How do I build the log cabin walls?
Unlike a traditional build with bricks where walling is a skilled and time-consuming job, building log cabin walls is quick, easy and requires no skill whatsoever. In fact, log cabin walls are the easiest part of the entire assembly process.
The single most important point is to make certain, by constant reference to a spirit level, that the logs are going up level. The other important point is to be methodical and get everything in the right order. Having said that with logs, as with lego, you can actually take them apart and rebuild, but it’s obviously a lot less effort to plan the job out well beforehand and get the logs in the right place.
The way to get organised is to lay the logs out in different lengths and shapes. That way you can easily tell which logs are for the sides of the cabin, which are for the front, the back and which special logs are recesesed to accept the windows. Generally, the only logs that are actually secured are the first layer of logs which are screwed to the bearers. Subsequent layers of logs are slotted together and interlocked at the corners.
You really need two people to slot each log in with one person at either end of each log. A certain amount of care needs to be taken not to damage any edges of the logs when they are slotted together. To assist with fitting the logs together without damaging them, a ‘knocking block’ is usually supplied with the log cabin kit so that you can tap the knocking log with a mallet or rubber hammer to ‘persuade’ or make certain the logs have been knocked tight together. To avoid log damage, never strike the logs directly;always use the knocking block.
As you build up the walls keep checking with each layer that the logs on all sides are level. When you get to about four logs high or so you can consider slotting in the door, again, a two man job. Next, think about the window positions and the varying length logs that you will need to assemble around these. Slot the windows in before the cabin walls get too high simply because the window units are quite heavy.
When the walls are too high to build comfortably use step ladders, preferably two, one inside and one outside the cabin. Exactly how you finish off the walls depends on what type of cabin and roof you have selected. But as long as the walls are level, all the cabin logs will fit together tightly with no draughty gaps between logs. If you do have gaps between the logs at this stage it’s possible to rectify; once you’ve fixed on the roof it’ll be too late for regrets…
Building log cabin walls really is the simplest part of the whole assembly process.
Building the walls is one of the funnest parts of the entire log cabin build. It’s surprising just how fast the build progresses at this stage.
So you’ve completed the base and treated all the logs with two coats of wood preserver. Lay out the logs in groups of size as near as possible to the base whilst allowing room to safely get around the cabin area. At this stage it is good practice to lay a damp proof course (DPC) beneath the bearers. Find this at the diy sheds; it’s sold in rolls and you just roll it out and cut to length. Tack it to the bearers before laying them down is one way. This gives you extra reassurance no ground water can come into contact with the bearers or through them to the logs.
The pressure treated bearers are what the logs of the cabin will sit on. They are secured at the corners with aluminium corner fixings supplied in the kits. The main thing is to make sure everything is both square and level. Measure corner to corner; the measurement needs to be identical. Check levels all around with a decent (eg one metre long) spirit level; continue to do this as each course of logs is layed.
Next comes the first layer of logs; these should be fixed to the bearers with long woodscrews according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use only the fixings supplied with the kit and follow any instructions carefully, albeit they may be written in weird translation-speak.
The logs are precision cut to slot together easily; if you have a problem slotting the logs together the problem is likely to be you, not the logs – check everything is level and square, rectify, and proceed. The logs can be slotted home by striking a rubber hammer against the knocking block supplied for this purpose. Never ever strike the tops of the logs directly as you will only damage the timber. It’s really pretty essential to have two people on the build at this stage; one at each end of the log to ensure they are slotted in as level as possible.
In fitting the first layer of logs you will fix where the door opening(s) is/are to go, so make sure you get that right otherwise you’ll have to dismantle the whole cabin to change it. If you make a mistake you can easily take a log or logs out by tapping upwards with your palm, or, if necessary, by slotting a long handled screwdriver into the end of the logs where they interlock and very carefully levering upwards (but without damaging the timber).
When you get to around four logs high its starting to be time to think about the positions of the windows and you can slot the door in at this stage too. Basically you can have the windows at more or less any height; they are usually shown with the top of the window frame level with the top of the door. Consider fitting the windows lower. You may want to be able to see the garden or a view from the windows whilst sitting down; if you fit the windows too high you won’t be able to see out. Tip: put your garden or office chair in the unfinished cabin to get a feel for the correct window height, and alter it at this stage whilst it’s easy to do. In fact at this stage it is still possible to alter window positiong eg from one side of a cabin to the other so have a think before proceeding.
You will need two people to lift the door and windows into place. Once done, continue to build upward log after log until you reach roof height. Place a step ladder inside the cabin to assist as you get higher.
It’s worthwhile having a tarpaulin and some rope handy just in case it looks like rain. If you stick some kind of pole in the middle of the cabin you have a make shift tee pee which sheds the rain conveniently allowing the build to continue when the weather permits. You may get so far and want to carry on the next day anyway. The roof is a big job in itself.
This site deals with log cabin roofs on another page, but just to say do not be afraid to deviate from whatever roof structure comes with the log cabin kit. It’s easy enough to put a flat or pent roof on a pitched roof cabin; something you may want to do for aesthetics or height restrictions.
When it comes to fitting the floor it’s simply a matter of screwing the tongue and groove timbers to the floor joists or bearers. Leave a couple of millimetres expansion gap all around and between boards too as the wood will naturally expand and contract and this must be allowed for. Drill pilot holes and use the correct screws and you will end up with a neat job and nice looking floorboards that do not squeak. A ‘professional’ log cabin installer will blast the floorboards in with a nail gun and more or less destroy the quality of the final finish; another reason to do it right and do it yourself.
Don’t forget to fix in the floor insulation. This should be say 50mm foil-backed celotex with the foil side fitted down towards the ground. Cut the celotex to fit snug inside the joists to prevent cold spots, keep the cabin as warm as possible and cut those dreaded heating bills in the winter months.
When you are cutting the floorboards to size take the opportunity to soak the cut end grain in a bucket of wood preserver before screwing down. Again, something the so-called ‘professional’ assembler wouldn’t do. Leave off the skirting at this stage; you can put that down after staining or varnishing the floor.