Cordwood construction is a unique and sustainable building method that utilizes short logs, typically 12–24 inches long, laid crosswise and secured with mortar or cob to create walls. It offers a variety of benefits, including:


  • Cost-effective: Cordwood construction can be significantly cheaper than traditional methods, especially when using locally sourced materials like salvaged wood or downed trees.
  • Sustainable: This technique utilizes renewable resources, reduces waste, and minimizes environmental impact.
  • Energy-efficient: Thick cordwood walls provide excellent insulation, leading to lower heating and cooling costs.
  • Unique aesthetic: Cordwood walls create a rustic and natural appearance, adding character and beauty to any home.
  • DIY-friendly: With some basic carpentry and masonry skills, cordwood construction can be a rewarding do-it-yourself project.


  • Time-intensive: Building with cordwood requires more time and labor compared to conventional methods.
  • Moisture management: The exposed ends of the logs require proper sealing and protection to prevent moisture intrusion and rot.
  • Structural limitations: Load-bearing cordwood walls may have limitations in height and complexity compared to other methods.
  • Limited availability of skilled builders: Finding experienced cordwood builders may be challenging depending on your location.

Here’s a breakdown of the basic steps involved in cordwood construction:

1. Foundation:

  • Prepare a level and stable foundation suitable for the chosen wall thickness.

2. Cordwood preparation:

  • Select straight and split logs of uniform length.
  • Dry the logs to prevent moisture-related issues.

3. Mortar or cob preparation:

  • Choose an appropriate mortar mix or prepare cob for binding the logs.

4. Wall construction:

  • Lay the first course of logs on the foundation, ensuring a level and plumb wall.
  • Fill the spaces between the logs with mortar or cob.
  • Continue laying subsequent courses, staggering the joints for strength.

5. Chinking and finishing:

  • Apply chinking material to fill any remaining gaps and cracks.
  • Finish the walls with plaster, stucco, or other desired materials for weather protection and aesthetics.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Log selection: Choose decay-resistant wood species like cedar, locust, or oak.
  • Mortar or cob: Mortar offers greater strength and durability, while cob provides better insulation and breathability.
  • Wall thickness: Thicker walls offer better insulation but require more materials and construction time.
  • Door and window openings: Plan for openings in advance and incorporate them into the wall construction.
  • Roofing: Cordwood walls can support different roof types, including traditional trusses or green roofs.

With proper planning, careful execution, and attention to detail, cordwood construction can be a viable and rewarding option for building a unique, sustainable, and energy-efficient home.

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