The thought of a rustic log cabin in the woods, smoke curling slowly from a stone chimney is both nostalgic and inviting. However, one need not live in the depths of the forest to enjoy the appearance and ambiance of a log home. In fact, log siding is now available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. It can easily be installed on both the interior and exterior surfaces of most wood-framed homes.
Log siding is created out of real logs, or from materials specially selected to match the look of real logs. For those striving for the utmost in authenticity, handcrafted logs are the first choice. This type of siding, the most expensive option, consists of logs whose bark has been peeled by hand. The logs are not planed through any type of machinery, and are notched to create full walls.
Milled logs, on the other hand, are peeled and shaped by mechanical means; they are somewhat less expensive than their hand-hewn cousins. Similar to milled logs are pre-cut logs. These logs are sized and engineered to a specific shape, and individually numbered to fit perfectly with one another and enable quick construction.
The vast majority of homes that utilize log siding do not feature full-size logs. Rather, the log is usually halved or quartered, lengthwise, and installed on either the exterior or interior walls. The appearance of half or quarter logs is virtually the same as that of full logs. Natural logs, of any size, requires regular maintenance in the form of sealing, staining, and treatment to guard against rot and insects.
For people who seek the look and feel of a log home but do not wish to contend with maintenance issues, vinyl, aluminum, and steel log siding is available. While these choices do not have the true look of real logs, they do provide a reasonable facsimile. Of the three options, vinyl has proven to be the far more popular product.
Vinyl log siding is made of plastic. It is available in many colors and textures, and frequently includes a “maintenance free” guarantee of 10 to 20 years. It can be cleaned with a hose or power washer, and is far less expensive than real log siding. Vinyl log siding is installed just like any other type of siding.
Steel and aluminum log siding have approximately the same look as vinyl, however they are more expensive. On the positive side, this form of siding is more durable than vinyl, and particularly in the case of steel, is nearly impervious to damage from hail.