How To Strip A Log Home | All Methods
Stripping your log home refers to when you take a layer off the outside log walls, typically to remove a layer of stain. Stripping methods include blasting with: crushed glass, sand, corn cob grit, walnut shells, or dry ice/baking soda. There are a variety of reasons that you may want to strip your log cabin; UV damage or discoloration, extreme mold or water staining, antique log home that needs restoration, or stain that is very damaged or was not applied correctly.
Common questions to do with removing stain:
Oil Stain Removal vs Water-Based Stain Removal
Water-based stains are much easier to remove because they sit on top of the logs and do not penetrate the wood. Oil based stains seep into the logs and will be much more difficult to remove.
Do you need to strip your logs every time you are reapplying stain?
In most cases you do NOT need to strip your log home each time. Instead you will simply need to wash your log home’s exterior using a log wash before applying a new layer of stain. You will only need to strip your logs if you are switching from an oil based stain to a water based stain. Oil based stains can go over most stains both oil and water based stains.
How to strip a log home and remove stain:
Choose which method you want to use.
The first step will be to choose which method you want to use to strip your log home. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. There are many debates in the industry as to which is best and which is worst, especially when it comes to using a power washer.
The different methods of stripping a log home are:
Media Blasting – Media Blasting is the use of a material and force to remove the top layer of the log. Media blasting is usually the preferred method of stripping a log home. There are different materials that you can use for media blasting:
- Crushed Glass – Crushed glass is great because it does not hold moisture which could damage your logs. Crushed glass is a dry and environmentally friendly method for stripping your log home. It is not sharp and resembles soft sand. The only downside is that crushed glass can be more dusty compared to other methods. Crushed glass really leaves a smooth surface when finished.
- Sand – Sand is a great material for blasting and stripping heavy paints or deep oil stains. The only downside with sand is that it can hold more moisture than crushed glass or walnut shells. It can also be very dusty when blasting.
- Corn Cob Grit – Corn cob grit is a great organic method but runs the risk of lodging into the logs checks and causing mold or other moisture problems. Corn cob is best on light finishes and around trim areas.
- Walnut Shells – Walnut shells are great because they are organic, dry, and much harder than corn cob grit. You also don’t have to worry about the debris as much.
- Dry Ice and Baking Soda – Dry Ice and Baking Soda is great because it simply melts away and is environmentally friendly. This method is not great for big jobs that need to remove a thick paint or oil stain. This method is better used on delicate surfaces.
Power Washing (Chemical Stripping) – Chemical stripping is a method that uses chemicals to soften the finish that is on the logs and then the power washer to remove them. This method is not recommended for people who are inexperienced. It typically takes 3 days to complete and requires good weather and warmer temperatures. The biggest downside to using this chemical stripping is that it will typically cause log fibers to fuzz or get a furry texture. After pressure washing, you will have to buff the logs with a brush to achieve a smooth surface. Many people also see chemical use as con due to it seeping onto plants and into the ground. Many also argue that using a power washer of any kind can push moisture into the logs and cause rot. If you are considering this method, it is best to consult with a professional.
Sanding – If you are up for a workout and mess, you could sand your log home. This method is the most difficult, makes a large mess, and will not get in the small crevices easily. We really do not recommend this method unless it is for a small camp cabin or hobby project.
Remove excess chinking and caulk.
All of these methods will require you to remove chinking and caulk that is on the logs. Even media blasting will not remove chinking. Chinking left on will leave room for moisture, and rot to happen. You can use any kind of scraping tool to scrap the cut and scrape the chinking off.
Prep the surrounding area and prepare safety.
You may want to cover plants and other things in the surrounding area that may be damaged. Each method can do a number on plants and even the paint on metal trim. Once you have prepped the area, it is then time for you to prepare yourself. You will want to wear a mask or head piece with a fan to protect your lungs. Proper ventilation is going to be very important. You will also want to protect your skin and eyes by wearing protective gear. Read the directions for each method in order to protect yourself properly.
Blast from top to bottom.
It is important to start the blaster pointed away from the logs and get it adjusted. Once the blaster is spraying how you want it, you can then wave it onto the logs. Start blasting top to bottom in sections. It is best to have something to stand on that makes you even with the logs you are blasting. Being level will ensure an even blast and helps get in the cracks easier. Wave the blaster horizontally at a distance that is removing all of the stain, but not taking chunks out of the logs.If you have a second person, you may want to have them use a broom to remove the dust as you go so that you don’t miss any spots.