The History of Chinking
Log home ownership comes with a variety of issues that more conventional homes do not. One of those is chinking, the insulating substance placed between the logs. Here's a concise history of the chinking tradition, and some discussion of the best ways to find chinking solutions that work for you.
Contrary to some common misperceptions, log homes are not built with logs that fit together perfectly. This would actually cause a problem in the long run because wood expands and contracts based on changing temperatures. Therefore, a series of logs locked together with no extra space would pull itself apart as the seasons changed. Instead, the logs that make up log homes touch only on the notching points, with space of around an inch or two between the logs to allow for breathing. The space created by the gap in the logs was called the chink, and it let in drafty air and small pests.
Early log home builders realized quickly that they needed something to fill in the chink and keep out the elements. They used a blend of available materials to do so, packing the space between logs with substances flexible enough to allow the wood to breathe, yet strong enough to give protection. This substance came to be known as chinking. Traditional chinking was made of clay, mud, sand, and other common resources, with an inner layer sealed by a mortar-based "daubing" on the outside. A finish layer preserved it and kept it adhered to the home.
Of course, modern materials and technologies make the chinking process far more effective. Specialized firms have their own recipes, often calling for a mixture of materials like cement and acrylics to make a firm yet flexible filling that keeps out drafts while adjusting to seasonal change with ease. Some of these materials even cut or end the need for daubing, as they are strong enough by themselves to last when exposed to the elements. These modern materials might be costly, but they are the best option if you want to be sure your home stays well-insulated year round.
Of course, not everyone wants to buy chinking from the store. After all, part of the appeal of the log home is the pioneering culture they represent. A look around the internet reveals a host of home recipes for chinking and repair. You'll find homeowners using a variety of common materials they swear by. If you are the adventurous sort, you can try some of them, though you should always remember that, should they fail to deliver, there are solutions in stores that can solve the problem for you.
Chinking is just one of the elements of log home life that make it exciting. As you inspect your own home's chinking, you can feel that connection to your pioneer ancestors and understand what it means to live their lifestyle. That being said – embrace the times and be sure to choose a quality products, such as Weatherall Triple Stretch Chinking, to ensure your log home stays insulated all year round.
Image via Flickr by anoldent