If you have an older log home or a cabin that you have built yourself, you might be the type of DIYer that needs to go all the way. Chinking was traditionally made out of what was available. In most cases this used to be clay as clay is pretty abundant. Today there is synthetic chinking that you can buy. However if your cabin has very large gaps and is completely built from scratch, you may want to use mortar chinking. Here is how to make and apply homemade chinking using sand and cement. We chose this recipe because we have seen many people who have used this recipe and 20+ years it is still holding up.
How to make homemade chinking:
Get your materials.
The Chinking Recipe will call for:
1/2 Part Portland Cement
1/2 Part Masonry Cement
3 Parts General Purpose Sand
You will want to get enough to chink your entire cabin. Other materials you’ll need are:
Shovel/Hoe for Mixing
Clean/Stain your cabin.
Before you apply your chinking, it is best to stain and clean your log home. Having the logs stained underneath you chinking will add an extra layer of protection and prevent moisture from entering the logs. Cleaning will also help your chinking seal to your cabin. Make sure that the stain has time to dry. If you are using a DIY staining method you will most likely want to let it dry at least 7 days. Here is our staining guide.
Apply Metal Lath.
If you were using synthetic chinking you would use backer rod. For a mortar chinking you will use something metal for the chinking to seal to. This holds the chinking in place and prevents it from crumbling. Some people use chicken wire. Chicken wire however is very flimsy and more likely to cause problems years later. After talking to many people it seems metal lath holds up the best and is easiest to work with. To apply the metal lath you will cut it so that it will go between your logs like the image above. Make sure that it is at a slant with the top setting further back than the bottom. Both top and bottom should be at least an inch from the edge. Use nails or staples to hold it in place. In most cases nails are better and more sturdy.
Mix your homemade chinking.
Next you will add your mix to the wheelbarrow. It is important to go slow with the water. We recommend testing the chinking as you go. Add water, mix, and then take a scoop on your trowel. It should have a consistently that does not fall apart, and yet is not to soupy that it will fall off your logs.
Apply your chinking.
Now you can add chinking. Use your trowel and a smooth motion to add the chinking on top of your metal lath. Make sure that it is 1-2 inches thick. The mortar should be slanted with the bottom being out more than the top. This makes it easy for water to run off your log walls. Complete each run all the way. You don’t want it to dry and then try to finish the run. You want it all to seal together. It should be pretty easy from this point on. The best thing to do is to learn your own technique. You want to go over each run just like you would cement to make it smooth and seal it at the top and bottom.
That is it! If you want to install regular chinking CLICK HERE: How to install synthetic chinking.