Wherever there were forests, the log home was the preferred type of dwelling. Big on the frontiers for many reasons, it would seem that log cabins would have dwindled with time.
However, in the 1900s Easterners rediscovered log homes as “camps’ along the progressing railroad lines and even evolved to oases where the rich would travel to escape the city heat and retreat to “simpler times.”
Sound familiar? Times haven’t changed that much regarding the log home escape! This evolution of the log home is what we see today and is greatly popular in the Appalachian Mountains and here in the North Carolina High Country!
The History of Log Homes in the Mountains of NC
The beginnings of log cabins are said to have begun in Eastern European countries and Scandinavia as early as 3500 BC. The first log homes were built in America by emigrants from Finland and Sweden.
The log home was ideal for early settlers as it could be built quickly, with few tools, and didn’t require many people to build. One man could chop down trees, trim them and build a log cabin in a matter of weeks!
These were typically 16’x20’ ish one-room homes with a stone fireplace, a door, and no windows. The kind you see in the early westerns or the replica of her old home place in Dollywood!
Thanks to those “rich folk” who so enjoyed vacations in the mountains of North Carolina, many began building bigger second homes and more modern versions of log homes which included huge fireplaces and more living space.
Features of Log Homes
The appeal of today’s log home lies in its creature comforts. The style, the smells, and the feelings of a log cabin home invoke bring many people to the mountains in search of their dream escape.
Several more styles evolved such as the Chalet with its’ large vista glass windows in the gable allowing sunlight to flow in and great views looking out. Or the Mountaineer with a second story built the full length of the home allowing for more bedrooms or whatever else one dreamed of.
Inherent in the warm feeling invoked by a log cabin, logs actually do provide excellent insulation. Log homes actually have 30% less energy use than traditional stick-built homes in that the temperature in your log home is less variable.
Logs warm up slowly and release heat more slowly, keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer! Log homes are also more fire resistant than stick-built homes because the size of the logs makes them harder to fuel fires – fire cannot wrap around logs as it can 2x4s!
To many, log homes also have aesthetic advantages for indoor and outdoor living. Vaulted ceilings, floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, modern kitchens, as well as the aforementioned pros lead many to seek out log cabins in the mountains.
Styles of Log Homes
There are two main styles of log homes – full log homes and timber frame homes.
A full-log home will look the same on the inside as it does on the outside.
Made by stacking the logs horizontally, the logs come in many different shapes and styles. They may be rectangular in shape with chinking in between the logs, or the logs may be ‘fully scribed’ meaning individually fitted as the structure is built with chinking added after all logs are in place.
Chinking is the material used to seal the gaps between logs and insulate against heat loss. Early chinking was made of clay and other natural materials but has come a long way in becoming the flexible synthetic material that adheres to logs and stretches as the logs move.
Timber Frame Homes
Timber frame homes are made of post and beam construction. Rather than horizontally stacked logs, a timber frame home starts with a timber framework of vertical posts supporting horizontal beams held together with mortise and tenon joists.
The frame supports the weight of the home, creating wide open spaces where load-bearing interior walls are not needed.
Don’t Mistake Log Siding for a Full Log Home
Many times a log-sided home can be mistaken for a full log home. Log siding has become a very popular, less expensive, and less laborious alternative to getting the full log home look for, well, less.
Log siding can add a beautiful aesthetic to a stick-built home. In addition, it can be used to side the upper floor or the basement of a home that is true log on the main floor so that the entire home has a log look.
Log Siding vs Full Log Homes
One of the ways to tell the difference is to take a look at the home’s interior walls. In a true log home, the interior walls will be made of… logs. The rest of the interior walls will usually be drywall or they may have used tongue and groove wood on the other interior walls.
Another way to tell is by closely inspecting the exterior of the home. Small nail or staple holes every 16”-24” will show in the log siding from when it was installed.
Log siding does offer a cost-saving benefit in lieu of real logs. It’s an easier build in terms of shipping, materials, and labor, and tongue and groove log siding does not require chinking.
Buying a Log Home in the High Country of North Carolina
Log homes haven’t lost their appeal in the hundreds of years since they were first created. Comfortable, warm, and relaxing, log home living offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Log homes can be healthier for your family and for the environment with many of the log providers using reforestation and recycling. They are energy efficient, easily maintained, and stand the test of time- there are log homes in Eastern Europe that have been lived in for over 400 years! A log home is a solid investment, retaining its home value over time.
Some log homeowners report offering a resale value of up to 30% more than traditionally built homes in some areas!
A combination of the past, present, and future, a log home may help you build your perfect family legacy here in the High Country. Call your 828 Realtor to help you find your perfect log home today!