When choosing a wood species for your log home, you should consider these factors:
3. Ease of maintenance
4. Beauty or appearance
5. Energy efficiency
We believe oak is the best wood to use because it excels in all categories.
Gastineau Log Homes is unique in the log home industry for specializing in homes of solid oak. We offer our oak logs
in both full log and insulated log (half-log) options and in several sizes. Oak is considered a premium wood species but
because other log home companies do not offer oak, we are often asked, “What’s so special about oak?” and “Wouldn’
t an oak log home be much more expensive?” “Why don’t other log home companies offer oak?” Let’s take a moment
to answer those questions.
What’s so special about oak?
Do you like oak furniture? How about oak cabinetry? Flooring? Most people immediately answer “Yes!” Ask why and
they usually say, “because of the beautiful color and grain and the strength and durability of the oak.” Unlike most of
the woods used in the construction of log homes, oak is a hardwood. Its rich grain and distinct warm color set it apart
from the softwoods, like pine. Because of its beauty, people rarely want to stain the inside of their oak log home.
As for durability, oak is legendary. The oldest wooden structure in the world is made from oak. The structural beams
and much of the woodwork in Europe’s finest and oldest remaining churches and castles are made from oak. Before
metals were widely used, the greatest wooden warships in the world had hulls of oak. For centuries, oak barrels have
carried everything from water to moonshine. In the timber frame industry, with its centuries old building tradition, the
durability and strength of oak is unquestioned.
Is oak affordable?
A visit to a local hardwood supplier to look at exquisite oak moldings and cabinetry makes this a reasonable question.
But you have to remember that such products represent the very premium that oak has to offer. The knots and swirling
grain that people find attractive in a log home aren’t suitable for fine trim and cabinetry, where grain and color must be
carefully matched and knots eliminated. We located our mill in Missouri to take advantage of this amazing natural
resource. We are located on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks, where oak is plentiful and there is not a large furniture
industry. Combined with our buying power from the large purchases we make, this is how we can offer “The Beauty of
Oak for the Price of Pine.” In fact, we can also manufacture and sell pine logs, although no one takes us up on it when
they learn they can have oak for the same price!
Why don’t more log home companies sell oak if it is so good?
First, because they cannot buy oak logs in their area at a reasonable price! Missouri is renowned for its oak forests.
As President of the Missouri Forest Products Association, Lynn Gastineau has been intimately involved in monitoring
and maintaining the quality and quantity of Missouri’s most precious natural resource. Her family has been buying oak
logs since 1954 and we have access to the best suppliers in the nation – and we know how to negotiate and buy at the
In contrast, pine will grow almost anywhere and is the least expensive wood available for harvesting. Of course there
are varying degrees of quality in pine logs. When comparing wood species or even varieties in a single species, it is
most important to distinguish the different qualities found between the heartwood and the sapwood of the tree.
Another significant factor why a manufacturer does not offer oak logs is the machinery necessary to mill the oak logs.
Because of oak’s natural characteristics, it is necessary to design the manufacturing process specifically to cut oak.
Log home companies have machinery that is designed to mill a softwood such as pine. They cannot manufacture an
Oak home with their existing equipment and processes. That is why Gastineau has been able to dominate the oak log
home market since 1977.
Is oak heartwood better than the heartwood of other species?
The heartwood of oak is rated as being “Resistant or very resistant.” This is the same category as old growth bald
cypress, cedars, junipers and redwood. The oak logs provided by Gastineau Log Homes are solid oak heartwood. It is
virtually impossible in today’s market to find only heartwood logs of pine, cedar or cypress because trees of sufficient
size are not available or the cost is prohibitive.
Sapwood of any wood species does not exhibit the same qualities as the heartwood. “The sapwood of all native
species, even those in which the heartwood is highly durable, is susceptible to deterioration by biological agents,
because it lacks extractives. In fact, the presence of reserve foods in the parenchyma cells of sapwood may increase
its susceptibility to decay and particularly to bacteria and fungal staining… even in a tree species with relatively
durable heartwood, the serviceability of an untreated piece of the wood is determined by the amount of sapwood
present.” (Ref: Textbook of Wood Technology) Therefore, even a “Resistant or very resistant” species of log with
sapwood exposed to the outside of the log surface will not be resistant to decay and insects. At Gastineau we use only
the heartwood of the oak.
How is an oak log home easier to maintain?
Yes, in several different ways. First, the finish on the interior of the logs never has to be replaced. A polyurethane
finish has lasted on our homes for 30 years and not had to be replaced!
Second, oak logs do not require chemical treatment to maintain durability and prevent decay. Pine logs should be
treated with chemicals a minimum of every two years (for the life span of the home) to prevent decay.
Third, when you power wash the exterior of the home, the oak logs will hold up against the highest psi you want to use!
This makes the exterior cleaning easier and faster.
Last, it typically does not take as much sealant for oak logs because the cellular structure of the wood is denser,
meaning it will not absorb as much product.
Are Oak logs energy efficient?
The energy efficiency of a log wall is determined by the width of the log where the logs are joined, the sealant system
used between the logs, the R value of the wood and the Thermal Mass of the wall. Our 8” thick oak logs, superior
sealing system between the logs, the R rating and the thermal mass make our oak logs unmatched in terms of energy
efficiency compared to any other log in the industry.
And, our standard R40 minimum roof system is even more important when examining the energy efficiency of the log
home package you purchase. When comparing log home packages, the structural design of the roof will determine the
R-value of the roof you can achieve. This is a critical element in the cost of heating and cooling your home.
How do we build the perfect log home?
We believe the perfect log home has yet to be built. While we strive for perfection we often have to settle for excellent
or outstanding. If excellent and outstanding will meet your expectations – then a Gastineau Oak Log Home should be
in your future.
|We offer oak because we believe it is the best wood for a log home.
|Pennsylvania Oak Log Homes
Colleen & Dennis Gabel
131 Oley Furnace Rd. Fleetwood, PA 19522-8916
|c. 2008 Pennsylvania Oak Log Homes All rights reserved.