Concrete Log Home

Corner detail of overlapped concrete log siding.

Anyone who’s considered building a log home but was reluctant to deal with their inherent problems should consider lightweight concrete log siding.

Old Kentucky Logs (, creates rustic, hand-hewn “timbers” using lightweight concrete. The award-winning products are so realistic that even when looking closely, you can’t differentiate them from the real thing.

Walter Smith of Corbin, Ky., has a patented system that takes vertical concrete to an unsurpassed level of realism. Their minute detail makes the logs appear very authentic.

Their minute detail makes them appear very authentic. Smith’s molds were taken from actual logs, so bent nails, bug holes, and knots are all present in the cast logs. Some castings even contain carved initials from a bygone era.

The “logs” are 2-inch-thick lightweight concrete siding that’s installed like cultured stone veneer. It’s mortared over diamond lath (hardware cloth) that’s been attached to the building’s exterior. For added stability and to support the siding as the mortar sets, the logs are also held in place with screws.

To cut and trim the 8-foot sections of siding, a concrete saw is used. Patching is easily accomplished with mortar. When the siding is installed and the mortar has set, the logs are sprayed with a water-based stain applied with either a pump-up garden-type sprayer or airless equipment.

The variegated effects provided by the stain make the timbers appear extremely realistic. After the stain has dried, concrete “chinking” is applied to the spaces between the timbers. The rustic nature of the structure minimizes the need for perfection when applying the stain and chinking. Some defects can even make for a more realistic job.

Although concrete logs are attractive, why use them instead of the real thing? Concrete offers many advantages over wood.

Concrete timbers conserve natural resources. If trees are to be cut down for construction, the logs are better utilized when cut into several boards, instead of using the log as a single unit.

It’s easier to efficiently insulate a concrete log home, energy for heating and cooling is conserved. Durability and maintenance are two more advantages. Insects, woodpeckers, weathering, and fire take their toll on wood; concrete is much more resistant.

Log homes require constant maintenance, including staining, re-chinking, termite treatments, and plugging drafty cracks and holes. If a log rots, it’s a major task to replace it without dismantling much of the structure. These problems don’t exist with concrete log homes.

A concrete log structure is more economical all around. It’s cheaper to build. Because the concrete log siding is placed over any typical wood frame structure, it’s relatively easy to apply. Any trained contractor with normal construction tools can install it.

Better insulation on concrete log structures allows the owner to save a small fortune on heating and cooling bills, and the homes’ fire-resistance makes them much cheaper to insure than actual log structures.

Anyone who has considered building a log home but was reluctant to deal with their inherent problems should consider lightweight concrete log siding. It provides the rustic look of yesteryear, but with all the benefits of modern concrete technology.

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