Staining Interior Logs & Timbers 101

The inside is where you do most of your living. As such, it’s important to take time to select the
right interior stains and finishes for your log and timber home. In this way, you will achieve an
interior that is visually pleasing and performs well for years.

A room with a wood ceiling and a table and chairs

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Two Traits

When it comes to interior finishes, there are two phenomena that homeowners tend to overlook. 

1. Surprising surface area. Interior walls and ceilings dramatically increase the amount of surface area that requires treatment and generally, there is about twice as much stainable surface on the interior over the exterior. You’ll be looking at the results of your interior stain for years to come throughout your entire home. 

2. Choices, choices, and more choices. During a new build, homeowners are faced with hundreds of decision points along the way, often with unfamiliar details. It’s common for homeowners to ask the general contractor (GC) for advice. Many GCs typically recommend a “safe” off-white color but that doesn’t always translate well with a cabin. A GC wants to stay on schedule, but selecting your interior stain takes a little time. You can’t undo stain.


What’s Your Color? 

To make the best choice for your log home’s interior stain, think about how you spend time inside your home and the feeling you want to create. Does the space have abundant, natural light? Do you prefer cozy dark walls and a lighter ceiling? Or a bright fresh feel with lighter walls? Another consideration is that wood absorbs light, so a darker stain may translate into a much darker room than you anticipated. 

Then there is the tint base. Do you prefer browns, reds, gray tones, or even a bleached look? Like many things, wood stain “looks” go through trends. Explore your options and be sure to choose a tint that will look beautiful to you over time. You can always darken a lighter stain, but not the reverse. 

Distinct Needs

Not all interior wood is the same. Logs and heavy timbers are not like the wood of cabinets, moldings, and furniture. These smaller wood products are usually sprayed with nitrocellulose lacquer to protect them, giving them a hard, shiny finish. Unlike cabinets, tables and trim, larger timbers and logs are more dynamic. If you try and put a similar lacquer on your interior log walls, the finish will crack and peel as these larger pieces of wood naturally contract and expand. 

Some homeowners wonder if the interior can go au natural. While interior logs may not be subjected to the same elements as their external counterparts, they will absorb cooking oil and odors and collect dust, handprints, and water stains if not protected. Plus, there’s another reason to finish them. Have you ever run your hand across rough-cut wood? It feels mildly like sandpaper. All those little crags and jags on the surface need to be covered in a light film; one that’s strong enough to be wiped down and protect the wood while remaining flexible enough to not crack as the log expands, shifts, and contracts over time.

Choose a stain that’s designed for its job. Exterior stains contain higher levels of biocides and preservatives that you don’t need or want inside your home, especially where you’re eating and sleeping. This is also why you want to avoid an oil-based stain. Oil-based products have high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are extremely unhealthy in enclosed spaces. 


Smart & Attractive

Start with a stain that gives you the aesthetic and exact level of transparency you desire. Here at Perma-Chink Systems, we recommend using one of our Lifeline Interior stains, which come in a wide array of tones, including clear. After staining, add one or two clear coats of interior finish; Lifeline Acrylic or Sure Shine, a water-based poly finish. Both add just enough film to protect your logs and minimize scratchiness so they can be easily wiped and cleaned. Lifeline Acrylic and Sure Shine come in gloss or satin. 

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These stains also contain the right amount of UV protection to avoid “picture framing.” Picture framing is the shadowy discoloration that remains on the wall when you move a bookshelf or a picture. After all, your stain should let you redecorate your log home whenever you want! Perma-Chink interior stains and finishes will ensure that the inside of your log home is just as breathtaking and gorgeous as the outside. 

To order color samples visit the Perma-Chink store here