Discover The Quality Of An Oak Log Home
Though we offer other woods, we consider oak to be the superior choice for log home construction. Here’s why:
- Ease of maintenance
- Beauty or appearance
- Energy efficiency
Gastineau Log Homes is unique in the log home industry for specializing in solid oak homes. Though oak is considered a premium wood species, most other log home companies do not offer it. Let’s explore the questions we are often asked about oak:
What is so special about oak?
Do you like oak furniture, cabinetry or flooring? Most people immediately answer “Yes!” Ask why and they usually say, “because of the beautiful color and grain, and the strength and durability of the oak.” Unlike most of the wood species used in the construction of log homes, oak is a hardwood. It has a rich grain and distinct warm color that set it apart from the softwoods, like pine. Because of its beauty, people rarely want to stain the inside of their oak log home.
As for durability, oak is legendary. The oldest wooden structures in the world are made from oak. The structural beams and much of the woodwork in Europe’s finest and oldest remaining churches and castles are made from oak. Before metals were widely used, the greatest wooden warships in the world had hulls of oak. For centuries, oak barrels have carried everything from water to moonshine. In the timber frame industry, with its centuries old building tradition, the durability and strength of oak is unquestioned.
We Make It Affordable
A visit to a local hardwood supplier to look at intricate oak moldings and cabinetry makes this a reasonable question. But you have to remember that such products represent the very premium that oak has to offer. The knots and swirling grain that people find attractive in a log home aren’t suitable for fine trim and cabinetry, where grain and color must be carefully matched and knots eliminated. Our mill is located in Missouri to take advantage of this amazing natural resource. We are on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks, where oak is plentiful. Our location, combined with our purchasing power and a lack of a large furniture industry, means we can offer “The Beauty of Oak for the Price of Pine.” In fact, we do offer pine logs, but why since you can have oak for the same price!
Missouri Is Oak Country
Other log home suppliers cannot buy oak logs in their area at a reasonable price. As former President of the Missouri Forest Products Association, Lynn Gastineau has been intimately involved in monitoring and maintaining the quality and quantity of Missouri’s most precious renewable resource. The Gastineau family has been buying oak logs since 1954 and still has access to the best suppliers in the nation – and we know how to negotiate and buy at the best prices.
In contrast, pine will grow almost anywhere and is the least expensive wood available for harvesting. There are a wide variety of pine species found in the U.S. including Southern Yellow Pine, Eastern White Pine, Northern White Pine and Ponderosa Pine. Of course there are varying degrees of quality in pine logs. When comparing wood species, or even varieties in a single species, it is most important to distinguish the different qualities found between the heartwood and the sapwood of the tree.
Our Mill Is Built For Oak
Another significant factor why a manufacturer does not offer oak logs is the machinery necessary to mill the oak logs. Because of oak’s density, it requires a unique milling process. Typical log home companies have machinery designed to mill a softwood, such as pine. Therefore, they cannot manufacture an Oak home with their existing equipment and processes. That is why Gastineau has lead the oak log home market since 1977.
Our Oak is Heartwood
The heartwood of oak is rated as being “Resistant or very resistant.” This is the same category as old growth bald cypress, cedars, junipers and redwood. The oak logs provided by Gastineau Log Homes are solid oak heartwood. It is virtually impossible in today’s market to find only heartwood logs of pine, cedar or cypress because trees of sufficient size are not available or the cost is prohibitive.
Sapwood of any wood species, which is the outer layers of the tree, never has the same qualities as the heartwood. “The sapwood of all native species, even those in which the heartwood is highly durable, is susceptible to deterioration by biological agents, because it lacks extractives. In fact, the presence of reserve foods in the parenchyma cells of sapwood may increase its susceptibility to decay and particularly to bacteria and fungal staining… even in a tree species with relatively durable heartwood, the serviceability of an untreated piece of the wood is determined by the amount sapwood present.” (Ref: Textbook of Wood Technology) Therefore, even a “Resistant or very resistant” species of log with sapwood exposed to the outside of the log surface will not be resistant to decay and insects.
Our Special Drying Process
Another added feature of our log process is the way we dry our large oak timbers. Drying large timbers requires a different process than the drying of dimensional lumber like 2″ X 4″’s. It takes additional time to properly dry or season large logs because they do not react well to the high temperatures of traditional kiln drying. Drying a large timber should be a slow process at a lower temperature to avoid the excessive checking and structural damage to the wood that can result from high temperatures. In addition, high temperature kiln drying methods are expensive and environmentally counterproductive because they use significant amounts of electricity or fossil fuels, which adds to the cost of the home. Pine logs are primarily dried at high temperatures to kill the bug larvae that live in the pine trees. The natural tannins in the oak logs make high temperature conventional kilns unnecessary and unwarranted.
Solar Powered Kilns
In keeping with our desire to be environmentally conscious and our trademark of being a leader and innovator in the log home industry, we designed a drying system that is unique in the log home industry – Solar Heat Forced Air Kilns. We initiated the system in 2004 and it is the first solar heated forced air system in the log home industry. Our solar kilns are environmentally responsible and use virtually no energy except the electricity to run the computers that monitor the system and the air turbines. We have designed a system that captures nature’s energy as its drying source. It is kiln drying that thinks about the future. With our process, the logs are in the kiln from four to five months at a lower temperature. This is better for the wood (less damage and checking), better for you (less cost) and better for the environment!
Oak Requires Less Maintenance
First, the finish on the interior of the logs is durable and long lasting, never needing to be redone. The polyurethane finish in our first homes built in 1977 are still in fine shape and have never been refinished!
Second, oak logs do not require chemical treatment to maintain durability nor to prevent decay. In contrast, pine logs must be treated with chemicals a minimum of every two years – for the life span of the home – to prevent decay.
Third, when you power wash the exterior of the home, the oak logs will hold up against the high PSI washers much better than softwoods. This makes the exterior cleaning easier and faster.
Lastly, it typically does not take as much sealant for oak logs because the cellular structure of the wood is denser. In other words, oak will not absorb as much product.
Sustainable Missouri Oak
An inventory of the Missouri forests was conducted as a joint effort between the Missouri Department of Conservation and the USDA Forest Service. The results show that Missouri’s forests have increased by more than half a million acres from 1999 to 2003. Currently we are growing three times as much oak each year in Missouri as is being harvested. This study also concluded that oak trees occupy over 75% of Missouri’s forests. Simply put, Missouri’s forests are growing more wood than is being harvested and this is sustainable in the foreseeable future. The study also showed that Missouri’s forests are expanding and are in good health. Additionally, Oak is a wood that naturally regenerates by its dropped acorns. There is no need for human interaction to go back and replant after a stand of oak is harvested.
Another environmental issue is the longevity of a product. An oak log home is going to last longer, without chemical treatments, than any other species of logs. Build it to last the first time and you don’t have to replace it later!
Oak Logs Are Heavy
Yes, they are. Our logs are solid heartwood and heartwood is heavier than sapwood of the same moisture content. (Ref: Textbook of Wood Technology.) It is the cellular structure and extractives present in the oak heartwood that cause it to be strong, durable, and insect resistant. These natural chemicals also make the wood heavier and denser.
But do you really want a “light” home? Particularly if you are building in an area that is prone to high winds, tornadoes, earthquakes or other natural disasters? The durability and beauty of a finished oak log home far outweighs the inconvenience of lifting heavier logs during a few days of the construction process.
Oak Logs Check
The natural seasoning process that occurs in all wood is called checking. Customers often refer to it as cracks or cracking but the proper term is checking. The number and size of checks in a log is dependent on a number of variables including the wood species, moisture content and how the logs are dried. Some people find checking aesthetically pleasing; others do not. The pattern of checks in oak logs, compared to other wood species, tends to be that checks that are higher in number but smaller in size. Softwoods typically have one major check per log and it can be quite large and unappealing. Our experience has been that smaller checks are less noticeable, more aesthetically pleasing and cause fewer potential problems from rain and other elements than large, wide checks. Since we began using our solar kilns in 2004 our customers and builders reported that checking in our logs had been significantly reduced. With that said, however, any log or timber can – and will – check as part of the natural drying process. We recommend that all complaints should be directed at the designer of the tree.
Large Timbers Twist
Large timbers have a tendency to twist or bow in a wall. To combat this, we have used our 40+ years of building oak log homes and an ongoing dialog with our builders to develop our building system. What you are buying from us is not only our oak logs but also our “Smart Log” building system. That system includes how we mill the logs and how we fasten them together during construction. Because oak it is a hardwood, the fasteners will stay in place and not “pull out” of the wood. Softer woods such as pine and cedar can allow the connectors (spikes, screws, etc.) to pull out and allow the logs to move. An oak log wall that is properly constructed will remain in place.
At Gastineau Log Homes, we mill our logs with a single tongue and groove. As the logs are stacked, they are glued with two runs of our exclusive Log Bond adhesive an industrial strength adhesive and screwed together with high tensile strength fasteners. The fasteners penetrate through the log and two inches into the log below, and are spaced every 16 inches. In addition, our “wall guides” and splined window and door bucks also designed to keep your wall plumb. Wall guides are heavy metal channels that attach the log wall to interior partitions that provide stiffening but also allow for log settling. Our GLH Smart Log system is your protection against any movement in your log wall. We stand behind it because you stand inside it?
It’s harder to cut.
Oak is a harder wood than most wood species, so cutting it is different than cutting other woods. Oak cuts cleanly whereas softwoods typically “tear” asthey are cut.. This means a less smooth cut, , and therefore more sanding.
Are oak logs energy efficient?
The energy efficiency of a log wall is determined by the width of the log but also the width where the logs are stacked, the sealant system used between the logs, the R value of the wood and the Thermal Mass of the wall. Our 8″ wide oak logs, superior sealing system between the logs, the R rating and the thermal mass make our oak logs unmatched in terms of energy efficiency compared to any other log in the industry.
One often missed element to energy efficiency is roof insulation. It is a critical element in the cost of heating and cooling your home. Our standard 2″x12″ rafters allow for an R40 spray insulation or batt insulation.
A couple of real life examples to prove our point:
Dennis and Eileen Illies are our Gastineau Log Home dealers in Wasilla, Alaska. Please give them a call, especially in January or February, and ask them if a Gastineau Log Home is energy efficient. Plus the 8” oak logs have the added benefit that the Alaskan bears can’t break down the walls – just another reason to buy a Gastineau Log Home.
How do we build the perfect log home?
We believe the perfect log home has yet to be built. While we strive for perfection, we have to settle for excellent or outstanding. If excellent and outstanding meets your expectations, then a Gastineau Oak Log Home should be in your future.