When your new log cabin arrives, a decision needs to be made on the best products to treat the timber with. Most cabins arrive untreated and applying a good quality wood preserver provides long-term protection and enhances the appearance of the building.
If it’s getting close to the delivery date, or your log cabin has already arrived, choosing the best wood treatment is an important decision. It’s no easy task, with so many choices available it can be difficult to compare and decide which is most suitable. We recommend everyone to treat their new garden building as soon as possible, avoiding leaving it for months to absorb moisture and age under the sun.
Why treat a log cabin?
If you’re wondering why you should treat your new log cabin, there are plenty of reasons to do so. Firstly, timber is porous and will absorb moisture. You can notice this when it rains and the wood turns a darker colour. Absorbed moisture causes the wood to expand, which over time can cause movement, particularly around the joints. Furthermore, a cabin soaking in water for a long period of time may also start to rot. Treating the wood provides a waterproof coating to keep the moisture at a steady level.
Wood treatment is also hugely important for UV protection. Eventually, untreated timber becomes grey as the natural colour fades due to the suns UV rays. This is the same with old untreated fence panels which turn grey. Lots of sunlight is not good for wood and can even cause cracking through drying it out. A treatment that contains colour pigments will block the suns rays and keep the cabin looking at consistent colour as it ages.
Finally, wood treatment protects against creatures and natural decay. Many high-quality products provide protection against wood-boring insects which may try to make their way inside your new log cabin. Further protection is provided against rot and decay which is important with the British weather.
5 Best Log Cabin Treatments & Wood Preservers
Choosing the best treatment or wood preserver for your log cabin is a big decision. We spent many hours on the internet comparing products before making our own decision. Take a look below at our favourite wood treatments, preservers & stains.
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Basecoat wood preservers:
Clear wood primers to provide protection against decay, fungi and wood-boring insects.
Cuprinol Wood Preserver Clear (Amazon)
The clear wood preserver from Cuprinol provides a very good base coat and is widely available from most stores online. This water-based preserver can be used as an initial coat on both the interior and exterior of a log cabin for long-lasting and deep penetrating protection. The formulation actively protects against rot, decay and blue-staining fungi. Being clear, it can be slightly difficult to see where it has been applied, but the good value 5L tub allows for a generous coating throughout the cabin.
As with most Cuprinol products, this wood preserver is widely available including from stores such as Amazon. There is no water protection and a wood stain is required after. We also used this on our interior roof before installing insulation to provide peace of mind against mould or damp occurring in the future.
Protek Wood Preserver ++ (Amazon)
If there’s one brand experienced garden building designers recommend, it’s Protek. This UK based manufacturer produces a full range of wood treatments including paints, stains and preservers. All of the products are designed to be long-lasting and provide an effective solution for looking after all types of timber. Protek is not found in every paint supplier but is available directly through their website and a number of specialised wood finishing suppliers online.
Wood Preserver ++ is a water-based preserver designed to be used as a primer before applying a wood stain or paint. The active ingredients protect against mould, wood-boring insects and discolouring fungi. By easily penetrating wood, it can get into the inner layers for better protection. The adhesive surface allows easy application of additional layers of different products.
Wood stains & coloured treatment
Add a translucent colour to exterior wood and improve weather resistance.
OSMO Natural Oil Wood Stain (Amazon)
Natural oil wood stain by OSMO is the wood treatment we settled on after lots of research ourselves. The OSMO brand has a superb reputation as a german supplier of high-quality wood coatings which provide both protection and colour. The full range also includes paints and flooring oil. Natural oil wood stain is designed for exterior wood to provide excellent protection from UV rays, for cabins that spend most of their lives in direct sunlight.
The solvent-based solution penetrates into the wood to provide durability and weather resistance. The finish is a satin, providing a slight glossed effect, without becoming too shiny.
A selection of different colours is available including Light Oak, Cedar and Larch. This is one of the most expensive wood preservers on the market but provides great all-around protection which should reduce maintenance in the long run.
Barrettine Wood Preserver (Amazon)
Barrettine products are formulated and manufactured at their factory in Bristol and include an extensive range of wood protective coatings. This solvent-based, high-quality wood preserver penetrates deep into the wood for improved protection against wet rot and wood-boring insects. Superb quality water repellent resins provide weather resistance to keep moisture out and wood dry.
The choice of colours includes Golden Brown, Cedar and Summer Tan. A clear version is available but coloured pigments provide protection against UV for colour maintenance. A 5L tin is available for covering all of a log cabin easily and keeping some spare for any later touch-ups.
Wood paints & solid colours:
Versatile exterior coatings to change the colour of a log cabin and provide weather resistance.
Protek Royal Exterior (Amazon)
For the second time in this post, we find ourselves talking about Protek wood stain products. Having first-hand experience with Royal Exterior, we found it great to use and will be using it again as high-quality paint to finish another garden building. The low maintenance waterproof coating contains UV filters to prevent the colours from fading over time. When applying, there is no odour and the water-based solution is free from solvents. For best results, it is recommend to apply at least 2 coats.
We love just how many colours are available of Royal Exterior. With over 60 to choose from, there’s a colour to suit every log cabin including China Clay, Stone Grey and Heritage Blue. A good selection of sizes is available including 1L, 2.5L and 5L tubs.
OSMO Country Colour (Amazon)
While it does seem we are recommending the same brands several times, there’s a good reason for it. In the search for high-quality products, many other brands did not meet our criteria which includes the product itself and also good availability and value. Country Colour by OSMO is an oil-based finish designed exclusively for exterior wood. This paint provides excellent weather resistance and also UV protection to avoid fading. To get the best results, two coats are recommended, with a minimum drying time of 12 hours.
Lots of colours are available, our favourite being anthracite grey. Pairing two of the colours together makes an excellent choice and options include Pebble Grey, Labrador Blue and Dark Brown. 2.5L tubs are available widely online and also mini 125ml tins which are ideal to keep for any touch-ups later on.
Best Log Cabin Treatment Tips & Questions
To achieve the best result, we need to prepare the log cabin in advance and ensure the conditions are suited for applying the treatment. Preparing in advance will ensure everything goes smoothly and result in a perfectly painted garden building.
When is the best time to treat a log cabin?
Finding the best time to paint a log cabin is not always possible, and sometimes we just have to make do at the best opportunity. Ideally, the cabin would be painted as soon as it has been installed, on a mild spring day with dry conditions. But don’t panic if this isn’t the case on the week your new log cabin arrives.
The fresh timber will not contain any pre-treatment and it’s important to get the wood preserver on as soon as possible. Even the first layer is going to provide some protection. But if it’s not possible straight away, don’t worry about leaving it for a few weeks if you have to. At a maximum, we wouldn’t be concerned waiting up to two months.
Treating a log cabin is a time-consuming process and can take several days to complete. When applying multiple coats, be sure to let the initial coat harden properly before applying another on top. The weather is one thing to watch out for when treating any garden building. If it has been raining before, the log cabin will have likely absorbed moisture and applying a treatment now may cause the moisture to get trapped inside the wood. Allowing for several days of clear weather will ensure the building is dry and the moisture content of the wood is suitable for painting over.
How should I prepare my log cabin for treatment?
Provided the weather conditions are favourable, there’s not a huge amount that needs to be done in advance before applying a log cabin treatment. We need to start with a clean building to ensure the paint goes on properly, without flaking off. If it has been raining the mud can splash up around the bottom of the building. A pressure washer or hose can be used to remove the dirt and get the timber ready. For log cabins that have been previously treated, the current treatment must have weathered enough for the new treatment to be able to soak into the wood.
Once we are ready to apply the treatment, use masking tape to cover up around the windows and doors. Droplets tend to get everywhere and wood treatment can be difficult to remove from areas where it shouldn’t be. The surrounding area can be covered in dust sheets to stop any splashes ruining the base or decking. As you apply the treatment, start from the top and work downwards to ensure an even coat is applied throughout the exterior.
We followed a three-step process
When painting our garden building, we followed a 3 step process that provided a solid layer of protection and still to this day creates the appearance of a freshly painted building. It’s been several years since we painted the exterior and I can’t see us performing maintenance any time soon. Using three different products was not our original idea. We originally decided to just use clear paint, but realising there would be no UV protection, we decided to add a colour in as well. The result was an extra tub of expensive clear paint sitting around which we decided to apply as an additional layer.
Step 1: Base-coat & treatment
Even if you can’t get round to painting the log cabin straight away, we recommend applying a base-coat wood preserver as soon as possible. Clear wood preservers are designed to be applied to new timber to provide protection against insect attack, rot and mould. The product is anti-fungal and will stop mould from taking hold due to damp conditions.
As they are designed as a first layer, these types of preservers contain no waterproofing or wax. If they did it would make the paint more difficult to apply. The preserver will soak deep into the wood and provide long-lasting protection. Be sure to give the exterior a good soaking and pay extra attention to areas including the ground and end gains. You may also choose to cover the roof or interior if you have extra product, but this isn’t necessarily required if the building is well ventilated.
Step 2: High-quality wood stain or paint
Once the base coat has been left several days to dry, we applied a high-quality wood stain. Don’t make the same mistake as us and pick a clear colour, as this will not provide UV protection. If you like the natural colour of the log cabin, pick a wood stain with a similar colour. You will probably find the wood stain will enhance the natural colour further, as well as protecting it long-term. The pigments in the product cover the natal wood and reduce its exposure to sunlight.
We wouldn’t go near lower-cost products such as fence and shed paints as they are simply not designed to be used with log cabins. From our own tests, we found less water protection and they also required lots of extra coats to achieve a comparable result. Investing in a high-quality paint or wood stain is really worth it to protect the building and reduce maintenance in the long run. We used OSMO for its excellent protection and weather resistance, but there are many other choices that you can find above. Be sure to mix the tin properly before painting as the heavy pigments can sink to the bottom.
Step 3: Clear-coat
As we had an extra tub of clear paint lying around, we decided to use it to treat the exterior walls again and enhance the protection. The product we used is Protek Royal Exterior which is an expensive paint, hence not wanting to let it go to waste. The idea is that the topcoat provides an additional layer of protection before the coloured wood stain, further enhancing any weather resistance.
The result is a high gloss effect to the wood, which now looks freshly painted all of the time. The clear coat is easy to apply on top, enhances protection and improves appearance. While not necessarily required, we will certainly be using it again for our next project.
Treating a new log cabin is crucial to provide long-lasting protection. It’s not just damp proofing which a high-quality treatment provides. Protection against UV rays and wood-boring insects is just as important to keep your cabin looking as good as it does on the first day you get it. If you’re not able to treat your new building straight away, it’s okay to wait a few weeks for dryer weather, just remember to check the cabin exterior is clean before starting.
The best log cabin treatment will depend on the colour scheme you have in mind. We like to first apply a base coat to provide anti-fungal protection. After, a wood stain or paint will provide weather resistance and waterproof protection. Finishing with a clear topcoat can further enhance the colour (providing a gloss finish) and increase weather resistance as well.
Which products will you be using to treat your log cabin? Let us know in the comments below.