siding splits mid-clapboard after stucco removal
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los angeles



Joined: 28 Mar 2012
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Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:18 am    Post subject: siding splits mid-clapboard after stucco removal Reply with quote

Hi: I am seeking repair advice for an out of the ordinary kind of splitting in 100 year old redwood clapboard siding. The house is 2 stories, 3900 SF, all simple beveled clapboard, 5 1/2 inch with a 5/8 inch butt edge.

The question is about how to repair cracks that are smack in the middle of clapboards rather than at the edges.

With cracks that run to the edge it is possible to gently widen the crack, clean it, glue it together and/or epoxy fill it. But with cracks in the middle the cracks can't be spread open and compressed to glue them together (unless one cracks the board all the way to an edge or into two pieces). Hence the puzzle of what technique to try for repair.

Here is the background to the problem, since understanding the cause of the cracking is essential to figuring out what a proper repair should be:

My 1910 house was entombed in pink stucco in the early 1990s by the previous owner. I bought the house in 2011 and promptly removed all the stucco. After all sorts of repairs, including the re-framing of a couple of walls, heat gun stripping of all siding, and replacement of some siding, the house was painted with 2 coats of Allback paint after "priming" with generous amounts of oil. Painting was finish spring 2012.

In May of 2014 I began to notice unusual cracking in about 15 to 20 pieces of the siding, all original pieces of clapboard from 1910. The cracking is unusual because it is in the centers of the clapboards, not near the edges and the cracks do not emanate from the nailing into the studs.

My first guess was double-nailing or something else that was preventing movement of the clapboards, and there has been a lot of movement this spring because of the weather. We have had a historic drought in Los Angeles, plus this winter was exceptionally warm and dry, followed by 4 inches of rain in a few days in early March and then bone dry days in the 90s to 100 degrees in late April and early May, just before I saw the cracking.

I now do not think it is double nailing or something binding the boards, because if those things were the problems then the cracking should have happened long ago, and I see no direct evidence of double nailing or binding.

My new theory is that the hundreds (thousands?) of nails that were used to attach the mesh for stucco in the early 1990's left behind some hairline cracks that were not visible or sufficiently mended before refinishing in 2012.

This light bulb went off when I looked inside my garage: the original siding is visible on the inside, and I am about to begin ripping the pink stucco off the outside. The garage has no sheathing. The house has 1" sheathing boards. In the garage interior one can see that many of the stucco mesh nails have cracked the siding - the siding was never meant to be pocked with nails all over the place, and the nails are pointed & thicker in shank than siding nails.

The cracking problem was not as bad or visible on the house (vs the garage) probably because the sheathing provided at least a little back support for nailing the stucco mesh onto the siding.

So, back to the question: Any ideas about repairing these cracks? Clean and fill with epoxy as if they were weather checks? Use the same technique but with linseed oil glazing putty? Caulking seems a distant 3rd best approach. And then there is board replacement, always possible in the future if no repair regimes hold up.

Cursing the idiots who covered the place in stucco does not help. I've tried it. Repeatedly. And if not for them and their economic, moral, and criminal bankruptcy I would not own the house, so I am an ironic beneficiary of their stupidity.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect that cleaning and filling with epoxy as if they were weather checks would be a good way to go. Use a "crack tool" to clean out the cracks very thoroughly.

Be sure to clean any junk or debris out of the crack. For that, the "crack took" is very handy, see it in use in this video at 6:29:

http://youtu.be/tHoVAv7PBmo?t=6m28s

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rncx



Joined: 21 Jun 2008
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Location: Little Rock, AR

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly, the most permanent and cosmetically appealing solution when a board cracks in most cases is to finish the crack by breaking the board, then put it back together.

No matter how it breaks, the two pieces will fit back together just fine, and the newly broken area will be clean and take an adhesive very well as long as you can get it properly clamped.

A wooden boat adhesive, such as resorcinol, would be the way to go to put it all back together.

Of course this would be a quite time intensive process, to remove the siding board by board, break them, repair them, and then put them back.

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say that if the clapboard was already coming out for some reason that could be an effective repair method, but if not, there is the time-saving advantage of repairing the part right in place.
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los angeles



Joined: 28 Mar 2012
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Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments & suggestions.

Since my original post I have worked on the two story garage (carriage house is probably a better name). Boards that were split to the end were glued and then filled with abatron epoxy, as per John's barn video. A couple of boards were taken down, then glued, reinstalled, and then abatron filled - the process suggested yesterday by rcnx. Most boards were repaired in place with abatron.

The results are good so far, but of course I will not know the true success/failure rate of the method until I see how the clapboards survive a few years of weather

The garage needs a couple more days of prep before oil coats and paint.

When the garage is done I will start tackling the house. Since my original post in July we have had some hot and humid weather, more so than is typical, followed by one or two dry spells (relative humidty down around 30% and a little less - never a drop of rain, but there is morning dew). The cracks on the house have multiplied.

P.S. A "paint shaver" did marvelous work on the North side of my garage, which had more than 80% of the original 1910 linseed oil and lead white paint intact. The shaver was set to cut so little that it took 3 or 4 passes to get through the paint. The 16 gallon shop vac (w/ HEPA filter) bags weighed a lot, so much that I suspected it was all lead. Indeed, some paint recipes c 1900 called for 9lbs of lead for every gallon of oil. My garage was sheathed in a coat of lead!

Stripping the North side took 2 days by paint shaver. It would have been almost two weeks with 2 or 3 guys using heat guns. A little more sanding is needed after the paint shaver than after heat gun stripping, but only and extra couple of hours. The paint shaver system hooked to a strong HEPA vacuum is also much cleaner than heat gun stripping. Works great on simple beveled clapboards. Other shapes might not suit it as well.
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los angeles



Joined: 28 Mar 2012
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Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update:

I completed repairs and repainting in November 2014.

The repair method was to sand clean the exterior surface around cracks, then open & clean cracks with a linoleum knife, then fill with abatron per manufacturer's instructions, sand, and refinish by painting the whole house.

Nine months later, performance has been perfect. We don't get freezes here, but temperature and humidity swings can be big nonetheless.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the update report on your success!
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