Log Species– Does It Really Matter?

Sue | December 2nd, 2011 - 2:10 pm

“What kind of logs do you use?” is a very common question.

Each log species has attractive qualities and characteristics that differentiate them. We offer Lodge Pole Pine, White Pine, Engelmann Spruce, Western Larch, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar.

big log home great room

Let’s start with Lodge Pole Pine-

Dead standing Lodge Pole Pine is the least expensive of the log species we offer. Lodge Pole pine is a very stable log and good to build both milled and handcrafted log homes from.  This kind of log has bluish color due to the beetle kill. The harvesting and use of dead standing logs is a very “Green” practice. Logs which would have been left unused are utilized. The forests are cleared and space for new saplings is provided.

The vast majority of our milled log homes are are built with Lodge Pole. If you see DSLPP on your quote it means Dead Standing Lodge Pole Pine. Lodge Pole is also used for handcrafted log homes.

White Pine –

White Pine is a very nice log. It does not have as much shrinkage as Red Pine. Sometimes White Pine or Lodge Pole pine is offered interchangeably depending on the log supply available.

Engelmann Spruce-

Engelmann Spruce is mainly used for the handcrafted log homes.

Engelmann Spruce is a very white. It has no color differentiation between the inner and outer layers of the log. It is virtually the same cost as Douglas Fir and not as ‘nice’ of a species.  To me it is lacking in character and charm.

Western Larch –

Western Larch is a sought after wood species for the handcrafted log homes. Right now we offer it for about the same cost as Engelmann Spruce and Lodge Pole Pine. Western Larch looks very similar to Douglas Fir, making them hard to tell apart from just looking at them.

Douglas Fir-

Douglas Fir is a lovely log. We use it for handcrafted log homes and milled log homes. It has a two tone coloration from the darker inner to the lighter exterior. This combination is highlighted in the handcrafted log homes. The contrast is showcased on the saddle notch corners and log archways.

Fir is an estimated 20-30 times stronger than other wood species. It is commonly used for train trestles, bridges, and even small aircraft. Also this species has much less taper from one end to the other, so it bases and crowns of each log are both wide.

Western Red Cedar-

Western Red Cedar is the pinnacle of all wood species. It has a light exterior with a reddish heart. The natural cedar oils protect it from insects and decay. Western Red Cedar stays sound for over 100 years.

Red Cedar is also the most expensive. It is used for both milled log homes and handcrafted log homes. It is a slow growing tree so it offers the highest thermal mass insulation value.

Western Red Cedar has lots of taper from the bottom of the log to the top. This is the choice log for character posts and staggered flared corner ends. A character or fluted bottom is when some of the roof system of the tree is harvested and built into the home.

Overall for milled log cabins the Dead Standing Lodge Pole Pine works just fine. for handcrafted we begin with Douglas Fir, unless another species is requested.
Cowboy Log Homes


Any projected costs, cost estimates, material costs, and estimated construction/ building costs, are only the opinion of Cowboy Log Homes and are drawn from our experience. Every home is custom tailored to meet our individual client's wants and desires. The construction of a log or timber home is based on two primary costs: material provided by the log home company and construction costs contracted with Cowboy Log Homes as the builder or another builder of the customer's choice. Final costs are obtained and contracted with each respectively. Cowboy Log Homes is simply the "glue" that helps bring these two together to provide a final culmination of a customer's project. * Please note photos and elevations may differ some from accompanying floor plans.
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