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Old 03-29-2005, 03:38 PM   #1
MWM
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


I just recently bought my first house. I spent some time a few years back working w/ a contractor, so I'm pretty familiar with many aspects of construction and home improvement. The previous owner did a lot of improvements on his own, and for the most part did a pretty good job. He wasn't as patient as I would have been, though (perfectionist...).

He installed crown molding around the kitchen cabinets, and when I moved in, there were visible gaps/cracks between the molding and the cabinet walls & ceiling. My original guess was that he cut and mounted the molding without first letting the wood cure indoors for about a week, and the cracks were due to the wood drying & warping after it was already nailed into place...thereby separating the caulk from the wall and the ceiling. I spent an entire day going around the room with latex painter's caulk, and after it dried I repainted the entire kitchen, woodwork and all. It is now only a month later and I'm already seeing evidence of cracking again where I previously repaired the caulk. My guess now is that the older (55 years old) house is settling and moving a little, causing the dried, inflexible material to separate again.

I hate to see all my work go to waste, so my question is this: is there a material that's both pliable when dry AND paintable? I'd like to stuff these cracks again if they get really noticeable, but whatever I put in there now I'd like to have it "move" with the house. Thanks in advance for your tips and help!
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Old 03-29-2005, 05:42 PM   #2
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


There is a plethora of products to choose from. Are you using products that say 'best' on the tube or the $1.49 stuff?
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Old 03-30-2005, 08:05 AM   #3
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Teetorbilt
There is a plethora of products to choose from. Are you using products that say 'best' on the tube or the $1.49 stuff?
No, I'm using a decent product. DAP Premium Latex Painter's Caulk. It goes on great, and the bead smoothes easily, but when it dries it's not pliable, so if the house shifts a tad, the opening I filled with it cracks.

Any ideas?
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Old 03-30-2005, 09:23 AM   #4
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


You may want to try an acrylic product, it remains flexible.
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Old 03-30-2005, 09:51 AM   #5
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Teetorbilt
You may want to try an acrylic product, it remains flexible.
Thanks! I'll give that a shot and let you know how it goes. Anyone else can feel free to chime in as well!
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Old 03-30-2005, 10:20 AM   #6
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


I wouldn't think that a 55 year old house would have much "settling" to do. It sounds like maybe there is movement in the walls/floors? That or the molding wasn't installed properly?

In my experience I've never had latex caulking crack or seperate from the trim/walls before. And, I've caulked and painted new homes before the "recommended" 1 year "settling period" has occurred.
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Old 04-02-2005, 11:48 PM   #7
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


The best of caulking will allow 50% expansion.
That may sound like a lot but in reality, if you have
a "hairline" crack the caulking will allow only half a hairline
worth of expansion!
In my experience the most common cracking of caulking
is the one you are describing. Very common when crown molding
is not installed properly.If you press it with your hand does it move?
If it does even elastomeric caulking cannot help you.
It has to be installed properly.
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Old 04-05-2005, 08:55 AM   #8
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


I'll have to press on it and see if it moves. It's a good possibility it wasn't installed correctly. I plan on installing crown molding in my dining room...and would like to avoid the same problem...what's the "proper" way to install it?
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Old 04-05-2005, 05:36 PM   #9
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


"...what's the "proper" way to install it?"

You will likely get a better answer to that from a carpenter.
or someone that specializes in that.
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Old 04-05-2005, 09:48 PM   #10
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


Most trim carpenters today tack the moulding to the wall and ceiling and depend on the caulk to fill gaps and 'glue' it into place.
The proper way is to rip cleats, fasten them to the studs and then fasten the trim to the cleat. It's pretty simple to spot. If the nails are near the edges, it's a cheapo job. If the nails are near the center, they are going into a cleat.
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Old 04-17-2005, 05:59 PM   #11
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How to keep caulking from cracking?


Two caulks that I use and like are Duron Maxflex and Sherwin Williams Sher-Max, in that order. These elastomeric caulks can take a little more movement.
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