There are few things more pleasant than the luxury of warming yourself by a log-burning fire in the depths of winter.
And, equally, there are few things worse than realising you don’t have wood fuel when you need it, or that the logs you do have are too damp to burn.
Preparing and seasoning wood needs to be done long before you actually need to use your wood burner. A log store is a great way to keep your wood safe and dry, preparing it for the winter months.
There are quite a few variations of these storage units available, so if you’re looking for the best log store for your garden, the following information should help you get more acquainted with the different options:
The Benefits of Using a Log Store
If your logs are close to hand in a log store, you’ll find it easier to prepare your log-burning fire or stove and keep it burning. It can be very easy to just keep a small supply of wood by the fireplace, but once it’s been burnt you might be tempted to pop the heating on. A log store will allow you to store more firewood close to the house, so you won’t have to go far to get more in.
Having a log store also means you can buy more wood in advance, and season any green wood that you have cut.
It can take between 6 months – 1 year to season fresh ‘green’ wood. The moisture content needs to get down to 20% before it is suitable for burning. The best log stores are well ventilated, which helps water be ‘wicked’ away from logs and dry them out.
You might normally buy/cut wood and then just leave it out in the garden, elevated on pallets or simply resting on the floor. This can work ok for a bit, but if there’s any bad weather, or just general humidity (we do live in the UK after all!), these logs will get damp.
Logs with more than a 20% moisture content aren’t great for burning for several reasons: not only are damp logs hard to light, but they can cause more serious problems. Burning damp logs they can create a lot of smoke, as well as tar build up in the chimney, which can have health consequences as well as be dangerous in the home.
Log stores keep logs protected from the worst of the weather, helping firewood stay dry so that it’s ready to use when you want it.
Choosing the Right Size Log Store
If you have an occasional fire during the evenings in winter, a small store will be sufficient. These normally have a capacity of less than 1 m³.
A log store with a 1 m³ capacity can hold approximately 300 standard logs. Therefore, a store with 0.5 m³ of space will hold roughly 150 standard logs, and so on.
Of course, it’s not just about how many logs you need; you’ll also need a smaller wood store if you have a smaller garden or outside area. No matter how frequently you have a log fire, you can only work with the space you’ve got!
For smaller spaces, it can help to look for a taller wood store that will keep a few more logs without expanding on the unit’s footprint.
If you need to season logs and want to build up a good stock, larger log stores can measure 1.5 m³+. Given that each cubic meter can store approximately 300 standard logs, 1.5 m³+ will store around 450+ standard logs.
These are more suited to people who are frequently burning logs in winter, or using a wood-burning stove as well as a fire. Some people choose to have both a large and small wood store, placing the smaller one closer to the house for easy access, with the larger one used to store and season more logs.
Buying a Long-Lasting Wood Store
As we’ve all no doubt learned the hard way, buying a cheaper product can seem like a good idea initially, but can cost us more in the long run when we have to replace it sooner.
To avoid this problem with your wood store, and make sure you’re getting something that will last, look for a unit constructed from pressure-treated wood.
Pressure-treated wood is protected from rot as well as insects such as woodworm. In many cases, this wood has been seen to last for around 15+ years (of course, environmental factors also play a part in its life potential). As a result, it’s a great material for a log store.
If the wood of the log store you’re looking at hasn’t been pressure treated, you should treat the wood yourself with water repellent sealer. This will need to be applied every 1 – 3 years to make sure the protection continues to work.
Even pressure-treated wood will benefit from an occasional water-sealant treatment as well. Applying a coat roughly once a year will help the wood stay protected from water damage (splitting, warping, etc.). This is especially important to do after you’ve had the log store for around 5 years.
The frame of the store should be constructed from sturdy posts, with the sides made from either slats or feather-edge panels.
Feather-edge panels allow some ventilation in but have smaller gaps between them than slats. Slats offer more ventilation, but don’t protect as well against the elements.
If you’re placing your log store in a windy area, where you think a lot of rain may be blown in if you have a unit with slats, feather-edge panels will be a better, more-protective, bet.
Good Ventilation and Weather Protection
Good ventilation is vital for drying and seasoning logs. Well-ventilated log stores will allow wind to whip between the logs, wicking moisture from them and helping them stay dry.
Good ventilation will also help prevent rotting and the development of fungi.
Ideally you want to find the balance between the wood store being as open as possible, but protected from the elements!
You should aim to place your log store in a south-facing direction, out of prevailing wind, where there is still a draft.
This way the logs will be dried by the warmth of the sun and ventilation from the draft, but they won’t have rain blown directly on them when the weather is bad.
Most log stores are slightly raised off the ground to protect the logs on the bottom layer from the elements and allow ventilation from the bottom up. This is quite vital when buying a log store and something you definitely want to look out for to help keep logs dry.
Expect Flat-Pack Assembly
Be prepared to have to put together the log store when it arrives.
It can be useful to check product reviews to see just how easy a certain product is to put together.
Some come better equipped with clear instructions than others!
The majority of log stores can be assembled within 1 – 2 hours. A lot of them come with pre-drilled, or at least started-off, screw holes.
Due to the large size of a lot of log stores, you’ll benefit from having a power screwdriver and an extra pair of hands to help out.
It’s also recommended to assemble the log store in situ – the larger models in particular can be very difficult and heavy to move once put together.
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