Building Energy Efficient Log House: Insulation On the Outside

We build two types of wooden houses: traditional log houses, and panel houses. Both have pros and cons, today we want to discuss the traditional log house.

terrace and the railing

How We Build Energy Efficient Log House

First we build a wall from solid laminated logs, 80-200 millimeter thick, then we add insulation on the outside and finally we cover the outside with decoration planks, usually from larch. The building process is as follows:

  • first logs
  • then insulation
  • finally a larch cladding on the outside

Why is this an excellent construction method?

Because it will last forever. Literally a lifetime, and then another lifetime, and another. The main construction of a log house is the logs, and they are perfectly protected by the insulation and the cladding.  A few photos to illustrate described construction:

Vaida’s Log House

In Lithuania our marketing manager Vaida lives in a house that was built by her grandfather, sixty years ago. The house has a main structure from logs, then insulation, then a wooden cladding, just like we do today. But after sixty years the pine cladding had reached end of life and Vaida decided to replace it. Also she decided to add some extra insulation. Here are some photos of the process:

The first set of photos show the logs after the old cladding and insulation have been stripped. After sixty years: perfect condition. In those days they used non-laminated logs so you see cracks everywhere, but as long as you protect the cracks nothing bad will happen.

Note the old insulation that was placed between the logs to stop the wind draught: Vaida’s grandfather used dried ferns that they got from the local forest. Worked fine, and all still in mint condition.

timber for log house

Here you can see the new cladding (darker yellow, on the left) next to the old cladding (lighter yellow on the right).

before and after house renovation

This house is ready for another sixty years. The main advantage of a traditional log house with insulation on the outside is the life expectancy. It will last forever. Just replace the cladding every sixty to eighty years, and you’re good to go for another two generations.

Another advantage is the enormous amount of thermal mass in the house, more about that here».

Advantages And Disadvantages

Any disadvantages? That depends, it is more a personal thing. As a start these houses do not have the traditional corners with the crossed logs. Some people like such owners, but they are covered by the insulation and the cladding, so sorry, no corners.

Second disadvantage: the inside is wooden walls everywhere. Some people like it, some don’t. Of course you can cover the wooden walls with gypsum, but ehhh … that is not very cost effective. For those of you who don’t favour wood on the inside we have alternative construction methods.

But that’s about it. No other disadvantages. Only advantages, with the main advantage: extreme life expectancy.