In the summer of 2000, when wild fires claimed several homes in western Montana, Stewart Hansen and a handful of colleagues asked themselves a simple question: How do you build a log cabin that won’t burn? The answer is, obviously, to build it out of something other than wood. “We came up with this concrete concept, and after a few years of R&D, patent filing and working with attorneys, we launched the product, and we’ve been going strong ever since.”
Hansen is referring to the EverLogs System, a unique concrete building product that’s made to look like wood. He acknowledges that when people hear about it, skepticism is a common reaction: Concrete made to mimic wood? How good could it possibly look? As it turns out, pretty darn good. “Most folks say, ‘If you hadn’t told me it was concrete, I never would have known,’” says Hansen.
The product’s good looks are only the icing on the cake. Pragmatism rules the day in all three of their product lines, which include siding, exterior timbers and structural wall systems that come ready-made for each individual house. “We’re essentially trying to solve all of the traditional problems that folks have when building with wood, whether that’s fire, general maintenance, pests or insurance.” The list of practical reasons to utilize EverLogs is long and compelling.
See also Fire-Resistant Plants
- MAINTENANCE: While it sounds too good to be true, Hansen is adamant that EverLogs requires no upkeep. Any kind of wood exterior requires maintenance, whether that’s staining or painting, sanding, re-chinking, addressing rot, etc. Hansen makes the good point that this is an especially important issue when it comes to second homes, where homeowners may be gone for long periods. “Whenever the family comes back for the summer, they spend the first two weeks just maintaining the darn thing,” he says in reference to traditional log cabins.
- PEST CONTROL: In many areas of the country (EverLogs products are available and in use throughout the U.S. and Canada) termites, carpenter bees and other insects are notorious for wreaking havoc on homes. Luckily, concrete holds no appeal for such critters.
- WILDFIRE RESILIENCE: While no house is 100% immune to fire, concrete building materials are far superior to wood. “All of our building materials – from our structural logs to our timbers to our siding – are Class A fire resistant,” says Hansen. (Class A is the highest rating for re resistance in building materials.)
- LONGEVITY: Because of the above reasons, homes built with EverLogs tend to stand the test of time better. This is especially important for vacation homes as well, says Hansen. “People building homes want to pass them down. The kids spend summers there growing up, and then they get older, move away. With many homes, Grandma and Grandpa can’t maintain it anymore, and because nobody lives close enough to care for it, it gets sold. EverLogs helps homes stay in the family because they eliminate that maintenance component.”
- EASE OF USE: Wilson Mattingly, with Malmquist Builders, had never used the EverLogs system before building this particular cabin, and now he’s sold. “It looks great, it’s easy to work with, and they got our order exactly right the first time,” he says. From a builder’s standpoint, he was especially pleased with the material itself: “I was surprised how little movement there was, in terms of shrinking or expanding.”
- COST: It’s true, you could finish the exterior of a home with wood for a smaller initial cost. But, you’ll lose that savings pretty quickly says Hansen. “Any premium you pay up front, you’ll recoup in five years or less, in terms of upkeep, insurance and financing costs.
See also Painting a Concrete Floor