How Long Does Log Cabin Chinking Last?


Re-chinking your log cabin can be a common worry for any log cabin owner. Knowing what to do, when to do it, and how much it is going to cost you is important when thinking about the integrity of your structure. Chinking is the “glue” that keeps the logs in your log cabin together. It provides protection from the elements by sealing off the cabin completely.

How much does it cost to reseal a log cabin? Good chinking should last for at least 20 years. The time ranges between 20-50 years depending on weather and consistent maintenance. Common temperature changes between extreme hots and colds will stretch and work your chinking which will require more maintenance than cabins located in more mild climates. It is important to patch holes, gaps, and cracks as often as they occur. This will extend the life of your chinking and provide you with a good looking and fully functional log cabin structure. 

Log cabins are meant to be sturdy and functional getaways to beautiful places. They need to be kept in working order to allow peace of mind and to save you from major renovation projects. Keeping your chinking in good condition with continual repairs will allow the chinking itself to last multiple decades. It’s easier to fix a small crack than to have to scrape off all your chinking because it fell into disrepair and no longer functions as it should. Simple fixes are much more cost effective than a full-scale remodeling project. We want your log cabin to be a home away from home and a place to leave troubles behind. Having to deal with crumbling chinking after years of neglect is not a note anyone should start a vacation on. Here I explore the reasons chinking is important, why it needs annual maintenance, and the cost of new chinking once it comes to that.

Log Cabin Chinking

Let us start out with the very basics in Log Cabin life. Chinking is the glue between logs that keep the walls of your cabin together. The most common parallel made is comparing chinking to the mortar between brick in a regular home. It is what seals, protects, and keeps your home strong. Chinking prevents anything from coming into your cabin such as insects, snow, or rain. It also helps lock heat inside of the cabin while keeping out the cold air that wants to seep in through cracks between your logs.

All of these functions show how important chinking is to your cabin. The longer it lasts, the less you have to worry about redoing it. Chinking lasts at least 20 years on average. It can very easily extend its life to 30 or 50 years with proper care. Other factors that affect the longevity of your chinking is the elements and circumstances surrounding your cabin. Extreme heat or cold move your logs causing them to flex and adapt during each season. This movement causes the typical wear and tear on your sealant. Rain is also a factor that affects the life of your chinking. Annual “checking” is recommended to extend the life of your cabin to reach those 40 and 50 year ranges.

Kinds of Chinking

When you first built your log cabin, or when the person you purchased it from built it, you chose between two different kinds of chinking: a cement mortar mixture or a synthetic brand. The difference between the two are mainly dependant on their ability to adapt and flex with your cabin. The cement chinking, which has been common for years, causes a lot more resistance to movement than synthetic kinds. The synthetics are specifically crafted to change and move with the logs they are attached to and have become increasingly popular.

Elastomeric chinking is what the synthetic rubber chinking is commonly referred to as. This substance is very popular because it moves and flexes with your cabin causing it to last longer and provide a better sealant than traditional cement.

What to Look for and How to Fix it

Now that you’re reading this you may be worried about the chinking in your cabin. Don’t worry, it is not a rapid process that can deteriorate before your eyes. Chinking is sturdy and durable. It will probably last at least a decade or two without continual maintenance. It is a better idea to get used to looking for signs of wear. A visual inspection done on your own without any sort of professional assistance is all you need! Make it a habit to walk around your property every year looking for any signs that your chinking is cracking. Sometimes there may be chips, gaps, or actual holes. It is not going to be a secret that your chinking needs repairing. Trust your instincts!

Even if something looks serious, like a gap in your logs, it is a simple fix. You can buy chinking typically in 5-gallon buckets costing around $200-$250 depending on the brand a supplier. A lot of websites and log cabin specific stores supply any kind of chinking you may want.

Dangers of Not Repairing Your Chinking

Cracks and splits will happen naturally. It is important to repair them as they come up to avoid any large-scale damage. If you decide against annual repairs, it is important to be aware of the costs. Your log cabin will not have very good insulation qualities after a few years of cracks and gaps building up in your chinking. Heat will escape which will increase your need to find ways to heat your home. This can become very expensive and frustrating.

Another thing that will put a dent in your savings is an eventual need to replace your chinking. Once your chinking reaches the point of no return where casual repairs won’t work, you will need to re-do it. Re-chinking your log cabin can easily cost up to $2,000. This is an easy thing to avoid from happening sooner than you would like. The key, which I keep mentioning, is to pay the money to do yearly repairs. This will allow you the freedom to enjoy your cabin and save you from spending money you don’t need to. Simple steps can save you from a season of misery and make your cabin ahappy place instead of a burden.

Popular Brands

Two of the most popular brands in the log cabin chinking world are Log Jam Chinking and Permachink. Permachink is easy to apply by yourself and is known for its ability to really keep out moisture. It gives your log cabin the look of a traditional cement mortar while allowing a lot of flexibility. Log Jam Chinking is also a good choice because its reputation is also one of high-end protection and sealing. Log Jam also comes in many different colors, so you have the ability to customize the look of your log cabin.

Whatever your preference, chinking is made to protect you. The level of attractiveness, coloring, and price is up to you and your individual tastes.

Related Questions

What material is used for chinking? The most popular chinking material is a synthetic rubber referred to as Elastomeric chinking. It was designed and developed to seal your log cabin completely. It moves, flexes, and adapts with your logs and will last longer than traditional options. Other materials used for chinking is a common cement mortar that doesn’t have as much bend to it which allows for cracks and chips to happen easily.

What does chinking logs mean? Chinking is the sealant that is between logs in a cabin to keep them together. Chinking logs means to apply the sealant to your cabin to help build it up and seal it off. Like the mortar between bricks in a home, chinking protects the inside from the elements and even critters that may be looking for a warm place to stay. Chinking is necessary for a log cabin and helps to insulate and protect it.

How much does it cost to seal a log cabin? The cost of sealing a cabin depends on the quare footage and choice of material. A full sealing project can cost anywhere between $3,00 and $7,000. This is usually a one time price especially when annual repairs are made to keep it in good shape. Repairing the sealant of a cabin usually costs around $200.

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