Log siding is available from several specialist home improvement stores, which offer full, half, and quarter logs.
Understanding what these log types are, and how materials affect log siding, can help you to choose the right option.
What Is Log Siding?
Mimicry is the name of the game with log siding.
A piece of siding is a thick panel that you can slide over a wall to create the effect you’d expect to see for an old log cabin.
You can get it in full, half, and quarter log variants, with each having different costs.
Simply put – log siding is great for people who want to emulate the look of a log cabin, but don’t want to spend huge amounts of money on gathering logs and building a cabin when they already have a structure ready.
How Much Does Log Siding Cost?
The costs of log siding vary tremendously depending on the type of siding you get, and the materials used to create the siding.
You can use our Siding Cost Calculator to estimate the cost of replacing your old siding.
Depending on what you choose, you can spend $2.20 to $12.50 per square foot of log siding.
Given that the average American home has 1,580 square feet of exterior walls, that means you may spend between $3,476 and $19,750 on the siding alone, before considering installation costs.
Add installation to the mix and you have siding that could cost you over $20,000 for a whole house install, though many use log siding just for decorative purposes.
Did you know? Building a log cabin costs up to $500 per square meter, making even the most expensive log siding a more affordable option than building a log cabin from scratch.
Log Siding Cost By Type
There are three types of log siding:
- Full log
- Half log
- Quarter log
Full Log Prices
Full logs can be anywhere between 8 and 12 inches thick, and they’re usually used during the construction of new homes.
Expect to spend around $4 per square foot for traditional timber full logs.
Half Log Prices
As the name implies, a half log is essentially a full log cut in half along the horizontal axis.
That leaves you with a flat side and a rounded, log-like side, making it easier to stick half logs to existing walls.
This type of siding is usually 3 inches thick and costs between $3.25 and $5 per square foot, though it can rise to around $12 per square foot if you buy cedar half logs.
Quarter Log Prices
Take a half log and chop it in half again and you get quarter logs.
These 2-inch-thick log siding panels use about 75% less wood than full logs, and their cost reflects that.
Expect to pay between $2 and $3.75 per square foot of quarter logs, though costs can rise if you choose cedar or a similarly expensive material.
Log Siding Cost By Material
Materials play a huge role in the cost of your log home siding, which will usually be either half or quarter logs, assuming you’re not building a cabin from scratch.
Interestingly, you’re not limited to wood for log siding, as you might expect.
There are synthetic alternatives, made using vinyl, as well as steel and concrete siding that mimics the look of logs while adding a ton of extra protection.
|Material||Cost per Square Foot||Cost of Installation per Square Foot||Average Total Cost per 1,580 Square Feet (Material + Installation)|
Cost of Wooden Logs
Pine wood is the most common material for log siding, and it’ll cost you between $2 and $4.75 per square foot, depending on whether you choose quarter or half logs.
Quarter logs bring you in at the lower end of the price scale, though some manufacturers use premium timber, for which they charge more.
It’s also worth mentioning another type of wood – cedar.
Cedar wood siding is far more expensive than pine, costing between $3.25 and $12.75 per square foot, though they manage to emulate the look and smell of a true log cabin.
Expect to pay at the higher end of the scale if you choose kiln-dried or factory-finished half logs.
Did you know? Cedar justifies its high cost by being one of the most desirable woods for outdoor and DIY projects in the world. It has extremely high moisture resistance, making it less likely to decay, and it’s up to twice as durable as traditional softwoods.
Cost of Vinyl Log Siding
You may think of vinyl as a material used for windows and roofs, or perhaps for the occasional floor application.
However, its flexibility, both in terms of design options and strength, mean it’s possible to get synthetic vinyl “log” siding.
There are plenty of reasons to get it, too.
Vinyl resists rot and mold, unlike most forms of untreated wood, and it’s easy to power wash.
Granted, it’s not real wood, but those benefits may justify its cost of between $2.75 and $5.75 per square meter.
Cost of Steel Log Siding
There are two reasons why you might choose steel log siding ahead of traditional wood – strength and fire resistance.
Manufacturers fashion steel to look like logs, occasionally with some form of covering to complete the effect, creating what amounts to a fire-resistance suit of armor around your home.
The costs aren’t extravagant, either, with steel log home siding costing between $3.75 and $4.80 per square foot.
Note: The price of steel siding fluctuates based on the price of steel in the open market. When steel is in low supply, the cost of materials goes up and you can expect to pay more than $5 per square foot.
Cost of Concrete Log Siding
At first glance, concrete seems like an attractive alternative to timber for siding from log.
Costs aren’t too different, going as low as $0.65 per square foot, up to about $5 per square foot, depending on the type of concrete used.
You end up with siding that’s resistant to the moisture issues that plague wood, as well as being tougher and easier to clean.
But those low costs don’t extend to installation, which often costs more because concrete is a heavy material that also expresses a certain amount of fragility when it’s being made.
Additional Cost Factors When Installing Log Siding
Beyond the price of the siding itself, there are a few other cost factors to consider, which add up to increase (or decrease) the amount you spend:
- Property size – This is the obvious cost factor, as the larger a property is, the higher its square footage. You’ll pay more for log siding that can cover the exterior space. Plus, you’ll pay more for installation, which contractors usually determine per square foot.
- Contractor costs – It’s possible to install log siding yourself, assuming you have the time, and feel comfortable making such extensive changes to your home’s exterior alone. But if you choose to work with a contractor, expect to pay about $9 per square foot for installation on top of the cost of your siding.
- Prep work – Disposing of existing siding can set you back about $3 per square foot, plus the cost of dumpster rental.
- Building permits – Some, though not all, cities and states require you to get a building permit to install log siding. Costs vary widely, from a couple of hundred dollars up to four figures.
Pro Tip: Choosing to buy bare wood rather than prefinished may keep costs a little lower, but it also results in you getting wood that isn’t as resistant to moisture and rot as you need it to be. Always opt for prefinished ahead of bare, especially because you’ll save about 45% when buying prefinished wising upfront compared to having bare siding finished on site.
Where To Buy Log Siding
Major building materials suppliers, like Lowe’s and The Home Depot, tend to stock log siding.
They’ll also have staff who can guide you toward the best material for your project and can place orders on your behalf if you need a lot of siding for your project.
Beyond those major hitters, many regional stores sell log siding, as well as companies like Wholesale Log Homes and The Log Home Shoppe.
Look for retailers that specialize in timber and log cabin construction.
As a final note – you can even get log siding on eBay and similar online sites, though you’re taking a risk by buying materials with no guarantees attached to them.
Log Siding Pros And Cons
Before you rush to the store to stock up on log siding for your next project, you need to know how well it stacks up against other options.
For that, you have to understand the pros and cons of log siding.
What Are the Benefits of Log Siding?
The benefits of log siding include:
- Cost-effective – You’ll usually spend less on log siding than you would on full logs, and you can attach siding to existing walls.
- Impermanence – Log siding can last as long as you want it to last. In other words, it’s siding that you can strip from your walls if you decide to go in a different aesthetic direction. You don’t have that option with a full log cabin.
- Several material choices – If wood isn’t you’re thing (or you’re wary about the downsides of wood highlighted below), you can choose synthetic materials, such as vinyl or concrete, to achieve a log siding look without using actual wood.
- Lower weight – This benefit is conditional on the type of material you choose. Still, log siding tends to weigh less than full logs, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that siding uses less wood.
What Are the Disadvantages of Log Siding?
As great as log siding can be for several purposes, there are a few downsides to consider:
- Problems with wood – Wood, especially when exposed to the great outdoors, is often a problem material because it’s susceptible to moisture, rotting, and insect infestations. All can occur with log siding. You have to make sure the wood you use is appropriately finished or it may fall off your wall long before it ages.
- More expensive than other siding – Log siding may cost less than full-log construction. But it’s not always the most cost-effective type of siding, with simple vinyl or non-patterned wood options often being cheaper.
Why Is It Called Log Siding?
The clue is in how you use log siding to transform your home.
For a traditional log cabin, you use full logs for the entire construction.
The logs themselves are the cabin’s walls, with nothing added to them.
Log siding is different because you attach it to preexisting walls to create a certain look and feel without having to tear the entire wall down and side again.
The siding slots onto the outside of your home, with the help of a frame, hence the term “siding.”
Did you know? Log siding is far from the only type of siding available. You can also use vinyl, synthetic boards, composite siding, metal siding, and concrete siding. Which is best for your house depends on several factors, from the cost to the siding’s weight.
Is Log Siding Cheaper Than Logs?
Generally, you’ll pay less for log siding than you will for full logs, though the cost difference isn’t as large as you might assume.
Full logs cost an average of $4 per square foot, with timber siding costing between $2 and $5, depending on whether you go for quarter or half logs.
Materials also play a role.
Cedar log siding, for instance, costs substantially more than full timber logs, with costs rising to $10 or more per square foot.
Concrete, vinyl, and steel can all cost less than logs, though the exact price depends on the manufacturer.
Ultimately, which you buy depends on what you’re building.
If you’re creating a structure from scratch, it’ll cost less to build it using only logs than it costs to build a traditional structure and add siding.
But you’ll spend less on siding alone, assuming you already have a structure to which you can attach it.
What Is The Best Log Siding?
Materials-wise, the best log siding depends on your needs.
Regular timber creates the most natural look, though it comes with the drawbacks of needing special finishing and regular maintenance.
You can opt for cedar, which also delivers the natural look and requires less maintenance, though you may pay up to double per square foot of cedar than you would for the pine used in regular log siding.
Then, there are synthetic materials
. Vinyl, concrete, and steel all have their advantages.
The latter two are tougher than wood, assuming your walls can handle the weight, and all three have fewer maintenance issues.
But there’s no denying that even the best-designed synthetic log siding still has a “fake” look compared to the real deal.
How Long Does Log Siding Last?
Assuming you opt for wood-based log siding, expect your materials to last between 15 and 35 years.
Getting to the high end of that scale requires regular maintenance, as you may need to re-finish the wood every couple of years.
Annual inspections are also a must, as they can help you to get ahead of insect-related damage and wear and tear (such as cracks in the wood) before they become major problems.
Pro Tip: Applying a waterproof sealant to the bottom of any log siding that is below ground level or touches the ground is a good way to guard against moisture issues. A lack of waterproofing leads to near-constant exposure to low levels of moisture, which causes premature rotting and warping.
Can You Paint Log Siding?
In a word – yes.
But there are caveats to painting log siding.
Most wood used in log siding comes pre-stained, meaning the manufacturers have added a stain layer to the wood both to protect it and to change its look while ensuring the logs can breathe.
Covering that staining with regular household paint isn’t recommended because paint reduces the wood’s ability to breathe and may hide problems with the wood.
However, you can add extra staining coats to your log siding, and you should if you want it to last as long as possible.
Can You Pressure Wash Log Siding?
Your ability to pressure wash your log siding depends on the materials used for the siding.
If you choose pine or cedar, pressure washing is often a bad idea because the force of the water can cause issues with the wood’s health. You risk stripping away some of the finish.
Plus, blasting wooden log siding with jets of water isn’t recommended given wood’s propensity for absorbing moisture, which can lead to rot.
You may be able to pressure-wash synthetic log siding, such as that made using steel.
But for real wood, a combination of water and a wood-friendly detergent is better than pressure washing.
Is Log Siding Any Good?
Log siding is great if you want to achieve a natural wooden aesthetic without blowing a hole in your bank balance to construct a full wooden cabin.
It creates a rustic vibe. Plus, it can last a long time assuming you keep up with your maintenance duties.
Choosing Log Siding – Create A Traditional Look At A Low Cost
Log siding serves a simple purpose – it gives you the log cabin look without the need to actually build a cabin.
Like other types of siding, it attaches to your home’s exterior walls (with the help of a frame), allowing you to transform your property’s aesthetic while bumping up its curb appeal.
But it’s not perfect.
Maintenance is an issue, as is the case with any sort of wood siding.
Going down the synthetic route may solve that problem, but you risk ending up with siding that looks “fake.”
Your choice comes down to what you want to achieve with your siding. Log siding doesn’t work for the modern aesthetic.
But it’s the ideal choice if you want a cozy vibe that permeates from the home’s exterior to its interior.