Let’s break down what chinking your log cabin means to get started. Chinking is a way to reseal your cabin from the outside. In other words, chinking has the same effect as caulking your home from the outside.
This filler is a stronger and more effective sealant. This is the crucial home upkeep that protects your log cabin, just like following the tips in my Painted Cabin article guides you through staining, not painting. In this guide, I will break down different kinds of chinking and how you can decide what works best for you.
This article will help you decide whether to go for mortar chinking, DIY chinking, or synthetic chinking.
Let’s get down and dirty!
Synthetic Chinking – PICK ME!
If you are still with me, you either scrolled down to get to the good stuff, or you have been broadening your horizons, and you still arrived here. Either way, well done, you!
Synthetic chinking is precisely what it sounds like. It’s a flexible elastic-like material that visually looks like mortar while having the maneuverability of caulk. Easier to work with than cement, this water-based substance proved that life is better with science.
Like staining is your only option for a log cabin to change the painting aesthetic, synthetic should be your choice when it comes to protecting your home. Scientists say the problem with mortar chinking is that, despite sealing the home, it was also deteriorating the wood faster because it is too wet.
This designed product makes your life easier by removing the headache of inspecting your house with a fine-toothed comb. Instead, you can sleep easy knowing your synthetic chinked home only needs touch-ups from time to time. Synthetic chinking protects the wood of your home and is much more effective at keeping critters out, sealing heat in, and home protection.
Who is synthetic chinking for?
Everyone. Truly. Along with easier maintenance and repairs, synthetic chinking even has the bonus of being able to match the aesthetic your home already has when you select different color gradients. This is what you should go for with ONE EXCEPTION. If you take great pride and pleasure in doing things the old-fashioned way and with your own two hands, skip down to mortar chinking.
How expensive is it?
As you’ll see from my DIY mortar chinking recipe below, mortar chinking means cheaper materials upfront. I believe that the upfront cost will be significantly outweighed by the longevity of the higher quality product you will find in synthetic chinking.
Which Synthetic Chink Is Right for Me?
For Ordering Online: Log Jam
Highly rated on Amazon and easy to get, Log Jam is easy to use (just like caulking your home) and even has a color chart, as I described above, to maintain your aesthetic as a bonus. Follow the link to check the price, knowing that after you put in the hours on the initial chink, your touch-ups will save you money in the long run.
Check Home Depot
It might be helpful to take a trip to Home Depot and ask about their sealants. Taking the time to do this in person can sometimes yield greater savings on a trusted product based on the most coveted marketing gold. Good ole word of mouth.
Mortar Chinking – LABOR INTENSIVE, FOR DIE HARDS ONLY
Made from a mixture of cement, sand, clay, lime, silt, ash, and dirt, mortar chinking (aka cement chinking) is how they did it in the old days. This has been outclassed by synthetic chinking’s ability to last longer and be stronger. However, it does have its advantages. Namely, mortar chinking is going to be your cheapest option.
Now that you know WHAT mortar chinking is, you’ll see when I break down synthetic chinking that the reliability of synthetic chinking will staggeringly outweigh the negatives of mortar chinking.
Who might be interested in mortar chinking?
This technique will be for the die-hard cabin lifers who love getting dirt under their fingernails and take pride in maintaining every aspect of their homes like the lone wolves they are. It is easy to find recipes online (including one I list below). If you want your sweat trapped in every fiber of your home, this may be for you. (Warning: too much moisture is a real issue when doing this at home, so research first, alphas!)
Downsides to mortar chinking include:
Trapping moisture into log cabins. This can deteriorate the structure of your home, uneven erosion, and labor-intensive repairs due to unruly notions of repairs.
Report Card on Mortar Chinking:
Mortar chinking will not be worth the pennies you save whenever you consider the additional labor, overall upkeep of your log cabin to retain value, and stress. But if you are a DIY die-hard, maybe you won’t mind the labor of love.
The beautiful table below is courtesy of the folks at I Wood Care Log Home Preservation Products. They have thought of everything you need depending on your material preference, giving you options when you pick up materials. For a log home, I believe that clay, sand, and lime (the second option) are the winner when balancing strength with avoiding wetting your cabin too much. Keep in mind that forgoing the cement does mean this will need to be maintained more often. I recommend making it part of your cabin spring cleaning checklist.
How Do I Purchase Mortar Materials?
Two routes you can take: going national or keeping it local. Home Depot and Lowe’s will have the raw materials for the DIY recipe above and will have pre-made mixes. BEWARE THE MIX. Read the ingredient list carefully and ask a store representative about the moisture content. Some mixes aren’t intended to be a sealant. Especially not on your delicate beauty of a log cabin, and it shows to the experts.
OR Buy Local!
When available, I always encourage this option because you always see the strengths of keeping it in the community. Find the local store that can help you out, get to know your neighbor, and enjoy your labor of love.
No Matter How You Do It, Take Care of Your Homestead
The upkeep of paradise is well worth the trade-off of a little extra cash now, elbow grease, and a weekend of what my uncle fondly calls “beer building.” Protect your home with a solid chink, and your family will enjoy your log cabin for generations to come. See you next time!
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