Cabin Wood Species


From original questioner:

Just curios to know what wood species is used for log cabins?

What about wood species for solid wood siding?

Im building a little wood cabin and want to know what the best inexpensive wood species to use for the exterior walls and how to treat/finish them for protection.


From contributor Sk

You couldn't make this stuff up.....

This is our average customer today. Wants something but has no idea how to go about it, but they do know they want "the best inexpensive" wood. Then the finish will do the protection.

You gotta love "best inexpensive" - that deserves to be framed and put on the wall.

As for species, the Pioneers spent a good amount of time at the freight yard waiting on the logs from British Columbia to arrive so they can build their cabin in Tennessee before Winter closes in.

From contributor Sk

Yes, but when the logs arrived many were beetle infested thus rejected by the DEQ. Many spent the winters in make shift tents.

From contributor ch

listen guys why cant you just answer or provide useful information to the freaking question!!! why do have to go off talking bout "pioneers" kidding me!!?

When i said "best inexpensive" i meant a wood species that will hold up well and is not super expensive like teak.

Teak would be the best wood species to use but why dont people make entire cabins out of teak? Cause its expensive!!
I pay $1.15 per BF for 4/4 pine, $2.10 a BF for 4/4 maple & oak and $19 a BF for 4/4 teak.

From contributor ML

Christan, take a breath..

You ask about the "best", well - history will most always be your best answer to how well a wood species may hold up. Being as
"pioneers" built cabins as primary residences back "in the day", I would look to see what they used.

I've been to many historical militia campgrounds and have seen hundreds of cabins that were built back in the 1700's - 1800s. Sorry I never inquired as to what wood was used that held up for centuries - exposed to Northeast elements (Pennsylvania/NJ). But I can tell you it was not teak. I have seen both locust and cedar used - not sure what fits your "inexpensive" parameters. For sure you don't want to use either maple or oak, not sure of the relevance of you quoting pricing for those species. I also don't feel pine is viable either, but then again, I'm a cabinet maker - not a cabin builder.

So, being as you are building something that's going to be around for quite some time (I'm assuming) - initial "cheap" may not be the most inexpensive wood species option for the long haul..

Perhaps you should research (elsewhere) original cabins in the US. Possible the sawmill forums (here) might have an answer for you - see what they are milling for their cabin builders. You might find the "freakin" answer you're looking for..

From contributor Da

What ever wood species you use...think about putting long eves coming off the roof. This will keep the weather/sun off the logs/siding.

From contributor Da

Christian, no problem with your question, but you could help a bit by answering a few. What do you mean by "little"? Where are you located (using local wood will help keep the cost down)? What is the desired life of the cabin? What kind of roof? How important is ease of working the wood? Here in the Missouri Ozarks, white oak would be my first choice, though it is hard to work with. A properly designed and built pine cabin would outlast a cabin built of oak-- a lot comes back to keeping the wood dry.

From contributor Ge

I would guess and be 99.99% time correct that the species used was always a local species that was straight and was not heavy. Log cabins were not intended to last more than 10 years. With a good roof overhang, the log were dry and decay and insects were not a big issue.q

So, in northern WI, aspen was often used and is still used.

White pine was also used, as a 9" log was too small to saw but perfect size for a cabin.

Today's cabin often use red pine. Oftentimes the log is sawn so that the interior side is flat. A tongue and groove may be on the top and bottom faces.

There is a lot of technique for a cabin, including warm kitchen and bath floors. Keep plants away from foundation, so the logs can dry out easily. And the list goes on. In fact we have associations whose members are log suppliers for log cabins. If you are going to do it yourself, there are many good books about the technique and designing and construction an excellent home.

From contributor Bo

We built a log cabin out of red pine logs, cut our own, and it lasted for 25 years. When we moved here 12 yrs ago we gave it away to whoever would move it. When they jacked it up to put on a trailer, it was just as solid as the day we built it. No chinking fell out on the trip also. But it is most important to get a good book and read it. Do everything you can to keep water off the logs. Large overhangs and no foundation plants and keep it up off the ground. Many warm and toasty days were spent in central Wisconsin in that cabin and to this day it is just as solid as when we built it. We did use Thompsons water seal on it every 4-5 yrs tho. Just do it right.

From contributor a.

The cane ridge meeting house in kentucky was built in 1791 and is still intact. It was built with blue ash logs for walls and oak and chestnut for beams. So is white ash a consideration for cabin logs even with the possibility of borer presence? Just a thought to be discussed.

From contributor Ri

Seems to me that here (in KY) I have heard that they used chestnut and yellow poplar.

From contributor Ch

I live in the Ozark Mtns of North Arkansas
and most of the log cabins you find standing today are Appalachian dovetail style white oak. like Dr, Gene said keep the logs dry a porch on all sides also keeps the direct sunlight off the log walls