What is The Best Stain For Log Siding?

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Due to some unique characteristics, log siding has become a popular construction material; still, it needs protection from sun and moisture. You can use a log home stain to protect this wooden material from deteriorating while enhancing its appearance. However, what is the best stain for log siding?

There are two types of stains you can use for log sidings, which include semi-transparent stains and solid latex stains. The type of finish chosen depends on the log wood, the homeowner’s desired aesthetic, and the acceptable maintenance level. However, an excellent stain for log siding should consist of high solids, mildew inhibitors, and UV blockers.

When choosing a stain for your log siding, it all comes down to what your preferences are. Several modern log home finishing products are available, and they all penetrate the log’s surface to form a protective coating. Find out about the different types of finishes, how to stain log siding, and factors to consider in this article.

Different Types of Stain for Log Siding


Stains are classified into two major categories, which are semi-transparent and solid latex stains. Although, the products under these categories can be used on log siding. However, each type of stain has its benefits and disadvantages.

Below are details:

Solid-color Latex-based Stains:

This type of stain is also known as film-former. In addition to being opaque, it obscures the original hue of the wood in favor of a uniform, solid tint. However, despite being unclear, it does allow some of the texture and natural characteristics of the wood to show.


  • A paint-like finish that soaks into the wood’s pores to shield it from the damaging effects of UV rays and water.
  • It provides better protection than a semi-transparent stain because it contains more pigment and lengthens the time between coats.
  • Requires a new coat of paint every 4 to 8 years.

Semi-transparent acrylic blends are some of the newest water-based paints on the market. There are made from a variety of film-formers that include alkyds, acrylics, and varnish resins in solvent or water-based finishes. These compounds coat the wood with a layer of protection, preventing it from being damaged by the elements.

Nonetheless, they don’t penetrate the wood but rather build a layer on top of it. Without pigments, these products’ finishes are regarded as clear or transparent, providing little or no UV protection. Instead, tints are applied to semi-transparent finishes to alter the wood’s look and protect it from the sun’s harmful rays.

Furthermore, due to their molecular weight, some acrylics still develop a film on wood and are susceptible to cracking. When moisture cycling expands and shrinks wood, film coatings break, allowing water to infiltrate underneath and degrade the wood.

It might be challenging to get rid of these wood stains, but it’s if you need to re-stain. In addition, the fresh coat may blister and peel if the previous coats are not removed. A film-forming finish is often not painted on log cabins because of these reasons.

Restoring older wood to a semi-transparent stain condition can be difficult and time-consuming. A solid latex stain is often recommended for older or neglected buildings. For best results, you should apply a top coat after drying.

Semi-transparent Latex-based Stains:

You can use a semi-transparent stain on the wood siding as well. Again, people are most familiar with this type. Semi-transparent stains can partially or completely change wood siding color depending on the amount used.


  • Water and UV-resistant barrier to keep the wood from becoming damaged by water and UV rays.
  • Allows some of the natural wood to show through.
  • A “wet-on-wet method,” where the second coat is applied before the first has dried, is used to apply some in two coats.
  • Some need to be completely dry before applying the second coat; others do not.
  • Re-coating is required every two to four years, depending on the environmental conditions at your location.

Several water-based semi-transparent stains are made for log homes and cabins containing UV blockers. Oil or water-based solutions that fill wood pores to prevent water penetration are the ideal exterior stains for log homes. For this stain, a drying oil or resin is mixed with a stain that is either transparent or semi-transparent.

Semi-transparent stains, as opposed to solid stains, allow you to see more of the wood regardless of its thickness. Although the color is absorbed, the log’s patterns and textures can still be seen through the richness of the shade.

Unlike films, Semi-transparent stains don’t hold moisture in the wood and don’t peel or blister. They are made of synthetic resins with zinc added to inhibit mildew growth and give excellent water repellency and color retention. Easy to apply, maintain, and won’t peel, penetrating finishes are suitable for use as a log sealer.

Natural oils from solid latex stain would work well at first, but because they feed fungi, they darken over time. However, unlike natural oils, synthetic resins do not enhance biological development, making subsequent coats easier to apply.

How Often Should I Stain the Logs of My Cabin?

Depending on the climate, you should stain your log home every three to seven years on average. Exposure to the elements can cause your log siding to deteriorate.

Using virgin logs means you can apply the first coat of stain to them right away because they are still moist and fresh. A second or third coat of stain is required after logs have stayed for about two years.

How often you need to re-stain your home depends on the type of stain you apply. For instance, water-based stains have three to five years, whereas oil-based stains have a lifespan of five to seven years.

However, oil-based stains last longer than water-based stains. It’s best to consult reputable staining contractors to get the best professional-grade stains and help with your staining process.

How Do Natural Elements Affect My Log cabin?

The climate and weather conditions in your area have a considerable impact on the life expectancy of your stain. It is important to note that UV rays break down and “bleach” the color of your logs. Therefore, it’s relatively uncommon for one side of your home to be lighter than the others as it ages.

Your logs are also affected by wetness from rain, snow, and hail. When logs are exposed to moisture, mold and fungal development can occur; this, in turn, can lead to rot. Furthermore, a stain is the best way to keep them dry and preserve them from damage when it comes to logs.

To discover if it’s time to stain your log home, all you need to do is spray the logs with a water hose. If you see water gathering on the logs and then rolling off, you’re in the clear. However, if the water is absorbed, you will have to stain the logs.


Lastly, clear coat stains and oils are an option for your wood siding. These stains will protect your wood siding from the elements without adding color to it.

This is an excellent option for homeowners who want to retain the natural color of the wood. Before re-staining, you must adequately clean a building coated with natural oils and resins.

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