Owning a little cabin away from the world's cares is a dream come true for many. Our guide will fill you in on all the details of the most popular types of cabins so you can make the perfect choice.
Do you spend your summers daydreaming about a lakeside cabin? Or maybe you spend snowy winters wishing you were sitting by a big stone fireplace in a charming log cabin in the mountains?
Owning a little cabin away from the world’s cares is a dream come true for many. Cabins offer a way to connect with nature and retreat from busy life. If you have had enough of the hustle and bustle of the city and are ready to try out cabin life, our guide will fill you in on all the details of the most popular types of cabins.
Over the last several years, cabins have seen a significant surge in demand due to their rising appeal. Log cabins are simple homes created using wood logs and are also called timber homes. As the name implies, log cabins are residences built in a cabin style.
Cabins come in all shapes and all sizes. Some are straightforward structures, and others are more detailed. The most common cabins are handcrafted, timber frame, stick built, or full scribe. Modern cabins are often larger and house families; the type of cabin and design truly depends on its purpose and location.
What Are the Different Types of Cabins?
When planning and designing a cabin, it’s easy to focus on aesthetics. Your first instinct might not be thinking about the type of cabin, the efficiency, and the materials used for finishing.
There are several important aspects to consider when building a log cabin. It is essential to become familiar with the various types of construction styles and types to decide whether you want a stick-built, log, modular, or timber-frame home. This will allow you to understand the options better and choose the perfect type of cabin.
Common Types of Cabins
Most cabins are not used as primary residences but are enjoyed as summerhouses or hunting and camping shelters. Cabins are frequently constructed near primary homes as a home office, workshop, gym, or even a kid’s playroom.
The great thing about adding a cabin to your property is that they can be designed in any complementing style. Cabins can even be designed to replicate a two-story treehouse or a classic western ranch.
Knowing the most common types of cabins and their construction will help you make the right choice for your log home, whether your cabin is in your backyard or a secluded and tranquil setting.
Log cabins are the most classic of cabins. They are idealized in frontier movies and history books on Pioneer times. Many styles and types of trees are used for log cabins, and choosing your favorite style, and finish materials will help you keep a log cabin within your budget.
With log construction, one of the most challenging problems, particularly in the case of handcrafted log homes, is stacking together logs of varying sizes to create a tight fit. When it comes to log designs and woodworking processes, a wide variety of options are available to achieve this exact fit.
You may be wondering which construction methods are the best, and the answer is whichever one you find most appealing and fits your budget, space, and functional needs. You will love your beautiful cabin retreat no matter what log home you choose.
Handcrafted Log Cabin
Handcrafted log homes preserve the natural characteristics of logs during construction and even after the finishing treatment has been applied. They are incredibly durable and coveted for their unique, one-of-a-kind attributes. These natural and handcrafted logs come in various sizes and forms and are used to create beautiful notched cabin walls.
Log cabins that have been constructed by hand are now included in the luxury category due to their very high levels of durability, demand, and worth. Handcrafted log houses often make use of large horizontal logs in their construction. These larger logs are one of the contributing factors to their hefty price tags.
Handcrafted logs create a cabin style with an organic and natural feel. For log cabin enthusiasts and admirers of log cabins, nothing compares to the status of having one of the beautifully handcrafted log cabins!
Milled log cabins have an unmistakable appearance and are often considered to have the most traditional feel. Milled log cabins are durable buildings because the logs are trimmed to fit together after they are correctly assembled. The logs come in various profiles, from round to square, depending on your preferred look. If you want an authentic, rustic appearance, square logs will provide the most authenticity.
Milled log houses may be insulated to improve the amount of heat retained and keep cold air out during the autumn and winter months. When you employ a contractor, you can have them cut the logs for a milled log cabin into various shapes, giving a dimensional look to the walls and providing superior insulation. Using milled logs for log siding makes it much simpler to maintain energy efficiency. A bonus is that it also prevents the entry of unwanted pests!
Full Scribe Log Cabin
Full scribe cabins are known for their horizontally stacked logs. Scribing refers to carving out and shaping the underside of a log to make it possible for the log to stack snugly on the log stacked below.
Each log utilized has been specifically selected, notched, and hewn by hand. In a full scribe log cabin, the logs are cut to fit closely on top of the other logs, and a small chink bead is inserted between the logs. Much accuracy is required in the construction process of full scribe cabins.
Because full scribe log cabins are airtight and insulated, you won’t have to worry about any issues with heating or cooling in your scribe cabin, even if you live in a colder climate. The full scribe cabin design originated in Scandinavia, and the construction methods have not changed.
The type of timber used will depend on your region and what is available in your climate. Insects, like termites, can be an issue so choosing suitable wood is essential. Western red cedar logs are often recommended for log cabin building. Western cedar logs are cut by hand, so there is an added cost. However, no other materials are required for the walls, which can compensate for the additional cost.
Modern Chink Cabin
The word “chinking” refers to the substance used to fill the spaces between the individual logs of a chink log cabin. The chinking used between logs is similar to the mortar used between bricks. Chinking the log siding allows gaps to be filled where the logs don’t meet.
Logs in a chink cabin are always arranged in a horizontal and even fashion, making them easy to identify. The chinking is both functional and decorative as it is visible on the exterior walls of the log siding and the interior log walls.
There are two types of chinking: cement mortar and synthetic. The cement chinking has better adaptability to shrinking and expansion than the synthetic type. Because the logs settle and shrink, making the right choice of materials is essential.
Log cabin types that offer a rustic and natural feel are what many people are looking for when it comes to cabins. Chink cabins are an excellent option for do-it-yourselfers and anyone working with a budget. If they are cared for properly, chink huts may endure for over a century.
Log siding isn’t a type of cabin, but it is a material that can give the same look like the classic cabin to a home or building. Log siding can be applied to an existing cabin during renovations or used on new construction. Hybrid log cabins are used with either timber frames or post and beam cabins to give the exterior a finish similar to a full scribe cabin.
Log siding can help reduce the cabin cost because it is not full logs but rather traditional home siding shaped to look like logs. It can be applied to the cabin’s exterior walls or added to the interior walls.
Log siding is made from milled logs or concrete. Combining log siding with milled logs helps keep out pests and is very energy efficient. The concrete log siding is very durable and low maintenance and looks very realistic.
Timber is the wooden beams used for the cabin’s structural frame. A timber frame cabin has a framework of massive posts and beams connected using pegs or other architectural joinery.
A timber frame is weathertight because it uses structural insulated panels or SIPs, which wrap around the frame providing an envelope of insulation. The walls are created on the outside of the wood frame, leaving the timbers exposed. The visual effect of the woodwork on timber frame cabins creates a stunning and dynamic impact!
The grand design and height of timber framing can be complicated in remote areas because a crane is used to set the large timbers. Roads and underdeveloped locations can make it challenging to get the proper equipment.
The use of timber in building construction is durable and has been around for a long time. Timber frames are heavy-duty and can last for hundreds of years. Because timber-frame construction is so strong, it does not require load-bearing walls, allowing for an open floor plan. This is one of the significant advantages of timber frame cabins!
Post and Beam Cabin
In a post and beam log home, vertical and horizontal logs connect to form a sturdy frame. They are built similarly to a timber frame cabin but with squared-off logs. The appearance of the post and beam cabin is similar to a chink or stick-built cottage.
This method of cabin construction uses fewer logs than a full scribe or chink cabins, so it can help keep costs down compared to other log homes. A post and beam cabin has mostly vertical log posts with horizontal logs on top. The space between the vertical logs is filled with a stick-built frame, and the exterior is often finished with half logs, timber, or other material.
Post and beam cabins are constructed with posts that are separated by a considerable distance, and the beams provide the roofing with extra strength so that the vaulted ceiling can be used in the large, open living space. These beam cabins consist of fewer supports because of the strength of the timber. This enables the use of huge windows in the construction. The beam log cabins are known for their breathtaking design.
Post and beam cabins are typically more expensive than other choices because they require strong, high-grade timber and experienced workmanship. However, the building process is quick and uncomplicated, which can help lower costs.
Modern Prefab Cabins
Modular cabins are prefabricated buildings assembled on-site with little expense and in a short time. The individual pieces or modules are constructed and pre-assembled and then transported to the cabin’s location. They are then constructed and built on site.
This modular construction method cuts down on time spent building and putting everything together. After all the components and parts have been delivered, it should only take one to two days to put everything together. A modular cabin can be a DIY project, but a general contractor is typically hired to oversee the project. Modular cabins come pre-built but require land development, a foundation, and finish work.
The variation or style of modular cabins is available in almost any type as a traditional cabin. Modular cabins are designed as replicas of the traditional log cabins but are constructed on-site. Costs are similar to or slightly less than conventional construction, depending on the complexity of your modular cabin and where you plan to build it.
According to the Modular Home Building Council, modular construction meets or exceeds energy-efficiency standards.
Modern Hybrid Cabins
A hybrid cabin is constructed using at least two different building materials and techniques: conventional log, timber-frame, and stud-frame building materials. The hybrid strategy makes it possible to use various additional construction materials.
Stone, glass, shake shingles, and recycled siding are materials often used to construct hybrid cabins. Wood is another common material. Modern cabins will often use additional materials to achieve a look very different from the traditional cabin.
The hybrid approach may use more pricey logs in feature areas such as a lounge or common rooms and then use more cost-effective stud-frame paneling in areas that are feature rooms such as a storage space.
You can use as much or little wood as you choose in a hybrid cabin. If the cabin is your primary residence, a hybrid cabin can give you both the look of a modern home and a rustic retreat.
Modern A-Frame Cabins
The A-Frame cabin is a perfect choice if you dream of a storybook cabin in the woods. They are recognized by the roof shape that looks similar to the capital letter “A.”
This popular cabin is often sold in DIY kits and is perfect for those interested in building a cabin for the first time.
Its simple construction makes it cost-effective. It can also offer an open floor plan despite its small footprint. This is the perfect cabin to enjoy in the winter. The roof can safely hold snow and the loft bedrooms add to the cozy charm.
Stick Built Cabin
The walls in log cabins made with traditional stick-building methods are usually braced with studs. The stud-framed method of construction is the same method used in building homes. Log cabins offer better insulating properties than strictly built cabins. Stick-built cabins have more flexibility to place interior walls since they are load-bearing and take the weight off the structure.
If you want to construct a cabin with a stick-frame structure from the ground up, you will need the assistance of a local builder or general contractor. When creating your custom house, that builder will use the floor design and list of requirements you provide as a guide. Because of the popularity of this building method, you should have no trouble finding experienced builders to work on your project.
Stick-built cabins are designed in every style imaginable, from alpine style to classic, farmhouse to shabby chic, and anything in between. There is a large selection of stock floor plans from which you may pick, and these plans can be modified with the assistance of an interior designer or an architect.
Because financial institutions and insurance firms are already acquainted with this building style, obtaining financing and insurance coverage for this kind of cabin will be more accessible for you. The price of a bespoke cabin constructed using traditional building methods will vary significantly from one location to the next. The price will also be impacted by the degree of finishing you want and the intricacy of the layout you select—the average kitchen in a stick-built cabin averages $15 per square foot.
In the rural community of Williams Lake, British Columbia, you can find some of the world’s most skilled log-smiths who specialize in building one-of-a-kind log homes. Each cabin is created at the location. After it is made, it is disassembled, transported to other places across the globe, and reassembled wherever the customer desires.
What Is a Cabin?
Traditional cabins are identified by their small size, rustic details, and charm. They are almost always in secluded or rural areas. Traditional cabins usually have a very simple floor plan with one to two bedrooms and are designed to be very low maintenance.
Often, the cabin is built by the cabin owner and made with logs and simple tools. You will always find rustic details in a cabin, from uncomplicated roofs to stone fireplaces. Cabins built entirely out of logs are typical but not the only defining characteristic of a cabin.
Log Cabins vs. Cottages
Cabins and cottages are similar in size and purpose; however, they have some differences. Cabins are found in the woods or secluded mountain areas, while cottages are usually found near lakes and bodies of water. Cottages also have amenities like electricity, running water, and plumbing, which is not required for a log cabin.
Typically, cabins are primarily used for shelter by hunters or people who want a place to be safe from the weather. They are much cruder and bare-bones compared to a cottage. Another main difference is that cottages are made of different materials and design styles, while log cabin construction is almost always made of logs or wood.
Wooden Cabins-A Short History
Cabins were first constructed in Europe and America as first-generation dwelling constructions by settlers. Log cabins have been around for many centuries, and the Scandinavian nations are credited with being the birthplace of the first log cabins.
Wood log cabins have been used throughout northern and eastern Europe as far back as the Bronze Age (5000 AH). The style and appearance of log homes were initially brought to the United States by the early settlers who arrived from various other nations.
Log cabins were traditionally constructed using round logs rather than the hewn version available on the market nowadays. Hewing logs, or making them square, is time-consuming, so most early settlers did not use them because they were constructed rapidly to quickly have protection from the elements for settlers living in frontier areas.
Traditional log homes were constructed using the finest logs, cut from much older trees. These logs had smoother, more straight lines and fewer branches than younger logs. Professional log home builders used these logs because they fit together beautifully, and they did not need any hewing; instead, all that was required to decrease the gaps between the logs was careful notching and dovetailing. The amount of time spent insulating or chinking the logs with pebbles, sticks, or mud is cut down significantly due to this.
The D-style log cabin is one of the most prevalent styles of square log cabins. There are several other variations. These log cottages are locked together with the joining walls on each side, utilizing logs that extend beyond the corners to secure the structure.
These buildings are valued for their positive effects on the surrounding ecosystem, which is one factor that has led to the rise in demand for them. They are also relatively inexpensive to build, and as an additional benefit, the prospective owners have the power to choose and build designs that appeal to them.
How Much Does a Cabin Cost?
The cost of cabins has many variables. Cabins have a similar price per square foot to build as traditional homes. The size, design, materials, and locations will have the most significant factor in how much a specific type of cabinet costs to build.
Time of year, current building materials and labor costs will also heavily influence the total cost. A DIY kit can range from $75-$140 a square foot, while a turn-key ready cabin can be upwards of $180 a square foot.