When the weather turns nasty and the rain is pouring down, or the snow of winter has set in – it’s tempting to cover up your log store completely to protect your drying logs from the elements. However, this would be a mistake.
Log stores must be open at the front to help dry sap in the wood, not to keep the rain out. In fact, a log store needs to remain open at the front even in winter to ensure unhindered air flow throughout the whole structure, and should not be covered or the wood won’t dry properly.
In this article we’ll discover more about how wood dries and how this effectives the style and positioning of your log store – so you’ll always get bone dry logs that are perfect to start a fire with.
Do Logs Get Wet in a Log Store With An Open Front?
All good log stores are open at the front. The reason for this seems counterintuitive, as it’s to help the wood stay dry.
Will rain enter into the log store through the open front? Yes, it probably will, but so will air, and that’s the key point here. Stacks of logs need air to flow through them in order to dry out. Without that air circulating from the open front, the logs would actually be damper. Here’s why.
When logs are first chopped, they are usually “green wood”, which means they are fresh timber that’s still full of sap. The sap needs to dry, otherwise the logs won’t catch fire (or they will, but will burn with a horrible, hissing smoulder that gives off very little heat and a greater amount of carbon monoxide).
The best way to get rid of the sap is to “season” the wood. That means leaving the chopped logs to dry naturally for anything up to a year. Different types of timber take longer, and as you’d expect, a hard wood takes more time to dry.
Log stores are open at the front to let the air in, which will then circulate around the log pile, slowly drying out the wood. Without this air flow, the wood won’t dry out properly, creating an unpleasantly damp, moldy atmosphere, and it will take forever to lose that sap. A log store with a front, however smart, is badly designed.
So, in answer to the question, yes, rain will get in, but this is superficial dampness and the air will soon dry them out.
Should Log Stores Be Slatted or Solid?
Really, the only solid part of a well-built log store should be its roof. The walls should be made from slatted wood to encourage air circulation, and the logpile itself should stand on sturdy pallets above the floor to allow air from beneath (more about this in a minute).
We’re sorry to break this to you if you were hoping for an attractive, painted shed-type structure. However, you can still make your logpile store an appealing outbuilding, by staining the slats and by making sure the logile itself is a work of art. There is nothing quite as satisfying to look at as a pile of neatly stacked logs.
The roof does need to be solid, as direct rainfall would slow down the sap-drying process. A bit of rainfall won’t hurt, but a logpile open to the sky would get too wet.
Should My Log Store Keep The Logs Off The Ground?
Yes, the logpile floor should be off the ground, as you don’t want the logs at the bottom to become waterlogged. This dampness will eventually seep through to other logs, preventing them from drying and encouraging mold to grow.
The easiest way to achieve this is to construct a wooden floor as you would for a timber shed, then stand tough wooden pallets on top of this. The wood can then be stored on this as on a rack. This is now doubly protected from ground moisture, and bugs.
It’s very unlikely that you can keep your logpile completely free from critters, but a solid floor with slats on top does make it a bit less inviting for ground-based bugs. Sweep out the area under the slats every so often, as a build up of bark will start to restrict the flow of air.
Where Should I Position My Log Store?
Ideally, you need a sunny spot where the logs will naturally be warm and dry. But, you need to balance this against how exposed that sunny place is to the elements. You don’t want to stand it in a place that gets the full force of the prevailing wind, driving rain in with it.
Close to a building is good, so it gets a bit of shelter. It needs to stand forward from the house or outbuilding wall, to make sure that you can fit in a slatted back to increase air flow.
Never stack your log pile against your house wall, however easy that is or how attractive that may look. This prevents air from circulating around the back of the logpile, and nobody wants a pile of wet and rotting logs against their house wall. Also, why would you want to keep a pile of flammable material so close to your home? A stray spark from the fire pit could ignite a pile of well-seasoned wood.
On the other hand, you don’t want your log store so far from your home that it feels like hard work to go and grab some wood. On those cold, wet or snowy evenings, you’ll definitely be grateful for an easily accessible logpile. Like stacking the logs themselves, it’s all about balance.
Which Way Should a Log Store Roof Slope?
The log store roof should always slope forwards. This helps to keep out the rain and snow. A good overhang on the edge of the roof will help to keep off the rainfall, and if you’re feeling really fancy, a guttering along the front of the roof will prevent annoying puddles forming in front of the store.
So, the classic design is a slatted structure, with a forward-sloping roof that makes the store taller at the back than the front. The roof is solid to keep the rain off the logpile, while the walls are slatted to allow for airflow.
What should the wood store roof be made from? A sheet of metal is a popular choice, as this repels moisture, and provided it’s a corrosion-free metal, needs very little maintenance. Also, a corrugated metal sheet will let the rain run off. Of course, this is a noisier option if your store is near your home, so you might still prefer wooden shingles.
It’s a beautifully simple design, and one that’s easy to construct yourself if you enjoy a yard DIY project. The fact that it doesn’t have to be air-tight (and indeed, shouldn’t actually be air-tight) makes construction so much easier.
Do I Need To Cover The Front of My Log Store in Winter or Bad Weather?
No, you don’t ever need to cover the front of your log store, not even in the depths of winter. That overhanging, solid roof is all the extra protection they need, and any rain on the front of the logpile will soon dry, thanks to that natural airflow.
Some folks stick a tarp over the front of the log store in the winter. Please don’t, as you will live to regret this when you end up with moldy, sweaty logs. A tarp can be a good temporary cover if there’s a rainstorm while you’re still building your store, but other than that, there’s no need to ever use one.
There are some circumstances when you might really want some sort of door on your log store, mainly to keep small kids and stubborn cats off the wood. If this is the case, go for door frames filled with mesh, which will keep kids and cats out, but will let that all-important fresh air in.
There’s a saying in the Scandinavian countries that wood won’t dry unless a mouse is able to scamper around the whole logpile: in other words, make sure the air can circulate around the whole structure.
So in the final analysis, log stores are open at the front to help dry sap in the wood – not to keep the rain out. In fact, a log store needs to remain open at the front even in winter to ensure unhindered air flow throughout the whole structure.
Although this is counterintuitive, you’ll find that with a good forward pitched roof and sheltered positioning, plus slatted sides, floor and back wall – any rain that does get onto the first row of logs at the front will only make them superficially wet.
This surface wetness will quickly dry out once the logs are taken inside, and you’ll be able to burn your seasoned logs very well. However, if green logs haven’t been left long enough to dry out all the sap – then you’ll find it impossible to light your fire.
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >