Log Cabin Buying Guide
Buying a log cabin is not only a serious investment for your garden but for your property as a whole. It adds highly valued, extra living space for you and your family. Whether you want a garden office for working from home; an extra family room; an entertainment room or even a guest room, a log cabin will provide the space you need without the disruption of a house extension.
We know how important it is to choose the best log cabin for you, your garden and your lifestyle. Let us guide you through all the factors you need to consider.
This guide will cover the topics below. Click a topic to go straight to the information you need.
The garden space you have available as well as your intended use for the garden room will determine what size log cabin you should choose.
How much space do you have?
Your garden only has a certain amount of room. You want a log cabin that will improve your space not take over.
Remember to leave 1-2ft of space around the log cabin for maintenance. Also, consider the space available to open the doors and any windows.
What will you use your log cabin for?
Think about how you want to spend your time inside your new garden building.
Are you planning on working from home in your new garden office? Do you need just a desk and a chair or further room for shelving and other seating?
Will the space be used to entertain friends? Do you want a dining table or comfy sofas with a coffee table?
Will it be a multipurpose family room with a table for crafts and board games? Or a media room with sofas, bean bags and storage for games consoles and toys?
Where is the best space?
Make sure the log cabin is facing the best direction to suit your lifestyle and how you plan to use the log cabin.
Do you want a log cabin that is basked in sunshine most of the day? If you work, you’ll want the best sun later in the day when you return home. Or perhaps full day sun on the weekends is your priority?
Would a shadier retreat be better for a home cinema or garden office where too much sun can make screens difficult to see? Take time to monitor where the sun is in your garden.
Try out the space
Use twine and canes to mark out the space in your garden. Even try placing pieces of furniture in the sectioned area. This will give you the best idea of what is possible.
Top Tip: Check the precise measurements in the specification
Not all 4x3m log cabins are exactly 4x3. The same goes for all other sizes. These are just approximate measurements that act as a general starting point. Always check the specification guide on each product page for precise, detailed measurements.
Look out for overhanging roofs and other features that may make measurements more complicated. Where log cabins have attached storage or verandas, make sure you know if these are included in the measurements. Our friendly UK-based call centre will be happy to answer any queries you may have.
Shop by Popular Log Cabin Sizes
The cladding construction is how the timber boards are constructed to form the walls of the log cabin.
Tongue and Groove Cladding
- timber boards interlock tightly for a weather-resistant, robust construction
- lack of gaps provides better protection from rain and wind
- thick boards mean they are less susceptible to movement under different weather conditions
- has a flat profile for a sleek, modern finish
- very thick boards of timber
- can use a double tongue and groove interlocking connection
- can use a chalet cut and join
- same excellent benefits as tongue and groove
- plus increased strength
- plus increased insulation
Why is cladding thickness important?
The thickness of the boards used in cladding is important as the thicker the board, the greater the insulation provided. This will make time in your log cabin more comfortable.
The walls of a standard shed start at 7mm and the walls of a standard summer house are usually 12mm thick. This is suitable for use during the warmer months. A log cabin is intended for longer use throughout the year. As such, log cabin cladding thickness starts at 19mm and can go up to 70mm.
If you are planning on using your log cabin in winter, we recommend a log cabin of 42mm thickness or more.
Can I heat my log cabin?
Yes. You have a few options: using a portable gas heater; powering your cabin with a solar power hub and using a 12v heater; or having an electrician connect your garden room to the mains so you can use an electric heater.
If you do add a heater, make sure you follow all manufacturer recommended safety instructions including those regarding space and aeration. Never leave heat sources unattended.
Will the timber be treated?
Unlike sheds and summerhouses, the vast majority of log cabins do not come treated. The timber will need to be treated upon construction and then yearly thereafter. This is a wonderful opportunity to add colour to your log cabin to suit your style and your garden.
Most log cabins will have a timber roof and floor. This will often be interlocking tongue and groove. The thicker the timber, the stronger it will be.
Always check the thicknesses and materials in the specification.
An apex roof has a peak running from one gable end to the other which offers increased headroom along the entire middle of the building. The doors will be on one gable end. Apex is the most traditional design.
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A pent roof is a sloping roof so rain will run off one side. It is now considered a modern option due to its sleek lines. The lower section of its height makes it ideal for under trees or up against a wall or fence.
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A reverse apex design is an apex log cabin with the doors on the longer side, not the gable end. This creates a useful change of layout which may better suit how you plan to use the space.
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The Roof Covering
Felt is the standard covering for most garden building roofs. Black sand felt is the cheapest with an average life span of 5 years. Green or red mineral felt is stronger. Polyester backed felt has extra fibre support for an even stronger felt with a lifespan between 15 and 25 years.
Felt is tacked onto the roof of your shed, though it can sometimes be glued. In high winds, and over time, patches may become loose and need re-tacking or replacing. Some manufacturers will offer felt shingles for a premium aesthetic.
Look out for underlay options too as this can prolong the life of felt and add further weather proofing.
There are also wooden roof upgrades available on some garden buildings such as wooden slats or cedar shingles which are more durable and considered more attractive.
Of course, you will want windows or, at the very least, glazed doors in your log cabin. You need to consider how many windows you would prefer – the more glazing, the more natural light that will reach the interior.
Do I need opening windows?
Opening windows are a definite bonus as ventilation can help regulate the temperature of the log cabin during warmer months.
Remember to take into account the opening distance of windows when planning your space. Look out for tilt and turn windows which have the flexibility of opening at both the sides or the bottom.
What makes bifold doors so popular?
Bifold doors are on-trend in the garden as well as in the home. Bifold doors are usually fully glazed so allow significant light into the log cabin. Their greatest benefit, however, is that they open fully and fold back.
The result is a sense of continuity between the building and the garden, allowing you to enjoy the shelter of your log cabin while still being in your garden.
What will my windows and doors be glazed with?
Some log cabins will be glazed with styrene or polycarbonate as they are both a much safer alternative to glass and easier to handle during assembly. These alternatives will not shatter - something to consider if you have children, grandchildren or are likely to have a wild football come across the fence. Today's glass alternatives are almost always UV protected to prevent yellowing over time.
Real glass is used in many log cabins. Horticultural glass is the most economic as it is the thinnest. Standard single glazing and double glazing is also used. Double glazing provides the greatest insulation, against both temperature and sound, for a log cabin.
How will my door or doors be secured?
Most commonly your log cabin doors will be secured via a cylinder mortice lock. This is a key-operated lock which is set within a hollow inside the body of the door itself.
You may also come across rim locks which sit on the surface of the door.
As log cabins will house valuable furniture, office equipment or media devices, doors secured via a hasp and staple or other non-key operated mechanisms are not recommended.
Some log cabins are divided into multiple rooms. This can offer you a flexible multi-purpose living space to combine that home gym, den and or guest room.
Check the configuration and mark it out on your lawn with twine and pegs to give you a sense of how you will be able to use the space. Double check where the windows and access points are and if this will suit your plans and your outdoor space.
From traditional apex log cabins to contemporary fully glazed garden rooms, there really is a log cabin for every taste, purpose and garden.
Here are some key style features to consider:
Traditional Log Cabins
If your preference is for more classic designs then look for an apex log cabin. Add chalet cut corners for an authentic cabin feel, Georgian style windows or shingle roof covering – all traditional features you’ll love.
Contemporary Log Cabins
A modern garden deserves a contemporary garden room. Look for features such as sleek pent roofs, generous glazing and bifold doors. Emphasising light and space, these modern log cabins offer a calm, clutter free space in which to relax, entertain or work.
Make the most of your garden space with a corner log cabin. It will also offer the best vantage point from which to enjoy views of your whole garden.
As well as making a striking style statement, these oversized roofs add extra shelter for you to enjoy. Plus, they protect the interior of the cabin from glare and the exterior facade from the elements.
As practical as they are pretty, verandas provide additional space for relaxing on garden furniture, removing shoes, or decorating with planters.
Covered Exterior Areas
Some log cabins have a covered outdoor area which is ideal for an outdoor dining space, storing bicycles or a shaded play corner.
Other things to consider.
All log cabins need to be installed on a reliable, level surface. If not, the summer house will shift, doors and windows will misalign, and the integrity of the garden building will be undermined. The ground must be level and free from debris such as stones, tree roots and other disruptive materials. A level grassed surface will require a base. A level hard surface, such as slabs or concrete, does not require a separate base.
Please note that base installation is not included with log cabin installation services.
What type of base should I use?
Concrete is the best material for creating a base though it can be the most expensive.
Concrete slabs are the next best alternative to a concrete base. The slabs should be laid in such a way to form a continuous base with no large gaps between each slab.
Both of these options should ideally sit on a good dressing of sharp sand and hardcore to allow for adequate drainage of rainwater. The concrete base/slabs must be level.
A Probase Plastic Base is an easy to assemble kit which allows ventilation under your log cabin and keeps it raised above any damp.
Our ProBase plastic bases are 100% recycled plastic, making them eco-friendly. Plus, the base can be reused if you wish to reposition your log cabin in your garden.
Its interlocking design makes it easy to put together and, although it is lightweight, it provides a very strong and durable base for your log cabin. The ProBase should be laid according to the instructions which will include proper ground preparation, use of the provided membrane and inclusion of pea gravel where the size of the log cabin suggests. Once installed, the plastic base must be level.
Do I need to use damp membrane?
With a plastic base, it is essential to use damp membrane. This will be included with the Probase kit.
If you are laying a concrete base or concrete slabs, it is highly recommended that you use membrane as part of the process.
What if I am still not sure?
On the product pages at Buy Log Cabins Direct, you can look in the options menu to see if a plastic base is recommended for the garden building you are purchasing. If in doubt, call our friendly, UK-based Customer Service Team and they will be happy to help.
We do not recommend any other materials other than the above for the construction of your base as these may not cope with UK weather conditions and potential subsoil erosion. A log cabin cannot be placed directly on soil, grass or sand. We also recommend that all bases are constructed by a qualified trades person.
Fortunately, planning permission is not required for most log cabins; for planning purposes they are considered “outbuildings”.
However, there are a few circumstances under which planning permission is required:
- the log cabin is over 3 metres high with a pent roof
- it is over 4 metres high with an apex roof
- the log cabin is not for domestic use
- it is within 2 metres of the main building and over 2.5m high
- the location is forward of a wall forming the principal elevation
- the log cabin will cover over half the garden or result in over half the house’s surrounding land being covered
A log cabin cannot be built to exist as a separate home and must not have an aerial.
There may also be other restrictions on listed buildings or buildings in national parks, conservation areas etc.
If you are in any doubt, we recommend that you contact your local planning authority.
Top Tip: Speak to your insurance company
We’d like to remind you to speak with your insurance company so you can check if your log cabin and its contents will be covered. A log cabin adds considerable value to a property so it is important to protect it.
There are two ways to add power to a log cabin: solar power and mains power.
We offer a range of solar power options for your log cabin.
Our solar power stations provide a power source for many appliances such as televisions, laptops, printers, games consoles and more. A 12v point also allows you to run 12v appliances. As these units are so simple to install, you will not need to pay an electrician.
Our solar hubs are designed for less demanding power needs. With a 12v point for 12v appliances, USB points for powering portable devices and dedicated points for our Hubi lighting packs, they are an economic way to add power to your garden building. With easy DIY installation, there is no need for an electrician.
Our Hubi lighting kits, which connect to the solar hubs, include a choice of pendant lighting, strip lighting, floor lamps, table lamps and combinations of these. The effect is an inviting space that you can use later into the evening.
A qualified electrician will be able to run an armoured power cable through your garden to provide a mains power source for your log cabin. This will then enable you to run mains appliances such as computers and televisions as well as lights.
Depending on the location of your log cabin in relation to your house, you may need wi-fi boosters that will provide better internet connection for your portable devices. Speak with your internet provider to identify which products would best suit your needs.
How soon will delivery be available?
Each log cabin’s product page will show the delivery lead time for that specific log cabin. The lead time, such as 3-4 weeks, will tell you when a product will be available for dispatch. Within that lead time, you will be contacted by the manufacturer who will arrange a delivery date with you.
If you make any changes to your order once paid for, this can change your delivery date. Therefore, please check you have ordered everything you need.
What are the delivery charges?
Many of our products include free delivery. However, some more remote postcodes do incur delivery surcharges even where free delivery is available to others. Use the postcode checker to ensure we deliver to your area and to identify any possible surcharges.
If you're not a DIY expert then why not let our professional installation team build it for you leaving you with more time to spare for other activities?
We offer our Pro-Installation Service on a wide range of our garden products. Please refer to individual product pages for availability. To add installation for Forest Log Cabins, please select it from the drop-down selection box on the product page, where it will appear if available.
We offer our Pro-Installation Service to most UK mainland postcodes. Please see the map to check if this service is available in your area. Any orders placed for installation outside of these postcode areas will not be accepted.
Postcode Areas not covered by our Pro-Installation Service: BT Postcodes, GY Postcodes, HS Postcodes, IV Postcodes, KW Postcodes, IM Postcodes, JE Postcodes and ZE Postcodes
For more information visit our pro-installation service page here
If you have any other questions or require any clarification on any of the information above, please call our friendly, knowledgeable, UK-based Customer Service Team. We are always happy to help.
So, have you measured your space yet? Yes? Right, you are ready to shop for your new log cabin! Exciting times ahead…