Montana Log Homes

Log Homes & Log Cabins FOR SALE

Happy Easter

To all of our family, friends and Log Home Directory visitors, I would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Easter and Passover celebration.

There is a reason for the season, and I hope that it is as important to you as it is to our family.

Whatever Easter means to you…

Enjoy this wonderful holiday.

Do you have any interest in Pinterest?

Do you pin?

Log Homes on PinterestIf you are not familiar with it, Pinterest is a relatively new social site. I can only assume it was created because we really needed still yet another social site to occupy our time because Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others just weren’t enough.

When I first looked at Pinterest six or eight months ago, I was underwhelmed, and I will admit that I didn’t get it – I didn’t understand what all the hype was about. To me, it didn’t offer anything other than a public place for people to post pictures of things that have no appeal to the rest of us.

Obviously, my assessment didn’t reflect the opinion of the tens of millions of people that have been flocking to Pinterest over the past year. Pinterest is now the fastest growing social site in history; growing faster than any of its predecessors.

My other misjudgment was that I couldn’t see how Pinterest had any value from a business perspective.  As a business and website owner, I tend to judge such things based on their ability to generate traffic, sales or other measurable metrics.  Really, how could a combination “electronic scrapbook/wish list” translate into business revenue?

After making these assumptions, I didn’t bother with Pinterest for many months. I kept seeing articles that mentioned their meteoric growth, but hey, there are many large organizations and groups of people that have no effect on my business.

It wasn’t until I read somewhere that Pinterest was driving more traffic to websites than Twitter and in some cases, even Facebook. That got my attention.  I figured it was time to revisit Pinterest and see how it had matured, or at least what I must have missed the first time.

About a month ago I joined the Pinterest party and started pinning. My ‘boards’ are mostly associated with the log home and timber frame industry as I still have no desire to pin things just for the purpose of filling up a bunch of boards with things I like that you probably couldn’t care less about.

So, what’s my conclusion? Like every other social site out there, Pinterest is a time suck. It requires valuable time to participate, and it is free. However, if driving traffic to your website is a priority, run (don’t walk) over to Pinterest and claim your branded pin boards. If you have a business name or a product you want to ‘brand’ on Pinterest, I suggest you claim it before someone else does. In my case, I was able to snag a unique name,

Pinterest Boards for Log Homes & Timber Frame Homes

Why do I encourage your Pinterest participation?  In the past 30 days, Pinterest has sent my website 30 times as much traffic as Twitter. Does that get your attention?  It made me a believer. I have an active Twitter account with lots of followers and activity, but it has never been a major traffic generator for my log home website. Pinterest has gone from nowhere to being in my top 10 of traffic sources.

Oh and BTW, you can’t just join Pinterest, you have to receive an invitation. I’m really not sure why they do this, Google+ played the same game for a while until they threw open the doors to everyone. Anyway, if you don’t know anybody with a Pinterest account, send me your name and email address and I’ll put you on their invitation list.

Just curious…can anyone remember what occupied our time before all these social sites made their appearance and required our participation?  Oh well, I’ll see ya on Pinterest.

Decorate your Log Home like an Interior Designer

If you turn on the TV and do some channel surfing, chances are you will come across a number of shows featuring interior design or home improvement ideas. From celebrity mansions in shows such as Cribs to the renovation of ‘real’ people’s homes like Trading Spaces, interior design is a very popular topic. Most of the log home industry magazines take this same approach because it appeals to so many people.

Whether you live in a mansion, apartment, trailer or a log home, if you’re paying the bills, buying the food, investing in caravan insurance and doing what you can to make your house a home….it makes sense to focus your time and money making the interior look the way you want it to look.  Unfortunately, very few of those home improvement shows feature log homes, which is a shame, because log homes can be made to look fantastic with a few basic interior decorating fundamentals, and the key to achieving a fantastic look is to start thinking like an interior designer.

Photo compliments of PrecisionCraft log homes

Photo compliments of PrecisionCraft log homes

Preparation is key

Before starting any decorating project, it’s important to sit down and plan properly. Professional interior designers have a vision for what they want the room to look like, and you should have your vision of the perfect setting also. For ideas, look in industry magazines, visit antique stores or flea markets and try to find accessories and furnishings that fit in with your vision. Don’t rush the planning stage, especially when it comes to choosing colors. Make the wrong decision here, and the entire effect may be ruined and you’ll need to start over.  So experiment with different shades and make sure the colors you go for don’t clash with existing furniture you may want to use.

Make the best of what you have

There is no getting away from the fact that log homes have a rustic look and feel – that’s the appeal for most of us. Trying to use many contemporary ideas may well work for a loft apartment, but not always fit with the natural wood and architecture of a log home. Get inspiration from traditional western motifs and styles. Think of colors that go well with the natural hues of the wood. Shades of green such as olive, moss and sage can create a lovely warm room, while browns and darker shades of red also go well with the rustic nature of a log home.  Do go for contrast, earth tones are great, but by themselves can look washed out. Choose colorful, contrasting accents to compliment the look.

In most cases, avoid overly modern designs when it comes to buying furniture. Look for natural fabrics such as wool or leather, but don’t overdo it. A cluttered room will distract from the naturally beauty, but a few key pieces strategically placed will help add atmosphere and style to a room. Rugs, throws, pillows and blankets can make just as much of an impact as a new sofa, so experiment by mixing and matching such accessories to see what effect they give the room.

Remember whose home it is

Getting ideas from other sources is always a great place to start, but only if you are comfortable with the end result. You have to make sure you are happy with whatever changes you make to your home. If you are not entirely comfortable with a color, don’t use it, no matter what other people may advise or what you see in magazines. Choose colors and styles that suit you. A good way to do this is to go through your wardrobe and see what you instinctively buy. If there are no browns or greens in there, the chances are, you won’t feel comfortable with those colors in your home.

Don’t stretch yourself too much financially. Just because you have seen something fabulous in a store window that will look perfect in your log home, it’s not worth breaking the bank for it. It is possible to find some great items at flea markets and antique stores, which won’t cost the earth and will look just as great with a little varnish of coat of paint. Also, try to get in touch with your creative side. Think of your log home as a canvas with you being the artist. Decorating is a great way of expressing yourself so dig deep and see what effects you can create.

Importance of lighting

Don’t underestimate the lighting. The right type of lighting can really change a room’s entire look and feel, and add extra dimensions. Lighting creates mood and can make rooms appear more spacious. Different bulbs, dimmers and type of lights can make startling differences to the appearance and feel of a room. Wall lighting, for instance, can create wonderful shadows, but it is a fine line between warmth and gloomy. Don’t forget the effect of natural light either. A room’s feel can change dramatically at night compared to during the day, so choose lighting that complements the light that shines through the windows and keep the same mood.

The natural wood and design of log homes exudes western history and romance, and these interior design techniques can really help emphasize this. By following these interior design fundamentals, there is no reason why your log home can’t look just as stylish as the other types of homes so often featured on design shows, only you have the benefit of all that natural, rustic beauty underlying it all.

This video features dozens of log home interior shots that can give you some great ideas. When the slideshow starts, pause the video on the rooms you want to study because they only appear for an instant. Rustic Furniture Sale

Log Cabins or Log Homes?

You say “potato,” I say “patattah”…
are we talking about the same thing?

In the “Log Dwelling” business, we hear our products called by different names; log homes and log cabins. With most people the terms have different meanings  Without the benefit of a scientific study, I suggest that log home usually denotes a standard sized home to most people and a log cabinis a smaller, house with fewer amenities.  This luxurious lodge is made from handcrafted logs and has over 7,500 sq. ft. I can’t imagine anyone describing this as a log cabin.

From a global perspective, the term “log cabins” gets far more search activity than “log homes”. The United States market favors homes over cabins while offshore, cabin is the more popular designation. When I envision a log cabin, I’m thinking of a small cottage-style…well, a cabin; a weekend getaway, a hunting cabin, not a primary dwelling.

When it’s all said and done, either term is acceptable and are used interchangeably.  I haven’t researched the history of this naming convention, but my guess is that the term log home developed more from a marketing distinction. It just doesn’t sound right to say “I’m building a 7,500 sq. ft. log cabin. Does it sound right to you?

Keep in mind that this scholarly discussion is coming from a guy who owns the “Log Home Directory” and who’s domain name is Go figure…

In case you’re interested, here’s how one fellow carved his log cabin literally out of the wilderness.


Log Home Industry News

A Log Home Company Goes Away

A log home company in Tennessee closed their doors this past week.  I have not confirmed all the details so I will not publicly name the company.  The message we must all take from such an action is the classic ‘Buyer Beware” warning we have heard so often.  At no time in recent memory has it been more important for us as consumers to perform a thorough due diligence before we commit to such a large expenditure as a home.

In an economy as battered as this one, we have already seen this happen to other large and small companies alike. Sometimes there are warnings or industry rumblings and sometimes the news catches everyone by surprise, with the one possible exception of the bank calling the loans.

Unfortunately, there will be many people that suffer as a result of this action. There will be home buyers that paid deposits for homes that may never be delivered, employees who find themselves out of a job, vendors with unpaid invoices and dealers that represented the company and now have no product to sell.

Message to log home buyers…

The vast majority of log home companies (manufacturers, builders, etc.) are reliable, well-managed and trustworthy businesses. Doing business with them can be a pleasant and fulfilling experience. However, in any economic climate, we must always research a company and conduct our due diligence before we sign contracts and part with our money.

Message to log home dealers…

If you are a log home dealer who suddenly finds yourself without a manufacturer to represent, I invite you to contact me.  I had a phone call today from one of the large log home manufacturers that would like to talk with any ‘displaced’ dealers that may be looking for a new opportunity. This manufacturer has a solid reputation and is experiencing growth both in the USA, Canada and in offshore markets.

Log Home Stair Construction

What you need to consider when choosing a stairway for your log home

Stairs are one of the most used and hardest working items in your home.  They are pounded, jumped upon and abused more than any other horizontal surface, so they should get more consideration in your planning phase than just “they look good”.  Log stairs in particular can have hidden faults and are prone to eventual failure if these are not addressed in the construction of the stairway.

First and foremost, metal and wood do not play nicely together in stairway construction.  Lag bolts or a treaded rod are often secured in the soft inner core of the log and under normal everyday use, the treads will start to loosen up even if you keep tightening the screws. It’s obvious it will not last and is a construction flaw.  If you ever walked across a squeaky floor or stairs that squeaked, this means that the metal holding these pieces of wood together has failed.

Secondly as mentioned before, the inner core is soft and is easily compressed so that if a long stair life is hoped to be achieved, connections have to be incorporated with the outer shell of the log using wooden dowels and strong rigid glue that dries as hard as a rock.

Thirdly, the glue is very important.  We found that basic carpenters glue does not work well with logs. We discovered a special hybrid poly glue from Scandinavia that works best and nothing moves after it’s glued, which is what you need for a long life of your stairway.

For example the treads on these stairs are all natural they have a 2 1/2″ solid slow growth hard maple dowel. This is like using a baseball bat for a dowel drilled 10″ into the tread for maximum glue strength.

To provide optimal support we drill at a 4 degree angle that mimics the natural strength of a branch into the center post.  We drill through the hard outer crust of the post into the soft inner core and then through the other side of the log into the solid outer layers stopping just short of the outer wall.

The end result is a stair tread solidly glued that mimics a natural tree branch. Our glue has a strength of 7000 lbs. per square inch so this gives approximately 50,000 lbs. of holding strength.  I have personally lifted up a car with one tread just to test its sturdiness.

The stair treads are then capable of supporting the hand railings because they are strong and should never loosen.  The key to building long lasting stairs is keep the wood happy by crafting them in a way that works best for the wood. Happy stairs are healthy stairs!

For more information, visit Log Stairs by Premium Wood Works


Log Home Maintenance - Doors

Water Damage to Log Homes & Doors

When you live in a log home you quickly discover that things like caulking and repairing wood damaged by the elements is priority numero uno.  A small breach left untended can grow into a minor emergency requiring logs to be repaired, replaced or worse.  Unlike most other building materials (brick, vinyl siding, etc.), wood must be protected and repairs made quickly.

Obviously, the hardest thing to discover is a leak that cannot be seen.  By the time it is called to your attention, the damage is usually done and the water stains are visible. I recently had such an experience. A leak developed from the bottom of a metal-clad entry door and it was not noticed until the water stains were appearing on the inside of the door. By the time I took action, the damage was extensive.

The door in question opened to a deck from a bedroom and was seldom used. Furniture in front of the door blocked our view of a water stain that was spreading from the inside of the door. When I finally became aware that we had a problem, I faced the dreaded decision – repair or replace.

Log Home Door Wood Rot

Wood rot on an external insulated door.

I chose to attempt a repair knowing that if I was not successful I would need to replace the door anyhow.  As a DIY type, I love challenges, but I was afraid that this one might be more than I bargained for. The only good news was that this repair would be on the stationary side of the entryway, not the door which takes more abuse from opening and closing.  To read the whole story go here and see pictures of my DIY door repair project.


Log Home Companies Gets Social Media Assist and Marketing Boost

Press Release Today

It’s official, the announcement of the changes here at the Log Home Directory is now public in the form of a Press Release that hit today. We have been working on this project for months and although we are still not done chasing down some programming bugs and making design tweaks, overall we’re pleased with where things stand today.  Read Press Release here.

For years, people have been asking to be able to manage their own listing without having to wait for me to make time to modify their record.  As you might expect, creating a database application that permits people to open an account and be able to add/modify their listing required a massive amount of planning and programming.

With social media now virtually a requirement for doing business online, and the numerous ‘must have’ social accounts gaining in importance, we knew it would be a huge benefit to companies if we permitted them to link their social sites along with their website and blog. With our new format, every company can add their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn links to their business listing. This will not only help them gain followers and increase exposure for their company, but it also adds juice to their SEO efforts. My vision when we started planning this was to offer every business an all-inclusive listing that would serve as a mini website to help promote their business. This is why we allow a generous company description, a Google map to their location, a thumbnail picture of their website, all contact data and links to all social sites they use to promote their business.

 A rising tide lifts all ships

We are collectively suffering from the ramifications of the worst economy in the history of our country, and the housing industry has literally been decimated. Our niche has been hurt possibly more than the overall housing market and I personally don’t think our salvation will come from decisions being made inside the beltway of Washington, DC.  I am a firm believer in the old adage that “A rising tide lifts all ships”.  I have been in the Internet business since 1993 and I know a little something about SEO and social media marketing, and I want to help our industry rise above this economic nightmare. That is why I am offering a free copy of my book, “SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide” at no cost to every company that adds a link back to this directory from any page on their website.

The way I see it, the more people we can introduce to the joys of living in a log or timber frame home, the more our industry as a whole will benefit. If you own or work for a log home company and have not yet claimed your listing in this directory, I encourage you to do so and leverage the power of SEO by adding your links to one of the industry’s oldest, largest and best optimized websites.

Best regards,
Tom Heatherington, Author

Groundhogs and Treehouses

I have a couple of fun & interesting trivia notes to mention today. Since this is Groundhog Day 2012, I’ll start with that.  Punxsutawney Phil, America’s most famous groundhog, made his “prediction” today from his home on Gobbler’s Knob, 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, PA. This video shows Phil’s performance from this morning.

Phil saw his shadow this, which (we’re told) guarantees that we will have six more weeks of winter. Hey, it can be argued that we haven’t had six weeks of winter yet, so maybe Phil’s prediction will bring some badly needed snow to the mountains.

BTW, did you know that Phil lives in a log cabin?

Click photo for more...

This Treehouse is TREEmendous

Michael Garnier lives and works in rural Oregon building treehouses. In this video, he takes us for a tour of his “trees house” (he lives in this one) and explains how a home like his does less damage to the grove of trees than if he’d built a conventional house.

We can identify with Michel’s ec0-friendly stance and so do most of the major log home manufacturers. When you harvest standing dead trees and ‘recycle’ them to be used as thermal batteries in the walls of log homes, you’re building using ecologically friendly and self-sustaining green methods.  How cool is that?


Indoor Firewood Rack

Mission Style Indoor Firewood Rack

Many of you may recall a DIY project of mine, which I dubbed the “Ultimate Indoor Firewood Rack“. Although I built this a few years ago for our log home, I still get comments and questions from people. A couple people asked to buy one and one fellow asked to buy my entire inventory.  Obviously, I was flattered, but my firewood rack wasn’t for sale and I’m not in that business. However, they say that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, but I think it is inspiration.

A very nice fellow emailed me a few days ago telling me that my firewood rack “inspired him” to create one that fit his decor. We swapped a couple of emails and he agreed to send some photos and tell us more about his firewood rack he crafted in his basement shop.  Enjoy…

The wood rack was designed to fit next to my fireplace. The fireplace is large (50 inches wide) and double sided so it eats a LOT of wood in an evening. None of the commercial indoor racks I found (that fit in that spot) held nearly enough. I wanted to match my mission style furniture, but I also knew a rack made out of just wood would not be very durable. When I spotted your rack I knew that was the answer.

The firewood rack was designed to fit next to my fireplace.

The first step was to design the metal parts to build in the welding course I signed up for. I designed the rack in Google Sketchup (which is free). It is a great free design tool. Attached is a PDF I made from my original design. I spent a total of about 12 hours welding the frame, but that time includes a lot of learning curve in it. All of the metal is 12 gauge square steel tubing. The end ornaments are cut out of 12 gauge sheet steel.

The wooden base of the rack is 6 inches tall. The top of the base is ¾ inch oak veneer plywood. Since I can only get plywood in red oak, the rest of the project is also in red oak. The base top is inside 6 inch boards and everything is attached with biscuits and glue. The drawers are free floating and ride on strips of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene tape (slick tape). All the wood is dimensioned to ¾ inches except the drawer sides, backs, and bottoms. The sides and backs are ½ inch and the bottoms is ¼ inch ply. All the solid wood is quarter sawn oak including the 3.4 solid top.

The metal was finished with hammered

Since wood needs to move with the seasons and metal does not the bottom and top must be mounted in a way to allow for motion. In hind sight I should have welded tabs in to the corners of the frame with slots in them. Since I did not I drilled holes through the steel tubing. The hole on the side of the tube facing the wood is large (> ½ inch) and the hole on the opposite side of the tube is small enough to retain the screw head. This allows nearly an inch of seasonal expansion without splitting (I hope).

The metal was finished with hammered finish in a spray can. The wood is finished with my own recipe of stain and finished with Waterlox original finish. I can’t say enough good about Waterlox. It goes on easy and looks great. It’s amber color really gives the finish depth without obscuring the grain.

(Editor comments) – Well, it appears I have been one-upped. I flipped when I saw what my new friend Andy had created and thought I should share it with you.  To be honest, it is flattering to have someone compliment you in such a nice way – by imitating your creation, but it is also humbling when you see that what you inspired is so much better than what you produced.

BTW…If you have a creative DIY (log home related) project that you would like to share with our readers, please contact me.