Cordwood in Kenai, Alaska

Kenai Alaska Chelsea                                    The cordwood home of Mark & Chelsea in Alaska.

Here are Mark & Chelsea in front of their cordwood home in Kenai, Alaska.  The walls are 14″ spruce with foam insulation in the center cavity between the two 3″ mortar beads.

Alaska cordwood Chelsea & Mark 2011Mark and Chelsea are holding moose sausage harvested from the moose that ate their garden.

They used a log wizard to craft the beams, posts and rafter.  Alaska provides ample solar time to work during the summer, but in the winter it can be a challenge.

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ChelseaMarkAlaska1Inside the second floor with doors and windows framed.

Riding the wheelbarrow up to the second floor. Don’t try this at home!ChelseaMarkAlaska4 low rez Nice job Chelsea and Mark.

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New photos from Chelsea and Mark of a cordwood addition.  Note the stone fish and the Big Dipper in bottle bricks.

chelsea-kenai-alaska-2chelsea-kenai-alaska-4Chelsea and Mark recently completed a cordwood sauna (2017) with bottle ends and a huge moon shaped piece of pine.  Kenai Chelsea 2

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Kenai Chelsea 4Here they proudly display a 24 hours of sunlight mega-Alaskan zucchini.

Chelsea wrote a detailed article about building this cordwood masterpiece for the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011, which was then shared at the Cordwood Conference in Winnipeg, Canada in June of 2011.  The Papers are for sale as an ebook or a print version and the quality of information and the breadth of subject matter is outstanding.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:   Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for thousands of cordwood builders.  Cordwood Workshop Video,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore. Here is a picture of the Cordwood Workshop DVD cover, featuring the Cordwood Education Center.

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For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit   Below is the 30 item Video menu. 

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7 responses to “Cordwood in Kenai, Alaska

  1. This place looks wonderful. How did you do the insulation in the walls?.

  2. Hi Larry. They used Closed cell foam…in Chelsea’s words …”we decided to go with foam. Closed cell polyurethane foam, Demilec Heatlok Soy® to be specific. Two feet at a time we began laying courses of cordwood using 1/2″ garden hose fished vertically to reach the bottom of the cavities. John Vargas with Alaska Grizzly Urethane was amazing to work with and really made our foam insulating project possible. The professional equipment heats the 2 part product and uses extremely high pressure to blast foam into all the cavities inherent in cordwood construction. John turned his temperatures down lower than usual (another advantage of a professional insulator, adaptability) so the product was more liquid to allow it to better flow into the cavities. Not only is the product superior in performance (R values of 6.6-7.2 per inch!) but also price (the higher quality foam is slightly less expensive than the foam kits). Plus we got the expertise of someone who actually knows what they are doing with foam and all of the foam spraying equipment. It is best to have at least a 12 hour masonry cure time (24 hours is even better) to withstand the powerful expansion of the foam. The pressure can push the mortar right out of its nicely pointed home. Foam kits available in our area turned out to be more expensive, less insulative, and more of a hassle to install. Unfortunately not everyone has access to an excellent insulator who is willing to repeatedly visit the project, so these foam kits may be the only choice for some. “

  3. do cordwood constructed homes burn more easily than other types of construction?

    • Actually cordwood walls do not burn. The mortar in the cordwood wall matrix dissipates the heat. They did a test on a cordwood wall at the University of New Brunswick engineering department, where they built a fire directly against a cordwood wall for five hours. The only damage to the cordwood was some charring of the log ends back about 1/2 inch. The report, in its entirety, is in the booklet Cordwood and the Code: A Building Permit Guide. Here is the recommendation from the test. “Cordwood masonry can be considered a safe material to work with respect to fire resistance. The fire test showed that the wall is able to withstand a blast flame for over five hours. A practical fire resistance rating for the purposes of the National Building Code of Canada assembly comparison system of at least one and half hours is recommended.”

  4. I’m curious about shrinkage. How do you fill in the voids after the wood shrinks?

    • Hi Tidelines,
      Good question. First of all you do preventive wood prep. Wood is peeled, split, dried to lowest moisture content and a slow setting, slow curing mortar is used (laced with sawdust). Then if there is a log that loosens, one applies Permachink caulk, which seals any voids and consequently moves with the log (Permachink is used for chinking in horizontal log cabins.)
      If a “check” develops in a log end (which happens in round log ends) the check can be stuffed with white fiberglass or caulked with Permachink. This is normal maintenance on a cordwood home and after a heating season or two all is taken care of with properly used maintenance products.

  5. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
    . Anyways, good blog!

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