As we start to research log homes, it quickly becomes apparent that there is much more variety than one would ever think. Not only do log homes come in all shapes and sizes, but the logs themselves come in as many variations as you can imagine. Once you decide on the look you want, you can start eliminating manufacturers that don’t provide your system.
There are two categories of log homes: handcrafted and milled log homes. Initially, you may not realize what you are looking at, but there are some basic guidelines that will clarify the differences. A handcrafted log home is just that; the logs are peeled by hand, notched by hand, and in many cases, each log is scribed to fit exactly on top of another log. In many handcrafted homes, the logs are stacked alternately, so the large end of a log is stacked on top of the tapered end of the log beneath. A milled log home will feature logs that are uniform in shape, and the logs will be cut to fit together, such as with a tongue-and-groove or Swedish cope, so that they stack easily and evenly. There is a big price difference between a handcrafted and a milled log home. This is mostly because of the intense labor required to construct a handcrafted home, and because of the larger diameter logs that are normally used. The vast majority of homes built today are milled log homes.
If you see a log home with round logs and chinking, that is a first indication that this is could be a handcrafted log home. Chinking was historically a mortar-like material that filled the gaps between the logs. Modern science has created an acrylic compound that expands and contracts with the wood; it is applied as a wide white stripe. If a handcrafted log is not scribed, then chinking is a must because the logs leave gaps along their length. Some people do use chinking as a design feature even when it’s not necessary, though for the most part milled log homes are not chinked.