In the days on the early 1900’s, chinking consisted of anything that was jammed between 2 logs to keep the moisture and air out. Rocks, mud, horsehair, rope, mattress fillings, grass, moss and newspaper all made those first winters a little more bearable. Sure, these chinking materials were better than nothing but doesn’t begin to compare to the effectiveness of permanent chinking used today. Chinking progressed to mortar, which was much more effective but is still somewhat of an obsolete material due to its unsightliness, cracking, lack of flexibility and lack of permanent bonding characteristics.
In order to protect your log home from potentially damaging water intrusion and irritating insects, Perma-Chink can be the permanent answer to costly air infiltration and lower utility bills.
Remember, the smallest of gaps between your logs can lead to extensive air transfer and more expensive utility bills. Having numerous 1/16” voids (between the horizontal logs and corners) and unsealed gaps where the logs terminate up against the window and doorjambs can be no different than having a window or two wide open on a breezy, bitter cold December evening.
Perma-Chink Systems revolutionized the log home weatherization process in the early 80’s with their elastomeric, flexible chinking which emulates traditional mortar. It’s the most popular and widely used chinking in the world. It was introduced to replace mortar chinking, which did a reasonable job but was considered unsightly by many. Mortar also won’t permanently bond to wood, and obviously doesn’t stretch to accommodate any log movement. With a strong presence from Alaska to Arizona, from Canada to Russia, Perma-Chink has proven to be an effective, permanent sealant in any climate.
Available in 8 popular colors, it is packaged in 11-ounce and 30-ounce tubes, and the most popular cost effective packaging, 5-gallon pails. It never hardens once it cures; it always remains pliable and does a great job at retaining its color. It takes a stain and will not come off wood unless it’s applied on wood that has a coating of something (oil, ice, dirt, etc.) that would prevent it from adhering in the first place. Perma-Chink has very little, if any maintenance once applied.
For those “chinkless” style homes that traditionally aren’t chinked, keep an eye on the joints. It isn’t uncommon for the joints to open up a bit after years of settlement. If you don’t want to pronounced appearance of Perma-Chink, Energy Seal could be your choice. It’s applied in the same manner as Perma-Chink, offers the same benefits but will blend it the wood much better as it doesn’t contain the sand Perma-Chink does.
The Right Tools
The method of application can vary tremendously depending on personal preference and the financial commitment you’re making to the project and the size of the project. Application tools range from a standard $7.00 caulk gun to a $3,500.00 industrial 12-gallon capacity 200-pound commercial pump.
By far the most popular method of application is the bulk loading chink gun, which is used on probably 85% of log homes, by homeowners and contractors alike. To be used in conjunction with these guns, a follow plate will make the job quicker, easier and much, much cleaner.
A variety of finishing tools are available to complete the process. Stainless steel trowels ranging from ¾” wide up to 4”+ are used to “tool” the chinking into a uniform thickness, thus creating a straight, crisp, permanent chink joint. This is the most time consuming portion of the process not applying the chinking to the wall.
Of course, I have all the necessary application tools needed to professionally chink your home to your specifications.
Removal of Failed Chinking
Keep in mind, old, unsightly, failed chinking does not always need to be removed before applying Perma-Chink. Applying Perma-Chink over existing chinking can be done, but make sure the new chink joint is wider than the existing, allowing for adhesion on clean, bare wood. When dealing with old mortar, any loose pieces should be removed and filled and the void filled with backing rod.
If all old mortar is taken out, we make sure to sand or wash the portion of the log where the new Perma-Chink will be in contact. Depending on the adhesion of the mortar, and whether or not it’s held in place with wire or nails, the removal process can be much more time consuming than the fresh application of Perma-Chink. Keep in mind; it’s generally easier, neater and quicker to apply Perma-Chink over foam Backing Rod than over existing rough textured mortar.
There are 3 primary functions of the foam Backing Rod that is tucked into place on to which the Perma-Chink (or Energy Seal) is applied. First, it allows the applicator to form a two-point adhesion (on the top and bottom log), which provides for better elasticity during inevitable log movement. Second, backing rod allows you to apply a uniform thickness, and third, it saves you money by not using more chinking than you need to.
When filling up a joint without utilizing Backing Rod, you can easily use twice as much chinking as necessary. It is available on rolls ranging from 400 feet to 6,400 feet, depending on the size needed. Sizes available range from ¼” up to 2” in the round variety. Grip Strip, which provides the same function is triangular shaped which allows you to chink over a flat surface, if desired. These sizes range from ¾” to 6” wide.
There’s no doubt the process of chinking takes quite a bit longer than one would think if they’ve never done it before. How long the job takes depends on many factors: how many lineal feet you need to seal, what percentage of chinking is done while on a ladder, method of application, how precisely the logs fit together, whether you do the log extensions or vertical corners, how wide the joint is, whether you do the joint at the diagonal roofline, how many hours you work in a day, the inconvenience of working around shrubs, trees and other structures, etc. But the most definitive factor deciding how long your project will take may depend on the look you want.
Perhaps you have a hunting cabin in the mountain wilderness or a 120-year-old cabin that you feel might look best with a “rustic” look. On this type of structure you may not be as concerned with achieving the more pristine, time-consuming chink joint. Also, the vertical corners (also knows as zippers) generally take a bit longer to chink than the straight, horizontal joints.
When using the bulk chink gun, the follow plate is placed in the open pail, which prevents you from placing the end of the gun in the pail, thus eliminating the need to clean off the end of the gun following every load. The end of the gun is placed around the 2” opening in the plate, which is then filled by pulling back the hex rod. The cap and nozzle is then placed on the end of the gun, allowing for easy dispensing of Perma-Chink.
For those who choose not to use this popular method, applicator (mortar) bags are available. For those jobs that require smaller quantities, or for ease of application, tubes are available that are compatible with traditional caulk guns. Although easy to use with very little clean up, tubes (available in singles or by the case) are not as cost effective as pails. 11-ounce tubes are much easier to dispense from the caulk guns than the 30-ounce tubes.
The Finishing Touch
You’ll quickly learn the majority of the time spent on your project isn’t simply applying Perma-Chink between your logs. In addition to climbing up and down the ladder to load your gun or applicator’s bag, the most time consuming portion of your work will be spent tooling out your bead of chinking to create the finished look you that most meets your likeness.
When tooling, make sure to use enough pressure to create a uniform thickness while ensuring substantial contact with the log is made to form permanent adhesion once cured. On wider joints, Perma-Chink may be applied in a “zigzag” pattern, or if multiple beads are applied, make sure when troweled enough pressure is used to bond them together for proper curing. A delicate mist of water can be sprayed on the chinking prior to tooling which may make the toweling a bit easier and the material will have less of a tendency to stick to the tool.
While Perma-Chink won’t come out of clothes and sticks tenaciously to clean wood once cured, cleaning your tools at the end of the day is quite easy with the use of water. Generally soap isn’t even needed, unless it’s dried a bit in which case a little scrubbing might be needed. It isn’t necessary to empty out your chink gun at the end of your workday. As long as the cap and nozzle are tightly secured, this will create enough of an airtight chamber preventing the Perma-Chink from hardening in the gun overnight. There is no need to remove the follow plate from the pail until empty. Make sure the pail lid is tightly secured during storage.
Storage of Perma-Chink Pails
While Perma-Chink doesn’t guarantee storage of unused or partially used pails beyond 1 year, I have heard numerous reports that the product will last for many, many years. Keeping the pails in the sun throughout a summer will cause the product to form a skin, possibly up to 1” thick (while in the pail). It’s best to keep the product out of direct sunlight, and it would be best if the chinking were not allowed to freeze. It would be very surprising if your unused chinking didn’t last several years.
If you’re in need of an estimate to have your home professionally chinked, please contact me.