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Clapboard Moisture Issue – Help!

I re-did 70-80% of the clapboard on my house in August and early September; used CVG pre-primed western red cedar. Then started staining the house with Benjamin Moore Arbercoat solid stain. I did not get to far before it rained on and off for a week. And ever since then, it seems like every other day we get just enough rain to stop staining that and the next day.

With temperatures getting down to 40 degrees and below at night, yet into the 50’s and 60’s during the day, I may still get the house stained (2 coats) before it is too cold to do more.

BUT, here is the problem. Typically, I would wait 24 – 48 hours after a rain before staining again. And if it was a good soaking rain, or the side of the house that gets little sun, I’d wait an additional 24 hours.

But wanting to know how soon I could stain, I purchased a moisture meter. Benjamin Moore customer service said the moisture level had to be 12 or less, and that 15 was the outside limit.

Well I’ve taken reading again and again. The new clapboard is dry within hours with a moisture level of 12 or less.

BUT the old clapboard has readings of 15 – 19 on the garage and back of the house, with some places in the 20’s, and the right side of the house has reading in the 20’s to 30’s.

So new clapboard is ok, old clapboard is not. The old clapboard are at least 10 years old (I suspect pine) and most all of it might be the original from 34 years ago. The house was last stained 10 years ago.

And now after 3 days of no rain, the moisture level in the old clapboard has not budged.

Can someone explain why I am getting such high reading for the old clapboard, and how best to proceed?


Re: Clapboard Moisture Issue – Help!

Just curious, has the house had a history of peeling, or is it in pretty good shape? Is the house on a crawl space or damp basement? What kind of foundation does the wall sit on and what isolates the cement/masonry foundation from the sill plate?

Years ago I painted a house which had a history of peeling. It was a copy of a Williamsburg,Virginia colonial house built on a high brick foundation. The porous brick was passing moisture up into the wall cavities. I could not find a place on the house with moisture readings less than 12%. Many had readings in excess of 20%.

In any event, the waterborne Arborcoat solid hide stain has a better chance of holding than does a full bodied oil or latex paint. Its thin waterborne film simply breathes better.

Re: Clapboard Moisture Issue – Help!

No history of peeling.

Cement foundation on top of ledge, not much sun gets to the sides and back of house due to trees 15-20' away and they are tall blocking out the sun at this time of year.

anyone else on how best to proceed?

Re: Clapboard Moisture Issue – Help!


If the house has not peeled in the past and you are using a breathable water borne solid hide stain, I would not be overly concerned about the somewhat elevated moisture readings.

Waterborne finishes are tolerant of conditions that would be verboten when using oil products. If the surface is dry to the touch, you are good to go. It is not a bad idea to knock off painting relatively early in the afternoon to allow the stain to dry and somewhat cure before the cool and damp of the evening.

Also, during the summer, you bend over backwards to stay out of the sun. In the Fall, you often want to stay in the sun to take advantage of its warmth.

Re: Clapboard Moisture Issue – Help!

Thanks, I plan to just proceed regardless of what the moisture meter says. With luck, all will be ok.

I also found the following using the moisture meter. I test the trim moisture level yesterday; it was 15. 2 hours later it wass a 20. ????

Possibly I have a bad Ryobi moisture meter???

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