Applied from necessity or as an aesthetic addition to a log home's attractive appearance, chinking is the mortar-like bonding material used to seal and bond the horizontal joints of log structures. Chinking controls moisture and air from penetrating the log home's interior and aids insulation. There are many fine commercial products available to chink the modern log home. Commercial products offer a wide range of colour options, however they are rather expensive. Homemade chinking is cost-efficient and provides the same weather repelling and insulating qualities as the expensive commercial products.
Basic Chinking Receipe
A homemade chinking compound can be readily prepared with one part Portland Cement, two parts fine grain masonry sand and a half part of masonry lime. Mix thoroughly with enough water to get a consistency so that if you press it into a ball it holds its shape. Add water gradually until the desired firmness is achieved. Prepare the chinking mixture in small batches that can be applied before it starts to set up and firm.
Traditionally, chinking for log home structures was prepared from a combination of clay, lime, sand, moss or other materials available in the locale of the home. A common mixture is two parts clay soil, one part sifted wood ashes and a half part salt, moistened with water.
If you desire to stain the chinking, it can be tinted with concrete stamping stains until the desire tone is achieved. (Make notes of the amount of chinking prepared and how much stain was added so that you can replicate the colour in following batches. Follow stain mixing instructions on the product label.)
Preparing Logs For Chinking
Logs should be clean and dry prior to the application of chinking material. If chipped or broken old caulking or chinking is evident, remove with a small chisel and a rubber mallet. Brush off all dust or surface debris. Dust and debris can be removed with a leaf blower or broom.
Deep cracks should be filled with wood chips, moss or twigs. Moss, mixed with mud, has been used for decades. Push the moss mixture deep into the crack or crevices of the logs using a screwdriver, putty knife or wedge of wood. Torn strips of rags and small stones can also be used to fill up the volume of a crack.
Apply chinking to fill cracks using a putty knife or a small masonry trowel. Fill in the volume of open cracks and spaces between logs with the chinking mixture. Smooth the surface of the crack with the edge of the knife or trowel and allow to dry. If the chinking shrinks considerably during the drying process, a second coat to fill the void may be required.