Expert Opinion of Oil Or Water Based Stains for Log Homes

Nicholas SmithLog Homeowner Education

Log Home Stains: Which is better? Oil-based or water based log cabin stains?
General Manager of the Colorado Branch, Nicholas Casey Smith, founder of Log Masters Restorations. With over 13 years of log home preservation expertise and 25+ years in construction, Nick is considered one of the best persons to ask any log home question. Send your log home questions to [email protected]

Two of the most popular stains used in log homes are oil-based and water-based. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. My name is Nick Smith, founder of Log Masters Restorations. I’ve been doing log home restorations since 2011, back when I started subcontracting for 888-Log-Guys. As an expert in the field of log home preservation with 13 years of experience, let me explain the differences.

Oil-Based Log Home Stains Pros

Oil-based stains are a great choice for maintaining the natural beauty of your wooden structures and making sure they last. These stains are highly durable and can penetrate deep into the wood fibers. As it soaks into the wood, it provides maximum protection. The protection is against drying out and minimizes the formation of cracks and checks. To ensure the beauty and strength of your wooden structures for years to come, consider using oil-based log home stains.

Oil-Based Log Home Stains Cons

Maintaining the natural beauty of their wooden structures while ensuring their longevity seems like a fantastic option. However, oil-based log cabin stains can be difficult to clean up and typically have a stronger odor that lasts longer. They also have higher VOC (volatile organic compound) levels than water-based stains and less finish options.

Water-Based Log Home Stains Pros

Water-based stains, on the other hand, dry quickly, have a minimal odor. They are easy to clean up with just warm soapy water. Typically, they are more environmentally friendly and come in a wider range of colors, with the choice of either satin or gloss finishes.

Water-Based Log Home Stains Cons

Their durability is not as high as that of oil-based stains and they are typically better suited for interior use than exterior use. Also, they are not as forgiving as oil-based stains, so if it’s your first attempt, you might want to consider sticking with oil. Because they dry quickly, overlapping can occur. It is important to do one log length at a time before it dries to avoid unsightly excess stain spots.

Conclusions on Oil Verses Water Based Log Home Stains

To sum up, both oil-based and water-based stains have distinct benefits and drawbacks. The choice between the two depends on your personal preference, the location of your log home, and the type of wood you are staining. It is necessary to select a stain that is tailored specifically for log cabins. After spraying, it’s important to brush in both stain options. Doing this will ensure all voids and cracks get complete even coverage.

Suggestion to Log Home Owners

Acquire as much stain as necessary for the initial application, all future applications, and any required touch-ups. This is important to ensure that your log cabin is well-maintained and protected from the elements. Buying all the stains you will ever need at once ensures that the color of future applications or touch-ups will match.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.