How to Paint Your Log Cabin

Painting your log cabin is the single most important step to ensuring it stands the test of time.


How to paint your log cabin – protect it first time to last a lifetime

Painting your log cabin is the single most important step to ensuring it stands the test of time.

‘Simple’, you may say and you’d be right – but only when you know how.

Painting a timber cabin is a different process to coating a hard wall but when you stick carefully to the rules the results will ensure your cabin lasts a lifetime.

At Beaver Log Cabins we live by the motto: ‘Protect your cabin the first time and it’ll last a lifetime’.

From choosing the right paint for the job to sealing the cabin properly, adequately preparing the timber surfaces and applying base and top coats, it’s important to get it right from the very beginning.

We’ve put together a step by step guide to help you through the process.

What paint to use for your log cabin?

The exterior paint you use on your log cabin is crucial to the protection and life-span of the timber. Never use a cheap paint and always ensure that the appropriate paint for the job is used.

We recommend using Sadolin Superdec, this is self-priming and undercoating.

But before we start painting we need to ensure that the surfaces are fully prepared.


Even new timber which has been exposed to sunlight for a brief period of time can suffer from grey and denatured timber fibres and it is therefore important that thorough mechanical sanding is undertaken prior to painting otherwise adhesion problems will occur with any paint that’s used.

Extra protection

For ultimate protection coat any non-treated wood with ONE liberal coat of Sadolin Quick Dry Wood Preserver paying particular attention to end grains. Allow 24 hours before overcoating. Where possible, a coat of Sadolin Superdec, should be applied, all round, prior to fixing and assembly.

Bare timber

Before painting any surface the timber must be sanded thoroughly this is especially important if the wood has been exposed to sun light and began to grey, in this case the grey wood must be mechanically sanded right back to new bright wood. Sand wood joints make sure all sanding is complete. Sand any defects on logs such as pitting, shakes and roughly planed timber. Brush / dust down the full cabin.

Treating knots

Firstly, you must treat the individual knots with a knot sealer such as Zinsser BIN. Brush on with a small brush to all knots. Apply second coat to all knots.

Some knots in timber can be extremely problematic, and where copious amounts of resin are present there can be no 100% cure.

For especially difficult knots use a heat gun to draw out as much resin as possible from the knots before wiping excess resin away with methylated spirits. All of the timber, especially if it is hardwood should also be washed using methylated spirits, frequently changing the lint free cloths used.


Fill any noticeable cracks, screw holes, knots and T&G end grains with sadolin wood filler.

Sand all fillers when dry.

Put a first coat of paint on and allow to dry fully before caulking. This will help to identify any voids that are present.

Caulk every T&G joints along the log. We recommended 24 hours to ensure its fully through dry before applying the next coat of paint.

Inspect the timber for any newly visible cracks, holes and imperfections and refill if required.

Seal all windows and doors.

Depending on the type of timber some can contain more tannings than others and therefore can lead to tannin stains bleeding through to the top coat. To alleviate this apply a coat of Crown Trade PX4 all over. Then follow with Sadolin Superdec. If staining is not an issue then apply 3 coats of Sadolin Superdec –Touch dry in 2- 4 hours recoat in 16 hours.

Previously painted

If you are applying a maintenance coat to a previously painted surface make sure all surfaces must be sound, suitably dry and free from anything that will interfere with

the adhesion of the materials to be applied. Remove all defective coatings.

Organic growths should be treated with a suitable fungicidal wash and removed.

Remaining sound surfaces should be cleaned with a warm water and mild detergent, rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow to dry. Lightly abrade in the direction of the grain, taking care not to break the surface coating. Remove dust.

Then apply 2 coats of Sadolin Superdec – Touch dry in 2- 4 hours recoat in 16 hours

Sadolin Superdec

Sadolin Superdec is the ultimate solution when an opaque solid colour is required, ideal for hiding timber blemishes. It provides superior vapour permeable protection and is flexible to resist cracking, peeling & flaking. Perfect for use on new and previously coated wood, this microporous formulation is self-priming and undercoating and contains a biocide to protect the dried paint film against fungal degradation. It also protects against blue stain fungus which is activated by UV light.

Protect your cabin for long-lasting results

Using the recommended paint and applying it in the right way will provide vital protection for the log cabin. When it’s done with the wrong paint or even with the right paint applied with poor practice then the results can be disastrous for your timber.

Never, ever thin the paint before application to your log cabin. Mixing the paint with other agents will contaminate the paint leaving your timber exposed to risk.

We’ve seen log cabins with up to 50% moisture content in the timber due to poor paint application and contamination of paint with thinning agents. The damage caused by such high levels of moisture content in timber cabins can be impossible to reverse. We would advise the re-application of paint to your cabin every up to three years depending on location and exposure to elements to ensure it lasts a lifetime. Protect your cabin the first time and it’ll last a lifetime.

Common mistakes:

  • Watering down paint to make it easier to apply.
  • Applying paint too thin.
  • Applying paint too soon between coats.
  • Using internal caulk and fillers outside.
  • Not sealing all windows +doors probably before painting.
  • Not painting into rubber seals on windows and doors.
  • Painting on damp/ wet surfaces.
  • Painting onto dusty surfaces.
  • Painting if under 5 degrees.
  • Not sealing areas where water can ingress
  • Painting over grey de-natured timber fibres
  • Not having a regular maintenance regime.
  • Not building with good quality timber.

Helpful tips and hints:

  • Brush on all base coat to ensure no naked timber is shown.
  • For top and finish coat rolling can be used provided adequate paint is applied and that all end grains grooves of log, and corners are cut in by brush firstly. To avoid an orange peel type texture however given by roller application, a brush can be passed over the paint whilst still wet.
  • Where possible at the construction stage its always advisable to seal all areas of the timber with paint to be used prior to fitting.
  • Inspect the paintwork periodically and consider a regular maintenance regime to keep your cabin in top condition.
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