Whether you are looking for a perfect hunting getaway for a warm retreat for you and your family, there is something incomparably cozy and American about quality log homes.
It’s undeniable that log cabins are becoming increasingly popular. As of 2006, there were half a million log cabin homes in the United States, with the log home industry growing 73% between the years of 1980 and 2003.
However, if you are looking to make the switch to the log cabin lifestyle, sometimes it can be a challenge to figure out where to start. Log cabins are uniquely beautiful, but they also require a unique construction approach.
Opting for either handcrafted or milled logs is one of the biggest choices anyone has to make before a new log home construction project. The differences can be a bit confusing for the uninitiated. That’s why we’re putting together this guide on the differences between handcrafted and milled log homes so that you can make the best decision for you, your family and the years of enjoyment in your future.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Handcrafted Log Home?
Handcrafted logs are each unique. That’s because they retain the natural imperfections of the trees that they are made from.
Because of this, there are both certain advantages and disadvantages with selecting handcrafted logs. So let’s unpack the various pros and cons of handcrafted log homes.
Log homes are so beautiful because they connect us with the raw beauty of the American frontier. They reflect the deep history of this country, the millions of courageous homesteaders who built their own homes with their bare hands.
That’s what you’re channeling when you opt for handcrafted logs. Each log will bear the unique qualities of the tree that it was crafted from — the knots, the slight imperfections and the grain of the wood.
Each log is hand-hewn and tapered. The logs will reflect this hand peeling and the various tools used to fabricate its unique beauty.
If you do opt for handcrafted logs, you will have the opportunity to feature large character posts. Depending on the architectural design, your most beautiful logs can be placed in portions of your house where they will really stand out.
More Customizable Designs
Customization is another perk of handcrafted logs. Because each log is hand selected and cut and shaped as desired, architects and home builders have much more control over the designs of their homes.
If you are looking for a unique home or if you have particular architectural tastes, the customization of handcrafted logs may be your best bet.
Depending on your tastes, log chinking is either a positive or a negative. Because each handcrafted log is uniquely shaped, chinking needs to be added between the logs to provide a seal.
If you love the rustic nature of log cabin design, then visible chinking can enhance that look. However, if you prefer a more regular design, then the chinking may be a drawback.
Pre-assembly Is Required
When you order the materials for a handcrafted log home, you want to be sure that the logs will fit together as designed. To do this, your home will be pre-assembled before it is shipped. This adds an additional step to the process, as well as additional labor costs.
Higher Costs Across the Board
Finally, the biggest drawback to handcrafted log homes is the increased costs. The amount of labor needed to hand-prepare each individual log and pre-assemble the entire home results in significant cost increases over the alternative.
For some, these added costs are worth the design flexibility as well as the unique beauty associated with handcrafted logs. However, considering the advances in the fabrication of milled or machine logs, as well as the growing number of designs and kits available for milled log homes, a more cost-friendly approach does not necessarily represent a sacrifice in style or beauty.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Milled Log Homes?
As opposed to handcrafted log homes, milled log homes put logs through a milling process that makes each log uniform in shape and diameter. While this removes some of the unique features of handcrafted logs, it also makes it easier to construct log homes as each log is exactly the same size.
With that in mind, we will discuss some of the various pros and cons of milled or machine logs, so you can be better informed as you make your own selection.
Milled Logs Are Still Logs
Sometimes people are confused when they hear the term machine logs. They assume that this means that they are formed out of wood pulp or scraps, making them lower quality than handcrafted logs.
However, that is not the case. Milled logs are still logs, taken from the same types of trees that handcrafted logs are taken from. However, as opposed to being hand tapered, these logs are put through a machine process that uses exact measurement and a lathe to make them a uniform shape. As such, imperfections like knots are removed. That being said, you do retain much of the wood grain that appears on handcrafted logs.
Assembly Is Easier
With handcrafted logs, assembly and design must respond to the individual shape and structure of the logs being used. This is a labor-intensive process in design and assembly. That’s why it costs so much more.
Because the milled logs are standardized, the assembly is much easier. Thus, when someone creates a log home design using architectural design software, they can depend on each log meeting the exacting specifications needed.
That means that with milled logs, you can skip the costly pre-assembly step. Once you settle on a design, the logs can be selected from the warehouse and shipped straight to the build site.
As we mentioned above, chinking is required for most handcrafted log homes. While this obviously improves the energy efficiency over an open gap between logs, it still isn’t as energy efficient as a tight seal between two logs.
That’s why milled log homes are naturally more energy efficient than their handcrafted counterparts.
Because milled logs are made to exact proportions, each log will sit on the one below it with surgical precision. This removes the need for extensive chinking.
Many people opt for log cabins as a winter vacation retreat. If that’s your situation, choosing the solution that offers the best insulation is ideal. Even in the summer, having a well-insulated log cabin will ensure that you are cool and comfortable even during the hottest part of the day.
In addition to better insulation, milled log homes are more stable structurally. That’s because the milling process does more than simply shape the log. It also allows the miller to make sure that the log is sturdy and fully dried to avoid warping. This is a huge advantage since even the smallest amount of log warping will cause both your foundation and the rest of your structure to settle and move in ways that can damage your home.
Furthermore, with handcrafted logs, builders have to do their best to get the perfect fit between each log. Unfortunately, while most builders do an excellent job at this task, even the smallest imperfection can cause the joints between the logs to settle over time.
Because milled logs are made to exacting standards, you don’t have to worry about even the smallest miscalculation. Each joint is measured precisely, meaning you will have a perfect fit every time.
Moreover, depended on the milled log you choose, the logs are shaped in such a way as to retain the rounded look that is so central to the log cabin aesthetic while creating stable flat surfaces for the joints. This only increases stability.
More Profile Options
As opposed to handcrafted logs, which can only be formed into standard rounded logs, milled logs come in a wider variety of profile options.
Whether you opt for the standard round, squared logs or even “D” style logs, milled logs give you a level of design versatility unavailable to handcrafted log homes. For those who want the rustic exterior look of a log home with a more modern looking interior, this versatility is essential. “D” logs are especially popular because they are rounded on the outside but have a flat interior face. This makes it much easier to hang cabinetry and decorative features than a home with rounded log interiors.
It also means that you can still get a look that is nearly identical to handcrafted log homes. As we mentioned above, milled log homes don’t require the extensive chinking that handcrafted log homes do. However, if that is a look you’d prefer, you can still add decorative chinking to a milled log home. That way, you have the look without having to make a sacrifice in insulation.
Design Is Easier
Although those who want complete control over the design of their log home often opt for handcrafted logs, designing a log home with milled logs is a lot easier. While kits do put certain limitations on your design, they are very customizable, allowing you to make the kit work for you. Furthermore, in many cases, having an infinite number of options can make settling on a design harder.
To respond to the many different tastes and needs of log home builders, milled log companies are also increasing the number of floorplans and home designs that they offer.
Having the ability to select from a set of pre-fabricated designs, all with customizable options, will make the design process much easier.
While there are many design and structural reasons to select milled log homes, their affordability is perhaps their most appealing feature.
Despite being more structurally sound, better insulated and more versatile regarding design, milled log homes are also significantly cheaper.
Although the lack of pre-assembly is a significant cost-saver, the milling process is also less labor-intensive than handcrafting each log. Because machines are programmed and designed to shape each log automatically, workers can place the log and let the machine do the rest of the work.
Opting for milled logs can make the initial investment of a log home more manageable, while their insulation factor and long-term stability can reduce the cost of owning the home over the long run.
How to Choose?
While there are pros and cons to a handcrafted log home and a milled log home, the lower costs associated with milled log homes can allow you to invest in other adventures for you and your family. Ultimately the choice is yours depending on your situation, including your budget, timeline and goals.
Choose the Conestoga Approach
Here at Conestoga Log Cabins and Homes, we have taken the milled log approach and made it even better. The result is a log home that retains all the raw beauty of the American frontier with the stability and affordability that comes with a technological approach to milling.
The centerpiece of the Conestoga approach is the Everlast™ Laminated Log. Designed to preserve all the richness of raw wood, it also boasts superior stability and longevity compared to its handcrafted counterparts.
The expert design and precise notching make assembly both easier and more affordable, all while making it more stable of the life of the home.
Plus, each log is kiln dried to 15% or lower moisture content. This makes the log highly resistant to warping and settling, as well as movement and shrinkage after installation. This ensures that your home is structurally sound.
Fungi are another problem that plagues many older log homes. However, the kiln drying process in the Everlast™ process ensures that each log is below the 19% moisture fungi threshold. This makes your log home far more fungi resistant than a handcrafted home.
Finally, because each Everlast™ log is kiln dried and perfectly crafted, you are ensured a plumb fit for each log as it is stacked one on top of the other. This tight fit makes Everlast™ log homes some of the best insulated and structurally stable log homes on the market.
Everlast™ logs come in two finishes, flat and “D” profile. This versatility allows you to cater your home’s design to your specific tastes without sacrificing structure or affordability.
We also boast a wide variety of kits for cabins of homes of various sizes. If you’re looking for a small hunting cabin for short-term excursions, we have many gorgeous options to choose from. These would also be well suited for those looking to take on the “tiny home” lifestyle.
If you are looking for a larger home, either as a vacation destination or a year-round residence, we also offer customizable kits for log homes over 1,100 square feet.
We even offer tools that will allow you to design your own ideal cabin. This allows you to have complete control over the home or getaway you’ve always dreamed of.
In the end, partnering with Conestoga Log Cabins & Homes allows you to harness the rustic beauty of log home living at a price point that makes it affordable for anyone. We provide you with the tools to make your home perfect for you while providing you with the support that makes it easy to turn your dream into a reality.
If you’re ready to start exploring the cabin lifestyle, contact us today!