Monthly Archives: September 2013

Restoring the Helen Spiker Log Home

Windsor Log Home Restoration is about to embark on another historical restoration. It is a circa 1800’s farmstead home that was originally built next to a small branch of water on a level lot in the Greenbrier State Park of Washington County, Maryland. It was added to the Maryland Historical Sites Inventory in January of 1984. Since then, the state park decided they no longer wanted the abandoned structure on site as it had been restored to wilderness.  In 1986, the state park sold the structure to Alex Grabenstein, owner of a company called Vintage Lumber. “Vintage Lumbers’ objective was to reuse old wood obtained from dismantled derelict barns and other agricultural buildings in central Maryland. The reclaimed lumber provides a high quality and cost effective resource of building materials for new construction. This historic material has widespread appeal as functional but decorative antique wood flooring and beams.” After Alex Grabenstein purchased the structure, he placed an advertisement in a prominent log home magazine. A private homeowner from Georgia read the advertisement and eventually purchased the structure from Vintage Lumber. She wanted the home to be re-constructed in Ball Ground, Georgia.  
                The home is known as the Helen Spiker Log Home. It is a typical structure built in the L-shape plan with the style and design that was very typical of the region and time in which it was located.  According to the Maryland Historical Sites survey, “the house is a two-story, three-bay by two-bay structure with a two-bay ell. It has a central entrance with two-over-two sash window frames in the outer bays of the first story and three bays in the second story. The window and door frames are set out from the log providing evidence that the log was once covered in weatherboard siding that has been removed from the structure. The logs are V-notched at the corners and have wide spaces filled with stones, woodchips, and mortar. The structure sits on a stone foundation that is partially collapsed. It has a steep gable roof covered with sheet metal…The ell has a double-tiered porch has an entrance and a window leading to it on each floor and is falling down.”  The Historical Sites further states that this home illustrates the persistence of log construction in the region, and although it has sustained significant vandalism, the basic components of the structure are solid except for the stone foundation, “providing an excellent visual documentation of an outstanding architectural type.”
                Alex Grabenstein of Vintage Lumber and his expert team came in to remove this amazing home. He recalls the event happening in the dead of winter. In Maryland, this means it was during sub-zero temperatures. The dismantling process was a routine affair. But he remembers one event that sticks out in his mind. He told us of a discovery underneath the second floor joists.  It was a beehive. The experts had to spray the hive with water in order to work on it. They retrieved over 5 gallons of honey from the hive before destroying it so they could continue the dismantling process. Mr. Grabenstein stated that in his forty years of dismantling log homes with his company, Vintage Lumber, this was the best cabin he had ever had the pleasure of working on.  The structure was shipped to Georgia and has been re-constructed and is now a private residence. The newest owners, Rich and Shirley Soroka have graciously agreed to allow Windsor Log Home Restoration to restore the home to its original beauty and luster. We will post day by day updates so you can watch the process unfold.
Customer Support: 706-698-3645
Windsor Log Home Restoration
PO Box 1963
Ellijay, GA 30540

Log Home Living

Living in a log home is a dream for countless people. For many, it has taken years to save and plan for; even long into their retirement years. Log homes are a way of life, not just a dwelling place. For these reasons, we must protect the investment that has taken so long to realize. This means protection from degradation and decomposition, otherwise known as rot. The most common misconception regarding log home rot is that most people believe the origin of the rot is the presence of insects. The actual definition of rot is to deteriorate, disintegrate, fall, or become weak due to decay as a result of bacterial or fungal action.  Let us explore this further.
The bacterial or fungal action needed to cause rot in wood has four main components that are present together in order to begin the decay process. These are: heat, oxygen, a food source, and moisture.  If any one of these components is not present, the decay process will not begin.  The only one of these components that is controllable is moisture or water. Keeping the structure dry is essential to prevent the growth of decaying rot that can cause significant damage.
Log home builders recommend several options to employ when designing your home. First, the exterior logs must have a proper “breathable” finish that can repel rain and condensation from the outside while allowing moisture that is inside the logs to be expelled.  Moisture content in a log has many variables that be discussed with your builder prior to building. In addition, log homes can actually soak up a lot of moisture without being noticed until it is too late.  The next recommendation from log home builders is to have adequate overhangs when possible. Overhangs prevent water from being in contact with the majority of the side walls. Guttering is also very important. Keeping gutters in place and in proper working order to allow proper drainage of rain water and to prevent as much splashing from the roof as possible.  It is also necessary to protect the lower logs at the base of the structure and around decking from splashing. Having the proper flashing and sealant between the logs and the deck is essential. While the exterior logs must be re-stained and re-sealed every 6-8 years for proper maintenance, the surfaces behind decks will not be accessible without removal of the deck.
The rotting damage sustained from constant moisture often goes undetected and unseen until there is significant damage. The fungi may grow inside the log of a home until the log is beyond repair. In the event of such damage, only a professional Log Home Restoration company can completely rid the area of all bacterial and fungal matter.
Windsor Log Home Restoration is a nationwide company that can travel anywhere in the United States in order to restore and preserve any type of log home structure. Earl S Windsor III, owner of the company states that, “If it is wood, we will preserve it to its natural beauty. We never replace partial logs. In order to properly repair a decaying log, it needs to be fully removed and replaced with a new log. We don’t cut corners in our business we want to make sure every spec of log rot is gone to ensure you will no longer have any rot issues with your home.“ Every log used by Windsor Log Home Restoration is custom milled and cut to match the existing logs of the home.  An exact match of wood type, size, and shape of the log is necessary to ensure the best repair for each individual log home.  Each log home repair also requires a different method of repair, therefore a wide variety of log home products are used.
Prevention is the key when it comes to home maintenance. Windsor Log Home Restoration will perform a detailed inspection on your home. We will determine moisture levels and assess any potential threats. Windsor Log Home Restoration replaces your rotten log area but we also determine what caused this to happen so that the problem can be fixed making sure you no longer have issues causing log rot. Give Windsor Log Home Restoration a call for your log home repair needs.
“We put the life back into your log home!”