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Staining Application Guidelines

  • Make certain that all compatibility issues have been addressed. If you are changing from one stain product to another, call the manufacturer and ask if the new product will work over the residue of the previous coating.
  • If caulking or chinking may need repairing in the future, make certain that the stain is compatible with the brand of caulk or chink that is now on the structure.
  • Check the weather forecast. It is best to stain within a week of fully prepping the logs, since surface wood begins to deteriorate right away from sunlight. Check for a window of opportune weather, during and after application, and try to use surface prep methods that will allow you to take maximum advantage of rare good weather. No coating should ever be applied when it is cold (50° F and falling) or hot (95° F and rising), dry, windy conditions, or when the sun is shining directly on the wall you want to stain. For the most part, the south and west walls should be coated in the morning and the east and north walls in the afternoon, working counter to the sun, to avoid surfaces being too hot.
  • Clean the logs to remove dirt, dust, grease, old coatings, pollen, chemicals (i.e., bleach residue), unsound wood fibers, etc. In general, the best cleaning or stripping techniques are the mechanical methods: corncob blasting, non-woven pads, sanding, etc. because further finishing work can proceed right away. Another benefit of dry mechanical methods is that the resulting textured log surfaces can provide longer stain durability - especially on the upper curvature of logs. Wet cleaning methods can work when properly done, like chemical stripping and/or power washing, but valuable time and favorable weather can be lost while waiting for the wood to dry out again.
  • It may be desirable to lighten the color of the cleaned wood. If so, use a product like CPR wood cleaner and brightener: follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the logs are cleaned down to bare wood, apply PeneTreat wood preservative. Allow to dry before applying stain. The moisture content of logs must be 19% or less before applying a coating according to the USDA Forest Products Research Laboratories. Use a moisture meter to avoid guessing and, possibly, guessing wrong. If your home is in an area of high humidity, or is subject to localized regions of high moisture, add additional mildewcides to the stain used on the exterior.
  • “Box” (or mix together) pails that may have different lot numbers. This will help ensure uniformity of color. Stir thoroughly, if possible, with a drill-driven mixer, to disperse all pigment evenly, and stir the stain periodically throughout application.
  • Use the recommended application methods from the manufacturer.
  • Work horizontally, starting with the top 3-4 logs, until you reach a natural break in the wall surface: i.e., windows, doors, log butt joints, etc. Continue in a similar pattern to the bottom of the wall. Clean any drip marks that may occur on lower logs to avoid overlap marks. It is generally best to vigorously brush the stain into the wood, especially on the upper curvature of the logs, even if the stain is sprayed. Stain, if compatible with caulk or chinking, should be brushed into checks and cracks to help prime them for the sealants that will be applied later.
  • If it is necessary to stop in the middle of a log, “feather out” the stain, trailing it off into nothing to help minimize lap marks. When you return, “feather in” the stain before resuming down the length of the uncoated section of the log.
  • Spraying is a fast method for getting stain on the walls, but vigorous back brushing ensures proper penetration and adhesion of coatings. Plan enough time to allow for this important step.
  • Be prepared to cover the walls with plastic sheeting in case inclement weather moves in. Freshly applied coatings should not be exposed to rain or snow showers for at least several hours or a day or two, depending on the coating