Log homes were the home of choice for the American pioneer. These early pioneers were not looking for a green home or an energy-efficient home; they simply worked with the materials that they had available. They typically did not have access to sawmills and other equipment needed to make a traditional home, so they worked with what they had available. As access to milled lumber became more prevalent, log homes began to die out. For the most part, they were only used in cabins, lodges, or in a home when the owner wanted to create a rustic look. Now that people are paying more attention to their environmental conscious, log homes are coming back into vogue.
One reason to build a log home is that log homes provide better energy-efficiency than wooden frame homes. Even with quality insulation in the walls of a traditional frame home, a log home uses less energy to cool a home or to keep it warm during spring and fall months. A log home performs no better and no worse than a frame home during winter months. In the spring and fall months, log homes use almost fifty percent less energy than a frame home, and during the summer, they use twenty-four percent less energy. Even though the r value of a log home is rated lower than a frame home, log homes are more energy-efficient because of the mass effect. In other words, because the walls of a log home are made out of solid material, they hold a temperature longer than framed walls.
Another advantage of log homes is that they are fire resistant. Frame homes have a lot of space between studs that can allow a fire to build and grow. Because of this air space between studs, a fire in a frame home can spread quickly. Log homes do not have space between the logs, so the fire does not get a lot of air to feed the flames. Typically, a fire in a log home is a surface fire that burns very slowly. Because fires in log homes burn slowly, the owners of a log home are more likely to be able to salvage some of their belongings from the fire instead of dealing with a total loss. Logs are a renewable resource.
In some cases, logs even represent efforts to promote the health of a forest. Bark beetles wreak havoc on forests every year. These beetles eat the inner bark of conifers. It is this inner bark that is responsible for transferring nutrients along the length of the tree. If this bark is ruined, then the tree dies. Millions of trees are killed every year in just this way. If they are left standing in the forests, then they are a fire risk and can pose a risk to animals or hikers who may be hit by falling trees or tree limbs. The wood of the tree is still usable even if the bark is ruined, so these trees are perfect to harvest and use in log homes. Building a home from beetle-kill logs shows a commitment to not deplete earth’s resources and to use materials that are harvested in an environmentally conscious manner.
People who like the look of wallboard on interior walls can still have the best of both worlds. There is no reason why home owners can’t have the aesthetics of a modern frame home on the inside while enjoying the energy-efficiency and green construction of a log home on the outside. For those who want a green home, it really does not get much better than a log home.