Waltons' ultimate guide to buying a log cabin
A log cabin is the ultimate garden building. So much more than a shed, its robustness, practicality and stunning good looks make it the perfect choice for anyone who’s ever dreamed of owning their own home office, craft workshop, or garden room. If you want a year-round garden bolt hole, entertainment space, or even occasional guest accommodation a wooden log cabin is a flexible, affordable way to do it. Here’s how to choose the best log cabin for you.
- Types of log cabin
- How will you use your log cabin?
- Size and layout
- Where to site your log cabin
- Getting the details right
- Log cabin care
Types of log cabin
Do you like the traditional look or do you prefer a modern vibe? Are you looking for a small retreat or a large premium log cabin with multiple internal rooms? A log cabin can be anything you want it to be – a simple studio, an outdoor dining room, a private gym or a fully functioning workspace. Here are the main options:
For the full Scandinavian look, choose a traditional log cabin with an apex roof and a natural finish. Some cabins also feature an overhanging roof and a veranda.
A flat roof, big windows and double doors combine to produce a streamlined and contemporary log cabin. To make a bold statement, add a block-colour paint finish. Adding extra doors or windows can enhance the modern look and feel of your building.
Starting from 2.4m x 2.4m, a mini log cabin studio is ideal for small spaces. It makes an excellent office, summerhouse or reading room. Glazed doors and big windows maximise light. A mini garden building is ideal if you have limited space, or want to maximise the remaining outdoor space you have.
4. Corner cabin
A corner log cabin is a great space-saver. Fitting neatly into a corner of your garden, they range from a compact 3m x 3m to the large 5m x 3m Yew.
5. Premium log cabin
For a versatile space that can accommodate many uses at once, premium log cabins are a fantastic option. Available in various sizes and shapes, these attractive buildings contain several internal rooms, to be used however you wish. And if our premium collection doesn’t include the configuration you need, design your own space using our bespoke log cabin form.
6. Insulated garden room
A step up in specification from a regular log cabin, an insulated garden room is ideal for anyone who wants a home office they can use all year round. With double-glazing and double-skinned 72mm thick wall panels with integral insulation, you’ll stay warm and cosy on even the coldest of days. Work, rest, and even play in comfort any time of the year.
How will you use your log cabin?
Think carefully about what you want to use your log cabin for now and in the future. If you just want storage space then heat and light are less important than if you want a workshop or home office. If you’re looking for a space to relax in, then comfort will be more important. If you’re likely to keep expensive items in your cabin, security is crucial. Some of the main options are as follows:
- Home office – Create a bright and airy space to work in all year round. Choose a cabin with thick timbers, or an insulated garden room, so you can work whatever the weather.
- Guest room – A log cabin makes a great occasional guest room – especially if you install electricity and plumbing. Choose a well-insulated and weather-proofed log cabin.
- Workshop – Having a dedicated workshop at home is the dream of many hobbyists and professionals. A log cabin can be a safe, warm and dry workshop – and some have a useful covered outdoor space too.
- Playroom – Think about safety features like shatterproof styrene glazing, and child locks on windows. Paint your cabin a bright, cheerful colour.
- Hobby room – A corner log cabin is a great option for a cosy, undisturbed space in which to work, craft, read or write, tucked away in a secluded spot in the garden.
- Gym – A log cabin is suitable for a range of leisure uses, including a home gym. Protect the floor with heavy-duty rubber floor tiles, and make sure your cabin is well-ventilated so you don’t overheat.
- Pool house – Got a swimming pool? A log cabin makes a stylish pool house. Double glazing will keep the draughts out.
- Summer house – If you only want to use your log cabin during the summer, you don’t need to go for such thick logs, but you might wish to consider adding a veranda for entertaining, or soaking up the sun.
- Garage – Some log cabins are designed for use as a garage. Go for one with a large footprint and high ceiling, so that you can use it as a workshop or hobby space too.
Size and layout
Your intended use will help you decide what size log cabin you need. It’s also a good idea to think about how many people will use it at once – how many children will use the playroom, or how big a party do you want to entertain in your summerhouse? Layout options to maximise space include:
- Veranda – add a veranda with an overhanging apex roof to create outside entertaining space.
- Multi-room – some cabins can be divided into more than one room – ideal if you need a meeting space.
- Storage – some cabins have adjoining storage space – great for keeping your shed contents separate from your garden room.
You might put your cabin to more than one use, for example, a home office that you can also use as an occasional guest room.
A log cabin should be big enough to evolve with your family’s needs – a children’s playroom might need to become a hangout for teens before it can morph into the craft room you’ve always dreamed of.
Pick a cabin that fits your lifestyle now, but which will adapt to future uses, and you’ll be happy with your choice for years to come.
Where to site your log cabin
Most garden buildings like log cabins don’t require planning permission, but there are exceptions, including if your house is a listed building or is on designated land – like an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll also need to seek planning permission and comply with building regulations if you plan to connect your log cabin to mains electricity. For more details see the UK Government’s Planning Portal website and check out our comprehensive Guide to Garden Planning Permission.
To help visualise how your log cabin will sit within your garden, use tent pegs or canes to mark out its dimensions. Pick a location suited to its intended use, and consider the following:
- Light – If you need lots of natural light, avoid a shady spot, and try to make your windows south-facing.
- Heat – If you’re worried about overheating, keep your windows in a shady area (but avoid overhanging branches). If you want to maximise warmth, pick a sunny spot.
- Utilities – if you need water and/or electricity, think about the location of the mains supplies when siting your cabin.
Getting the details right
1. How to choose the right base
Log cabins are heavier than your average garden shed – especially if you go for thicker logs – so a wooden base isn’t appropriate. A paving slab base is fine for a small cabin, but concrete offers a stronger, more permanent foundation.
For more information about building a base for your log cabin, read our guide on How to build a concrete base. If you’re unsure, always call in the professionals. Check out the table below for some of the pros and cons of each base type. Higher numbers are better.
2. How to choose the right materials
The logs used to construct a log cabin are precision cut and slot together as the cabin is built. The shape of the joint creates a really tight fit; needing no fixings, but giving maximum weather resilience.
The logs are also kiln-dried which, because it extracts moisture from the timber, reduces the risk of splitting and warping. But because timber is a natural material, changes in the moisture content due to the weather may still create some movement.
The timber that’s used should always be slow-grown, and from a sustainable source. You can tell if it’s slow-grown by the width of the growth rings at the edge of the logs – the narrower they are, the slower the tree grew. Look out for the FSC symbol which guarantees that the wood is from a well-managed and sustainable forest.
- 19mm or 28mm is fine if you plan only to use your building on summer days.
- 34mm is suitable for summer evenings or spring days.
- 44mm is ideal for year-round use. Invest in double-glazing for extra insulation.
Choose windows according to how you plan to use your building. Single-glazing is warm enough for summer and spring, but double-glazing provides more warmth for year-round cabins.
Window bars are purely decorative and don’t offer any specific function. Add them for a vintage appearance, or leave them off for a more contemporary look and an uninterrupted view of your garden.
Use the table below to help you choose the right windows for your log cabin:
Your log cabin will come with a door, or set of double doors, as standard. Some can be upgraded – for example from single-glazing to double. You can even add extra doors to some models if required. The main types of doors on log cabins are:
- Framed single door – Used in houses, this is the most secure option. Solid, glazed or part-glazed, this is the type of door most commonly found on a log cabin. Particularly suitable for home offices, due to the higher security it offers.
- Framed double doors – Offering easy access for moving large pieces of furniture in or out, framed double doors also let in extra light, effectively providing another window. Many single-door log cabins can be upgraded to double door.
Whether you choose single or double doors, Waltons log cabins’ doors are supplied with secure mortice locks to help keep your belongings safe and sound. Most Waltons log cabin doors and windows are available with Georgian bars as an optional upgrade to give a more traditional look.
5. Roof types
You might decide to choose the roof style you most like the look of, but you should also consider:
- Height: At the entrance and inside, for yourself and anything you want to store.
- Planning permission: There may be a height restriction depending on where you live or the position of your shed relative to your house. See Waltons’ guide to planning permission.
The choices of roof style available for your log cabin are apex, flat, pent and split-level:
6. Roof coverings
Although a log cabin’s tongue and groove roof is watertight, there’s always a risk that the natural movement of the timbers may allow water to penetrate over time. There are a number of different coverings available. The table below summarises your options:
7. Floors and ceilings
The roof and floors of cabins should be built from kiln-dried tongue and groove boards, which lock together to give a smooth, watertight finish. Roof boards should be 12mm or more thick, but floor thickness varies depending on which cabin you opt for. Under the floor, the floor-bearers or joists are made from pressure-treated timber beams that run the full length of the log cabin. They support the base of the building and raise it off the floor, protecting it from groundwater and rising damp.
It can be useful to have a supply of electricity and/or water to your log cabin, particularly if you use it as an office, an art studio or an occasional guest room. See our guides to getting power and water to your garden building. Always make sure you comply with building regulations, and call in the professionals to do the work. If it isn’t practical to install mains utilities to your cabin, you could always look into off-grid power options such as solar or wind power.
Log cabin care
There will be some construction required when you receive your log cabin so do check our How to Build a Log Cabin guide. Alternatively, our team can assemble it for you on delivery. Give us a call to find out what your options are. If you opt for one of our premium log cabins, professional installation is included in the purchase price. Finally, be sure to use professionals for electricity and plumbing to make sure your project conforms to building regulations.
Log cabins are supplied untreated, so should always be treated with a quality wood preservative within two weeks of construction. See our maintenance guide for inspiration.
No garden building is 100% secure. To help to keep your valuables safe from thieves, pay attention to the following:
- Garden – Most thieves are opportunists, so make your garden difficult for them to access.
- Door – Your log cabin will have a sturdy door fitted with a mortice lock. You might also reinforce the door with sheet metal, especially the area behind the lock.
- Windows – Toughened glass won’t smash if someone hits it with a hammer or brick. Window locks and security shutters add further layers of security.
- Concealment – Use curtains or blinds, and store valuables out of sight. If you use your cabin as a home office, keep filing cabinets locked and don’t leave computers in your cabin overnight – use a portable laptop. Secure valuables such as TVs to the floor or wall.
- Lock – A mortice lock is fairly secure, but you can add more, like a Yale lock. But beware of using many locks which may advertise the presence of valuables.
- Alarm – Wire your shed or workshop into your home burglar alarm, or install an independent system.
You should now have an idea of the size and type of log cabin you need, and the options and upgrades available when you want to buy. For more help. call our friendly, helpful sales experts on 0800 029 1000.
- Find out how to build a base for your log cabin here: how to build a shed base.
- Find out if you need planning permission here: Guide to Planning Permission
- Waltons help pages
- Waltons blog
Browse our full range of wooden log cabins, insulated garden rooms, playhouses, summer houses and sheds by visiting waltons.co.uk.