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Types of Log Home Stains


There are essentially two types of log home stains available on the market today:

Log home stain

What are the pros and cons of each of these types of log home finishes?

Type of Log Home Stain



Oil based (Alklyd) Log Home Stain

Widely Available, Wood grain visibility, UV Protection, Non Porous, Easy application

Trap Moisture, Brittle, Can't Breathe, Weather Quickly, Coat build-up over time, Blistering if moisture is present behind finish, High Maintenance

Latex based Solid Color Log Home Stain

Widely available, Breathable, Flexible, Durable, High UV Protection, Porous, Easy application, Low maintenance, Long life

Won't prevent decay if conditions are favorable, Short Shelf Life

Semitransparent Acrylic Latex based Log Home Stain

Widely available, Breathable, Flexible, Durable, High UV Protection, Wood grain visibility, Porous, Low maintenance, Long life

More difficult to apply than oil based stains and solid color stains, Short Shelf Life

Log Home Varnishes

Allows for natural look of logs, Widely available

High maintenance, prone to Cracking, Peeling and Blistering, Requires recoating every 1-2 years, Partial UV protection

Oil based Semitransparent Log Home Stains

Penetrates into wood, Wood grain visibility, Breathable, High UV protection

Perform best on roughsawn, weathered, or course textured wood, Compatibility issues with most log home sealants due to waxes found in most penetrating finishes, Doesn't have a furniture grade finish look (dull), must apply second coat before first coat dries in order for stain to penetrate wood


What types of log home stains work the best?

So we have all this helpful information on the types of log home stains but which log home stain is the best?

It is hard to say which one is the absolute best because there are many factors that ultimately decide how well or long a log home stain will perform. Some of these factors are:

  • What season the logs were cut (winter cut logs only)
  • Proper surface preparation
  • Environment surrounding building
  • Moisture content of logs

Of these factors none are more important than proper surface preparation of the logs Failed log home stainbefore applying a log home stain. If the surface of the logs have not been prepped properly none of these log home stains will perform as they state they will. This is why it is important to only hire a qualified log home restoration expert to work on your log home! They will have the knowledge and expertise to work with the products available in on the loo home market today to ensure your investment is protected well into the future.

While we cant say which log home stain is the best we can recommend which type of log home finishes we feel perform exceptionally well and keep maintenance costs down throughout the years if proper surface preparation is done before and during any finish or sealant application. In our opinion film forming latex based waterborne log home finishes like PermaChink are best bang for your buck!

While PermaChink finishes aren't the cheapest out there they seem to require the least amount of maintenance based on our 22+ years of experience restoring log homes and log cabins of ll sizes and shapes. They also offer an unmatched 5 year warranty on their log home stains when applied properly and maintained accordingly.




Hi, I am looking for interior stain and am not sure as to which one is best to use. The logs inside have been damaged by water. I am sanding the logs, they are flat.
Posted @ Monday, January 21, 2013 10:40 AM by Deanna Werber
I would recommend Perma Chinks Lifeline Interior line of stains. These products are water based and user friendly. It goes on with two coats of color followed by a clear top coat. I have used both the Sure Shine and the Lifeline Acrylic with great success. It depends on if you want a gloss or satin for the topcoat or how thick you want the clearcoat. Sure Shine is a high build high gloss topcoat that was made originally for hardwood floors but works awesome for a topcoat especially if you have little children that like to bang things on walls or play with toys etc. both top coats are furniture grade finishes and will hold up to most household cleaning chemicals. 
Now if you don't want a color on your interior you can just use either of the two clear top coats I recommended above. 
Please make sure to add UV boost in the first coat of whatever you apply or have applied just to reduce the "picture frame effect". This will keep your logs even in color over the years regardless of what you have hung or placed on your walls. 
Sort of a long answer but I hope this helps you and others out!
Posted @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:10 AM by Lee Denman
About to begin a remodel of my basement & putting 2x8 hand hewn, tongue/groove pine halg logs on the walls. The lumber company sold a product by superdeck (log home oil) but didn't recommend it for interiors because it contained a large amount of oil.....any suggestions?
Posted @ Wednesday, May 08, 2013 3:15 PM by Bob Bjorklund
I would recommend looking at Perma Chinks line of interior products. Go to their websitewww.permachink.com  
You can get a magazine and samples for free.  
Their interior finishes are durable and will hold up to most household cleaners.  
Just make sure to sand all of the wood and wipe them down with Log Wash followed by a fresh water rinse.  
Dont allow any cleaners to dry on the logs.  
Then apply either a clear coat or a color stain followed by the interior clear coat.  
Hope this helps.  
If you have any further questions please comment back here or send me an email.
Posted @ Wednesday, May 08, 2013 8:46 PM by Lee Denman
Indeed a very nice post. At minwax,cabot stain or the specific details and information that you need. Thank you again for writing such a good post. 
Explore more about :cabot stain 
Posted @ Thursday, August 01, 2013 7:37 AM by easton corbin
Wow! What a great post.I just found this blog. I'll definitely be back.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 10, 2013 3:16 AM by Las Vegas General Contractor
Thanks a lot for blogging this, it was unbelieveably informative and helped me tons.
Posted @ Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:01 AM by Sofa Repairs Bolton
Help! I bought a log home, last Jan. One of the previous owners stained it this horrible, red stain. Top to bottom. The same color as the roof! Yikes, it is awful. I had no idea that it was going to be such a big deal. But here in Alabama, finding someone to help is not easy. I would love to get the logs back to a more natural color. Any suggestions? I need all the help that I can get. 
All stained up in AL.
Posted @ Monday, September 23, 2013 11:03 AM by Doree
What sealant do you recomend for a log home in fla and one 
That will last the longest. Thank you leonard symons 
Posted @ Friday, October 04, 2013 10:35 PM by Leonard Symons
Are you wanting to know about sealants (caulking and chinking) or finishes for log homes?
Posted @ Saturday, October 05, 2013 6:47 AM by Lee Denman
I think this is one of the most significant info for me. Thanks a lot.  
Posted @ Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:24 PM by Brazilian Cherry Flooring
Family is trying to restore some 1920's era timbre framing. Framing has deterioration from water, UV and insects. Would best restoration method be to clean & remove rotted/loose bits, use penetrating preservative (just on surface, or also inject?), and then finish/seal with weather/UV protector? Any other steps needed? Any guidance would be appreciated!
Posted @ Wednesday, November 13, 2013 1:32 PM by Joelle
It's hard to tell without pictures but what I would say given I the info is it would be best to remove any remaining intact finish first and foremost.  
Then vacuum and rinse by hand the entire timber frame. I would normally use a pressure washer to make that wash faster but since we are dealing with some decay problems it would be best to keep the wood from being over saturated with water.  
Next I would remove any decayed or soft wood that will crumble out or that can be removed by hand. Once the good wood has been reached I would use CPES to seal in the spots of decay. CPES is a clear penetrating epoxy system designed for wood. It is thinner than water so it can penetrate deeper than other epoxies. Hands down the best epoxy in the industry IMO.  
Once the epoxy has cured you can use a wood filler made by the same company http://www.rotdoctor.com to fill in voids. 
Once all of these steps are done you can then spray a borate preservative to the rest of the timber frame to help with any other decay fungi present in timbers and it will also kill most wood boring insects with the exception of the carpenter bee.  
We use a glycol based borate preservative rather than the powder form as it is a once a lifetime application as long as the wood has an intact finish present. Borate must be used after epoxy as epoxy won't adhere to borated wood. 
For an exterior finish I would recommend Perma Chinks line of exterior stains as their product is the best in our industry IMO.  
The only thingy is that you must make sure the epoxy is fully cured as there are incompatibility issues with the transport chemical in the epoxy and Perma Chinks latex finish.  
Hope this helps you out and please call or email with any questions or concerns going forward. Advice is free and we enjoy seeing old wood be restored for future generations. If you would like us to quote you we would be glad to help out.
Posted @ Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:50 AM by Lee Denman
Sorry about some spelling my smart phone isn't to smart sometimes with auto correct and I can't re-edit my last post.
Posted @ Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:57 AM by Lee Denman
Before, it was hard for me to decide the kind of finish I should use for my wood floor. Now I know. Thanks for this post, it's helpful! 
wood flooring ny
Posted @ Monday, November 25, 2013 12:12 AM by Abigail Nelson
I was asking for info on what sealant or stan would last the longest on the outside of a 
sothern pine log home in florida THANK YOU LEONARD SYMONS
Posted @ Monday, December 16, 2013 10:47 PM by leonard symons
I would have to say Perma Chinks line of exterior finishes would hold up the best for you as it will allow your logs to breathe seeing that you are in a high humidity and moist environment.  
The salt and intense sunlight are also going be a challenge to keep your finish in good shape as well as performing for years to come. I would recommend you really keep a close eye on the walls that receive the most sunlight throughout the day (typically Southern and Western exposures) as those will need attention on a pretty regular basis (ie. every year or two).  
Also, I would wash your home every year to remove the salt and other surface contaminants from your logs. The excess build up of these contaminants (especially salt) can be very damaging to your finish. 
Think of your log home as a giant car. Would you not wash your car to remove these same contaminants on a regular basis? While it would not be cost effective to wash multiple times a year it would pay for itself over the years to have an annual wash and maintenance check.  
As Benjamin Franklin once said "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"
Posted @ Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:16 PM by Lee Denman
I was planning to remove this stains.As i am new in this profession so these tips would be great help for me.would love to hear more from you 
Posted @ Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:33 AM by http://www.inlinesdesign.com/Leading-Commercial-and-Corporate-Design-Firm
We lost our house in a forest fire last June. We are using logs from trees destroyed in the forest fire as structural elements both in the interior and the exterior. From what I have read here, it sounds like an acrylic latex based product is the best for this application - especially since the logs are not fully cured. How soon would you recommend the logs be treated - before being put in, right after, or give additional curing time first? Some logs were peeled by August, some are still being peeled. Thanks!
Posted @ Thursday, March 13, 2014 2:52 PM by Kim Dowden
The logs peeled in August should be good to have a finish applied but I would hold off on any new wood that I still being peeled. Apply a borate application to these logs and allow them to season properly and check the moisture with a moisture meter and ensure it's under 20% before applying a water based finish like Perma Chink. 
Lee Denman
Posted @ Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:35 AM by Lee Denman
Wow, that pros and cons list is one of the best breakdowns I have seen with siding. Sometimes it is hard to figure out the good and bad. Thanks for the information.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 18, 2014 7:51 AM by Landon
im building a garden bench out of logs and 9x2 soft wood timber... ive used a 28 inch thick log and split it down the middle for 2 matching sides.. i want to enhance the grain as much as possible as these 2 sides are the main feature of this piece of furniture, ive left the bark on them which runs round the log at about 6 inch thickness as i feel it adds to the rustic character of what im trying to achieve. im a bit stuck on what is best to use to treat and stain it when its finished..
Posted @ Saturday, April 05, 2014 1:33 PM by wayne
I would sand the top of the bench with an 80 grit sandpaper then clean very well. Once dry apply a borate preservative on all of the wood. I would recommend Shell Guard RTU from Perma Chink atwww.permachink.com 
Once the wood is dry apply a good quality deck finish as you are working on a horizontal surface and most good quality stains are designed for vertical surfaces. Perma Chink has Lifeline Endure and you could look at a Wolman product just be sure to get a semi trasparent finish since you wanted to highlight the grain of the wood. 
Constant maintenance will ensure a long life of the stain just be sure to apply the finish before the stain starts to peel or flake. Once it gets a little dull wash it with a good cleaner such as Log Wash and reapply some stain. 
You may need to sand the surface just to scuff up the existing stain for proper adhesion of a maintenance coat. 
Hope this helps let me know if you have any other questions.
Posted @ Sunday, April 13, 2014 3:44 PM by Lee Denman
We have a log home that one side gets pounded by wind and sun - we have had a lot of log deterioation on that side and are getting the damaged logs replaced. What stain is best to protect the logs for sun and wind exposure to lessen damage? We are in NC so hot, humid summers and cold winters.
Posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 8:03 AM by Kam
Well, the carpenter bees are upon us and even though I did my best to spray delta dust and seal them up. They are everywhere. Read a post that suggested putting on a gloss top coat stain can deter them. Thoughts? Also, now that the bees have infiltrated the wood. What are some options to kill and seal existing holes? The home is fairly new (2002) but unoccupied for almost 3 years before we bought it. Needless to say, the bees and the woodpeckers have done their fair-share of wood destruction. Thanks for your help in advance and great website! 
Posted @ Sunday, April 27, 2014 9:02 PM by Stefan
I would strip and sand the walls in bad shape. I would then suggest a good water based finish such as Perma Chink or Sashco. I would lean more towards Perma Chink Lifeline Ultra II or Ultra 7. I like their products and they come with a warranty.  
Now I cannot guarantee it will last 5 years without any maintenance as your environment will dictate the maintenance needs of your log home but, if you keep up on your hot walls (usually south and west walls) on a yearly or biennial basis your finish should remain in great condition. 
Maintenance is a plus with a water based finish as they use a clear top coat that goes on super easy once the building has been washed.  
You will not need to apply a maintenance coat to the whole home either it is only in areas that need it. A good indicator that a wall needs a maintenance coat is when it loses its overall shine or sheen. Once the top coat is dull it is starting to degrade so catch it at that point and apply a maintenance coat. 
This will save you a ton of money over time and will also keep your log home shining and looking like new for years to come. 
Thank you for your question and I hope my answer has helped you out. 
Lee Denman
Posted @ Thursday, May 01, 2014 9:59 PM by Lee Denman
Yes I have been told by Perma Chink that the application of a gloss clear top coat can deter the carpenter bees to a degree. While it may deter them some it will not solve the problem. 
You can also try and use carpenter bee traps. I will include an attachment in the email I send you.  
If anyone else wants a document on carpenter bees please contact me and I will gladly send it to you via email. 
You can put powder in to kill the larvae but I would wait until later in the summer to early fall to allow the larvae that survive to escape and then caulk the holes with a good quality log home caulking such as Perma Chinks Checkmate 2. 
Thanks for the question and I hope this helps out. 
Lee Denman
Posted @ Thursday, May 01, 2014 10:08 PM by Lee Denman
I would like whatever info you could provide regarding carpenter bees. 
As a potential buyer of a log cabin that currentyl has active carpenter bee activity, what would you suggest I request from the seller as a buyer contingency?
Posted @ Monday, June 02, 2014 7:11 AM by Steve Grecco
I will email you over a carpenter bee help guide I have put together.  
As far a a buyer contingency plan goes I'm not sure you should talk to a real estate lawyer about that.  
What I do know is that carpenter bees are a constant problem that will most likely never go away. There are steps to take to minimize the impact they can have on the home and your sanity that I have spelled out in my help guide.  
While carpenter bees do drill holes in the logs it usually is more of an annoyance if the problem isn't very large. The chances of any structural risk are not that high unless the carpenter bee problem is left alone and the population grows. Then depending on the type of carpenter bee you could have structural risks. 
Carpenter bees are really a task that must be tackled by the homeowner throughout the warm months. I highly recommend the carpenter bee traps as they are more of a hands off approach until the bottle needs emptying.  
Spraying insecticide that works on carpenter bees is definitely more time consuming and hands on but you can pin point where the bees are burrowing and spray the powder in the holes to kill them.  
All the purchase info is in the help guide I will be emailing over.  
Thanks and I hope I have helped you out.
Posted @ Monday, June 02, 2014 9:01 AM by Lee Denman
Hi! I am trying to solve a problem after the fact with Carpenter Bees in a newer log home built in the 90's. They've bored holes, and then woodpeckers have come behind and pecked larger holes to get the larvae. Some holes are deep and long, as much as an inch deep, 2 inches wide, and 6 to 8 inches long. I've tried caulking on smaller holes, but none of them take stain to any degree. I've also tried traditional 2 part wood epoxies and they won't take stain properly either. Part of the problem is the stain is semi-transparent. Many exterior epoxy wood fillers and caulkings claim to take stain, at least they claim to take solid stains, but I haven't found anything that will truly take a semi-transparent stain. Tired of trial and error, and trying everything on the market, just to be disappointed again and again. Can you help me with knowledge of any product that really works to solve this problem? I would appreciate any honest advice you could give. Thanks.
Posted @ Friday, July 18, 2014 9:01 AM by John Dixon
Hi. We have a log home that we are planning to put another coat on the outside. We last used a clear water-based coat in 2007 after we sandblasted and re-stained in 2005. Just wondering what we should use now? An oil-based stain that would need several coats or just the clear water-based topcoat again? The products we have used in the past are Transformation by Sashco. The guy doing it also wants about $1,100 without stain cost to do the wash/stain job. Does that sound reasonable? Please advise....
Posted @ Thursday, October 09, 2014 1:26 PM by Caren Putrah
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