Log Cabin Roofing

The Finishing Steps to Building Your Log Cabin

Roofing, Siding and Interior

After the rafters are in place, you will be ready to put on the roof boards. These boards can be 5/8-inch by 6- or 8-inch tongue-and-groove boards. There are some exceptions to this which are covered in the next section.

For siding, probably the most practical and easiest material to use as the exterior finish is wood. It has the advantage of coming in many different shapes, colors, and textures. It can be stained, painted, or left natural.

As noted in previous articles, I have not specified that sheathing must be used. Plywood or one of the composition sheathings or diagonal sheathing boards may be used--in fact, should be used if you plan to use the cottage year-round at some time in the future. It should also be used if you are going to use plaster or plasterboard on the inside.

The sheathing helps to stiffen your structure. One of the most common types of siding is the lapped bevel. Cedar is one of the popular woods from which this siding is made. It comes in 4-, 6-, and 8-inch widths. The thick butt edge is usually 7/16 inch thick. The 10- and 12-inch widths have an 11/16-inch butt.

The minimum headlap for 4- and 6-inch widths is 1 inch; widths over 6 inches should have 1 ¼ inches headlap. Hot-dipped galvanized nails should be used for applying the siding to the studs. If sheathing is used, try to nail through the sheathing to the stud.

Rustic and drop siding as well as shiplap and matched siding are also popular. The first two should have a finished thickness of ¾ inch. The maximum width is 8 inches. Shiplap or matched siding should be a minimum of 25/32 inch thick. The maximum width is 12 inches.

Plywood is always a possible exterior finish. It is very important that it should be exterior grade--never use interior-grade plywood for exterior purposes. Cottage No. 2 would look particularly attractive if it were finished with %-inch exterior-grade plywood.

In this case I would nail the 8-foot length of plywood horizontally. The horizontal joints and nails would be covered with batten strips. Similar batten strips could be nailed horizontally every foot above and below the joint. This procedure would also keep the plywood from warping or raising at the edges.

Be sure the vertical edge joints are joined at the mid-point of a stud. One of the best ways of finishing the exterior of your cottage is the use of vertical tongue-and-groove boards. This type of siding is usually nailed at the bottom to the sill, at the top to the plate and in the middle to a herringbone brace.

In Hawaii the vertical siding is often used without any intermediate framing members. The roof load is actually carried by the siding. Shingles can also be used to cover the exterior of your cabin. I would suggest that you follow the instructions of the manufacturer for laying these.

Usually the manufacturer recommends the use of sheathing. If plywood is used for sheathing, the shingles should be applied over l-by-2-inch nailing strips, and attached with copper or galvanized nails. Asbestos-cement shingles should be attached to the sheathing with barbed nails.

Fiberboard sheathing is not acceptable as a nailing base for this type of shingle. Wood shingles should be attached to l-by-3-inch nailing strips which have been spaced according to the shingle exposure.

There are many types of roofing materials that can be used on your cabin. To some extent, the choice of materials will depend upon whether the roof is pitched or flat. The table on page 120 indicates whether you should use a roll or shingle type of roofing material.

Asphalt shingles require a roof pitch of at least 4 inches to each lineal horizontal foot. When the pitch is this low, most manufacturers of roofing materials recommend that roofing felt or asphalt-saturated building paper be laid under the shingle roof. If your roof has any valleys, I'd suggest that you start your work by laying heavy roofing felt down the center of the valley.

One layer of felt, 18 inches wide, should be laid face down. Then a second layer, full width, should be laid face up. After this is nailed down, you can start laying the under roofing felt or paper. Manufacturers' recommendations vary, but you'll be pretty safe if the edges overlap about 2 inches horizontally.

Start with the lowest part of your roof. Let the edges of the paper overlap the end of the roof by 2 or 3 inches. This overlap should be cut later, a little under the first shingle course. The next layer of paper will overlap the lower one by 2 inches. Continue this process to the peak of the roof.

When both sides of the roof are finished, lay one width of paper over the ridge pole. Short wide-head roofing nails should be used with this paper. When the paper has been put down, use a carpenter's chalk line, which is impregnated with chalk, and snap the guidelines for the shingles. If your shingle exposure is 4 inches, you will want to snap chalk lines with this spacing all the way from the first course to the last at the top.

You are now ready to start laying the shingles. The first course of shingles should be laid double and should extend % inch beyond the roof edge. The guidelines on the paper will align the overlap which each course will have. The last rows at the top will have to be cut; and a strip of granulated roofing paper, a metal cap, or a ridge piece, or shingles laid edgewise will be required to finish the top as shown in the illustration.

Wood shingles are laid much as asphalt shingles are except that they are not butted on the sides. Leave a %-inch space between the shingles. The ridge piece can be made of wood strips as shown in the illustration.

Roll roofing is one of the easiest types to apply. The accompanying illustration shows how this is done. You'll note that there is an overlap that is cemented down and nailed. This overlap varies with the type of roofing felt used.

One type has half of the width granulated, the remainder heavy felt. The granulated section is left exposed, and the felt part is cemented and nailed. This type can also be used on roofs having only enough pitch to drain the water, provided that the roofing boards are first covered with roofing mastic.

Flat or pitched roofs can be covered with a number of materials, but one of the least expensive methods is to build up the roof with a number of layers of roofing felt saturated with asphalt binder. The illustration shows how this is done. A cold roofing compound or hot pitch may be used as a binder.

Regardless of the above directions, be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions for applying his particular roofing material.

About the Author: Jack Hudson is a writer for
http://www.log-cabin-plans-n-kits.com and http://www.best-house-n-home-plans.com. These two sites work collectively as a resouce for the planning and building of log cabins as well as choosing from different house plans. Visit one of these sites for informative articles as well as free TIPS for building a log home or choosing a house plan.

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"please help! had new roof installed after hail damage. Nails are sticking through ceiling. roofer says he has to use this length nail because of warranty. looks horrible. very upset"

jmote15 at bellsouth.net