An Exterior Caulking No-No…

Many years ago, we were working on a project in Providence, RI that at the time when we were doing the surface preparation on the exterior of the home, we noticed there were several gaps throughout the butt areas of the home’s clapboard siding.

Being an older home, this was not necessarily surprising to see.

Puffing out our chests, we thought to ourselves that we could fix this unsightly phenomenon by simply caulking all the gaps that we saw.

After we worked through the rest of the prepping and finishing of the exterior of the home, we stood back and admired what truly appeared to be a masterpiece.

Not only was the paint job done to perfection, but there was not a gap in sight, and we were proud to leave the job site with a finish product in place which we knew our Client was sure to enjoy for years to come.

…or so we thought…

Fast forward a year later and our office received a call that our Client’s once beautiful exterior was beginning to peel in a manner in which it had never done so before and he was entirely confused as only one year earlier he thought he had received the best paint job known to man.

Perplexed myself, I let our Client know that I would be by as soon as I could to inspect things and see if I could figure out what was going on.

When I arrived on-site, exactly as the Client had relayed, paint on the clapboard was peeling all over the place and many areas that were not peeling yet, appeared as though they were on the verge of peeling.

The paint on the trim was entirely intact.

The clapboard however, particularly on the sides that were most exposed to the sun were peeling or beginning to peel all over the place.

My heart dropped in my stomach.

For this paint job was absolutely stunning when we completed it, why was this happening???

After a bit of investigating, the massive peeling on this home actually made perfect sense.

While falling under the category of learning things “the hard way” I discovered that as well-intentioned as we were in caulking the home and eliminating all its gaps, what we were really doing as an unintended by-product of our sealing things up was, literally, sealing the house up to the point its siding could not flex and breath as it could so easily do without all these gaps being sealed.

What we were effectively doing was stopping the siding from being allowed to fluctuate its shape with changes in humidity as well as preventing interior moisture ease of passage to the exterior.

We were trapping a ton of moisture behind the clapboard and as the sun would heat up certain areas of the home, the moisture would push its way out through the front of the clapboard and take our beautiful paint job with it in the form of peeling paint.

Although cosmetically it may look terrific, you should NEVER caulk the underside of the clapboard, in between the gaps where shingle siding meets each other, or any gap that could impede the natural expansion and contraction of the siding of your home or its ability to naturally allow moisture to pass from the inside to the outside.

This is an ultimate ‘NO NO’ when it comes to the exterior paint preparation on the outside of your home.

Some of the most valuable lessons we learn in life stem from mistakes we make and learning what NOT to do in the future.

Believe me, this is a mistake we did not enjoy fixing, but in the process of doing so extruded a terrific lesson in home breathability which would prove itself extremely valuable in the future!

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