The Tiny house Blog

What's the Best Log Size for a Log Cabin? (Explained!)

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
log cabin tiny home

A log cabin's rustic aesthetics, comfort, and minimalistic design make it an awesome option if you are looking for a tiny home in a more natural environment. 

Log cabins can also be more energy efficient than traditional homes, as the thick logs provide insulation, especially with double glazing, to keep the interior warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Additionally, building your own log cabin can be a rewarding DIY project for anyone willing to put in the effort.

The choice of timber is crucial in the construction of a log home. It is important to pick the right kind of wood and the right size of logs to ensure that they offer the durability and versatility required for construction.

Logs with an average diameter of between 8 inches and 12 inches are ideal for building a log home. Larger timber will be more difficult to handle and may require heavy equipment for transport and placement, while smaller timber may not provide as much insulation or structural stability.

In the following sections of this post, let's talk in detail about the types and sizes of logs you should get if you plan to build a log cabin. We will also cover calculating the number of logs you need and how to procure them. 

What kind of logs do you need for cabin building?

Building a log home can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience. However, choosing the right kind of logs is crucial to building a well-insulated and structurally sound cabin with windows after obtaining necessary planning permission.

Not all logs are created equal, and the type of wood you choose will significantly impact your cabin's strength, durability, and overall aesthetic. There are various factors to consider when choosing the right logs for your cabin, so that you have enough room.

Species of wood

One of the most crucial aspects you should consider when choosing logs for log home building is the species of wood. 

The most common heavy-duty woods to build log cabins are:

  • Pine
  • Cedar
  • Spruce
  • Fir

Cedar is also a great option for a garden building, as it is naturally resistant to decay and insects and has a beautiful natural color and aroma. 

The Rolling Cabin tiny log cabin on wheels
View The Rolling Cabin tiny log cabin on wheels

Straightness of the logs

When choosing the logs for your summer house, it's also important to consider the straightness of the logs. 

The logs you choose should be as straight as possible, as crooked ones can be difficult to work with and may not fit together as snugly.

Insulating a cabin with windows can be a nightmare if you are not careful in choosing straight logs.

Moisture content

The moisture content of the timber is another factor that can affect the quality of your build. 

Timber that is too wet or too dry can cause problems during the building process. Wet timber can warp and twist as it dries, while dry timber can crack and split. 

Ideally, the air dry or kiln dry timber should have a moisture content of around 20-25% to ensure the logs stay stable and maintain their shape during the building process.

Aesthetic value

It is important to consider your cabin's aesthetic value, look, and feel. 

Different types of wood will have different colors, textures, and patterns, so it's important to choose a wood that complements the overall aesthetic of your log building.

For example, if you want a rustic, natural look with extra space, pine may be the best choice.

On the other hand, if you want a more modern style and a sleek look with windows, spruce or fir may be a better option. 

You can improve the aesthetics of your log structure with these beautiful interior ideas.  

What is the best log thickness for a log cabin?

The best log thickness for a log home floor plan depends on several factors, including your personal preference, the design style of the cabin, and the local building codes. Logs that are between 8 inches and 12 inches in diameter are the best for constructing a log home.

Logs of this size are easy to work with and can be used in almost any log cabin design with windows. 

Larger logs will be more difficult to handle and place in log garden buildings. They will also be more expensive and harder to find.

On the other hand, logs smaller than 6 inches will provide less insulation or structural stability.

Consequently, logs around 8 to 10 inches in diameter are considered a sweet spot, as they are large enough to provide structural stability while still being manageable.

It is also worth noting that some log cabin builders prefer to use "D-logs," which are logs cut flat on one side and rounded on the other. It creates what is called the "D" shape profile.

These are typically around 8-10 inches in thickness and can provide structural stability, while also ensuring a good seal.

Ultimately, the best log thickness for a log cabin with windows will depend on your specific needs and preferences, as well as local codes and planning regulations for log garden buildings.

Log thickness for a log cabin

What is the best log length for log cabins?

Logs come in different lengths, but 8 to 16 feet long logs give the best results for most log cabin designs. 

However, if the floor plan calls, you can use timber of almost any size, but purchasing longer logs is better as it will result in fewer joints giving you better protection. 

You can always cut them to the desired lengths on-site.

The length of logs that you can use also depends on the availability of logs in your area.

The key is to use straight, consistent diameter logs with minimal knots or other defects. 

It is also important to pay attention to how the timber will be joined, as certain techniques may require specific lengths.

Some factors to consider when determining the best log length for your cabin include the following.

Log length for log cabins

Height of the wall

Longer logs, in general, allow for taller walls. If you love high ceilings, then you should go for longer logs. 

On the flip side, longer logs can be more difficult to handle and transport. 

Also, it might not be easy to source longer logs as well. 

Type of joints

Different types of joinery may require specific log lengths. Here are a few points that may help you choose the best round log length depending on the type of joints in your cabin design.

  • Dovetail corners: This type of double tongue joinery typically requires longer logs, as the notches are cut at an angle, and they are interlocked to create a tight fit.
    Logs of 8-16 feet in length are typically used for this type of joinery.
  • Saddle-notch: This type of joinery uses a V-shaped notch cut into the top of one log and a matching notch cut into the bottom.
    Logs of 8-12 feet in length are typically used if you use this type of joint in your log cabin.
  • Full-scribe: Involves scribing, or tracing, the shape of the logs onto each other and cutting them to fit together perfectly.
    Logs of 8-16 feet in length are a very popular choice in such situations.

You should note that these are general guidelines, and the specific log length needed may vary depending on the design and style of the cabin, as well as the availability of timber in your area.

The availability of logs

Depending on your location and the type of wood you choose, you may need to adjust the log lengths to accommodate the size of readily available logs.

You can also purchase log cabin kits to make your build easier. 

Pros and cons of different log thicknesses

When building log homes, the logs' thickness can significantly impact the final product. Here are a few ways the thickness of your logs can affect your experience:

  • Insulation: Thick logs provide better protection from weather than thin ones, leading to a more energy-efficient building and lower heating and cooling costs.
  • Strength and durability: Thick logs are generally stronger and more durable than thinner logs, which can help to ensure the cabin can withstand harsh weather conditions and last for many years.
  • Appearance: If you want a more rustic, traditional look, thicker logs are the way to go. Thinner ones, on the other hand, can create a more modern design and a minimalist appearance.
  • Weight: Thicker logs are generally heavier than thinner ones, making them more difficult to handle and transport during the building process.
  • Cost: Generally, thicker logs are more expensive than thinner logs. If you are on a tight budget, the cost of logs can add up quickly, and there might be better options than thicker logs.

Each log thickness has advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to pick the one that best suits your needs.   

If you want to use hewn timber that are more or less flat slats of wood, you can get them in different thicknesses from 19 mm up to 44 mm.

Log homes

Pros of thinner logs (6 inches in diameter or lesser)

  • Easy to transport and handle
  • More affordable
  • They can result in a lighter building
  • They might be available easily

Cons of thinner logs (6 inches in diameter or lesser)

  • Not as strong and durable
  • They may not provide enough environmental protection
  • More prone to water and other types of damage
  • Need regular maintenance

Pros of thicker logs (8 inches in diameter or greater)

  • Strong and durable
  • Can withstand the weather elements better
  • Can provide excellent environmental protection
  • Can support a bigger structure

Cons of thicker logs (8 inches in diameter or greater)

  • More difficult to source and transport
  • Expensive
  • Require more handling skills

How many logs do you need to build a log home?

Once you decide on what type of logs you will use for your log cabin and pent roof, the next thing is to calculate the number of logs you need. 

You can calculate how many logs you need if you know the dimensions of your log cabin and the thickness of your logs.

Let’s consider an example to calculate how many logs you need. 

Let’s assume that you are building a log cabin that is 20 feet (240 inches) in width, 20 feet (240 inches) in length, and 9 feet (108 inches) in height. 

Let's also assume that you have same diameter logs with average diameter of 10 inches, and the length of your logs is 16 feet.

Log Cabin

To reach a height of 9 feet, you will need 108/10 » 11 logs. If your project has dimensions of 20 feet and you have 16 feet logs, each wall will require 1.25 logs to cover 20 feet. 

So, the total number of logs you will need for four walls will be 11X1.25X4 = 55 logs.

Besides the walls, it will take 20 logs for gabled ends and 7 for the pent roof. So, the total number of logs comes out to 55+20+7= 82 logs. 

So, the total number of logs needed for a 20’X20’ log cabin that is 9’ high is about 82.

Where to buy logs from when building your own log cabin?

There are several options for where to buy logs for building a log cabin. Some popular options include:

  • Local sawmills: Many sawmills sell logs harvested from the surrounding area. It can be a good option if you want to use local, sustainable resources.
  • Log home suppliers: Many companies specialize in supplying logs and other materials for log homes. They typically offer various species, grades, and sizes of logs.
  • Online retailers: You can find many online retailers that sell logs for building log cabins.
  • Harvesting your own: Some people harvest and mill their logs to build their cabins. It can be a cost-effective option, but it requires a significant investment in equipment and expertise.

It's important to check and verify the quality of the logs before buying them for your log cabin. 

Get all the information on log cabin homes

Building log cabins can be difficult, especially if you are doing something like this for the first time. It would be best if you had the right information and guidance. 

Before embarking on the journey to build your log cabin, ensure that you work with high-quality, sustainable materials.

A log cabin can be a cozy tiny home if you want a rustic experience amidst the calm of nature. 

Tiny House can help you find the best log cabin you will fall in love with!

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