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Wainscoting and Caulking

Posted by PinesEverywhere (My Page) on
Wed, May 15, 13 at 18:22

I am posting this in the Woodworking, Paint and Remodeling forums. The picture below is a close-up of Wainscoting that I am attempting to “clean-up” and “paint”. The section shown has been primed. Someone suggested that I caulk the gaps.

But I recently read on a “Caulking” site that you should NOT caulk Wainscoting panels as they will shift almost up to 1/8” depending on climate, settling, etc. This shifting (or poor initial craftsmanship) has left inconsistent gaps that are really unsightly under my bright painting lights. I don’t know if the panels have shifted ALL that they will shift (30 yo home) …. Or …. If they shift seasonally based on temp and humidity.

Anyway, should I:

#1 - Not worry about the gaps because I’m the only one noticing them under bright lights and/or because continuous shifting will occur with these panels
#2 - Caulk ALL of the outer gaps regardless of how WIDE and how DEEP they are
#3 - Caulk just the gaps that are really DEEP and that show a crevice where no primer/paint can adhere

I was prepared to do #3 but my concern is that the caulking will “shore-up the DEPTH of the gap” considerably leaving the other gaps with the intended depth and shadow. My thinking is …. I should caulk ALL of the outer gaps to make the depth/shadow very shallow and consistent … or … just leave them alone as designed or as shifted.

More facts:
- The WORST gaps are 1/8” Wide and almost 1/2” Deep showing a crack/shadow that won’t fill with primer
- Some gaps are 1/8” Wide with a 1/4" Depth and are spottily holding the primer/paint in the groove
- About half of the gaps are PERFECT at a 1/16” width and 1/16” depth which hold the primer/paint in the groove splendidly.

What a mess. I hope this makes sense. Did I mention I hate caulking? LOL.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Wainscoting and Caulking

Looking at the picture it looks like the moulding was not cut correctly, as it does not line up. There will always be a thin shadow line you can caulk. You could use plastic moulding that will not expand and contract as much.

RE: Wainscoting and Caulking

SLoyd wrote:
"Looking at the picture it looks like the moulding was not cut correctly, as it does not line up."

And this is a fairly good moulding intersection! The others are worse. Are you suggesting caulking the 45 Degree intersection itself or ... the interior where the moulding lays on-top of the inner panel or ... both?

Thanks for any further help.

I was mostly concerned about caulking that deep "outer groove" but I think I will just lather more primer in there. Your advice on the intersection and inner panel will help too -- that was my next set of questions anyway.

RE: Wainscoting and Caulking

Just noticed your question, so the project is probably already done. But anyway...

By all means caulk this joint. I doubt you'll have any issues with it going forward.

The horror stories you're referring to is when one caulks 3 1/2" bead board at the joint. Looks great in summer, but it's a regular horror show in winter!

Whenever interior bead board is called for, MDF is the material of choice. Goes up fast, no joints and paints like a dream.

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