How Long Will Your Log Cabin Last

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How Long Will Your Log Cabin Last

There are two main questions filling the mind of many who order a log cabin kit and are either waiting for the components to arrive or are reading the instructions ready to put it together; how long will it take to build, and how long will it last?

Both answers can vary wildly depending on the circumstances, with a cabin taking between a few days and several weeks depending on its complexity to construct, fit and waterproof, effectively making it habitable.

However, the question of longevity can vary even more, with some log cabins surviving for centuries.

Simple Structures Survive

Determining the age of buildings can at times be tricky, but the oldest standing log cabin in the western world is believed to be the C.A. Nothnagle Log Cabin in Gibbstown, New Jersey.

It has been dated back to circa 1638 and was constructed by either Swedish or Finnish settlers in North America. It has since become a local tourist attraction, in part due to the fascination of seeing a building made of wood that has survived through the ages.

Part of the reason for its survival is its simple structure that has been reinforced through the ages. The earthen floor was covered with pine boards and the treenails that kept the roughly square-hewn logs in place were eventually replaced with metal nails.

Whilst it is fairly ambitious to claim that most log cabins would survive as long as the oldest surviving example, the truth is that log cabins can last many years. Exactly how many depends on several different factors.

Determining Longevity

Typically when we discuss log cabin longevity we are talking about decades, with a typical page of between 20 and 80 years from construction to being beyond repair.

There are of course outliers that either last far longer or due to an issue do not last as long as they should, but for the most part, a cabin’s longevity is determined by three main factors.

Location

The location of your cabin is one of the biggest keys to its longevity, and it all comes down to one simple word: humidity.

Wood thrives in sunnier, drier environments compared to sites with more moisture. So avoiding rainfall, waterproofing the cabin as much as possible to keep water away, and setting up drainage systems to keep water away from the cabin would considerably extend the lifespan of the cabin.

It should be noted that the issue is humidity more than heat, which is why cabins can thrive both in dry but frozen tundras and searing deserts alike.

Materials

The logs you construct your cabin from, the treatments you use and the other materials that form your cabin play a huge role in determining how long it will last.

Traditionally, log cabins used dried, treated wood that would resist moisture and water that could cause wood to rot away and collapse. Whilst these have been replaced with milled logs, make sure you know they are treated before fitting.

Maintenance

Whilst the materials and climate are the biggest factors in the long term health of a log cabin, maintenance is also a huge factor, and can help to offset the effects of a rather unwelcome climate.

Regular wood treatments, fixes and occasional replacement of logs will make all of the difference.

Author - Martin Corby
Posted - 17 Sep 2021

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