How to Choose the Right Wood Species for Your Log Home

From geography to size to energy efficiency, here’s what you need to know.

There’s no one-size-fits-all, universally perfect species for a log home. The right species for YOU will depend on several factors–everything from budget to location to desired look and size. Therefore, understanding what is important to you is the first step in determining the best log species for your log home. Here are a few specific questions that will help determine what species is right for your project:

Questions to Consider

  • How large of a log are you looking for?
  • Are you looking for a natural shape or a more uniform, milled shape?
  • How much is energy efficiency a priority?
  • Is the length of the individual logs a factor? 
  • Are you willing to deal with some shrinking and/or settling? 
  • What region are you building in?  

The Role of Geography

Generally, a manufacturer’s decision to carry a certain species is driven by local supply and/or sourcing. Large log species, such as Engelmann spruce or Douglas fir are common to manufacturers in the West. Pines, like white, Southern yellow, and more, are frequently offered by Mid-Atlantic, New England and Southern companies. Cedars, like white or western red, are often available from Northeastern and Northwestern producers.

Does this mean that if you’re building in the South that you have to use a pine?  Or, if you’re building in New England you are restricted to a Cedar? Not at all! A manufacturer’s chosen species may not meet the requirements of your priority list. In today’s marketplace, you can select the species of log you want, based on the desired size, style, and advantages in your home. The manufacturers in today’s log home industry are well-versed on the abilities and advantages their species can offer in all regions.

Benefits to Look For

The benefits of each species will vary: some wood species allow for larger log profiles, while some are unbeatable when it comes to durability, while others are known for their ability to insulate your home.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • If energy efficiency is your major concern, one of the cedar species may be best for you. 
  • If you want fewer butt joints in your walls, maybe one of the pines will suit your needs. 
  • If you want a large, naturally shaped log, consider a spruce or fir.  

How We Can Help

As you can see, narrowing down which species is best for your home will require cost-benefit analysis of several factors. The bottom line is, there is no one “best” log species.  The best log for you is the one that checks off the majority of your desired features and can be supplied competitively and by a reputable manufacturer. 

Bar IV Log Homes Consulting can assist you in determining which features offer the greatest benefits to your project and which companies can get you there. Learn more about how we can help you with every detail of your home here, and set up a consultation!

Want to learn more? Check out this article from Log Home Living, Choosing Your Wood Species.

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