Not all Logs are Created Equal

Ask anyone who’s ever built a log home or is considering building one, “So, what attracted you to this type of home construction?” The typical answer? The wood. Natural beauty, a “back-to-nature” feel, and an aromatic, soul-stirring scent – characteristics not usually found in traditional stick-built homes – are fundamental benefits intrinsic to every log home.

Kiln Dried Wood

Although there are numerous differences among tree species, they have one important thing in common. As they age, their xylem cells die off and become what’s known as heartwood, the structurally strong part of the tree responsible for holding it upright.

Each different type of tree contains a varying amount of heartwood. For example, Northeastern White Pine and Western Red Cedar – two varieties of wood available through Beaver Mountain – all possess a substantial amount of heartwood in each log.

Stress Graded To High Quality Specs

In 1980, in an attempt to prevent substandard logs from being used to build quality new log structures, the American Society of Testing and Materials developed ASTM D3957 or “Standards and Methods for Establishing Stress Grades for Structural Members used in Log Building.”

This professional method of grading logs tests the ability of logs to withstand stresses based on the species, age, size, and slope of the grain, as well as imperfections like splits, scars, holes, or organic degradation. Log grading for stress allows manufacturers to assign logs for use according to their load-handling capability. There is more than one grade level accepted by the grading system. Although the ASTM does not grade for visual imperfections such as blue stains, planer chips, chip out, and/or manufacturer defects, Beaver Mountain does! We have developed proprietary appearance standards that go above standard stress grades.

To help implement the grading requirements, many log home companies rely on Timber Products Inspection, Inc. (TPI), an independent grading agency. TPI trains Beaver Mountain’s craftsmen in grading standards and then oversees the grading with unannounced inspections. Logs that are graded, based on the structural criteria outlined in ASTM D3957, are stamped with the grade clearly marked. The stamp may also include other specific identification codes such as “Wall Log 30,” “Wall Log 40,” or “Wall Log 53.” Although the Log Homes Council now recommends that all members grade their logs, not all companies use the same grade.

Although the log grading process is very detailed and technical, it’s a crucial element to consider when choosing the manufacturer of your dream home. Knowing that your log home is constructed of structurally sound logs and timbers will contribute to the value of your investment and help ensure your peace of mind.

While some companies use logs graded to the “Wall Log 30″ specifications issued by ASTM D3957 and most use logs graded to “Wall Log 40,” Beaver Mountain Log & Cedar Homes surpasses this standard by using logs graded to “Wall Log 53” specifications – a much higher quality than logs used by most of our competitors.

Beaver Mountain Quality Control

Since some logs, even those from the same wood species, can suffer from structural defects, the resulting irregularities or damage could prove devastating to the structural integrity of your new home, not to mention its beauty. This is why, at Beaver Mountain Log & Cedar Homes, we take log grading seriously.

We grade our logs THREE times: once prior to milling, a second time as we precut the logs and timbers, and a third time for aesthetic beauty (a critical feature that’s not covered by ASTM standards).

Our builder-friendly, pre-cut wall logs are dry-stacked at our factory and are carefully inspected – that’s what we call quality assurance. This ensures that each log meets Beaver Mountain’s strict quality standards and provides you with an opportunity to personally inspect the logs yourself. At this time, our team of experts scrutinizes each log to verify that it has been accurately precut, milled to our exact specifications, and meets our high standards for appearance.

Once we’re satisfied – and you’re happy with the quality – we’ll inverse stack the logs, by row, on custom pallets which are then wrapped to keep everything clean and dry. Any wood products we’ve manufactured are also stacked on custom pallets and wrapped for job site protection. K.D. (kiln dried) lumber is covered with lumber wrap to shield it from dirt and weather. All of your building materials are staged together and are stored inside, under cover, until delivery.


Discuss questions you many have and building ideas for your log or timber home with one of our sincere professional building consultants, we’d love to hear from you.