Chinking and Caulking a Log Cabin
Chinking is the filler between logs in a log home. It used to be a light gray color that contrasted nicely with the logs, but now you can get chinking in a variety of colors to blend with the color of your logs. Many modern log homes don’t need chinking because they are built with a tongue and groove or double T&G between the logs with a sealant put in at the time of stacking the logs. But if chinking is dry and cracking, it should be removed and replaced. There are a couple of options — you can replace it with a modern chinking that has much more elasticity than the older products, or for traditionalists, old-fashion chinking is less expensive and can be made out of readily available ingredients.
As demonstrated in the video to the right, traditional chinking has an impressive following and works well under many situations. It can be mixed on the job site, is inexpensive, and is more authentic for restoration work.
It isn’t hard to work with once you get the right consistency. You can use a mortar bag or even a large pastry bag to squeeze it into place between the logs. Some find the mortar bag gets very heavy after a while and takes some strong hands to consistently squeeze it across a long span of logs.
The other type of chinking is the modern chinking which stays somewhat more pliable and can expand and contract with the normal shifting of the logs over time. Two popular brands that come to mind are PermaChink and Sashco but I’m sure there are others too. These chinking options come in either pails for manual applications or you can buy them already in tubes that can be applied just like caulking.
The main difference between chinking and caulking is that even the modern chinking has sand added to give it more of a grainy appearance similar to the old fashion chinking. On the other hand, caulking is typically smooth. Chinking is also designed to span larger cracks than caulking.
Depending on your desire do turn chinking into a do-it-yourself project, it can be tackled by an individual without much training. It is always recommended that you start the project at the back of the log cabin or in an area that doesn’t get too many visitors. In doing that, by time you get to the front entrance, you will be able to make nice clean straight lines worthy of showing off. Or you can get some pros in to take care of it. They have heavy equipment that can squirt the chinking into the cracks in just the right amount. Meantime you can sit on the deck and ponder whatever you were going to ponder once you got a nice log cabin!