Log Home Construction: Half Log or Full Log?

Interior half log on the great room walls
Interior half log on the great room walls

Half Log or Full Log Construction?

You have been researching your dream log home for awhile now. You've also subscribed to and read many log home magazines and clipped out articles and pictures. You have attended a show or two and probably have even attended a seminar. You have also researched the differences in log home packages and prices offered by several log home companies. You may even have narrowed it down to a few companies already even toured some models over time. The time is passing and the start date is getting closer and that means its time to start making some decisions on the plan! One of the first choices is going to be what kind of log home construction. The two choices are full log or half log. Some log home companies offer both styles and others only offer one type. Before I go on, I want to clarify that I am referring to milled log homes not handcrafted or handscribed log homes.

Energy efficiency always comes up as a question and both full log and half log are very efficient. Alot of the states in the colder climates of the U.S. require energy audits to be ran on the blueprint to make sure they meet or exceed energy codes before issuing a building permit. These energy calculations take into account wall, window and roof area. R-38 is the minimum I recommend for roof system insulation. Full log construction will meet these codes but for some areas I recommend at least an eight inch diameter log. A six inch diameter can be challenging to pass in some areas. If you do opt for six inch, you may have to go with less glass and spend some more on insulation in the roof system to make it work. As you are learning more about full log construction you will realize that full logs are only used for the first floor walls. Gable ends, dormers, second floors and garages are usually framed with the milled log companies. Most will offer a matching half log to go over the framed areas while some will go with a type of wood siding instead. When it is done right you shouldn't be able to tell where the full log wall stops and the framed areas with half log start. Half log construction is exactly what it sounds like. It is a half log applied to a conventionally framed wall. The efficiency is gained with the thickness of the half log along with R-19 insulation in the 2x6 framed wall. To step up efficiency, many are going with spray foam insulation in the walls and ceilings. If your budget allows it, I highly recommend upgrading to spray foam. It is an excellent vapor barrier as well as insulation and has a quicker payoff than some of the other energy saving options. Milled log home companies offer full logs from six inches to twelve inches in diameter with the half log measuring exactly half of that. All said and done, both of these building methods will perform similar for heating and cooling.

The other question besides efficiency relates to the budget. Everyone asks which one is less expensive to build. To be able to answer that we have to look forward a bit to your completed home to get ideas of what you picture it to be like. Do you imagine seeing logs on the inside of all your perimeter walls? Do you like seeing a lot of log inside? If your answer is yes, then I'm going to suggest full log construction. You will save on both materials and labor by going full log if you want to see log on the inside. As the log home builder stacks that full log wall, the exterior and interior are done at the same time. There is no framing or insulating to worry about on those main floor logs, all that is left to do at this point is cleaning the logs and staining once the roof is on. Keep in mind that with milled log packages, it is just the four exterior walls that are log with interior walls being framed. This opens up the interior for wall covering options such as T&G knotty pine and/or drywall. Expense is added if you start adding a lot of interior log with half log construction throughout the home. To build with half log, first the walls are framed and then the half log applied to the exterior. Coming into the inside of the house there is insulating to be done and then the application of the interior half log. Installing half log is not a fast process so the extra labor costs can quickly exceed those of a full log build. Some people that opt for half log construction and not add any interior log. The interior may have a mix of knotty pine and drywall. This method is the least expensive of them all to go with. You have the log home exterior with more of a conventional appearance on the inside but yet a bit rustic with the knotty pine. There is a middle of the road way as well. You can go with half log construction and select an interior wall or two on the inside to add half log to. The great room and entry areas are popular areas to add interior log to with the rest of the house having knotty pine and drywall. This is a great option to get the best of both worlds and keep your project on budget.

Neither style is better or worse than the other. It comes down to personal preference and deciding which style is right for you after you have done all of your research. Thank you to Wild River Log Homes, a Minnesota log home builder, for their help in this hub. Enjoy your log home research and have fun planning and building your log home.

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