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Information on Building Log Homes : The Logs

  • Choosing the Right Wood for Your Log Home
    The pros and cons of Lodge-Pole Pine, Western Red Cedar Log Homes,
    Engleman Spruce and Douglas Fir
  • Wood Shrinkage and Moisture Content
    Drying the logs
  • The Energy Efficiency of a Log Home
    Thermal Mass Benefits Recognized
  • Fire Resistancy of Log Homes
    How do log homes survive fire and wind
  • Log Homes and National Disasters

Choosing the Right Wood for Your Log Home: Lodgepole Pine, Engeman Spruce, Douglas Fir & Western Red Cedar Log Homes

A discussion of the different species

The decision in choosing the species of wood you would like your home built from, is often as difficult as choosing the right log home company to build your home. Each log home company will generally have a "preferred" species of building log. The preference can be based on a long term knowledge of the characteristics of one individual species, or due to the lack of availability of a wider variety of species in their particular location. If a species is requested by a customer for a building log, the company then has to have the wood shipped into their log yard, adding further costs to the log package. Preference can also be attributed to the lack of quality of a given species in certain regions as well.

This can be confusing for customers, as each company does tend to have very strong opinions on what wood should be used in building their home. In the long run, it is your preference that counts.

Each species does have both pros and cons, and a general understanding of wood characteristics is beneficial in selecting the wood species for your own log home. Several characteristics to consider are appearance, resistancy to decay and insect, thermal qualities, workability, finish, as well as cost. Another important factor is the variance in color of heartwood and sapwood in the species available.

At Canadian Log Homes we offer Engleman Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and Lodge-Pole Pine from British Columbia Canada.

"British Columbia and its vast renewable, temperate rain forest and interior forests, produce arguably the finest trees in the world for use in log homes"

The five major species that are indigenous to B.C. are Yellow Cedar, Western Red Cedar, Spruce, Douglas Fir and Pine. We do not offer Yellow Cedar due to its low availability and extremely high price.

Western Red Cedar Log Homes:

Western Red Cedar is one of the most sought after wood and is widely used for log homes. The heartwood is medium to dark coffee brown in color, with sapwood that is nearly white. The Western Red Cedar is slow growing, and as it is composed primarily of heartwood, has a high concentration level of both natural fungi and insect repellent toxins. It's bug resistancy makes this species preferably for export, especially to tropical climates. The grain is tight, but it is a softer wood.

Western Red Cedar is one of the most expensive building logs on the market today.

-High resistancy to decay and damage
-Naturally resists insects and molds
-Light in Mass
-Best for wet climates
-very expensive.

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir is commonly used for log homes, with only the second growth Fir being used for building logs. The second growth can be anywhere from 80-120 years old. Douglas Fir consists of a harder bark, which results in less marking during logging, as opposed to Western Red Cedar. Strong and beautiful, Douglas Fir can be noted as being one of the largest timber trees available and is valued as a great structural material as well as building material.

-Most commonly used
-less expensive than Western Red Cedar, but more costly than Pine or Spruce
-Moderate heartwood decay resistancy
-The heartwood is orange brown to deep reddish brown and sometimes yellowish brown
-The sapwood is nearly white
-Weight when dried is moderate

Engleman Spruce

Engleman Spruce is the species I recommend when asked by our customers, as the quality of Spruce is very high and offered at a reasonable price, less expensive than both Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir. Engleman Spruce is fine grained, very light in color, with minimal taper. As with Douglas Fir, it is available in very large diameters. A very important factor to consider is that Engleman Spruce does have a resistancy to heartwood decay, although in a somewhat lesser degree than Western Red Cedar, but more than Pine or Douglas Fir.

-Light in color
-Light-weight and durable
-Heartwood is nearly white with a tinge of red
-The color of the Sapwood is not distinguishable from the heartwood
-Straight with minimum taper
-Resistance to heartwood decay.

Any species that do not contain natural toxins should be properly protected with wood preservatives.

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