home will feature logs that are uniform in shape, and logs will be cut to fit together, such as with a tongue-and-groove or Swedish cope, so that they stack easily and evenly. There is a big price difference between a handcrafted and a milled log home. This is mostly because of intense labor required to construct a handcrafted home, and because of larger diameter logs that are normally used. The vast majority of homes built today are milled log homes.
If you see a log home with round logs and chinking, that is a first indication that this is could be a handcrafted log home. Chinking was historically a mortar-like material that filled gaps between logs. Modern science has created an acrylic compound that expands and contracts with wood; it is applied as a wide white stripe. If a handcrafted log is not scribed, then chinking is a must because logs leave gaps along their length. Some people do use chinking as a design feature even when it's not necessary, though for most part milled log homes are not chinked. The characteristic corner of your log home will speak volumes to person who knows how to read it. The profile and joinery system of log will usually be reflected on ends. For instance, on a handcrafted log home you'll see different diameters of stacked logs. To stack them, these corners will be notched so that each log sits directly on log below it (like a Lincoln Logs™ toy). A milled log that is saddle-notched will stack same way (of course, every log will look exactly same). Because saddle-notched logs are staggered, course to course, log ends will be visible on interior corners of house as well as exterior. This gives a very rustic look. A butt-and-pass corner gives you an end where there is a space between every other log. This is because one log butts up against intersecting log, which runs past it. These logs are all laid on same course, so that with interior corners of your home, logs will come to a squared edge.
On milled logs, there are many joinery systems to choose from. Today, most popular joinery is called a "Swedish cope". This is where each log is scooped out to fit snugly on curve of log beneath. It gives a very smooth and natural look. Another joinery system is tongue-and-groove, or double tongue-and-groove depending on manufacturer. The tongues are cut into top of log and corresponding grooves at bottom. These create a tight fit and stack easily. A more traditional, early American notch is called dove-tail, which is a mortise and tenon notch usually cut into squared timbers. There are many other corner systems available, but these are most commonly used.
The shape, or profile of your log is another feature which will help you decide what kind of package to purchase. Many people prefer a "D" log, which is round on outside and flat on inside. This gives you a horizontal wood-paneling look, and is easy to hang pictures on. Others prefer a round log, which is a little more rustic and presents many challenges - such as how to join logs to sheetrock. Squared timbers, which give a more Appalachian look to home, tend to be tall and fairly narrow, and are often grooved for application of chinking. The average milled log home will use pine logs in 6" and 8" diameters. You can also find them in 10" and 12" diameters. Anything larger than 15" will probably roll you over to a handcrafted home. Cedar logs are an upgrade, and can be found in 6", 8" and occasionally 10" diameters. Some manufacturers more rarely use oak, cypress, fir, hemlock, larch, poplar, spruce, and walnut. These rarer woods will be a price upgrade. Because of superior log care products on market today that protect all logs effectively, wood species largely becomes a matter of personal taste. The best rule of thumb when choosing log species is to stay with a wood that is native to your area. The logs will adapt to environment more comfortably.
Newcomers are continually amazed to discover that logs are their own insulation. To compare a stick-frame wall to a log wall by using "R-value" is not comparing "apples to apples". Logs have a lower "R-value" than insulated 2x4 walls. However, they work on principal of thermal mass. Because of cellular structure of logs, they tend to absorb heat and hold it longer than traditional walls. The logs will actually absorb heat from interior of house (or from sun, if facing south), and when temperature drops at night, walls will generate that heat back into house until temperatures equalize. They take longer to warm up, and stay warm much longer. Conversely, they stay cooler in summertime. Some producers feature a half-log system, where logs are attached outside-and-inside to 2x4 or 2x6 stick-frame walls. This adds extra R-value of an insulated wall, along with beauty of log, and also makes it easier to install electrical wiring. Ultimately, these systems are a bit more expensive than full-log, because of additional cost of lumber. But they do give added ability to vary interior of your house, so that some interior walls could be sheetrock, stone, or tongue-and-groove. In any case, many modern manufacturers use half-log system on their second floor, to compensate for huge windows, which may displace so many logs that wall's integrity could be compromised. Also, because large windows settle at a different rate than logs, stick-framed second floor equalizes overall settling. With best manufacturers, you won't be able to tell on outside where full logs end and half logs begin.
DUAL PANE WINDOW GLASS REPAIRWritten by John Rocco
DUAL PANE WINDOW GLASS REPAIR
For past few weeks, I have been explaining how to repair a broken window pane in your home. But, what if you have dual pane windows? Is process same? Well, pretty much, except for a couple of variations. So, let's review single pane repair process, and I will point out differences regarding dual pane windows.
When we start talking about dual pane windows, one of first things that comes to mind is vinyl window frames instead of aluminum. When dealing with dual pane windows, you can have either aluminum or vinyl frames, depending on year house was built. Dual pane glass got popular in 1980's, but vinyl frames didn't really catch on until 1990's. So, if your house is less than 10 years old, chances are you have vinyl framed windows. In either case, I will discuss differences. Let's say you have a sliding aluminum frame window with dual pane glass. The procedure for removing frame from opening and glass from sash is same as with single pane windows. The differences are, first, glass goes into frame about twice as far as single pane window. The single pane window glass went 1/4" into surrounding rubber. The dual pane usually goes 1/2" into rubber. So, if both pieces of glass have been broken, you are going to have to order a new IGU (Insulated Glass Unit) from local glass shop. They are going to want to know width, height, overall thickness, and possibly individual glass thickness. The best way to get dimensions is to measure width and height from rubber to rubber, write those numbers down. Then, remove panel from opening and place it on a table like we did with single pane window. Remove screws from opposite corners and pull of frame. You will be able to see how far glass goes into surrounding rubber. If it's 1/2", then you want to add 1" to width and height that you measured previously (1/2" times two sides= 1"). Then, measure overall thickness of unit by removing rubber from glass edge. Typically, this dimension is 1/2", but not always. There is a metal spacer that divides two panes of glass. Make a note of color so you can request same color in new IGU. It's either going to be silver or bronze. If you want to get same size spacer, you need to give glass shop thickness of each piece of glass in IGU. If old unit has 1/8" glass on both sides, and overall thickness of unit is 1/2", then they will use a 1/4" spacer. If glass is 3/32" on both sides, they will use a 5/16" spacer. If you don't care about matching spacer thickness, you can request thicker 1/8" glass, and they will automatically use a 1/4" spacer.
When you get new IGU home, installation is same as single pane window. Now, what if only one side of IGU has been broken? Many times outer pane will break, but inside pane is fine. You can order a whole new IGU like we just did, or, if you're adventurous type, you can order only single pane of glass that was broken and replace it. I'm going to explain how to do it, then i'm going to tell you things that can go wrong. After you have window pane on table with surrounding frame removed, you will see a black rubber type substance around edge where spacer is applied. This is a butyl sealant, and you have to separate broken glass from this butyl. The best way to do it is to take a utility knife with a new blade and break through butyl where it meets broken glass. Then, take a new hacksaw blade, and push it into area where you sparated butyl from glass. You don't want hacksaw blade to be attached to a hacksaw. Using your hand, saw back and forth as you work your way around edge of glass. This should allow you to remove glass. Once that's done, lay rags on top of good piece of glass to catch any debris, and scrape surface of spacer that will be contacting new glass. Use a putty knife. Then, remove rags and debris. When you are ready to put new glass on, clean inside of good piece of glass that you didn't remove. Remember, once you install new glass, any debris or finger marks on inside will be permanently sealed. So, clean it real good and check it from all angles. Do same to side of new glass that will be going to inside of IGU. Then, run a thin bead of clear silicone around entire perimeter of spacer. Set your new glass on spacer and use finger pressure to adhere glass to silicone all way around.Then, come in from side, and run silicone around side where glass and spacer meet. Cover window opening with something for 24 hours. You do not want to touch IGU for 24 hours. The silicone needs to cure. After 24 hours, you can assemble unit and install it back into opening.