Design & Style
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The Style Between the Logs

Choices in chinking

By Lucie B. Amundsen
Published: May 1, 2008
You may not have given chinking a lot of thought. The filler used between logs to keep heat in and pests out, chinking is traditional and functional. But now that there is a variety of chinking choices, it’s also a design element. What look do you like?

To Chink or Not?
Chinking is a must in certain styles of homes where there are gaps between the logs and a sealant is necessary to fill the resulting spaces. However, even if a log home is of the “chinkless” variety, meaning that the logs were shaped with a scribe to fit snugly together, chinking may still be desireable.

Mike Hofrichter, a chinking specialist based in Washington State, explained that there are many reasons to go ahead with chinking in a structure that was built with scribed logs. “Often a number of the joints between logs will open from settling and allow air and insects to enter.”

But just as often chinking is done for style. Some may just want the look of a chinked house and the opportunity to add another color to their log home – outside and in. “When I chink a home I often hear the comment, ‘Now it looks finished,’” says Hofrichter.

Chinking Style – Color Palette
Chinking now comes in a variety of colors to help homeowners achieve their design goals. A light color chink will give a traditional mortar look and brighten a cabin’s interior. Light colors also showcase the shape and pattern of the logs. If you’re looking for less contrast, a medium shade will merely outline logs. And your chinking can nearly disappear altogether with a shade that matches the wood.

Another consideration when selecting a chink color is the width of the chink itself. Typically, chinking product is applied in widths from 1/2 inch to up to 4 inches. An industry guideline suggests chinking of no less than one-sixth the diameter of the log. This ensures that there is enough chinking product between logs to accommodate the movement in the wood.

When it comes to questions of design there is no substitute for viewing firsthand. But websites can help – enter “interactive chinking color swatches” into an Internet search engine. You’ll find websites that let you view chinking colors against the log color that best matches your home. You’ll be one step closer to finding the perfect chinking for your place.

Lucie B. Amundsen’s first log home experience was visiting Yellowstone National Park’s majestic Old Faithful Inn. She’s been a cabin enthusiast ever since.
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