If you are planning to build a log cabin it is important to think about the framing. Log cabin framing can impact the budget of the home as well as the utility costs. Let’s compare a traditional log stack cabin to a cabin with aesthetic log accents.
Thinking about log cabin framing in the traditional way is a bit outdated in today’s technological world. A true log stack cabin is exactly what it sounds like – hewn logs stacked on top of each other with chink in between the logs to keep the winter chill out. The look is great, but the thermal properties are atrocious. You achieve about 1 R-Value point for every inch in diameter of the log. Essentially, your home has worse insulation than a home built in the 70’s. In addition, it is costly to run power for outlets and light fixtures in the logs.
Today’s answer to the log stack is a conventionally framed home with aesthetic log accents. It is a blend of old and new paradigms and is a particularly interesting cabin design. This style combines the best of modern home insulation techniques while maintaining the traditional look and feel of a log cabin. By applying log accents to the shell of a traditional, stick framed home you gain the cost savings of easily running power and ducting around the home. You also get the benefit of proper insulation that is tragically lost in a pure log cabin. If you live in Montana or Wyoming (or anywhere in the Rockies) this equates to large rough-in savings as well as big energy savings over the course of a winter and the life of the cabin.
If you choose log cabin framing with log accents your home will look just as authentic as the one next door (same chink, same stain, etc.) but your log cabin will be less drafty and easier on the checkbook. The upfront cost is greater with the framing and log accents since you must mill the logs specifically for the application. However, over the life of the home you will end up saving more money on utility costs than you spent on the log cabin framing. And the best part – if you choose the right builder, nobody will notice it’s not a true log stack cabin.