Once your new log cabin has been installed, you may be wondering how to brighten up the exterior and interior. Paint can completely transform the appearance into a bright and vibrant garden building.
The delivery day of a new log cabin is an exciting time. Once the building has been assembled, you will want to customise it to your tastes by adding colour and decorations. Most log cabins do not come pre-treated and will show the natural colour of the timber. The challenge is that wood begins to lose its natural colour after a few months in the sun, resulting in a grey appearance over time.
The loss of colour in timber is caused by UV rays from sunshine, and the same can be seen in untreated fence panels. To combat this, and keep your garden building looking new for years into the future, it’s important to apply a wood treatment within the first few weeks of ownership.
Wood stains are a translucent treatment for garden buildings that add colour and protection, whilst still exposing the natural wood grain. Choosing a wood stain is common for a log cabin to maintain some of the natural wood appearances and add subtle colours to the garden.
If you’re looking to transform the cabin, you may be wondering whether paint is a suitable alternative to a wood stain and whether there will be any differences in their ability to protect the building. Let’s take a look at why it can be a great idea to paint your log cabin.
Can you paint a log cabin?
Absolutely, yes, you can paint the walls of a log cabin exterior. Adding bright colours can completely transform the appearance of the garden building to blend in with the rest of your garden. Using solid paint colours can cover up the natural wood grain and allow for both contemporary and traditional designs.
As well as adding colour, wood treatment plays an essential role in keeping the garden building protected for years into the future. Using high-quality paint provides a layer of weatherproofing to protect against all of the elements that the cabin may be exposed to. Pigments in solid colours provide protection against UV rays to stop the wood from turning grey or beginning to dry out and crack. During rainfall, the paint will stop the timber from taking on water and instead cause the water to bead on the surface.
Not all paints provide the same level of protection, it’s important to find one that is designed specifically for the exterior of a garden building. Low-quality paints may require regular maintenance or provide little protection against weather conditions during the winter and summer.
Can you paint a log cabin interior?
It’s completely possible, yes, to paint the interior walls of a log cabin. Using a bright colour can create the appearance of more space inside, as well as creating a comfortable atmosphere. Choosing a warm colour creates a feeling of warmth, even during the colder months of the year.
The interior of a log cabin (especially with thick 44mm logs) is not as exposed to the weather conditions as the exterior side of the wall. Therefore, we don’t need such a high level of protection for the wood. If you still have lots of paint leftover from the exterior, then it’s perfectly fine to use the same paint on the interior.
We like Cuprinol Garden Shades paint for the interior of a garden building. While we recommend different options for the exterior, we find Garden Shades is perfected suited to the interior walls of a log cabin. The large selection of colours can quickly brighten up the interior, and keep the walls protected from dampness during the winter months.
Best paint for log cabin exterior
With paint playing a vital role in keeping the walls of a log cabin protected, it’s important to invest in a high-quality product. Exterior paint is one area where it really pays to invest. This can reduce maintenance requirements in the future and keep the timber in optimal condition.
With so many choices available, it can be difficult to find which paint to use. Let’s take a look at some of our favourite recommendations.
When it comes to finding a premium garden building exterior paint, we don’t need to look much further than the range available from OSMO. Our pick of the range is Country colour which is ideal for painting the outside of log cabins and other garden structures such as summerhouses and garden rooms. A large selection of over eighteen colours is available, ensuring there’s a colour to match every garden.
The formulation is microporous to reduce flaking of the paintwork and cracking that can occur due to natural movement in the timber construction. Once dry, this paint provides excellent weatherproofing and UV protection for the timber underneath. For completing the exterior, a 2.5L tin is available, but smaller test pots can be purchased first to decide which colour is most suitable.
Protek Royal Exterior (Amazon)
We are big fans of Protek’s garden building paints and regularly recommend them for all kinds of outdoor structures. With over thirty years of experience, the brand actually covers a wide range of similar products including wood preservers and stains. The Protek Royal Exterior product has one of the largest colour selections available, with sixty different options to choose between. Everything from traditional to contemporary choices is available, including many shades of similar colours.
Royal Exterior provides a super high-quality and durable finish that will keep a log cabin looking great for years into the future. While not available from many common retailers, the product can be purchased from the Protek website or a number of specialist online stores. This paint provides protection against both weather and UV rays.
Guide: Fixing gaps in a log cabin
Best paint for log cabin interior
Finding the best paint for a log cabin interior can create a bright and colourful design. While it’s possible to use the same paint as the exterior, using a different colour is often the preferred choice.
Cuprinol Garden Shades (Amazon)
For the inside of a log cabin, Cuprinol Garden Shades is a great all-rounder that ticks a lot of boxes. This water-based paint reduces any strong smells during the application, making it easy to apply indoors. Once dry, the paint applies a weatherproof coating to keep the interior wood protected and also makes any marks quick to remove for easy cleaning. A wide selection of modern colours is available, with lots of bright options that work well for creating an interior space that appears large and bright.
Cuprinol Garden Shades is very easy to work with and apply in no time. This is party due to not being the thickest of paints, so two coatings on the same day are recommended for best results. The natural wood grain is still visible once dry, creating a textured appearance to the painted walls. This product is widely available from most garden centres, and many will stock a large selection of colours. A number of different sized tubs are available with the largest being 5L. For most log cabins, the 2.5L tub should be plenty.
Getting the best results when painting a log cabin
To get optimal results when painting a timber garden building, we need to ensure the structure is prepared correctly and a good painting technique is used.
The best time to paint a log cabin is as soon as possible once the building has been delivered. This will reduce any weathering and ensure the timber is in the best condition. We do not recommend leaving the structure for any longer than two months if you can avoid it. Painting should be carried out on a clear and dry day. If it has been raining in the days before, be sure to check the wood has dried completely before painting the exterior. This will ensure no moisture is trapped inside the wood once it has been painted over.
Painting can be a time-consuming process, and several coatings will be required. Be sure to have enough time over several days, such as a weekend, to complete the cabin. Most paint products require a 24 hour drying time between applications.
If the cabin has been in position for a while, there may be mud on the bottom of the walls caused by splashes during rainfall. A hose or pressure washer can be used to remove any dirt and ensure we are applying the paint to a clean surface. The windows and doors of the cabin should be covered up as paint can splash, and be difficult to remove once dry.
How often should I paint my log cabin?
A common question is how often a log cabin needs to be painted to keep the building in the best condition. This question depends on many factors including the exact product used, how many coatings were applied and where the cabin is located.
With a high-quality paint product that has at least two coatings applied, we would expect the paint to last for at least five years before any maintenance is required. Low-cost products may need a maintenance top up after three years if the paint is beginning to fade or flake away in places.
When choosing the location for the log cabin, we recommend leaving at least a 1-metre gap around every side. This allows easy access for future maintenance and to inspect the structure at least once a year. The gap also allows airflow which can prevent damp occurring during wet conditions such as in the winter.
A three-step process
When painting our timber garden building, we used a three-step process to get the best results. The paintwork has been in place for several years and looks as good as the day it was painted, with a rich and glossy finish.
Start with a clear base-coat of wood preserver first. New timber logs will absorb lots of the product on the first application and a preserver is designed to get deep inside the wood. Clear wood preservers provide protection against fungal growth and insect attack, stopping mould on the wood due to damp conditions.
As they are designed to be applied first, the base coat does not provide any sort of waterproofing. Doing so would make it difficult for the paint to adhere correctly. When applying the wood preserver, be sure to pay extra attention to the end grains of the wood and areas near the ground. We like Cuprinol Clear Wood Preserver which provides a high level of protection and is great value for money. The base coat should be applied at least 24 hours before any paintwork.
As we have discussed, using high-quality wood paint is essential to keeping the building protected from weathering and reducing the amount of maintenance required. The base coat alone will not provide any UV protection or water-proofing, so we need to apply the paint after the wood preserver is completely dry. Stick with the premium choices we have recommended above. Low-cost brands will not offer the same level of protection.
We find OSMO and Protek are both excellent choices and available in a wide range of colours. Heavy pigments can often sink to the bottom of the tin, so we need to mix it properly before starting to paint. Two coats are usually needed for best results, with specific instructions found on the manufacturer’s website.
While a clear coat on top is not necessarily required, it will add a nice glossy finish to the paintwork. This results in that just painted finish that will last for years. The clear coating will not provide any UV protection but will add an additional layer of weatherproofing, protecting the coloured paint.
Many garden building paints offer a clear colour that can be applied on top of existing paintwork.
In summary, it is possible to paint a log cabin on both the interior and exterior walls. Adding paint can transform the design of the garden building and match the existing garden. Paint does much more than just add colour, and also provides protection for the timber to ensure the structure looks great for years into the future.
When painting a log cabin, it’s key to prepare the building first and complete the painting on a dry and clear day. Stick with high-quality products to reduce the amount of maintenance required in the future.