I know you’re probably thinking: “What is an interlocking log cabin?”
I’ve been asking myself the same thing. How do I explain not only what they are, but also how log cabins compare to sectional panel garden rooms?
Cath, the Gillies & Mackay Office Saviour messaged me last week to say:
‘Oh beautiful Cara, who shines like no other…. People keep bringing Tuin Brochures in! Can you please bestow your knowledge of Interlocking Log and what I need to know to help our customers make the best buying decision for them?’
You see, when people are thinking about getting a beautiful new garden room, interlocking logs and Tuin often pop up in their search.
We don’t make interlocking log cabins, and that doesn’t mean we think they are rubbish. But we’ll get into why we don’t think they are a great option for our Scottish climate, and why we don’t build them.
So, in this blog, I’m going to go into depth to help you understand everything you need to know about interlocking log cabins and Tuin to help you decide if it’s the right garden room choice for you.
What is an interlocking log cabin?
Before we get into Tuin and understand what they are, let’s first talk about interlocking log cabins.
An interlocking log is:
Machined logs or battens, half notched (cut out) at the corner, interlocking with the opposing wall. Each log is scribed (tongue and groove) to fit the log below.
Interlocking log buildings have no wall frame. Their thicknesses range from 28mm to 100mm. It’s quite a nifty little number and is based heavily on the traditional crafting of REAL log cabins.
REAL log cabins are a little different and are made from felled trees (hand-picked) and notched as they are, in full trunk form to slot together to form full walls and gables.
Grant’s got a REAL log cabin in his front Garden.
How did he manage that?
Grant spent a fair bit of his youth in the Canadian Northern Hemisphere as a lumberjack, logging and building cabins just like this. When Grant returned to Scotland back in the 80s, he started building himself a log cabin to live in.
Grant’s Log Cabin spent a fair few years as the Gillies and Mackay Office (the good ol’ days) until we built our new Show Area. Now that Grant has a family, his Log Cabin is mainly for sleepovers (and parties, of course!)
Over the years we have been asked to make REAL log cabins, but people are quickly discouraged by the time they take and evidently, the cost involved.
Although there are many Interlocking Log wholesalers on the market, we’re going to focus on TUIN – given their close relationship with Cath in the office. 😉
- Related content: Log cabin vs garden room: what is the difference?
Tuin Interlocking Log Cabin Buildings…
I was reading Tuin’s take on materials… Now, normally I’m not all bitchy and jumping on other people’s efforts BUT!
Tuin used to have a home page that sounded like the person who had written it was smashed out their face on hallucinogenics. These days they seem to have gotten themselves a web designer to sort that madness out.
However in saying that, Tuin is actually writing content that’s for their audience rather than themselves, which needs some credit for sure.
Tuin said something I definitely did not agree with – Spruce being better than Pine #RollingEyeEmoji
Whitewood vs Redwood: Tuin Interlocking Log Cabins
We’ve talked about Spruce before – we know it’s a whitewood and we also know whitewood (regardless of origin) isn’t going to be as good as Northern Scandinavian Pine.
Granted Tuin may be using Northern European Spruce which will count towards slow-growing, and may well be the ‘better’ whitewood than its other European counterparts…
But… It is categorically NOT better than Northern Scandinavian Pine.
We know this because we used to buy Russian Spruce. And that Russian Spruce was real good, but not as good as our Scandinavian Pine (Redwood).
Russia and Northern Scandinavia are within the Arctic Circle. The most northerly of the five major circles of latitude.
Northern European is a bit vague. If I were asking about timber I’d want to know if it came from the Arctic Circle.
Maybe Tuin can clarify this?
Here’s the type of badge you’re looking for when dealing with a Timber Building Company.
The benefits of Tuin interlocking log cabins…
Tuin just got it right there so let’s look at what Interlocking log does right.
(TUIN Dyre Build)
The building pictured is under £3246.78 (10th November 2023)
Here are some TOP FACTS about Interlocking Log that have changed the Outdoor Building world.
Firstly, interlocking Log cabins have revolutionised self-build for the average Sally and Bob. It’s basically a massive jigsaw and with the right patience and determination can be done by instruction fairly pain-free. It’s a good option if you want to partly DIY your garden room, and might save you some money if you’re looking for that.
Generally speaking, it’s a much cheaper alternative, (cabin-wise) if you’re building within Permitted Development and don’t require Building Control.
Plus, it’s hella good at keeping things warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer, which is what we all want.
The disadvantages of interlocking log cabins…
Interlocking log cabins have been a huge success in consistent climates eg. where it is always cold. But the problem is that in Scotland we get some decent mild weather along with some bitterly cold winters. This causes timber to shift, split and bow. And when your timber is 70mm thick (like in interlocking logs), the shifting, splitting and bowing are severe.
Wind and watertight it may have been at the time of purchase, but after a couple of years of exposure, movement can become detrimental to the building and your use of it.
Of course, if your interlocking log was a wee DIY project, there are certain hacks to stop it from shrinking beyond use that you’ll be able to do yourself. But this all depends on the timber it was originally cut from.
As the saying goes; there’s no saving shite wood in a sinking ship*…
Scotland’s climate has caused us at Gillies and Mackay a great deal of heartache over the 30+ years we’ve been at it. None more so than the leaking Garage epidemic where water was penetrating through the weatherboard.
- Related content: Why our garages don’t leak
The alternative to interlocking logs…
When our old-school garages were leaking not once did Grant suggest an interlocking log solution. Instead, we designed the 3-tier and 5-tier wall specifications as a solution. Layer upon layer.
This completely revolutionised G&M’s garages to the point where we are now charging 3x the market value for a product that actually works in Scotland.
3-Tier – Garage
- 19mm thick tongue and groove Scandinavian weatherboard,
- 22mm breather cavity with membrane,
- 9mm OSB
- & 95mm pressure-treated framing.
- (50mm thick wall)
3-Tier – U12m² Garden Rooms
- 19mm thick Radiata Pine ThermoWood weatherboard,
- 20mm breather cavity
- 50mm EcoTherm foil-backed insulation
- 16mm V’d Redwood Lining
5-Tier – Blackstone Garden Rooms
As above plus;
- 100mm Knauff rock wool insulation (compressed to 70mm)
- 16mm V’d Redwood Lining
- (161mm thick wall)
The versatility of sectional construction can also help the customer decide as and when to invest in the next layer.
Given the choice at Gillies and Mackay, we feel, in Scotland – we are far better off layering our walls.
Should you buy an interlocking Tuin log cabin?
As we’ve said before the key element here is the quality of timber used in the first place. Interlocking log would do great but the reality is, it’s very unlikely, whether it’s Tuin or any of the other mass suppliers that you’re going to get a timber that’s decent enough to withstand the Scottish climate.
Interlocking log has its benefits and it can be a practical solution to your garden room needs, especially if budget is a heavy factor.
The choice is yours.
Other articles you might fancy reading, ken… If it’s a Sunday and you’re aimlessly trawling the Shed chat.
- U12m² Garden Rooms vs Blackstone Garden Rooms
- What to look for when buying a Shed?
- How much does a Garden Office Cost?
- Log cabin vs garden room: what is the difference?
Or check out our YouTube channel for HEAPS of videos on all your questions.
If you fancy chatting about your garden room options, then you can book a consultation with one of our team.
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