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Fact or Fiction: Linseed oil is food for mold; therefore, you should never use a stain with linseed oil in it.

Answer: It may surprise you! Our resident stain expert Jim Barnes plays some Fact or Fiction to give you the lowdown on the pros and cons of linseed oil to help you decide.  

Fact or Fiction: Linseed oil contributes to mildew growth.

Answer: Sort of fact…and sort of fiction. 

In properly formulated oil-based stains, like Sashco’s Transformation Log & Timber Stain, mildew and algae growth is no worse than on any other modern stain. These formulas contain mildewcides and algaecides to prevent or significantly reduce these problems. That said, it’s true that linseed oil can be a food source for these molds. The mildew growth can be severe when not coupled with these mildewcides. When homeowners buy straight linseed oil from hardware stores, dilute it with some mineral spirits and Japan drier, and make their own “stain” mildew growth is not uncommon. This practice is still common enough that most contractors have or will come across this scenario. Unfortunately, homeowners who DIY stain this way don’t have access to the modern mildewcides and algaecides that most manufacturers who use linseed oil include in their formulas.  

Fact or Fiction: Linseed oil is just another oil and isn’t anything special.

Answer: Fiction.

Linseed oil is rare among drying oils because it remains soft and flexible for a long time after drying. Most drying oils get hard and brittle. In moderate quantities, it is used to soften alkyds and other oils commonly used in semi-transparent stains. The final formulation remains flexible enough to move with the wood as it expands and contracts with moisture and temperature variations. The stain doesn’t crack under normal wood movement and can keep water out for years when properly formulated. There are many oil-based stains on the market precisely because oil stains provide unparalleled beauty, penetration, ease of use, and the ability to reliably re-stain woods. Often, water-based stains can’t match all of these benefits. Linseed oil plays a critical role in this.  


When we come across opinion pieces that declare anything as the root of all evil, it is good to follow the money: what are the writers trying to sell? It is easy to point to the worst-case DIY linseed stain and cry out, “The sky is falling!” The reality is it’s somewhere closer to Earth.  

SO…  

Is linseed oil a problem in some stains? Yes, absolutely.

When we see severely blackened mildew on a home, does that mean its stain contained linseed? Nope. It might, but plenty of cheaply formulated stains and coatings, both oil and water-based, don’t protect well against mildew and algae. Algae by itself can appear black, especially when dirty, and many stains don’t protect against algae at all. (Sashco is unique here. We’re the only company in the log home market that includes algaecide in all of its stains.) Any sun-exposed area that looks like mildew should be suspected of being algae.

Do we have to take extra care when re-staining a home with severe mildew? Yes. We want to kill the mildew spores, preferably with oxygen bleach (or regular bleach and LOTS of rinsing). Using a high-quality stain with mildewcides and algaecides is essential for keeping mildew at bay in the future.

Is media blasting good enough to remove severe mildew? When the blasting is sufficient to remove all the visible discoloration, it can be. That level of blasting isn’t always desirable, so it is sometimes preferable to pre-treat the mildewed surfaces with an oxygen bleach before blasting.   Will leftover linseed oil in the wood cause future mildew?  If the stain is properly formulated with mildewcides and algaecides, there shouldn’t be any problems if the wood has been prepared (blasted) down to the “freshly sanded” color.

So to sum up:

Color is a beautiful thing. It can also be the source of sleepless nights, eye-twitching, and the reason you’re popping Tums. Let’s face it, choosing the right color for your log home is a big deal, and it can feel pretty darn stressful. We get it, and we’re here to help! These top-tips go a long way to giving you color confidence!

Get Inspired

First, spend a lot of time just looking around at homes you love. What tones speak to you? Looking at stain colors on other homes gives you a big picture idea of what to expect on your own. We have tons of inspiration for you here.

Take Your Color & Maintenance Temperature

Next, consider maintenance and protection. While every Sashco stain will protect your home from the beating Mother Nature dishes out, darker stains do provide slightly more longevity. Lighter colors require slightly more frequent maintenance. When choosing a stain color, “take your temperature.” What’s most important to you? Want to go darker and go a bit longer between maintenance coats? Great, you’ll be thrilled with colors like Transformation Stain in Brown Tone Dark or Redwood, or Capture Log Stain in Chestnut or Mahogany. Maybe you’re more of a purist and prefer lighter, more natural-looking logs and don’t mind doing maintenance a few months earlier. Perfect, we’ve got just what you’re looking for. You’ll be swooning over colors like Capture Log Stain in Natural or Wheat, or Transformation Stain in Gold Tone Light or Natural.    

Try Before You Buy!

Once you’ve decided which color family you prefer, try it on for size! If you’ve ever painted a room, you know that seeing color on a tiny chip versus an entire room is a very different experience. Multiply it by, well, a lot, when you see a stain color online or stain board versus your entire home! If you want total color confidence, you need to know the color you choose for your home is right before you cover the whole dang thing and it’s too late. Many factors influence what a stain looks like on your home—lighting, wood prep, even individual logs impact how stain looks. We take the stress out of selecting a color with the sample packages of your dreams. One quick order gets you product info, samples, and more — all in a fun box. It’s like receiving peace of mind in the mailbox. Get your free stain samples here.

Congratulations! You’re on your way to a gorgeous log home and way better sleep. You can go ahead and toss the Tums.

Tip #1: Proper Prep, Please!

Spend any time around Sashco peeps, and you’ll hear ad nauseam about the importance of proper prep. Why? Because it will guarantee the best long-term performance in a stain. Without proper surface prep, even the best product in the world will fail.

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Mold is a four-letter word, and it’s a headache!

Is that a black spot on top of the caulk? Cant it be scrubbed off?!
 
Upon further inspection, you see the mold is actually growing under the caulk. It never seems to go away. Even if you re-caulk your bathtub or shower, it seems to come back over and over again. Argh! 
 
But WHY does it come back over and over again?
 
Answer: Sometimes, the mold and mildew in your bathroom is growing under the caulk.
This means new caulk won’t fix it. (Say what?!?!)
 
Yep. Even if you replace the caulk, the mildew is still there, so it just comes back and you end up where you started.
 
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Identifying signs that it’s time to maintain your log home with a fresh coat of stain, or Cascade® Clear Coat is easy. Start by downloading this handy inspection guide to carry along with you as you perform your inspection as the very first step in your maintenance plan.

Loss of sheen 

Most clear coats have a satin sheen when first applied, and while still in good shape. Over time, that clear coat or stain erodes due to weathering. Look at your home in the sun or take a flash light to it. If it looks a bit flat, it’s time for maintenance. 

Color shifts in log Stain

Does your stain look darker than it did originally? Perhaps there’s some fading going on where it’s exposed to sun? Both are signs that your stain (andthe UV filters in it) have worn off and need to be replenished. 

Water not shedding

Break out the hose or a spray bottle. Is water still running down the logs? It should sheet off the wood, not bead up. Any areas where water isn’t “sheeting” well needs a fresh coat of stain or clear coat.

Dirt, pollen, bird poo, etc.

Over time, surface contaminants will eat away at the integrity of your stain. If you can see these contaminants, it’s time for a good wash down at least, and possibly time for more another coat of stain. 

New micro checks and cracks in the wood

Have any new micro checks (the tiny cracks in the face of the logs themselves) appeared? If so, those are unprotected by stain and need to be treated! Left unprotected, they’ll allow moisture to come in that can compromise the integrity of the stain, not to mention invite rot. Make sure new micro checks are filled with stain or a your clear coat. (Importantnote: Make sure any crack that’s 1/4″ wide or larger on the upper curve of the log is caulked with Conceal® or Log Builder®, not just stained.)
We have GREAT news! It’s only necessary to apply more stain and/or a clear coat where it’s needed, when it’s needed. In some cases, the north and east sides of the home can be skipped the first time you maintain the south and west sides. They don’t get the same UV exposure and don’t tend to need care as soon. Any areas protected by an eave, overhang, or porch will likely require less maintenance over time, too. Proper planning and education will help you stay on top of your maintenance, so many times there’s no need to re-coat the whole darn house every time. (We’re all about saving the weekends for fun and relaxation, too.)
That’s it! Great job! You’ve determined what needs to be done to protect your log home come spring. Need a little more guidance and help planning? No problem, our customer service team is always happy to help! Give us a call at 800-767-5656.

Proper Joint Design

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Step 1:  Tape off the areas to be sealed.

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Have you ever tried to run a cloth or duster over wood with no clear coat on it? It’s horrible! It catches on the wood, doesn’t remove the dust, and ultimately makes a bigger mess. Even worse is trying to clean wood that is permanently yellow from UV exposure and oxidization. Follow these 3 steps to create an easy-to-clean, won’t-get-discolored constant warm glow in your log or wood home. BONUS: Interior finishing needs to be done only once. Routine cleaning — wiping down cobwebs, dust that settles, fingerprints, etc. — is all that’s needed to maintain the finish and keep the wood looking like new. 

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Outdoor hand rails and spindles, especially those not protected by overhangs, require specialized and more frequent care because of their extreme exposure to weather. 

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