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how to choose the right log home stain

Selecting a log stain is hard, let us help!

Not sure how to choose log & wood home stain?

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which stain you should choose

Choosing a stain for your log home or weekend cabin can be difficult. Opinions are as many and varied as there are people! In this webinar, Sashco partnered with Log Home Living Magazine to help folks sort through the pros and cons of different stains types (oil-based, water-based, and everything in between).

What kind of prep is necessary? What will maintenance look like? What’s better for the deck vs. the log walls? You’ll get a good foundation upon which to base decisions.

Choosing a log home stain


Choosing a stain and actually staining are two very different things. Part of the plan must be to sample the stain on the logs so you know what color to expect. If your home is already stained, stain compatibility is a huge issue because not all stains are compatible with one another — nor with all sealants. That’s why it’s important to select a stain that will be compatible with caulking and chinking. When you consider that an average 2,200 sq. ft. ranch-style log home has literally one mile of log joints, many of which will need to be sealed at some point in time, adhesion compatibility with the stain you use is critical.

Types & Performance

There are three different types of stains available to you. Keep in mind that not all stains are created equal, and how deep a stain penetrates doesn’t necessarily equate to better performance. The best value for your dollar may be in a more expensive stain that has been formulated for a specific type of application, i.e. decks, logs, wood siding, etc. With all types, good prep is important to get maximum longevity. Sashco recommends going with a surface stain or a shallow penetrating stain, both of which afford your home the greatest protection and long-term performance. The three types of stains are discussed below:

Surface Stains

Capture Log Stain Cascade Clear Coat SystemSymphony Interior Clear Coat

  • OK to use on restoration projects when the previous stain contained no non-drying oils (keep reading for details)
  • Little, if any, penetration into the first layer of closed wood cells
  • Rely on adhesion and elasticity for performance
  • Good for use on most wood surfaces — handrails and vertical surfaces
  • Should not be used on roofing shingles and does not perform well on decks
  • Quality brands have good longevity

Shallow-Penetrating Stains

Transformation Stain Log and Timber, Transformation Stain Siding and Trim

  • Best for use on restoration products where the previous stain is oil-based or unknown
  • Penetrates into wood about 1-3 cells deep
  • Good for use on vertical wood surfaces
  • Some brands are good on decks and fences
  • Should not be used on roofing shingles
  • Quality brands have good longevity

Deep Penetrating Oil Stains

  • Can be used on log homes, but won’t last long
  • Can penetrate as much as ¼” or more into wood
  • Good for decks, hand-rails, and roofing materials
  • Not compatible with most other finishing products (sealants in particular)
  • Appearance is short-lived, even with frequent re-application

Selecting a Stain Color

Your stain color sets the tone of your home—which is why it’s important to request samples and test several different stains and colors to ensure you get the color you want.

Sashco recommends that you stay away from clear stains. Why? In sun-drenched areas where only a clear stain is used, the wood’s natural color will begin to darken after only a few months. While you’re not alone in wanting to keep as natural a look as possible, clear coats that promise to preserve the “just built” look are misleading. It’s impossible to load enough UV absorbers in any clear stain to sufficiently protect your wood. And even though the stain may still be repelling water, dark yellow and gray discoloration of the wood is a sure sign that the UV absorbers have lost their effectiveness.

We recommend you stick with high-quality, UV-absorbing stains loaded with pigments – which is where you get the majority of your UV protection – and follow these sample testing procedures to make sure you get it right before you start.

Request A Free Stain Sample

Don’t surrender your fate to an online color chart. Order your free stain samples today.

Have more questions?

Call one of our log home specialists and they’ll be happy to answer any of your log home staining questions today.

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