Skip to main content

The Oak Leaf – April 2011

By April 1, 2011April 15th, 2024Newsletter

Welcome to the April 2011 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new readers, this is a monthly newsletter that is sent by e-mail to those that have expressed an interest in Gastineau Log Homes. We use this as a way of communicating technical, design and industry information. For more information, check out our web site at

Trivia Question: What is the population center of the United States?

GLH on You Tube with Construction Video of Log Home built for St Louis Home Show. Click VIDEO.The construction of the custom off-site frame home with our Therma-Log siding was video taped and then condensed into about 3 1/2 minutes of video. It is very, very cool to watch. I highly encourage you to click above and watch the video!

The great room of the St Louis feature home. Note the Oak Exposed Beam Truss above.

Email recently received and my response: This week I received an email that I thought probably reflected concerns and questions that many of you may have. I have decided to include that email here in the Oak Leaf and my response to the gentleman. I apologize for the length, but this I think it is important. His email to us was:
“Question: I’m curious about something on your home page. It says oak is the best species of wood to use in building a log home and specifically mentions that it’s “naturally resistant to insects and decay”. Could you explain that to me. I’ve cut down a tremendous number of oak trees (various species) in my life time and it’s an exception when one has not been infiltrated by boring insects (beetles, termites etc.) Additionally, if oak truly is “the best wood species to use in the construction of a log home” and doesn’t cost more than pine, why isn’t every log home company using oak. I’ve talked with 3 log home companies and each one essentially tells me the same thing about why the species they use is “the best”. The only thing that makes sense to me on this issue is, if oak truly is the best and isn’t more expensive, why don’t they use oak for shake shingles, fences and siding? There’s no doubt oak is a tremendously strong wood species and makes great flooring and furniture, but I’d like to have someone explain why it’s for example, more “energy efficient” than other species. It actually seems to me that the harder/denser a wood is, the less energy efficient it’s going to be. Insulation value is created as a result of “air pockets” or trapped air. Since oak is a dense wood, it seems to me it wouldn’t have as strong an insulation value as most softer species like pine and cedar. I’m not trying to throw you a curve and I am certainly not an expert on wood species or log homes. I am however trying to determine which species of wood I want to build my log home out of and since so many different log home companies use different species and everyone says their species is the best for essentially the same reasons, I figure everyone can’t be sharing accurate information. I’m hoping you can clear this up for me. To be fair, I’m asking nearly the exact same questions from 2 other log home companies (all relatively well known as far as I can tell) 1 of which seems to specialize primarily in pine and the other western red cedar. Two are US companies and one is out of Canada. I’m going to compare what each of you tell me, combine that with my own knowledge and common sense and make a decision on what species I want to use, and finally, chose a log home builder from there. Sorry for the long email but this is a big decision, I’m only going to build one of these in my life and I want to do it right.
Thanks in advance for your time and response.”

My response was:

“Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you for your email. You are certainly asking understandable questions. I would be wondering about the different information presented on different websites if I were looking at log homes too. At Gastineau, we can provide you with an Oak, Pine or Cedar log home. Our specialty is Oak and it is what I would use (and have) to build my own home. I will go through the reasons why.

First off, let me explain that I my family has been in the sawmill business since 1955 and that is how I got into the log home business. Many log home companies come from either construction or real estate backgrounds and their focus is somewhat different. Any time you use the word “best” it is a relative term. We think Oak is best because of the qualities of the wood. Some other companies think their wood is “best” because it may be easier to build. And by easier, I mean lighter. Personally, I feel that a few days
of lifting heavier logs is far compensated by the other qualities of Oak that are so far superior to Pine. Or the cedar that you can obtain today.

We have been in the log home business since 1977. We know which logs to use and which not to use. Our experience over 33 years has taught us many things that we know to be true. First, let me explain about our logs. We use a small diameter Oak tree. This means it is a younger tree and therefore is not as likely to have any heart rot or insect infestations. We also only use certain species of Oak. Only certain white oaks and only
certain red oaks. In MO, we have more species of Oak than any other state in the nation. Some are of very poor quality. We will not use those species. Most of our logs come from tree tops or by thinnings in a regular cutting. This helps to keep our forest healthy and use up all the forest products that are cut during logging.

We recommend that any log home, including ours, have the ground treated around the home for termites. Termites can be a problem for any wood species, but prefer a softer wood such as pine, because of its lack of density and the absence of natural tannins. By treating your ground, you are protecting your entire home and not just your log walls. This also prevents the need for any chemicals being put on the interior of your logs, which means the interior of your home.

But most insects will not infest our logs. For example, carpenter ants and carpenter bees. Wood boring bees are a huge problem in Pine log homes in the south although we have not seen it as prevalent in Mo. Woodpeckers will not bother our logs. However, woodpeckers love cedar. In my own home, I have had a problem with them on the fascias and window trim where we used rough cut cedar as trim.

There is a very simple reason why other companies do not produce Oak log homes. They are not in MO. Only in MO is the cost of Oak logs comparable to the cost of Pine. If you look at the location of the other manufacturers, you will see that they are in locations where Oak is very, very expensive. Also, if your manufacturing facility is designed to produce Pine, you cannot just “switch” to Oak logs. The facility and equipment has to be set up to handle the manufacturing of Oak. So we can easily produce a Pine log home for someone if they wish, but the Pine companies cannot produce an Oak home; thus their advertising message.

Oak logs are not more energy efficient that Pine or Cedar; they will perform the same. But if you are evaluating the energy efficiency of a log home, the species of the wood is that last thing you should consider. The stacking width of the log (not the widest width of the log) and the interface of that joint, combined with the other aspects of how the home is constructed is what makes it energy efficient. The highest R value wood species with a 12″ diameter log will not perform well if it has a 6″ Swedish cope joint combined with a poor design of the roof/wall connection and window/log connection. We recently had a blower door test performed on a 7 year old home of ours by an expert in log home construction. Our home was the most air tight log home he had ever tested. The only significant air infiltration was in the dormers which were stud framed with fiberglass insulation which had been installed by the homeowner.

One of the reasons that we think illustrates why Oak is the best wood to use is the longevity of Oak log homes that were built 150+ years ago. There is a segment of the log home industry that buys ‘antique’ log homes and rebuilds them into ‘new’ homes. Over 90% of the log homes that are still useable are Oak log homes. And a lot of them come from Mo! These are homes that survived without good foundations and without any chemicals. I think this speaks for itself.

When you are looking at who to purchase your log home from, we know it is a big decision. That is why we think you should look beyond just the logs to the entire system. We have a proven system of construction that is totally engineered. A log home builder that has built different log homes will tell you that we have “thought out” the system better than anyone on the market. You are buying more than just a truckload of logs when you buy a Gastineau Log Home. You are buying 33 years of experience in the proper way to build a log home. And not just the log walls but a home that is properly engineered throughout. We are the only log home company in the US to have our own engineer on staff (to make sure that the rest of your home will last as long as your log walls!)

We do not sell by being derogatory of the competition. We prefer to explain our reasons and feel that you are intelligent enough to see beyond the hype from some of the other companies.

If you would like to discuss any of this further, please feel free to give me a call. I enjoy the opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about why we do what we do and why we feel it is the best way to build a log home.

Thank you very much for your email!”

If any of you have any questions that are lingering in your mind, please feel free to email me at

This photo shows the “Trapezoid Glass in Gable” option available in a Log Cabin 2 Go. This unit is available to tour and for sale at our model home center in central Missouri.

Are you concerned about the cost of diesel raising the cost of your log home? When you purchase a Gastineau Log Home, we include the price of delivery to your building site and we guarantee that price. No surprises. With most companies, the delivery charge is added on at the time of delivery and is not guaranteed up front. Also, we are very close to the answer to the Trivia Question, so we probably not too far from you anyway!

The loft area of the St Louis feature home. The great room had T & G Pine ceilings. Note the Oak railing with twisted steel balusters.


Electrical idea: The homeowner wanted an eyeball recessed light in the exposed beam floor system of their two story home. They built a hollow (fake) beam between their two structural beams and used the hollow interior to house the light fixtures. Pretty slick idea!

Another modification of the Seven Gables II design:* The April Home of the Month on our web site has another excellent design based on the Seven Gables II. Each bedroom on the second floor has a balcony and a private bath. The quarter round windows in the living room have been changed to trapezoids. See our web site for the floor plans.

Use the link to see the floor plans and the front elevation of the April Home of the Month.

Construction Seminar Schedule for 2011:

April 16, 2011 (NEW! This was just added to the schedule.)
May 14, 2011
July 16, 2011
September 10, 2011
October 22, 2011

Answer to the Trivia Question: The small town of Plato, Mo was recently named the population center of the United States.

Quote of the Month: Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done. ~Andy Rooney