A wood cabin is a healthy alternative to a traditional home. Log cabins offer warmth and charm that only natural elements can provide. The tree logs used for log homes offer protection from harsh weather conditions.
If you’re building your first log cabin, there are a few things to consider. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the features of modern log homes and their amenities. We’ll also show you the materials used to build a log home and how they feature different floor plans.
Log cabins can be built from scratch or with log cabin kits. A few things you’ll need to consider include the type of logs you want, the size, and the features of your log home.
Small log homes are an alternative to tiny homes. Before we show you a few modern log home designs, there are things you should know about them.
In a rush? Here’s some things you jump to know about wood cabins:
- What is a wood cabin?
- What Type Of Wood Are Log Cabins Made Of?
- How To Insulate A Log Cabin?
- What’s the best way to heat a log cabin?
- Log cabin roof types
- Wood cabin designs to inspire you
- Is It Legal To Build A Cabin In The Woods?
- What style to choose for a cabin’s roof?
- What’s the best flooring material for a cabin?
What Is A Log Home?
The first log cabin in America was built in 1638. During this time, log homes were simple and small structures, similar to today’s tiny homes.
Back then, log homes were made with unfinished tree logs and had semi-permanent character. Early American pioneers thought of their log homes as starter homes, for example.
Log homes evolved over the centuries, utilizing different floor plans and including the latest amenities. Today, people use log home kits or have the homes custom designed. Modern log cabins feature floor plans that include two bedrooms or three bedroom, plus large windows and old fashioned designs.
It’s not uncommon for a log home to have two bedrooms or three bedrooms. Other log home features may include a spacious living area and outdoor sauna facilities.
Modern Log Home Ideas
Here are a few cutting-edge log cabin designs that illustrate how far log homes have come since the first log cabin was built.
Classic Log Home
This log home is in the White Mountains Region of New Hampshire. It has a traditional design with log walls and a pitched roof. Inside, the log home features a floor plan that includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.
It’s heated by a wood-burning fireplace clad in stone and the guests can also enjoy a two-person hot tub. It’s a waterfront log cabin with a stream nearby. It can be rented out via Airbnb.
Transylvania Log Home
This log cabin is also an Airbnb rental. It’s located in Transylvania, Romania and it has a charming and inviting interior with log walls, a wooden pitched roof, and wooden floors.
The atmosphere inside is casual and relaxed, with a floor plan that includes multiple areas for lounging and a nice view of a large garden. There’s also a patio where you can spend time admiring the nice views.
Rocky Mountain Log Home
Not all log cabins are small. Bigger log cabins are warm inside thanks to their exposed wood. This rustic log home in the Rocky Mountains has an interior design created by Thom Filicia.
It’s an all-season weekend retreat with a big stone fireplace in the living room, seating, and a twig chandelier. Photos: House Beautiful
Summer Log Home Retreat
This log cabin designed by studio I.D Interior Design is a summer vacation home in the countryside, in Moscow. It has thick log walls, a wooden roof, and a floor plan that includes wooden floors and three bedrooms.
The design is a mix of farmhouse and modern details which complement one another creating a cozy and inviting ambiance.
A-Frame Log Home
A-frame cabins look stylish and modern when built with rustic materials like reclaimed wood or logs. This log home is from @mycozycabins and features big glass doors and large windows that let sunlight inside. The pitched roof drops to the ground, framing the log home.
Wyoming Log Home
Located in Alta, Wyoming, this rustic log home was refreshed by WRJ Interior Design with a modern interior. The location is beautiful, with big tall trees all around and wonderful views of the mountains.
The interior was reimagined with an open floor plan, an airy decor, and a neutral and elegant color palette. The centerpiece of the living area is a big river rock fireplace.
Colorado Log Home
This log home, located in Telluride, Colorado, was designed by TruLinea Architects and Studio Frank. The new structure is a much bigger log cabin with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and big open-space social areas.
The interior is welcoming, modern and a bit shabby-chic. The exposed log walls, and wooden beams add lots of texture and character to the rooms.
Chic Log Home
Log homes and nice views go hand-in-hand. It’s a beautiful three-bedroom cabin rental with three bathrooms and a gorgeous living area with a big sectional sofa and windows that let in the sunlight.
The log home is a tranquil and peaceful retreat. This is a place where one can reflect and disconnect from daily routines and enjoy a simpler life. You can find it in North Carolina and rent it via Airbnb.
Riverfront Log Home
This quaint log home can be rented to groups of up to six people and you can find it in Skykomish, Washington. It’s a riverfront property, raised off the ground and with a floating patio that overlooks the river.
The area is surrounded by trees and vegetation, making this a nice retreat for those interested in hiking or exploring the wilderness. Check it out on Airbnb.
Nostalgic Log Home
You can find this log cabin in Woodstock, Vermont. It’s an Airbnb rental, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, large windows, and a living room. The log home is also surrounded by a forest and has a pond nearby.
The exterior has a gray patina and the interior is warm and welcoming.
Off-Grid Log Cabin
A small cabin in the woods can make for a fun and rewarding DIY project, something that you can do together with family or friends.
This off-grid log home by hand and the process is described in the video posted by The Wooded Beardsman. You can see how the post holes were dug and the frame was assembled.
Hand-Made Log Home
Building a log home from scratch with no outside help is a daring project. Doing this alone in the middle of the forest is an even bigger challenge, one that was completed and that you can check out for yourself in this timelapse video shared by My Self Reliance.
Log Home With Sauna
This beautiful off-grid log home was built in 12 months by one man under the supervision of his Golden Retriever. The log home was made from scratch in the Canadian wilderness.
It’s an off-grid sauna log home that has a pitched roof and is surrounded by a forest. Check out My Self Reliance to see a timelapse of the project.
Swedish Log Home
Inspired by the beauty of nature and a desire to create something magnificent from scratch Erik Grankvist built this log cabin in the woods of Sweden and did it all by hand using materials gathered from the wilderness.
With no prior experience in building, this was a challenging project which required doing research and learning along the way.
Traditional Log Home
This inspiring video shared by My Self Reliance describes the wonderful journey of planning and building an off-grid log cabin, a workshop, a root cellar, and a vegetable garden in the middle of a forest surrounded by wilderness and beauty. It was all done over the course of a year, from spring 2020 up until winter 2021.
Log Home Wood Types
Although the origin of log cabins is straightforward, building one requires research. One of the first things you should ask is what type of wood you should build the cabin out of.
A few elements to consider are the age of the wood, its origin, and species.
Wood that comes from older trees has a more natural resistance to fungus and insects. It’s also more durable and shrinks and warps less.
This is because older trees have more heartwood than sapwood compared to the newer ones and trees that have been grown quickly. Old, slow-growing trees give the best quality wood for log cabins.
Pinewood is common among log homes. It’s important however to make the distinction between the different types of pines. Yellow pine has the best decay resistance which is important for a wood cabin. Compared to that, white pine offers the least decay resistance. Keep in mind also that pine wood has a high shrinkage rate.
Cedarwood is also popular with log cabins and for good reason. It provides natural resistance to insects and fungus and it has a low shrinkage rate which means you won’t need to kiln-dry the wood. It’s also a beautiful type of wood. Of course, all these advantages mean you can expect cedar wood to be more expensive than other woods.
Compared to cedar and other types, spruce is not great when it comes to decay and fungus resistance. It needs to be kiln-dried and treated if you want it to last. Spruce also grows in high altitude areas which makes it less accessible in certain parts of the world.
Oak is hardwood and used for structures larger than a log home. It is one of the more common wood types for log cabins. White oak is popular because of its high resistance to decay. All oak wood should be kiln dried to prevent warping and shrinkage.
Fir is not the greatest wood type of cabin and that’s because it has a low resistance to decay, insects, and fungus and needs to be treated. Most types of fir however have a low shrinkage rate and there are several different types to choose from which can affect its accessibility in your area.
This is one of the best types of wood, and a popular material on the west coast. It’s resistant to decay, insects and fungus and it has a low shrinkage rate. The downside is the high price tag and, depending on where you live, the accessibility.
Log Home Roofing Options
Other than your material options, another thing to keep in mind when building your first log cabin is its roofing design. A roof impacts shape, size, and often the materials used to make one.
Log Home Pitched Roof
A roof with a slope greater than ten percent and one or more surfaces is a pitched roof. The roofing style is most popular among log homes, especially with rustic and traditional models.
When you have a steep roof, it won’t accumulate rain or snow, so the roof can stay in wet or damp climates. However, high-pitched roofs are expensive because they require more labor to install.
Log Home Flat Roof
A flat roof is easier and cheaper to build compared to a pitched roof. The roofing style requires fewer materials and labor. In some cases, the roof can be installed in one day.
Although it has a flat surface, it still has a slight pitch which allows water to run off of it. The lower pitch however does mean that flat roofs are more susceptible to leaks. However, large flat roofs are unstable, so they’re not popular among log homes.
Log Home Flooring Options
When choosing a floor for a log home, consider the cost, appearance, and level of traffic or activity to be expected. Different materials offer advantages but also have built-in limitations.
Natural Wood Flooring
Real wood flooring has a unique look and feel. The style offers warmth to a log home interior design. This is why it’s one of the most popular options for log homes.
If you’re going for a rustic or farmhouse-inspired cabin, reclaimed wood flooring can look amazing. This is also an option to keep in mind if you’re going for a sustainable and eco-friendly cabin design. Reclaimed wood has history and character and can give your cabin a unique aesthetic.
For a log home, tile flooring is practical and easy to clean. Tiles don’t have the same look and feel like wood, but that’s okay. One benefit is how tile allows you to create unique patterns and custom designs.
Carpet is not a popular flooring option for log homes. On one hand, carpet absorbs moisture. And because of the surrounding environment of a log home, the carpet would be hard to keep clean. On the other hand, carpeting is great for comfort and sound dampening. It’s also a nice option if you have small children.
This is something that you can add on top of a wooden or tiled floor to make it warmer and more comfortable to walk on.
Area rugs also make cabins look extra cozy and are nice accessories that you can use to add color or pattern to the interior design. Rugs also help with sound absorption and reduce the echo inside the cabin.
Log Home Heating Options
Even a well-insulated wood cabin needs to be heated. There’s a variety of different heating methods to choose from and each one has both advantages and limitations. Choose the one that fits best with your requirements and preferences.
Electric Convector Heaters
Electric convector heaters work by heating the surrounding air and circulating it around the room which creates a convection current. The air comes in direct contact with the exposed heating elements which makes a quick and effective way of heating a room.
Compared to convector heaters, electric radiators are not as quick and they take longer to heat up. They also don’t have exposed heating elements which makes them a safer option. Electric radiators are wall-mounted and they’re available in a variety of different styles and designs.
Electric Oil Radiators
These are typically freestanding radiators which means you can easily move them around the cabin to where the heat is needed most. The oil inside them heats up and retains the heat even after you turn the radiator off, keeping the room warm for longer.
If electricity is out of the question or if you prefer a different heating method, consider a wood-burning stove. These heat up quickly and they retain the heat well, keeping the cabin warm and cozy for long periods.
Wood-burning stoves come in a wide range of styles and designs but keep in mind that in addition to the stove itself you’re also going to need a storage place for the wood.
This is a practical solution for cases when you have no electricity and you don’t want a wood-burning stove because of the maintenance requirements. It would be especially convenient to use this sort of heater if you already use bottled propane elsewhere in the cabin. Be careful to ensure proper ventilation inside the cabin if you’re using a gas heater.
Another option is to harvest the power of the sun to heat your cabin. This can be a good alternative if the cabin is located off the grid if you want it to be eco-friendly. You can install solar panels on the roof of the cabin and use the energy to heat water which can be fed through a radiator.
We typically use air conditioning units to cool our homes and we tend to forget that they can also be used for heating. In fact, they’re a very practical way of controlling the temperature inside a wood cabin and they’re great at maintaining a constant temperature and humidity level.
Log Cabin Roof Types
Once you’ve chosen a site and you took care of all the legal details, it’s finally time to work on your design for the cabin. Think of it in sections: the roof, the walls, the floor plus all the details specific to the chosen design or style.
This is the best roofing material for a wood cabin based on appearance. Wood shingles suit traditional log cabins, they have a rustic look and they last for a long time.
Metal shingles are used in commercial projects and tend to have an industrial appearance. They don’t match the style of a wood cabin but they offer some great advantages.
EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer and is a type of synthetic rubber with many applications, including in roofs. The main advantage of a rubber roof is the fact that it can be ordered to the right size and fitted in one piece which eliminates the possibility of leaks.
Thatched roofs are very expensive due to the complexity of the thatching technique. However, they look unique and have a natural and organic look that suits wooden cabins.
Roofing felt is an inexpensive, quick and easy option to cover a cabin’s roof and it comes in a variety of different colors which allows you to customize the appearance of the roof. The life expectancy of such a roof varies based on the quality of the roofing felt and it somewhere between five and ten years.
Felt shingles are thicker than roofing felt and their life expectancy is longer, being around 20 years. Usually felt shingles have an adhesive backing that allows them to stick together when heat is applied which makes installation especially difficult in cold weather.
A green roof can look magnificent of a wood cabin and is definitely the way to go if you want this to be an environmentally-friendly project. Keep in mind that green roofs are expensive and difficult to install plus they also require constant maintenance.
Take into consideration all the weight that the soil adds to the roof especially when it’s raining and plan the structure and design accordingly.
Log Cabin Insulation
Tree logs are naturally great insulators which is why log cabins were popular for centuries. However, if you want your log cabin to be energy-efficient and well insulated you’ll need to do a few extra things during the construction process.
You need to know the differences between R-value and U-value. The R-value measures the resistance of heat flow through a certain thickness of material while the U-value measures the heat loss in Watts through a material. As a general idea, the R-value is typically around 1.41/” for softwoods and 0.71/” for hardwoods.
Log walls aren’t known for their R-value. Because logs have the ability to store heat means log walls don’t feel as cold. There are multiple steps you can take to ensure your log home is insulated and energy-efficient.
The first step in making sure the cabin floor is insulated is to install a moisture-resistant membrane underneath the floor. This prevents moisture and dampness from penetrating the logs while making sure the cabin is dry. This is why it’s a good idea to raise the cabin off the ground or build it on stilts.
Next, secure the joists onto the lathing and attach batons. This will support the floor insulation. Make sure to leave a gap of at least 50 mm between the membrane and the insulation to allow airflow. Then cut the insulating material to size and fit it in the cavities created by the joists. The insulation and the joists should sit flush and the flooring should sit directly on top.
When insulating the roof of a log cabin, you’ll need to follow similar procedures. If you want to be able to see the exposed wood on the inside of your cabin’s roof you should install the insulation on the exterior. This is done during the construction process.
The roof is completed to rafter level and is then sheathed with boards. After this the roof is covered with moisture-resistant membranes which are stapled onto the boards. The insulation is added on top of that.
For optimum energy-efficient consider insulating large windows and doors. Keep in mind however that double glazing is not always worth it. The cabin’s walls should measure at least 58mm in diameter for this to make a difference.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Modern Cabin?
Building a cabin typically ranges from $125 to $175 per square foot but could run as low as $100 per square foot and as high as $300 per square foot.
Are Log Cabin Homes A Good Investment?
One of the major pros of owning a log home is that they’re not expensive to build or buy because the wood comes cheap. Or, at least, most of the time it tends to. Another advantage of log homes is that if you buy a log home that consists of 50 percent tree logs, it’s easier to insulate.
Are Modern Log Homes Energy Efficient?
Studies conducted by the National Bureau of Standards, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Research Center of the National Association of Home Builders have proven that homes built with solid log walls are typically 5 percent to 15 percent more energy efficient than standard stick frame construction.
How Long Do Log Homes Last?
Log cabins are known for their longevity. The homes can last between 20 to 50 years if kept in good condition. Some log homes can last upwards of 100 years, depending on location and climate.
How Often Do You Need To Stain A Log Home?
It’s recommended to stain a log home every three to seven years, depending on the elements. Elemental factors include exposure to rain, sunlight, hail, wind, and climate.
Wood Cabin Conclusion
A custom designed log home is a natural dream home. If you’re thinking about building a log cabin, you’ll need to work with a contractor. The best option, if it’s your first log cabin, would be to work with a professional builder.
They would design the floor plans for your log cabin, and you could tell them to include two bedrooms or three bedrooms, for example. Another option would be log home kits if you wanted to take a hands-on or DIY approach.
The more information you have on log home construction, the cheaper the building process will be. As you’ve learned here, the beauty of log homes is how they rely on natural elements.
Log cabins are more durable and energy-efficient than traditional homes. And although tiny homes are popular, they’re not for everyone, so log homes offer a healthy alternative. Log homes offer a lifestyle that’s old fashioned, which could be their biggest appeal.