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Log cabin & wooden garage maintenance

A garden building, whether it’s a log cabin, wooden garage or timber carport, must be functional for at least 20 years (under the most pessimistic of scenarios) and normally for around 40-100 years. In order to achieve this, it has to be maintained properly. Therefore, the basic principles have to be followed, such as treatment, mould prevention and others.

Treatment.
Treatment of a log cabin, wooden garage, carport or other wooden building should be done to protect the timber from rotting, moulding and discolouration. Treatment also protects the timber from direct sunlight, which causes the wood to dry and which later on could result in the splitting of the timber logs. Insect damage prevention is another benefit of treating a wooden building. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a timber structure be treated as soon as the cabin or wooden garage has been installed. Great attention should be given to applying an extra coat to the places where it gets wet the most – interlocking areas of the walls, support trims for the windows and doors and wind boards.

It is very important to emphasise that the treatment should be applied only on completely dry timber. So if the building got wet during installation (i.e. through rain), wait until it’s completely dry. Otherwise a high risk of the construction being affected by mould arises.

We recommend that you do not economise on treatment. Use only a good quality oil based treatment for your cabin to ensure the longevity of the building itself. Depending on the treatment quality, the cabin, wooden garage or timber carport will have to be treated at least once a year.

Natural (temporary) structure deformations.
Natural timber usually expands when it is affected by moisture and shrinks when the temperature is high. If one or another of these phenomena happens (for example if the cabin walls are saturated), there may be resulting temporary structure deformations. Such deformations (in extreme conditions) may result in minor horizontal gaps between the wall timbers, which in exceptional occasions may result in rain water entering the building (in the circumstance of strong wind and rain). However, as a rule such deformations disappear in a short time, meaning the structure reverts back to its original condition.  For example, if one is faced with such a situation, the building will revert back after the moisture level has returned back to normal. Please note that this has nothing to do with the quality of the building, it is a feature of natural wood.

Protection from mould.
Moisture, poor air ventilation and a warm temperature create the perfect conditions for mould to appear. Therefore, any building, especially wooden ones, need to have good air ventilation. In order to prevent mould in a wooden garage or garden cabin, you have either to retain a low humidity level, which is quite difficult with our climate conditions (unless you always keep a heater on inside, but that’s very unlikely), or you need to ventilate (which is a more practical option). 

 However, if it does happen that you forget about ventilation and mould appears on the timber, don’t panic, there are measures for mould extermination which you can find in your local DIY superstore.

Importance of a levelled and dry base.
First of all it is necessary to have a perfectly even base. It doesn’t matter whether you use patio slabs, a timber-frame base, adjustable pedestals or a concrete base, the base must be even. Otherwise, there is a great risk of the wooden building being twisted.

Another negative feature of an uneven base is that it tends to collect water (particularly a sagging concrete base), this results in high levels of humidity which causes mould, raised swollen floorboards, and other damage. Due to the very same reason it is also equally important not to install a wooden structure on a wet base; wait until it is completely dry.

Additional tips to improve the longevity of the cabin.
Once the cabin has been installed there will be some horizontal space left between the door/window and the upper wall; as the wood expands over time this gap will shrink. Therefore, the gap should not be covered with wood filler, construction foam, or other similar material. 

Regarding the fixing, only the first layer of timber should be attached to the floor barriers by nails or screws and all the other layers should be put on without screwing or nailing them.

Splits.
As timber is a natural product its appearance depends on the environment that surrounds it and changes in the amount of humidity. Splits may occur very quickly, especially if the cabin is exposed to direct sunlight. This is a natural feature of the timber and it should be expected. Splits and cracks in no way affect the strength of the timber.

To reduce splits that might occur due to the natural feature of the wood, we suggest using good quality treatment. Also keep in mind that even the most expensive treatment cannot fully preserve the wood from splitting. If the timber already has some splits and you want to eliminate them, simply fill them up with wood filler. You’ll find it at your local DIY store.

Door or window warping
If you have solid wooden doors or windows, then over time it is possible to experience issues. Perhaps you have a door that bows or has begun to warp a little. This may cause difficulty in opening and closing it that were not there before. It happens due to the atmosphere the door or window is sitting within. If the area is damp, the air is humid or the air is hot, these can all be causes. Warping means that heat or moisture can escape easily – the door has created its own solution.

There is a simple fix to avoid these issues happening in the future. You should ensure that every part of the door is thoroughly treated with a high quality treatment. Make two coats of the treatment and cover the door edges too.

If your door has already begun to warp but you act quickly, it might be fixable. Take the door down and remove any treatment at the top or bottom with sandpaper. Lay it down and assess the overall damage. If it is not too severe, you can put it in a grip and weight the sides. Avoid damage by placing a cloth between the door and weights. This should shift it back into place within a day or two. If badly bent then you will need to add wet towels to the affected areas to reintroduce moisture and allow the door to relax.

Once it is straight, you can then rehang it, but learn from the problems. Treat all doors and unfinished wood with an undercoat or primer and a good quality treatment. This will give you longevity with every door or window.


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