What is Backer Rod? | Complete Guide

Chinking is very important for your log home’s protection. Chinking keeps logs sealed from moisture, weather, and pests. Backer Rod is an essential key to making sure that your chinking stays sealed and lasts.

What is Backer Rod & how does it work?

Backer Rod is a type of foam that is placed before chinking. Backer Rod prevents chinking from sealing 3 places (Top, Back, Bottom) and makes sure that it only seals on the top and bottom. This allows your chinking to move with the logs and expand or contract with them. Backer Rod also acts as an extra insulation preventing drafts. Here is a diagram on how backer rod works:

How backer rod works when chinking a log home. Diagram

Can you chink without backer rod?

Chinking is not possible without backer rod unless you are using mortar. Here is our Guide To Mortar Chinking. Caulking does not always require backer rod and in most cases doesn’t. Check Chinking vs Caulk for more. It is important to use backer rod so that your chinking is not being pulled 3 different ways, increasing the likelihood of becoming unsealed.

Different types of Backer Rod and their benefits:

  1. Closed Cell Backer Rod:
    Closed cell backer rod is the most common choice for chinking and caulking. It is stiffer, waterproof, and prevents chinking/caulk from sealing to the back.
  2. Open Cell Backer Rod:
    Open cell backer rod is more flexible and compressible, making it perfect for small areas. Open cell backer rod is mostly used on the interior of buildings as it is not waterproof and can actually absorb water.
  3. Bi-Cellular Backer Rod:
    Bi cellular backer rod is a mix of open cell and closed cell. Bi cellular backer rod is waterproof on the outside and porous on the inside. Since bi-cellular backer rod is easier to compress, it is used for irregular joints such as windows, doors, corners, and other odd spaces.
  4. Grip Strip Backer Rod:
    Grip strip backer rod unlike the others is flat on both sides and shaped like rectangle. Often when installing backer rod in larger gaps, contractors will cut the back off regular backer rod. Grip strip backer rod takes away the need for a lot of cutting, especially for larger gaps.

How To Install Backer Rod:

  1. Prepare your space:
    It is important to clean your space first. If you are chinking a log home, then you need to stain before installing chinking or backer rod.
  2. Choose the correct backer rod & size:
    This is very important. If you are applying backer rod to the exterior of your home, then use closed cell or grip strip for your larger areas. It is important to choose a size that will fit tightly without having to scrunch it to much. You also well need enough space for a proper layer of chinking.
  3. Apply your backer rod:
    You can either apply your backer rod with staples or spray adhesive. Spray the adhesive on the backer rod… NOT on your log home. If you are using grip strip, you might not need either one of these depending on how well it is cut to fit.
  4. Do only the amount that you can chink in a day:
    You do NOT want your backer rod setting in the log and collecting moisture that you will seal in. It is important to only install the amount of backer rod that you can chink/caulk directly after (same day). This is very important. Only large teams should do the entire home first as they can typically caulk and chink in the same day as well.

Check: How To Chink Your Log Home Here.

Benefits of backer rod:

Backer rod is actually a necessity for log homes. Backer rod prevents chinking or caulk from adhering to 3 points (top, back, bottom) and instead ensures that it only adheres to the top and bottom. This prevents the chinking from unsealing during movement. Backer rod also adds an extra layer of insulation which prevents drafts from entering.

Backer rod is very important for any home that needs chinking or caulk. In most cases it is less needed for caulk, but almost always needed for chinking. You might also like Top Log Home Companies.

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