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Polly Blommel
Popping and cracking paint
Polly Blommel

My husband and I own a 90 year old house near Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI. Our winters are cold and summers humid and hot. We have hydronic heat (radiators) and no air conditioning. Our house is not climate controlled and we are finding that much of the woodwork that we have caulked (used a very elastic painter caulk recommended at our local paint store) is cracking with expansion and contraction. We also have popping and peeling paint on the woodwork (windows, base and door frames) We have sanded our hearts out, caulked and primed and are distraught over the results 6 months later! We need guidance. Also, is it recommended that old paint (woodwork)always be primed before new paint is applied. We were told to apply an oil based primer to bare wood, but wondering about priming the old paint first. :(

Jeanne
Re: Popping and cracking paint
Jeanne

Was the woodwork / doors previously painted or was it stained and you painted it?

Mastercarpentry
Re: Popping and cracking paint
Mastercarpentry

Wood will move quite a bit with extreme changes in humidity, and somewhat less with temperature. If it was hot and humid when the trim was installed joints may open in the winter. Kiln-dried wood is more susceptible to this than acclimatized air-dried; these days it's about all you can get though. You might be able to shim behind the molding at the corners to reduce the gap. It won't be tight to the wall anymore but it looks better than open joints. If you have high humidity at times, consider running a dehumidifier during those times,

My caulk of choice for problems like this is "Duo-Sil" by Siroflex; it has the best adhesion of any paintable caulking I've found, and better than average elasticity. The 'big-box' stores have it. Remember that caulking isn't meant to be run thick to fill gaps- it works better being thin enough to stretch without pulling loose over small gaps. If you still have excessive movement and gapping, you might joint the longer runs with a miter, arranged so that you don't normally see into the joint, then allow the movement to occur there rather than at visible corners by gluing them together and nailing them well (perhaps trim screws will hold better). That will require a re-do since the saw cut reduces length.

If you do replace any of the wood, arrange that time to be when humidity and heat are on the low side of average and store the replacement wood in that area for 2-4 weeks before beginning to acclimatize it to those conditions and to give the wood more time to equalize it's moisture content more equally throughout.

Phil

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: Popping and cracking paint
Sombreuil_mongrel

My question is, does the noise of all the popping and cracking paint keep you up at night?
The best remedy for wood movement is to select wood that is stable in the first place, then backprime all of it so it can't take up moisture.
Casey

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