Wooden houses are pretty much made for Winter. Think about it: a nice, roaring fire in the fireplace. Snow falling softly outside. A twinkling Christmas tree in the corner. Everyone sipping on hot cocoa and singing carols. It is an image that is deeply engrained in the consciousness of many and for good reason.
But you don’t have to rent a ski cabin to get that feeling. You can find it in your own log cabin, a gorgeous and valuable bit of real estate that is perfect for anyone who wants that serenity and calm all year long.
Wooden houses take a bit more care through the year. So here is what you need to know before you buy your own log cabin, so it will be ready once the weather turns cold.
Take Local Weather Into Account
Not everyone has extreme weather where they live. If your Winters aren’t especially harsh then you can probably get away with minimal preparation and be fine. But if you live in an area that gets very wet or cold you will have to take extra care so you don’t damage the lumber, something that is very easy to do without proper wood treatment.
Heat is another factor, so if you live in a very hot climate make sure you are taking the same precautions every year. The sun can be just as damaging as the damp.
Don’t worry, even extreme weather can’t break down the strength and beauty of wood, as long as you take care of it. With proper intervention a wooden house can be passed down for generations.
Make Sure That Fireplace Works
That roaring fire in the image above? That can be your reality but you have to make sure you fireplace is in tip top order. Any improperly maintained fireplace is, of course, a risk. But in a wooden house you have an additional threat if sparks catch, so don’t skimp out!
Make sure your home is zoned for a fireplace. Keep the chimney cleaned and sweep it every year before the cold months when you are going to be using it most. Put a good dampener on that can be opened and closed easily. That will let you open it for use, but keep it closed when not in use so air doesn’t leap out. It also stops critters like birds, bats, arachnids, insects and small mammals from wandering inside and causing a major headache.
Be Ready To Stain and Seal
A log cabin has to be restained every three to five years to keep the wood in good condition. This is well worth the cost as your home is an investment that is worth a great deal more than what you put into the upkeep.
Failing to restain your house will lead to cracks in the wood, warping and even rot. Replacing logs is expensive and difficult, usually requiring a contractor experienced in woodwork to come and do it for you. The staining, on the other hand, is a DIY job most people can complete on their own. It can run you anywhere between $1500 and $5000 depending on the size of the house and any extensions (such as wooden garages), but for an expense every few years it is relatively low.
Weatherstripping Is Your Best Friend
Even without any gaps in the wood, leaks can happen in log cabins. Like any dwelling there are drafts around windows and doors, or in attics and basements. This can be frustrating for homeowners who want to keep the chill away from their abode, but worry about the high energy costs needed to do it. Some turn to firewood to keep the warmth up, but that does nothing if it is escaping through the cracks.
Weatherstripping is inexpensive and easy to do yourself. You can seal the windows and doors to keep air from leaking and keep that warmth in with your family. Most hardware stores have kits with full instructions and YouTube has great information videos showing the process.
It even helps once Summer comes, keeping that cool air inside!
Extra Insulation Makes For a Cozy Cottage
If you don’t mind a heavier project that takes a bit more time and expertise, you may want to consider adding some extra insulation to your home. Insulation helps to keep from air escaping the way weatherstripping does. It is especially helpful in wooden homes because of drafts pushing through the logs.
The attic is one particular area where extra insulation can completely change the way your house conserves energy. Warm air tends to move upward, so if you have a drafty attic space, even if it is a small crawlspace, it can let out a lot of it. Adding in some insulation will keep it trapped inside from the leakiest part of the house, which keeps it down in the rooms where you and your family live.
Heavy Curtains Make a Big Difference
If insulation isn’t possible, or if you just want an additional tool to keep your house warm, heavy curtains can do the trick. Thick enough to block out the light, these babies also keep heat from going through the window. The heavier the fabric, the better the warm air will remain where it is meant to be, in your house.
You can use a lighter weight curtain if you worry about reinforcing the rods enough to keep something heavier in place. Just make sure you add a layer or two to give the highest possible barrier around your windows.
Keep Those Critters Out
Finally, you have the critter problem. Insects, arachnids, small mammals like rats, mice and even raccoons… these are all possible hazards to your wooden home. Termites can eat right through the wood and other creatures might claw and gnaw in through the lumber.
Be prepared to seal your house every Winter and consider spraying for pests before the first snow hits. That will keep the problem at bay before it ever gets out of hand.