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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a log cabin that I will be repairing and installing B&B over in VA.

North wall is good and moist a lot of the time and the Carpenter Bees are relentless.

It may be left bare or possibly have a clear penetrating finish applied.

So the priorities are rot and Carpenter Bee resistance.

I was thinking Cypress but just had a couple friends/tradesman tell me it turned to mush on them after 5-10 years.

Hemlock is hard to come by....something about a blight.

Locust...tough to get 10"and better.

Cedar....the bees favorite snack?


So... Poplar or White Oak????

What would you guys use given the choice?
If down to Pop and WO, would you and which?

Thanks. Jonathan
 

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The log cabin homes I've worked on all have either cedar or fir for the exterior. I've never heard of cedar being a bees favorite snack, never seen it become a problem either, are you sure about that? The only critter problem I've seen with cabins are the bats, they always find a way into the cavities left by log cabins. You got to make sure you seal off every cavity, bats can climb through a hole the size of a quarter. Two coats of spar varnish works good if you are looking for protection, I used it a lot on one cabin I worked on. It's the same kind of finish used on boats, works on a cabin too as long as you don't mind the gloss finish it leaves behind.

If you're set on using either poplar or white oak, it's hard to make a suggestion without seeing the house. Oak is definitely a lot more dense than poplar, I'm not sure about the weather resistant characteristics of poplar but I did see some heat treated poplar at a trade show made for outdoor use.
 

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Easten red cedar or poplar. Yellow poplar was used a lot for barn siding back in the day and it held up. The key is making sure it's not too close to the ground so it doesn't rot, otherwise it works well for siding.

Eastern red cedar (aromatic) could last 100 years or more as siding. I know a guy in Marengo, Indiana who owns a sawmill business that produces nothing but ERC lumber.

Of course white oak will last a long time too, but not as long as ERC. It's also heavier, harder to work with, and more expensive
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This has been my problem.

I personally don't have the experience (6 or so years) with exterior wood options and how they will fare in the long term.....especially unfinished or with occasional penetrating sealer.

I have been asking this question around these parts, and with so many differing viewpoints and cautionary tales it is confusing at best.

As usual for me, client wants "natural" yet relatively maintenance free and durable..........:whistling. I am doing my best to try and give it to them.

White oak and poplar made the short list after all these consultations.

I will be maintaining a very safe distance from any ground contact, so poplar seems viable. It is available in lengths that will allow full runs, and nice wide planks for the board sections. It has a long history in these parts if installed properly. My only concern with it is the lack of a hard finish being applied.

White oak is one of my all time favorites for durability and is inexpensive around here. A logger I know says that poplar is bringing the most money at the mills right now. It's a small portion of the job so the weight is inconsequential. Nailing may be a little pesky though.

Cedar was my first choice, but a good friend who's opinion I respect greatly, claims that the Bees love it. Again, i don't have the experience to confirm or deny this.
 

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The log cabin homes I've worked on all have either cedar or fir for the exterior. I've never heard of cedar being a bees favorite snack, never seen it become a problem either, are you sure about that? The only critter problem I've seen with cabins are the bats, they always find a way into the cavities left by log cabins. You got to make sure you seal off every cavity, bats can climb through a hole the size of a quarter. Two coats of spar varnish works good if you are looking for protection, I used it a lot on one cabin I worked on. It's the same kind of finish used on boats, works on a cabin too as long as you don't mind the gloss finish it leaves behind.

If you're set on using either poplar or white oak, it's hard to make a suggestion without seeing the house. Oak is definitely a lot more dense than poplar, I'm not sure about the weather resistant characteristics of poplar but I did see some heat treated poplar at a trade show made for outdoor use.
Ken, they don't get the nice oily Western Red Cedar on the east coast that we do up here.
 

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1 - Redwood, if you can find it and afford it

2 - Western red cedar, if its the real authentic red kind

3 - Ponderosa pine, with stain
 

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Western red cedar doesn't last near as long as eastern red cedar. We do get western red over here, and it will rot. I've seen it rot many times.
 

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"
Take special notice if you have a house or structure made of redwood, cypress, cedar, white pine or Southern yellow pine, because those are carpenter bees' favorites.
"
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Looks like White Oak due to bees and lack of Hemlock.


Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This client has shown a distinct disdain for annual maintenance of any kind.

I will be replacing all 20-something windows in the house and a good bit of plank siding due to lack of maintenance.

I have a meeting with them this morning where I will push Hardie as board, and locust as batten. Unfortunately, a painted finish just doesn't work with the log cabin section and the transparent-stained lap siding aesthetics.

From what I see, the bees just require effort to control. My preferred tactic involves a tennis racket and a cooler filled with beer.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just had the meeting.

Client (former Vo-tech Carpentry teacher) came to the same conclusion.......White Oak it is.

Thanks for all the input.
 
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Well there you go. If I had to choose white oak or poplar I would go oak for sure. Poplar is something I consider interior paint grade wood.
 

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Well there you go. If I had to choose white oak or poplar I would go oak for sure. Poplar is something I consider interior paint grade wood.
Me too, but actually was used a lot for barn siding. If its vertical and not touching the ground, it can last a long time.
 
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