Mountain Front A-Frame Renovation, Choteau, MT


Version 2


Our friend, Keegan, transformed her 1960’s seasonal cabin into a year-round mountain home this year. For a small building, it offered large challenges: mice were the only users of the cabin in recent years; the walls and roof were uninsulated; plumbing, wiring, windows, doors, siding, roofing and flooring all needed to be replaced. It all happened.

Keegan deserves credit for doing much of the work herself and most of the content in these photos is her handiwork. Our tasks were to provide some windows and build an insulated roof system.


Click on any of these for a close-up:


Work underway:



Before work:


Tile and Metal Shower

Carol’s custom walk-in shower/toilet room in progress:

Porcelain tile travels across the floor and vertically up one wall. Corrugated metal panels wrap the other three walls and sloped ceiling. Metal trim, grab bars and towel hooks are featured. The exhaust fan in the upper corner is almost completely noiseless.


Dave’s Exposed Fir Framing

Exposed framing can be a pleasure to live with. Not only is the wood’s color and texture beautiful, but there is something about seeing the structural parts of a house – the individual pieces working together to keep the weather off one’s head. Comfort, maybe, in the apparent strength of one’s shelter. Maybe it’s the depth in open framing and the shadows it creates. You decide. Here are a few photos of Dave’s fir sub-roof and knee braces:




Below there is a small piece of wood mortised under the beam to the left. It is also mortised into the post on the right and acts as a spline, or separate tenon:


Dave’s mudroom addition under the roof. The pet door is dedicated to Remy, yellow lab and top bird dog.




Log Home Maintenance

This summer we took on a log home exterior – a different kind of project for us but we enjoyed it and learned some important tips on log home maintenance in Montana.

Log homes have special needs because their structure is exposed to the elements – sun, wind, water, extreme temperature changes and even bugs. Ultraviolet exposure from the sun is the primary cause of log rot in places like Choteau, Montana, where it’s dry and sunny much of the time.

We found that all of these elements can be combated with the right kind of log finish. The best log finish will offer UV inhibitors, flexibility, breathability (some, but not too much), insect inhibitors and of course protection from rain and snow. We also learned that finishes with darker pigments offer better UV protection. If you own a log house, put this kind of armor on it.

We used a log and siding finish by Sikkens that we believe is outstanding. We’ll watch it perform over the next few years with great interest.

We consulted an excellent book for this project that log home owners should have in their libraries: The Log Home Maintenance Guide by Gary Schroeder.

The graying in these photos is ultraviolet damage:

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After two coats of Sikkens log finish and some trim paint:

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Exterior Renovation, Choteau, MT

Here’s a project currently under way:

Part of this home’s story is told here in rich evidence of past openings, building dimensions, roof lines, available building materials, insulation attempts and workmanship. There’s Dan’s signature above the old window – not sure who Dan was. Walls like this are pure art.


For a time, it looked like this:


Too bad the window’s gone but it is the north side, and it’s Choteau, Montana, wind and bad winters and all…

The next chapter in it’s history is being written now. Note the layer of rigid foam insulation wrapping the house under the new siding. Owner Dave (no relation to Dan) says it’s noticeably more comfortable inside already.