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Rustic Cabin Chinking

Updated on February 9, 2011

Repairing the Chinking on our Rustic Cabin

A lot of the old cabins that are around were constructed with logs and had chinking between them. Our cabin was one of them and over time the weather has taken it's toll on the place. That leaving us with the need to Repair the chinking in our Rustic Cabin. This can be an Impossible job for someone if they are unfamiliar with the concept of what Chinking is and why it is there.

 What is chinking? Chinking is a material that is between the courses of logs or between the timbers on a chinked timber wall, It is used to fill the gaps between the logs to seal out weather and animals. Not every type of log home is constructed in this mannor but most of the old ones were.

 Another main purpose of chinking is to give a protective barrier for the insulation material that is installed behind the chinking. Some homes that have chinking between the logs or timbers have it for simple esthetic purposes, most of these types of homes are conventionally framed and have half logs applied over the framing. In these cases maintaining the chinking isn't as crucial as it is in the true log or timber chinked cabin but is important to maintain the joints to protect the framing from the elements non the less.

 There are many different materials that were used over the years for chinking, Mud, mortar, synthetic,just about anything people could get a hold of around the house to fill the holes. Mainly there are two different types, mortar type or synthetic.Were going to focus on the Mortar type since that is what we had on the place.

 Just to clearify Synthetic Chinking is manufactured and is designed to adhere to the wood. It remains flexible and can expand and contract with the movement of the logs. This type of chinking is very popular on new style homes as it comes in a variety of different colors and textures.Old Rustic Cabins don't usually have this style of chinking in them (at least the original cabin's didn't) mainly because the product wasn't around years ago. One big downside to synthetic chinking is it is very expensive. That is why I repair the old cabin with the good old reliable Mortar style chinking. Not to mention you never would want to mix the two. (synthetic chinking is made to seal out moisture & mortar chinking is made to let it breath)

On to repairing the chinking on a Rustic Cabin using the traditional style of chinking. The first step to repairing chinking is to do a full inspection of the Chinking around the Cabin by walking around and visually inspecting the chinking & logs.Wile doing this use a screwdriver and pointed trowel to remove any loose chinking or rotted wood.

The second step is to address the problems with any rotten wood in the logs . If the logs are rotten they need to be replaced or repaired. I am not going to get into this right now since were mainly focusing on the chinking repairs. Once you have repaired or replaced any damaged logs we can fucus on the next step of repairing the chinking in the rustic cabin.

Ok now that the logs have been inspected,repaired or replaced they need to be restained to match the existing structure. They should be allowed to dry completely before proceeding. This may be a few days.

Now that that is done we can fucus on adding the nails between the logs.These need to be galvanized finish nails and are used to hold the chinking in. These should be every few inches and be nailed into both the top and bottom logs. It's a lot of hammering so you may need ear plugs) After you have them nailed in; bend them inward so they don't stick out after you do the chinking. (The nails are used with mortar chinking only)

 In the areas between the logs you should add some boric acid or other alternate product. (penetrete is a good alternative) This comes in a powder form and is recommended to stop the decay of the wood,it also kills bugs that bore into the wood. Menards sells boric acid for killing cockroaches. This could be applied with a bug sprayer if you mix it with water but then you are left with the additional time of having it dry. Remember to wear proper safety equiptment. (Read the manufacturers directions)

After you have the boric acid applied in the entire area of log that you are repairing you can move onto insulating the area. The easiest thing to use is fiberglass insulation from the lumberyard. Back in the day the original cabins most likely used sheep's wool or straw but it is a bit the sheeps wool is bit hard to come by for this and not to many people like there house smelling like straw. Fiberglass insulation comes in a roll or batt form. One roll is more that enough to do most repair jobs on a standard size cabin.What you need to do next is to cut the insulation into strips that will fit snuggly into the gaps. Next dust the strips with boric acid and then fill the gaps  between the logs with these strips of insulation. (Wear a dust Mask) Once all of the prep work on the logs and insulation are done you can move onto the funnest part. Repairing the chinking in the old rustic cabin walls.

 Use a mixture of Portland Cement, Sand and Lime.

Here is the mixture I use for the recipe:

 Measure by the shovel:

 (1) part Portland cement,

(3) parts masonry sand,

(1/2) part masonry lime.

If your chinking is white you need to use white Portland cement, If your chinking is gray use grey Portland cement. When mixing it slowly add water until the mixture is about like peanut butter or your other favorite spreadable food. If mixed properly it should stick together in a ball easily. It is easy to apply with the use of a standard board and a trowel.

1.Place a small amount of the mortar on the board.

2. Hold the board against the logs in the area your going to be installing the chinking.

3.Using a trowel push the chinking into the gap between the logs. (Be sure to get it behind the nails since these are what hold the chinking in place)

 4. Smooth out the chinking with the trowel, be sure to have the chinking slope outward at the bottom so rain will run out instead of in.

5.Check over your work and be sure it looks consistent with the existing chinking.

6.Let the area dry and inspect to verify that it is sealing against the logs. &. In small areas or cracks in the chinking (as long as it isn't loose) you can use a mixture consistent to toothpaste and apply it with a paint brush to blend in a repair.

 There! you should be all done with the repairs on the chinking.

It isn't that hard to do these types of repairs, it just takes a little time and patience. If properly done the repair will last for years and will only need minor maintance every year. Chinking repair on a rustic cabin can be done by just about anyone as long as you have the patience and are willing to learn.

 If you have more information about chinking and would like to share your stories or solutions regaurding log cabins visit our Blog. We have quite a few question and answer topics that people are writing in about. Thanks for reading and feel free to stop by our website for everything you could need for your cabin.


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