Over the past 30 years, True North Log Homes has taken the rustic log home from antiquated to efficient.
AS THE DISCOVERY Channel’s “Timber Kings” gained popularity over the past year and shined a spotlight on log-home living, viewers are discovering what the family that operates True North Log Homes has known for decades — log homes can be beautiful and functional living spaces for modern families.
It just requires a little ingenuity, something the Wrightman family applied from the company’s start.
The Bracebridge, Ontario-based company, which designs and manufactures custom log homes of any style or
size, introduced a game-changing innovation in 1987, just a year after the company was founded, CEO Rob Wrightman says.
The Keylock Air Seal Corner — among the company’s nearly 25 patented technologies — has revolutionized log
home construction, he says.
“Log homes are notorious for leaking air or water,” Wrightman says. “Our patented Keylock is basically a figure-eight shape out of polypropylene. We drill two figure-eight holes in the interfaces of the dovetails so when you drive the Keylock into the interfaces, it tightens the joint. When the house shrinks over time, it gets tighter as opposed to opening up and leaking air.”
That was designed in 1987 and has been improved over the years.
“It never stops,” Wrightman says. “Our family has been very inventive, and we continually innovate. We may even
find something used in a different type of building or different product totally and then figure out how we adapt it to a log house.”
One example of harvesting technology from other industries is the company’s use of O-ring seals, employed in the plumbing industry for years. True North adapted it for use between its homes’ tongue and groove, which eliminates the airflow.
“There are not a lot of log home producers, and all of them have been building them the same way forgenerations,” Wrightman says.
The company’s most recent patent has been the Log Lock technology, a self-tightening device that bolts the top log
through to the bottom log and self-adjusts, so a homeowner never has to adjust the bolts or climb up in an attic space to tighten the building together.
“Everything is all self-adjusting,” Wrightman says. “As the house gets older, it gets tighter. It really came through a need and asking ourselves, ‘How do we make a log wall tighter over time?’”
True North has experienced a surge in interest throughout the marketplace, especially as interest in “Timber Kings” has grown. The bulk of True North’s customers are in Canada or the United States, but customers also have come forward from around the world — places like the United Kingdom, Bahamas, Mexico, Ireland, Korea, Germany and Japan.
True North was tasked with building the largest log structure in the United Kingdom, a Christian youth camp in Derbyshire. Last year, the company also gained exposure by building the largest LEED-certified log home in the United States. The Wall Street Journal highlighted the Florida house in its “Mansion” section in June 2014.
LEED certification is complicated for a log home because air infiltration and escape are typical. Energy efficiency is one concern for modern homebuyers, but so are other environmental factors.
“Most of our client base are looking for homes that are not only environmentally friendly but also are healthy to live in,” he says. “Many stick frame homes and other styles of homes are using chemicals and products that are just not healthy.
“There is nothing healthier than living in a log home,” Wrightman adds.
And the mansion highlights another of the company’s differentiators: customization. Sample designs are only a starting point. The company offers complete design work, employs CAD services and manufactures homes in a facility next to its model home facility.
“We have done well over 1,200 homes, but have never built the same home twice,” Wrightman says.