Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining your Log Cabin Exterior

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Log cabins can last beautifully for centuries with the right care. Keep your log cabin exterior in great shape and looking good with proper maintenance.

Log cabins are different enough from other structures that they need unique exterior maintenance strategies. The focus is mostly on wood and the special cleaning and maintenance it requires.

Log Cabin Exterior Walls

Hose down the entire exterior of your cabin, paying particular attention to areas that collect cobwebs, dust and dirt. Under the eaves, on corners and around windows and doors are usually the dirtiest areas of any cabin.

You’ll get best results if you use a non-toxic exterior cleaning product designed to be applied and then washed off. Scrub the surface with a soft car wash brush with a long handle. Rinse thoroughly with clear water after washing and scrubbing, then let the walls dry for two warm days before examining the surface.

Is the wood of your log cabin exterior finished with something? How does that finish look? Renewing the finish on outdoor wood always involves more than just brushing on more of the same. You’ll need to prepare the surface beyond cleaning for best results.

Whatever you do, never use a pressure washer on log cabin walls. Almost all cabins are made of softwood. It’s too easy to damage the wood surface or accidentally drive water deep between the logs. Scrubbing with a soft brush and water from a garden hose cleans better than a pressure washer and is much safer for the wood.

Even with regular washing, over time weathering and mold growth can set in on your logs. This is where sanding can help. A six-inch random orbit sander with an 80-grit disk works well for removing discolored wood while also preparing the surface to accept and hold onto stain or sealer.

Log Cabin Exterior Gutters

Remove all leaves and twigs from gutters. Then inspect them for cracks and signs of leakage. Gutter washing tools that connect to your garden hose allow most first-story gutters to be cleaned while you’re standing safely on the ground. Reach up with the curved washing tool, then blast out the gunk, small leaves and gravel that may have come off your shingles.

Wet weather with heavy rain is the best time to check for leaks and overflowing gutters. Inspect the hardware that holds your gutters in place and tighten or replace any that are loose. Consider having some kind of leaf guard installed over the gutter to ease future cleaning chores.

Log Cabin Windows

Clean the glass inside and out, then check windows for ease of opening and closing. Most windows benefit from a little spray lubricant applied to sliding surfaces and hardware.

Do any of your windows have condensation between the panes? This is a sign your windows are not as energy efficient as when they were new. The seal between the panes of glass has failed, allowing the insulating gas to escape and moisture to enter the space and condense. There are companies that repair failed window seals without removing the window, although sometimes failed windows can’t be repaired and need to be replaced.

Log Cabin Roof

Eyeball the roof metal or the shingles from the ground. If shingles are curling, it’s a sign that the roof has reached the end of its useful life. If metal roofing looks loose, it needs to be secured with screws. Special screws with neoprene washers under their heads are the hardware of choice for holding down metal roofs.

Is moss growing on your roof? Rooftop moss shortens asphalt shingle life considerably, but it can be prevented, even with trees close by. Zinc strips installed under the top course of shingles and every 15 feet down the roof prevent the formation of moss and lichen, but it doesn’t always kill existing growths. If you have moss on your log cabin roof shingles, hose down the area with a moss-killing product before installing zinc strips.

Fascia (the vertical edge of a typical roof) on many log cabins is made of wood. This is an especially harsh environment because roof run-off and sunlight make it difficult to keep wooden fascia finished and looking good. Consider covering high-maintenance wooden fascia with factory finished aluminum. This can be easily retrofitted over any existing wooden fascia. It’s easier than refinishing, looks great and saves you fascia maintenance hassles for at least 20 years.

Log Cabin Deck or Patio

If your deck is made of wood, wash it down as you did with the outside of the cabin. Then take an honest look at the finish and deck structure.

If the wood is sound, scrub off any mold or mildew using an oxygen-based cleaner. (This product is the best I’ve used — nothing else compares in this category.) Then let the surface dry. Pressure washing a wooden deck followed by sanding with an 80-grit abrasive after the wood is thoroughly dry is the fastest way to properly prepare the surface for refinishing.

If your cabin has a paver patio, simply wash it with clear water and scrub with a long-handled brush.