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Maggie Lynn
Gaps in tongue & groove wall

We have tongue and groove boards (not panels), likely pine, in our home office area. It's a natural finish, just some sort of an oil based finish on the wood. The problem is that there are some gaps, presumably because the wood has dried and shrunk over the decades. The largest is about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch wide. Since it's not a painted wall, what's the best thing to use to fill in those gaps and make the filler disappear?

Re: Gaps in tongue & groove wall

Without seeing what you have, 3/8" gaps are pretty wide.

Can you re-do the wall? maybe get rid of and replace some disformed boards.

Re: Gaps in tongue & groove wall

I think more to the point would be knowing whether these gaps ever shrink and by how much. If any change is negligible, then my approach would be to pull the T&G and reinstall it more tightly, adding new pieces finished to match as needed in the lease conspicuous spot. If it does close up during warmer or more humid conditions, then that would be the best time to do the work so that it doesn't buckle later on from expansion. Unless it was always this way, I can't envision these big gaps happening from environment changes, so I think it may have been a poorly done installation from the start. As a hedge against environmental changes, while they're off you might consider sealing the back as well. Leave the ends unsealed so that the wood can breathe a bit and it will be happy to stay pretty close to size thereafter.

In most homes, the relative humidity is lower when the heat is on and higher in the spring and fall when the house is open with the AC off; the AC itself can lower the humidity level too. Wood reacts more to humidity than temperature but both need to be considered when you're using wood in such a way that movement needs to be allowed for. T&G will behave well when you treat it correctly, but it will always move some- just not this much!


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