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Dull to Beautiful: Bringing a Tennessee Log Home Back to Life With Restoration.

The story of how a Tennessee log home found new life with a beautiful restoration.

Mann Home Restoration | Mississippi River, Western Tennessee

Situated along the Mississippi River in western Tennessee, Jerry and Dorothy Mann’s 14 year old log home was starting to look ragged. It was originally stained with a single coat of Sashco’s water-based Capture® Log Stain in Natural and Cascade® Clear Coat back in 2002 when construction was finished. Then, life went on and years passed by. Jerry noticed some discoloration on the sun-exposed sides of the home after about five years but didn’t think too much about it.

Fast forward to 2016

Along with life moving on, weather took its toll, and those same sun-exposed walls were looking pretty ragged. Jerry’s impending retirement was the push he needed to start researching how to restore his home.

Jerry knew he’d let maintenance slip for too long. At first, said Jerry, “I considered doing it myself. I checked on prices of pressure washers. I thought I could probably do this, but I had no idea what to put on our home.” Enter Griffin Log Homes, the same contractor who built the Mann’s log home those 14 years earlier. Tyler Griffin, grandson of the man who built the home, was glad to be on board.

Restoration Insight: Jerry was right — 14 years was too long to go with no maintenance. In fact, semi-transparent stains require maintenance every three to five years in order to maintain both their color and moisture repellency.

Homeowner Insight: “The sides with covered porches were in pretty good shape, but the others were scorched and old-looking. We should have had it done a lot sooner.”

Natural is Nice, But Darker is Better

In the beginning, Jerry and Dorothy liked the Capture® Natural. But after living in the home a year or two, Dorothy liked the idea of a darker color. The Manns also wanted to switch to an oil-based stain that would penetrate and highlight the grain of the wood a bit better than a water-based stain. Tyler preferred to work with oil-based stains himself. As a graduate of Sashco’s Zero Failures Log Home Finishing and Maintenance Seminar, he understood how a high-performance stain made for logs would last longer.

Between Tyler’s knowledge from Zero Failures and personal experience in the field, he knew that Sashco’s Transformation Stain® for Log and Timber homes would fulfill the Mann’s requirements for a stain that would perform over the long-haul and look good for years to come. After sampling a varitety of colors, the Manns chose Transformation Stain® Log & Timber in Red Tone Medium. Combined with the aged wood and the prep method, the result was that deep, rustic Redwood Dorothy wanted.

Restoration Insight: Switching from a water-based stain to an oil-based stain is fine when you’re starting over with bare wood. The other way around can get tricky. Some oil-based stains will penetrate so deeply, even starting over from bare wood isn’t enough, so you have to stick with an oil-based stain. Sashco is happy to be a resource when those kinds of questions stump you.

Contractor Insight: “As a contractor, I personally prefer oil-based stains. I think they’re easier and more forgiving during application.”

Back to Bare Wood

After discussing the look the Manns wanted to achieve, Tyler set to getting the wood prepped. Tyler knew that media blasting was growing in popularity, but because of the look the Manns wanted and his personal expertise, he chose to go the traditional power washing route instead. Tyler applied Sashco’s CPR® in the brightener strength. It worked to both clean the logs and significantly brighten the dark sunburned spots. He then followed with a vigorous power wash. After allowing the wood to dry for a couple days, all of the felting was sanded off. The wood was bare again — clean, sound, and ready for new stain.

Restoration Insight: If the power washer isn’t felting the wood (creating wood fuzz), it’s not removing all of the damaged, unsound wood fibers. Move up a few inches to find that sweet spot where the power washing will remove all of those damaged wood fibers, but not so close that you’re pitting the wood. Then, be sure to remove all felting before staining. Otherwise, it will fall off later and take your new stain with it!

Contractor Insight: “Initially, Jerry thought he let his home go too far. Once it was all prepped, he was pleased to see how the wood came back to original color.”

Stain, Caulk, Done!

The day after sanding was complete, staining started. In order to avoid the extra labor it would take to tape off areas to protect them from overspray, Tyler and crew hand-brushed the stain. One heavy, drench coat was applied, allowed to dry overnight, and then followed with a second drench coat the next day.

Restoration Insight: When brushing on stain, two things to keep in mind:

#1 Follow the manufacturer’s coverage guidelines. If the guidelines call for 15 gallons of stain and you used only 10, you haven’t applied enough stain.

#2 It’s very important to get the inside of every crack filled with stain, which can be a challenge with a brush, so pay extra attention to those. If you don’t, water will penetrate the wood in those areas and could lead to premature stain failure.

Just a Bit Over a Week Later

Griffin Log Homes started the project on a Monday and it was finished the following Tuesday. In just nine days, the Manns had a restored home that matched the picture they had in mind. Everyone stood back to enjoy the view, but they didn’t part ways without Tyler’s friendly reminder to Jerry to have them out to do routine maintenance in a few years.

With the help of a knowledgeable and competent contractor, the Mann’s log home restoration was impossible and Jerry’s pre-retirement checklist got shorter.

The day after the second coat was applied, the Griffin Log Homes crew got to work sealing up the cracks. Checks, butt joints, and corners were sealed with Sashco’s Conceal® in Red Tone.

(Gotta keep the bugs and water out, after all. There’s a fair share of both along the Mississippi River.) It didn’t take long – three guys did all the caulking in one day.

Homeowner Insight: “We’re tickled with the new color. It adds a lot of character to the home. Three or four of the neighbors said that it makes it look a whole lot better around here. Everything else is green so the darker red is a nice contrast.”