Things to Know About Chinking Over Cement

Big wooden mansion in pine forest

Have you ever wondered if you can apply log home chinking materials over cement?  It’s a common question of log-home owners and the answer is “Yes, you can.”  However, it raises another question, which is:  “Would cement chinking over the original cement be the best choice?”    Cement is not the perfect chinking material since the weightiness of that type of product will contribute to predictable cracking.   If you add cement to older, cement-based chinking you’ll have to contend with having lower bond-strength and no elasticity.

It wasn’t until 1981 that the first polymer-based synthetic chinking hit the log-home market.  Synthetic chinking materials do not contain cement and are easily applied and can be trowelled to virtually any thickness or width.   Additionally, synthetics are available in multiple colors and textures and are known for their impressive elasticity and durability.

Chinking Over Cement:

If chinking over cement takes place, be sure to replace any old cement chinking that is showing signs of crumbling.   One’s best bet would be to use a synthetic chink instead of a mortar chink due to synthetic products possessing superior adhesion and elasticity properties as well as offering unsurpassed air-tight and moisture-tight barriers.

As stated, any loose or crumbling cement chinking needs to be eliminated; and a backing rod should be inserted into any gaps that result.  Make sure the backing rod’s surface is level with the old chinking material.  You may have been told that the chinking procedure doesn’t require the use of a backing rod; but there are several good reasons why you should use the rods.  Backing rods allow the chinking to adhere in two strategic places– to the logs above and below.  This is called “two-point adhesion” and this is crucial to enable the chinking to shift with any log movement.   Additionally, backing rods contribute to significant joint insulation–you don’t want chinking to work its way into the joint where the chinking will be subjected to the type of movement it isn’t designed for.  If you notice any joints that are too shallow for a backing rod, simply use caulking instead.

The next step will involve covering the joint with bond-breaker tape.  Though you may find this surprising, good-quality, clear packing tap or water-proof masking tape can be used instead of bond-breaker tape!

You’re now ready for the application of the new chinking.   The chinking material should extend 1/8 of an inch to no more than 3/8 of an inch beyond both edges of the tape and old cement.  Some stains and sealers contain waxes or silicone; and the wood that touches any of the chinking absolutely needs to be void of any waxes or silicone since these ingredients will minimize adhesion.  Once the chinking is applied and troweled over any existing cement, the goal will be to have a consistent layer of chinking that will possess at least ¼ inch of thickness, when cured.

Some Cement Insight:

As stated, regular cement would not be a good choice as a chinking option over old cement due to its density.   Cement’s density does not allow it to “breathe”.   If the ‘breathability’ factor is low or non-existent, logs that are exposed to a good deal of snow or rain will not be able to dry in a normal amount of time.  Any concrete that might be used as new chinking should contain a specialized water-proofer to prevent unprotected logs from developing rot and mildew.  If inadequate chinking products allow logs to hold moisture for too long, that moisture can make its way to the interior walls—not a good thing!  So bottom line, cement-based chinking materials can be used, but never without waterproofing additives!

In a nutshell, regular cement over old cement chinking does not have the ability to stretch and follow the movement of the logs, while technologically-advanced synthetic chinking materials over cement will provide the adhesion, breathability and elasticity that is required.  Logs will continually undergo cycles of shrinkage and expansion due to seasonal moisture variations so use a high-quality chinking product over any old cement chinking to ensure years of wear and dependability.   Let’s face it, re-chinking your log-home is something you don’t want to have to do again for a long, long time!

Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Log-Home Stain

Log Cabin

Your log-home is your investment and it’s your oasis; and because of that you want to protect it from every potentially-damaging element that will attempt to rear its head.  Destructive UV radiation, water damage, air infiltration, and insect and rodent intrusions must all be kept at bay.    Log-home maintenance is a continual regimen that simply must be adhered to in order to keep your ‘castle’ in pristine condition; and applying stain to your log-home is only one part of the maintenance component.

Staining and sealing products offer highly-protective barriers against nature’s assaults, season after season, year after year.   Because logs are an organic building material, deterioration is expected which is why high-quality staining products should be chosen to keep your home beautiful and protected for years.  If you’re not sure if your log-home is in need of staining, locate the most-weathered outside-wall and compare its appearance to a part of the exterior that has been the least-exposed to the elements.  If there is a noticeable difference in color, be assured, it is time to stain.     

If you are a do-it-yourselfer and will be taking on the challenge of applying log home stain to your home, you might be pleased to know that the process isn’t all that complicated, though it is time-intensive—oh, but think of the money you’ll save!   A vital part of the staining treatment involves the preparation of the logs.

The steps are basic; so let’s get started:

Applying Log-Home Stain – The Steps

1) The Washing & Rinsing:

First and foremost, if your logs are new and have never been stained, be sure to apply a specialized log-wash solution to remove any and all contaminants such as mill glaze and grime that are sure to be present.  Stains will not properly adhere to un-cleaned logs.  Other effective methods for removing mill glaze are cob or sand blasting.

Always apply cleaners starting at the bottom of the walls and moving upward because this will avoid streaking of the logs.  You’ll do just the opposite during the rinsing phase–rinsing from the top and going downward.   And speaking of rinsing, allow the cleansing agent to stand for 10-15 minutes before any power-washing or rinsing takes place.  Logs should be allowed to dry for 3-7 days (depending on humidity and weather conditions)   also, it’s crucial to avoid any products that contain high pH-levels such as chlorine bleach and TSP, also known as tri-sodium phosphate.

When pressure washers are used, certain rules apply:  Use a lower setting to ensure the logs’ existing finish will not be compromised.  The 1500 PSI option is safe; anything higher than thatcan damage the wood and create a fuzzy or hairy appearance.  Cleansing solutions added to the power washer will optimize the removal of surface contaminants; and if possible, use hot water to wash and cold water to rinse.  A garden hose works just fine for the rinsing step but it’s vital that the rinsing is thorough—all traces of cleaning agents must be removed!

Once the logs are completely dried, you can test your old finish’s adhesion capabilities.  Gently, but firmly, apply a strip of masking tape onto part of the log’s surface.   If the removed tape comes off clean, then staining will be you next step.  If old-product particles have adhered to the tape, the previous finish will need to be stripped away by using a good-quality chemical stripper.

2) Inspecting the Chinking:

Definitely inspect the condition of your chinking and remove any part of it that is cracked or is receding; and use a putty knife or a caulking gun to apply.

3) Applying the Stain

Take the necessary precautions and cover surroundings with plastic drop-cloths, especially if an airless sprayer will be used for the application, though a brush can be used, as well.  When using a brush, however, you might find that due to grooves, pits and uneven surfaces, you could find yourself going over and over to get the stain to cover evenly.  If this happens, your best bet is to spray the stain.  You’ll end up with more uniform results and, of course, it will dramatically cut you time.  Test a small area of the wood to get an idea of how the stain will ‘take’.  You may be surprised to see that the stain will go on darker or lighter than imagined.   If the stain proves to be too dark, simply apply a clear primer prior to the staining to achieve a lighter appearance.   The primer, however, must be oil and wax-free!

Typically, a minimum of two coats of stain should be applied but here’s an interesting thing to realize ahead of time:  a pigmented coat of water repellent stain will last longer than clear.    Additionally, if the logs are new with a moisture content of less than 19%, apply the recommended number of coats of stain the first year.  If, however, the logs are green and have a moisture content of more than 19%, apply one coat of water-repellent stain the first year but follow up with additional coats the following year.  And here’s one more thing to keep in mind:  water-based stains cannot be used over oil-based stains!   When in doubt, use an oil-based product.

4) Adding The Top Coat

Logs, being the natural material they are, need to ‘breath’; and for this reason, always avoid any products that would prevent breathability— varnishes, shellacs and polyurethanes should not be used.  By applying a clear topcoat, you’ll be adding a reflective, protective barrier for the stain and the wood—protection from UV rays, water and humidity is vital!

Kick back, relax and admire your efforts—if your log home could talk, it would thank you!

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Weatherall Products

We realize that you have many, many choices when it comes to finding the RIGHT stain, chinking or caulking for your log home. We also know that it can be a long and complicated process. Everybody seems to say the same things. Everybody thinks their products are the best. Some people can even talk intelligently about pigments, resins, UV inhibitors or even cross linking but what does that really mean?

Below you will find a list of the reasons why you should buy Weatherall products for your log home. We tried to make this short and sweet. Please let us know if you have any questions. Let us show you that CUSTOMERS really do matter.
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