log cabin types

Round Log vs Square Log: What’s Your Preference?

There isn’t just one kind of log cabin. In fact, many log cabins are totally distinct, and their nuances are largely due to the particular preferences of their builder – especially when you look back at some of the original log cabins, which date back to Roman times.

Nuances aside, there are a couple structural models for log cabins and it can be tricky to understand some of the more subtle differences between them. We’re going to make it easy for you and breakdown the big distinctions.

Here we’ll discuss the 2 main log cabins types: Round log vs. Square log. While advancements in milling and chinking products have made the differences between the two less vital, there are still several important distinctions to consider.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Traditionally, log cabins were made with round logs, not the square or ‘hewn’ variety. This is mainly because hewing the logs takes extra work and log cabins were often built quickly for shelter in the frontier. Pioneer builders could pick the best logs, which were selected from older trees with minimal limbs and fairly straight lines. These logs fit well together and didn’t need to be hewn. The logs would then be carefully notched and dovetailed to minimize the gaps – and also the amount of time spent chinking (insulating) with sticks or rocks or daubing with mud. The round log cabin is also known as the Traditional Timber.

log cabin types

The advent of the hewn log…

Hewn log cabins or square log cabins were built once a primary residence was already in place and were valued for their superior insulation. Hewn log cabins also became a necessity when the ideal round logs had been used up by the first settlers.

The most common kind of these cabins are D-Style log cabins, distinct because they are hewn on all sides except for the outer wall, which is left round to look more traditional. The parts of the log that touch will have a flat-faced material placed between every layer to seal in more heat and block out the elements. Alternatively, it may be notched to allow for a wood rectangle or square rod to lock the logs together and likewise help seal and insulate. Construction may even involve using keys and notches cut into the bottom and top of the logs to facilitate locking without a separate key. You can also find square log cabins that utilize a combination of the 3 methods. It is common to see more modern log cabins pinned or spiked together to keep everything as tight as possible. This snug fit diminishes (but does not negate) the need for chinking.

Unlike round log cabins, which require dovetailing or other notching and consequently leave comparatively large gaps, hewn logs can be built using a virtually horizontal stack. Square log cabins are secured by having every other log extend beyond the corner, which locks the logs together with the attaching walls at each end. The next course of logs will fall a little short of the corner. The logs of each adjoining wall will go beyond the corner for this layer. The pattern repeats until you have the body of your cabin. The joints still need to be sealed by chinking, but it is far less extensive than with a round log cabin. Resealing is usually completed every year or so.

square log cabin

Trees used to build log cabins…

Just about any tall tree can be used to build a log cabin, but there are some types that are superior. Here are the best trees to use for log cabins.


Cypress trees provide hardy, strong and rot-resistance logs for cabins. To ensure the most resilient wood, make sure to tap into the heartwood of the tree, not just the sapwood. The sapwood is very light in colour, almost white, while the heartwood ranges from a yellow brown to a dark reddish brown. If the cypress is not milled correctly, the sapwood may not even be exposed, and therefore the resilience found in the heartwood may go unrealized.

The main drawbacks to cypress are its cost and its availability. Due to the fact cypress is not available in abundance, it is quite pricey. This means that while cypress log cabins are beautiful and hardy, they are not very common.

Pine (includes White & Yellow Pine)

Pine is an incredibly popular choice for log cabins. This is because it’s easy to work with, rot-resistant and not as susceptible to wear and tear as other trees. It is also fairly inexpensive. White pine stains easily, while yellow pine is more stubborn when it comes to staining. Yellow pine, on the other hand, fairs better when it comes to strength, warping or shrinking. This said, White Pine is one of the most commonly planted and fastest growing trees, so it is more readily available.

Hemlock & Oak

Both Hemlock and Oak are durable and strong, but not very cost effective to use as a base for the body of a log cabin.

Cedar (Red & White)

Cedar is known for being fragrant and resistant to both insects and rot. It is especially ideal for wet climates. The price comes in at around middle of the road. Cedar is most commonly used for outdoor railings.

A little bit about the log cabin types at the Loughborough Inn…

Our log cabin types– also known as log chalets because of their luxurious amenities – come in 2 styles. The first four of our cabins were built in 1987. They embody both types of log cabins by using round hand hewn logs. These gorgeous tributes to ancient architecture were expertly crafted by DeVries Log and Timber Homes, and are the home away from home for our guests. These cabins feature both one and two bedrooms. 

The other three log cabins were built in 2012 and are made solely with square logs. They were crafted by Confederation Log Homes. These are two bedroom units and they also feature kitchens and wheel chair accessibility. All the cabins have full bathrooms, WiFi, satellite TV’s, and luxurious beds.

Sound like a little bit of heaven? Come visit us and enjoy spending a night or two (or more) sleeping soundly in a bit of history.