PERMA-CHINK SYSTEMS HISTORY OVER 40 YEARS
In 1980 my neighbor told me about building a log home in Eastern Washington. He said that he loved the home and the lifestyle but was disappointed that with the wind constantly blowing and harsh cold winters, there was no real effective way to seal the gaps between the logs. The house leaked air and heat, and wind-driven rain literally came right through the walls.
He tried various caulking materials with little success. Caulking around a bathtub or sink was significantly different from ‘caulking’ literally miles of seams between logs in a log house. After a number of conversations and experiments, it became apparent that there was no readily available product that could seal the gaps, look like authentic chinking, and last more than a few months.
After literally months of trial and error, it became apparent that if we were going to design a material that would be acceptable, we would have to design it ourselves.
DEFINING A NEW INDUSTRY STANDARD
The product we were designing was to be a replacement for what was known in the Log Home Industry as chinking – the sealant that historically provided the seal between the logs. A "chink" is a gap – as in Biblical Times, “A chink in his armor’. Therefore, chinking is a material to fill a gap. Throughout the centuries of constructing dwellings out of logs, a number of methods were used to seal in between them. Early builders used pretty much anything they could get their hands on – mud, straw and mud, cow manure, mixtures of cement and mortar, and a method I discovered in Russia that was a particular type of moss that, when pounded into the gap, excreted a compound that delayed wood rot.
During our investigation we determined that in order to be a true solution the sealant must meet most important requirements.
- It had to be textured to look like authentic mortar chinking.
- It had to ‘look like it belonged there’.
- It had to be able to expand and contract in order to follow perpetual log movement.
As logs dry out in the summer, they shrink in diameter – in the winter and rainy months they absorb moisture and swell, increasing in diameter.
- The sealant had to adhere tightly to the logs and form a continuous watertight seal that would not separate from the wood.
- It had to be easy to apply - in some cases, gaps up to 4 and 5 inches, and not slump or wash out.
- And most importantly, it had to LAST for decades.
Common caulking materials were quickly ruled out. Everyone has seen thin caulking beads applied to exterior trim that inevitably separate, peel off, flake, crack, and ultimately fail.
No ‘caulk’ could adhere to the wood well enough, could not be applied to the thickness and height required without slumping and running out of the joint, and all caulks had that smooth, artificial look that frankly, of course, looked like caulk! It's okay for around the tub or sink, but not for my log home, thank you.
CREATING THE INDUSTRY STANDARD
So, after months of experimentation and learning a tremendous amount of the chemistry of what are called polymers (the chemical building blocks of literally everything that we commonly call paint, plastic, vinyl, glue, etc.), we designed a unique sealant that met all of the most important requirements.
During the design phase we located an innovative small company south of Seattle that manufactured a synthetic stucco. They had experience and machinery that helped us scale up lab designs to large-scale production. We began selling early product in 1981, and the first house we did was in Sun Valley, Idaho – in the middle of winter.
Soon after we had a saleable product that met every design requirement, I did a little market research and discovered that the larger part of the national market for log homes was in the eastern part of the United States, and in particular, the southeast. I also discovered that of the numerous styles of log homes, the three largest manufactures of ‘Dovetail’ log homes were within 100 miles of Knoxville, Tennessee. I liked the Dovetail design because the nature of the structure, and the way the logs are stacked resulted in a chinking gap of up to 4 inches! In some cases, almost 25% of the wall area was chinking!
So, we set up a manufacturing plant in Knoxville, Tennessee. Timing was right because as soon as log home owners and log home manufacturers discovered that we could finally provide a dramatic solution to one of the most significant and perplexing aspects of a log home – the business grew rapidly.
WINNING THE MANUFACTURERS
Early adopters such as Hearthstone, Honest Abe, Stone Mill, and Appalachian Log Homes helped pave the way for essentially all others to follow. As a matter of fact, one of the earliest applications for any manufacturer was Appalachian. Turns out they had a contract with the US Forest Service to build an outhouse. The location was remote, and the house needed to be completely assembled and transported via helicopter. Obviously, mortar chinking could not withstand that type of stress, so they tried Perma-Chink. That outhouse is still standing today and is weather tight – some applications simply CANNOT fail!
The development of synthetic chinking solved one of the most serious and vexing aspects of the Log Home Industry. The chinking formulation is unique and not simply ‘caulk with sand in it’ as others have offered.
Rick Denton, Honest Abe Log Homes President Emeritus said, “Perhaps the invention of Perma-Chink kept Honest Abe in business, as well as every other log home company using a chinked product line.” Read his story here https://www.honestabe.com/blog/perma-chink/.
What started out as an idea has revolutionized the entire industry. Worldwide, every log structure uses synthetic chinking, and the largest supplier of the most authentic and highest-performance log home chinking is Perma-Chink.
EXPANDING THE PRESERVATION OF LOG HOMES
The next vexing challenge was with log home stains and finishes. Every log home owner wants a log home that looks like an outdoor piece of furniture. One that blends in with the rustic back to nature look and feel of the surroundings. No one would consider painting a log house. That would be like painting a beautiful hand rubbed antique! Log home owners tend to start down the following path after stains start failing: That beautiful stain we applied only lasted a year or maybe two and after two recoats, we may as well paint it. Why can’t someone develop a stain that looks like a furniture grade finish and LASTS?
We began to have literally thousands of people say, ‘You solved my sealant dilemma – now do you have a solution to the stain and finish dilemma?’ So challenge number two was tackled.
CREATING THE BEST LOG HOME STAINS
We used the knowledge and expertise we developed in formulating Perma-Chink Chinking (remember the polymers?) to design the longest lasting semi- transparent stain in the Industry. The formulation is also unique, provides that ‘furniture grade’ appearance, and outlasts any exterior stain on the market. Also, with a Clear Coat (which Perma-Chink Systems also introduced), when the finish is finally starting to "wear" out, all that is needed is a cleaning and application of an additional clear coat. That eliminates the tint buildup and subsequent hiding of the wood and completely eliminates the phrase ‘After two re-coats, I may just as well paint it.’
I personally require hands-on experience with every product Perma-Chink Systems offers. We are dedicated to providing the best products available for the care and maintenance of Log and Timber Frame Homes. As history has shown, and something we take pride in, is ‘Whenever a log home owner becomes aware of a concern, whether it be sealing, staining, or preservation or maintenance, we already have a solution.’
TAKE A LOOK AT TOTAL COST
An interesting story – I recently had a heating problem with my log house in Colorado. The bill to repair the system included a small starting capacitor in one of the air handlers. The bill for the part was $6.25 and the bill for the labor was $220! So why would I try save sixty cents on the capacitor when the cost by far was in the labor to replace it? Same is true with a log home stain. By far the largest cost is in application and labor, so it pays to use the best product available. Cheaper stain is a cheap solution that sets you up for a repeat in a year or two, and in the meantime your exterior looks like crap! Pay the extra sixty cents and buy yourself some peace of mind.
By choosing our high-performance finish like Lifeline™ Ultra-7, you are ensuring that the finish will look as beautiful years after application as it did the second day it was applied thanks to a balanced formula of transparent iron oxides, mildew inhibitors and an advanced polymer resin.
OUR SUCCESS IS FROM WORKING WITH GREAT CUSTOMERS, INDUSTRY-LEADING PARTNERS, AND FANTASTIC EMPLOYEES
I am humbled that Perma-Chink Systems has become a ‘household’ name in the log home industry and is recognized for highest of quality. Our products grace the log houses of such noted Americans as former President Jimmy Carter, clothing designer Ralph Lauren, movie stars Tom Cruise, Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, Nascar champion Dale Earnhardt (read the story here) and thousands of great American home owners.
I am proud of my company, of my employees and our customers. Perma-Chink Systems has a slogan for our 40th anniversary - “Simply Unmatched”.
By being engaged in best quality products and the best customer service, we will attain our goals and make great strides towards meeting our customers’ expectations for years to come. We raise a toast to the next 40 years of great products, service, and customers of Perma-Chink Systems.
Rich Dunstan, President Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.