How to Select the Best Wood for Your Log Cabin

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building a cabin wood logs pile

From days spent hiking through the woods to nights cozying up around a fire, it’s no secret that there are endless ways to enjoy cabin living. But if you don’t choose the right wood to build your cabin, then you can run into all kinds of expensive problems that will put a serious damper on your log home lifestyle. 

The logs you choose will affect your cabin’s overall aesthetic, its cost to build and maintain, and how well it can withstand all that Mother Nature throws at it, so it’s a very important decision that deserves careful consideration. 

Whether you’re planning to build a luxury log home or a quaint log cabin, these are the key considerations you should make before choosing your wood. 


luxury log cabin nestled in the woods


For many of us, cost is at the top of the list of importance when it comes to choosing building materials. Typically, fast-growing species of wood, like yellow pine, are less expensive than slow-growing species, like northern white cedar, because the slower growing the tree is, the less available it is. Wood that’s readily available in your location will also usually cost less than wood that you need to transport from farther away. 


The type of wood you choose will greatly affect your cabin’s overall appearance, so you’ll want to do some research on various types of wood and the way they look to ensure you choose one that aligns with your style preferences. You should also keep in mind that the wood’s appearance will change over time due to weathering, so make sure to research what different types of wood look like at different stages of their life.


The R-value refers to the insulation efficiency of wood. In other words, it indicates how good the wood is at keeping in heat. If efficiency is your priority, then you’ll want to look for species with higher R-values. However, it’s also important to note that the differences in R-values among species are typically very nominal, and there are plenty of other ways to enhance the efficiency of your home, so it shouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker if your chosen wood has a lower R-value. 


traditional log cabin in the woods

Decay Resistance

All wood can start to decay over time, but some species have better decay resistance than others. Old, slow-growing trees tend to be the most resistant thanks to a build-up of heartwood, the darker colored wood in the center of a tree that provides natural resistance to decay. That said, you can (and should) treat any wood you use with a preservative that will prolong its life, so like the R-value, lower decay resistance shouldn’t necessarily keep you from choosing a type of wood that you otherwise love. 


Finally, you should consider the stability of any species of wood you choose. Wood can warp, shrink, and twist over time, which can lead to costly problems down the line. However, there are also things you can do to keep this from happening. For instance, wood with a tendency to shrink can be air- or kiln-dried to prevent shrinkage. Therefore, like decay resistance and the R-value, stability should be a consideration but not the only deciding factor when choosing your wood. 

Looking for some log home inspiration? Check out these log cabins for sale across the country.

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