Log Home vs. Stick Home

Log homes fit the latest housing trend: towards greater environmental awareness in how we construct homes and develop our communities with an eye towards sustainability. Sustainability is the effort to reduce the impacts of future needs of those development activities we undertake today to meet our own needs: in essence saying, ‘don’t rob our environmental future too meet today’s wants and needs.’

Since log homes can save energy and reduce environmental impacts through the use of renewable resources, they will play a roll in green building. In most cases log homes can be “greener” (less impact on the environment) compared to conventional residential framing methods. There are several reasons supporting this claim for log homes – including:

  1. Use of fundamentally renewable resources (timber)
  2. The potential to use fire-killed or wind-downed timber that could be more difficult for a conventional saw-mill to process
  3. Less energy and labor are consumed processing the timber for log components between harvest and emplacement on site
  4. Logs are often shipped to construction sites within smaller distances of harvest locations, resulting in lower transportation energy-use than conventional framing lumber
  5. Log walls provide “surface as finish” saving material and labor costs since added layers of other building materials are not required
  6. Fewer (albeit proportionally stronger) fasteners are needed to erect a log-walled building, resulting in lower quantities of metal employed to complete the job (manufactured metals have high embodied energy)
  7. Modern log homes save energy to similarly well-insulated stick framed homes*
  8. In the future, when log buildings are demolished there is a high potential for recycling logs (log homes would more likely be “deconstructed” for their valuable timbers.**

*One of the conclusions from a Department Of Energy sponsored thermal mass studies states that log walls, despite lower-appearing steady state R – values, have been shown to provide equal or superior annual heating and cooling performance when compared to framed walls of high steady state R – values.

**Another inadvertent environmental benefit of of log home building is that in the distant future, when the log home is demolished or de-constructed for its component parts, the logs will provide value as a source of quality timber for producing other lumber and wood products unlike stick frame construction which is often demolished and shipped directly to landfills.

Our thanks to the Technical Committee of the Log Homes Council, Building Systems Councils, National Association of Home Builders