How To and How Often to Treat Your Garden Log Cabins
COVID-19 UPDATE: Please visit this page for information on how the current lockdown is affecting our display sites and installations
How To Look After & Treat Your 1st Choice Log Cabin
There are many types of preservatives available for log cabins and garden cabins which range from fully pressurised tanalised treatments down to water-based treatment.
In the past one of the favourite treatments was creosote, supplemented with old engine oil to make it go further. Although this did a great job protecting the timber from the harsh weather from time to time, it had to be reapplied. Its distinctive, quite strong smell, tended to linger for quite a while. If you wanted to work in the cabin made this not ideal if you had treated the inside of your garden building.
Improved safety rules were introduced in 2003, thankfully, as it had proved dangerous to use. Since 30th June 2004, it is against the law to even to store it or keep it in any form so if you have any in your garden building you should dispose of it responsibly. Crecote, a new substitute, has been introduced for people who wish to get a similar effect.
You can use a water-based preservative on your garden cabins, but you will find that it mainly serves the purpose of a base coat, for your second coat to be put on. So always read the instructions on the tin as to the number of coats to use. The water is a carrier for the chemicals and helps the compound to adhere and react to the wood of the garden building, and protecting it to a certain degree.
Solvent or spirit-based preservatives are the preferred and better method of applying treatment onto timber. The solution again is a carrier for the chemicals and works far better than the water. The spirit treatment or solvent helps greatly and gives better protection to the timber. It is possible for this treatment to be sprayed on (but if done so protective equipment should be worn) such as face masks and protective goggles
A better option you need to look at the oil-based option. The oil holds the chemicals and bond the chemicals into the wood. The oil as it soaks into the timber gives it a certain amount of ‘give’ helping with the natural movement of your building.Whatever treatment you use, we thoroughly recommend that your cabin is treated as soon as practical after being assembled. As cabins usually are supplied untreated, so that customers have the option to use a treatment and colour which will suit them and their environment, it very important to protect the wood from the elements. This will hold your cabin in good stead for many years to come.
Before starting treatment, ensure that the timber is dry and is clean. Ideally avoid working in bright sunlight, potentially wet weather or in extremes of temperate. If your cabin does get wet, in my view, it best to wait until it is totally dry before applying the treatment. This will allow the preservative to soak thoroughly into the wood. And leaving the cabin for a few weeks won’t be an issue in the long run.
Ensure that you read the instructions and ensure you follow them for the best results. Their experts know what they are doing so take advantage of that.
In most cases a brush is the best option as you can see where the treatment is going, you can work the brush into those ‘nooks and crannies’. You could spray the cabin, but you would have to cover all the surrounding area to ensure treatment doesn’t go over the garden. The amount of time protecting around your building outweighs the time-saving.
Start at the bottom of the cabin and work up along the length of the logs. This allows you to see any drips, and as the lower logs have treatment on them, you can brush the drips out. Being methodical like this is the best option, and you can spread the work over a few days if you choose. Pay special attention to the ends of the logs, which are more vulnerable. Some people paint the wood beforehand, but that can be more trouble than it’s worth.
You will find over time that the logs may move, this is normal, so be ready for any untreated wood which shows up. As the dampness in the air increases the gaps will disappear. This is something to get used to.
It is possible to get log cabins with a pressure treatment already applied, and this can be a good option. However, this type of treatment is only treatment against rot and will need treating on the outside with a waterproof treatment to ensure the timber stays dry.
Without adding the waterproof treatment on the outside means that you may get wet patches on the inside of the building, which is not what you want.
You can also find with pressure-treated buildings because it’s a very damp type of treatment is that the logs will swell slightly and log may dry as a different rate. So always bear that in mind. With an oil, spirit or solvent-based treatment, you can be sure that the treatment will be applied evenly and provide full protection against the weather and rot.
However, whatever treatment you have it is important to keep an eye on it to ensure that you retreat when necessary.
Some manufacturers claim to offer a 10-year guarantee; however, like most things in life, this is not as good an offer as it seems. There are very severe conditions stating that if your building is not treated EVERY year, then the guarantee would be null and void. This means that protection is only coming from the treatment YOU have to use every year. A WORTHLESS warranty so DON’T be taken in by them. The best thing (or worse) is that you will be fortunate to find any details of the conditions on those sites. With the benefit of my 40 years in the timber buildings business, I hope that the above advice is useful for you to understand how to get the best out of your new acquisition. Over the years there have been many improvements and changes to the treatments available, some good and some bad, however, if you look after your building, they will last many many years.
Regularly oil any moving parts such as locks and door or opening window hinges.
Keep an eye on the condition of the roofing felt. If it starts to deteriorate, replace it with a good quality replacement – if water starts to seep into the roof, this is the beginning of the end for your garden building. If you are in any doubt, or would like any advice, please telephone or CONTACT US for further assistance.
Should I Bother Treating My Garden Office?
You may feel you want to put it off, but your log cabin does need treating from time to time to ensure a long life. You won’t need to do this more than every 2 or 3 years if you follow our advice. This will ensure your outside building can be protected against everything the weather can throw at it. I suggest that you use old clothes, which you can throw away, as treating a building can be a messy affair, indeed, if I am doing it. Always bear in mind that many treatments can irritate the skin due to the compounds in them which help to preserve the wood. Take your time and try not to splash the treatment. However, if you do get any treatment on your hands, face or skin ensure you wash this off immediately.
You can choose to use a spray to apply preservative but, if you do, it is vital that you wear a face mask and, ideally, goggles to ensure that the fine spray does not get down your throat or on your eyes. It some instances where it is awkward to get to, such as between the building and a fence or wall a spray is a good idea. By getting on the roof, you can reach down into the gap and liberally spray the treatment onto all exposed areas.
After you have finished treating you can take a break from these duties for, generally at least 2 or 3 years. You will find that the sides of your garden cabin facing into the weather, i.e. the sides which get the sun shining onto it or the rain splashing against it will need treating more often. It will become apparent by the sides fading in colour. Never wait until signs of damp start getting into the wood as this will be the beginning of the end for your garden building.
My advice is based on 40 years in the garden buildings business. For further advice about what type of treatment to use take a look at our other articles.