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Log homes explained

Log homes are often just that- actual timber logs cut out at the end to cross over to hold each other in place. It is an ancient way of building homes, often found in Scandinavia, Canada, and the United States. We discovered many in rural and metropolitan areas in Norway. Log homes have an appeal to people that like the charm and feeling of being within natural materials. Green roofs in Norway made them blend in beautifully in their surroundings.


Installation of a log wall:


After the logs are cut to length, the branches and bark taken off and the logs are dried. The round logs are then flattened on the top and bottom to minimize any potential air gaps between the logs. To join the logs together on top of each other the logs are notched out close to the ends and then stacked together. The stacked logs will then hold each other up. Some companies do additionally apply glue or bolt logs together.

The stacking of the logs does not only help in holding the wall up, stacking also prevents the logs from twisting.

But timber still expands and shrinks when it is wet or hot. This could lead to small gaps in between the logs. In traditional methods this is circumvented by filling the joints of the logs with a clay/ sand/ water mixture on the in- and outside of where the logs join together.

Image by Ant Rozetsky

The advantages of log walls:

  • Material is often locally available

  • Visual appeal of the logs

  • Skills can be learned and the structure potentially built by the owner

  • Log homes are very resistant to fire due to the thickness

  • Log walls are very strong (6)

  • Very little wastage of natural resources as almost the entire log is used

  • The fact that they are used in cold climates with lots of snow such as Canada, Scandinavia, and the United States indicate that the logs do insulate well

  • Log walls help regulate indoor moisture

  • The wood logs can be reused for example in building furniture


The disadvantages of log walls:

  • The fact that there is no exact insulation value (R-Value) makes it hard to compare with other wall systems regarding energy efficiency

  • As the logs expand and contract there is potential for gaps to appear in between them (can be avoided by plastering between the logs)

  • Due to the use of natural wood, there is regular maintenance necessary to keep the house intact

  • Some insurers might be cautious to insure the property

  • due to our high UV radiation and that our climate is not as cold as North America and Europe, radiata pine MUST be pressure treated and most other timbers will have a building consent specification requiring owners to apply and maintain an exterior treatment. Interiors are often left untreated. 

Log House Construction


(6) stuff, '10 things to know about building a log home', Author: Nadine Hall, 12.12.2014

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