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Kiln Drying

"Kiln-dried logs make better log homes!" That's a great sales pitch. But do the facts actually support the claim? Here are a few questions you need to ask.

Are heavy timbers the same as 2x4 wall studs?

Hardly. It is realistically impossible to take a log cut green in the forest, place it in a lumber kiln and dry it to the level of moisture found in dimensional lumber sold at building supply stores. The timbers would have to stay in for so long that their cost to the log home company would be prohibitive.

Can you read a kiln schedule?

If the answer to that question is no, then how do you verify that the "kiln-dried logs" some salesman wants to sell you weren't popped into a kiln for a few hours and then hauled out with most of the moisture still trapped in the wood cells?

How were logs stored after kiln drying?

Even if a company could verify that logs were kiln-dried to a given moisture content, it is only claiming the moisture level at the moment the timbers left the kiln. Kiln-dried lumber readily absorbs moisture. If exposed to rain or high humidity, the moisture level can go back up.

Is kiln-drying an excuse for poor building practices?

It is a fact of life that log walls settle. In other words, the overall height of the wall decreases as a result of log shrinkage (moisture escapes and wood cells contract) and compaction (the weight of the logs and roof crush wood fibers). All too often kiln- drying is touted by salesmen as a cure-all for settling. But that is simply not true. If a log wall system used by a given company isn't fully adjusted for wall settling, the homeowner is very likely to regret that fact later.

Is there an advantage to kiln-drying logs?

Of course. International trade laws require that American companies kiln-dry lumber before it is exported to Europe. This "sanitizes" the wood, killing any fungi or biological pests native to North America that might infect their forests. So, if you intend to build your log home in Europe, you are required to use kiln-dried logs.

Log Home Outfitters has been in business since 1994.

During that time the company has never used kiln-dried timbers because we know from experience that this practice makes a better sales pitch but not a better log home. In the end, we recognize that all logs are "air-dried," even the kiln-dried ones. In other words, all logs must stand in service for some time period before the moisture content inside the wood reaches equilibrium with the moisture content of the air around it. During that time, the walls will settle!

Our "Constant Compression" log wall fastening system gives homeowners the assurance that they have the best-engineered log home available. Our total log wall settling system and proven sealant package means tight joints and minimal concerns for buyers. Furthermore, we provide the highest grade of timbers for our customers. We literally discard a mountain of logs for use as firewood, garden chips, and rough-sawn siding because they simply don't meet our exacting log-grading standards.

Before the 1930's, not a single log home built in the world employed kiln-dried logs; and there are log structures in Europe that have been standing for 300 years. Don't fall prey to marketing promises that offer "quick-fix" solutions rather than sound construction practices.

 

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