Worth painting 150 year old clapboards?
We have an 1850’s era farmhouse in Rochester, NY. When we bought it, it had rather beat-up, repainted aluminum siding. I peeled some of the siding off and lo and behold the original claboards were in pretty good shape albeit with very little paint left on them. There is a lot of very pretty wide frieze and other trim boards that we’re covered up. So, we’re thinking about prepping and painting and replacing wood where needed.
The question I have regards a comment a contractor friend of mine made. He said that the problem with painting old wood is that it has lost all of its resin over the years and paint will not stick to it anymore. He said I’d get probably 3 years out of the paint job. I am prepping carefully and am using good quality sherwin williams primer and paint. Is there anything to his coment? I just hate to cover up all that history…
Depending on witch primer you are using. and top coat. If you have any drought use there Duration and They will warranty it for 7. I think the best primer I have seen is Zinners 123 for exterior. Don't be afraid to add some EB (Flood Com ) to your primer. If you have a lot of peeling use Peel Stop ( Zinner) good primer.
David Painting And Wallcover
espo - i do alot of historic restorations, he is right to a point. this is all hinged upon the use of oil paint though. i do two things- is to reconstitute the wood two ways. prepping is the key to a good paint job that's no news to you i'm sure, sand, fill after the stripping i have two silent paint removers , basically two quartz heating elements. then take the additive penetrol which can get a little expensive and spray the wood let it soak in for a couple days. i keep an eye on the weather also look for a two -three day dry window, then prime i use zinsser cover all (gold label)- then paint. the other mixture is half boiled linseed oil and half paint thinner/mineral spirits the mineral spirits speeds the drying ( flash)of the B.L.O in about 24- 36 hours then prime ,if the mixture is not right the B.L.O stays gummy and then the problems rear there ugly head. if anything go a little heavy on the mineral spirits. then wait 24-48 hours then prime then paint . this creates two fold ,a vehicle to bond the paint to the boiled linseed which has soaked into the wood, also acts as a minimal consolidant for the wood. meaning it evens out the surface for better absorbtion. the one problem that oil paint is being phased out of the market because of environmental concern's, there is the latex conditioner called floetrol i am not 100% that can be used like the penetrol, but... common sense tells me that it can and also be diluted to make it go further. now i'm sure you'll have some other posts that will tell you some other ways. let me end this by saying i'm a carpenter, not a painter." Feed the good wolf....."
Edited 9/25/2005 6:17 pm ET by alias
Edited 9/25/2005 6:19 pm ET by alias
Espo, looking forward to hearing from the voices of experience on this since I'm facing the exact same senario (same era, same story).
My understanding has been that if you strip then sand thoroughly you'll get to a bondable surface, but maybe when the wood is that old it doesn't apply. I've feathered in new clap to blend with the old and will see. I'm inclined to go with oil primer b/c I think it will penetrate better, but I'd also lean toward a latex top coat for flexibility. I wonder if there's any value to using one of the old wood 'consolidants' ala west or abatron.
Perhaps Piffin or Mike or one of the other guys who work on old houses in the northeast will have a thought.
Espo - Doing one right now that is similar.
Building done 1886, as a schoolhouse. About 1925, structure was divided into multiple buildings and moved. This part of the building was covered in stucco until about 1996. Stucco removed and a coat of primer (oil) applied. Area where there was old paint under oil prime, the oil did not hold at all. Where it was bare wood, the primer seemed to do well. I may try the other poster's formulas. Clapboards under the pine moldings also shed their paint pretty easy.
Moral of the story is that old dried out wood/paint is a PITA.
Alias gave some of the more to the point advice. Everyone has had goodpainting advice, but much of it skips over the fact that extremely old wood sometimes has no life left in it.
We usually have clients with a pocketbook that can stand replacing the siding when it is questionable. On this last one, the wood was actually pretty good but there was an eight inch of paint on it and there were many places where 15 - 20 % needed to be replaced, so we took it all off.
But we save the detail work on friezes and casings or sills whenever we can. Most commonly, we use the Minwax Wood Hardener as a wood consolidant to penetrat and harden the wood. I don't know if it is true, but I have read that it is a thinned down Lacquer mixed in similar manner to the boiled linseed oil. The Lacquer dries much faster though.
I just got a book of preservation details for government projects. Maybe I'll peek at their paint chapter tonight
Welcome to the
Taunton University of Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
Excellence is its own reward!
He said that the problem with painting old wood is that ... will not stick to it anymore. He said I'd get probably 3 years out of the paint job
I painted my place closer to a decade ago. 1841 clapboard house. Decent results.
I was very skeptical at first. Observed results have changed my mind. The 'softness' of the clapboard surface seemed like a problem that would limit it to the 3 years.
My prep was limited to the traditional scrape like crazy & oil prime. Latex (actually acrylic) topcoat.
I've used the Minwax hardener and penetrating epoxy since then to repair some soft spots on a few windows and trim. I really think those boards will have a longer life ahead than most newly purchased window and trim lumber.
I read one thread here where someone was applying penetrating epoxy to clapboards as prep. I wonder how well that worked, but it might cost well over a thousand$ for the epoxy.
If I were starting on the project again the change I would make would be a first coat of something like Penetrol. I never thought of using that as a first coat until reading it here today.
Edited 9/25/2005 8:36 pm ET by ClevelandEd
25 years ago I moved into a house which was built in 1903. The house is brick, but there was a ton of wood that was in pretty sorry condition -- 2 porches, window/door casings and the like.
I did a lot of asking around, and a lot of research, and the best advice came from the Forest Products Laboratory (part of the USDA) in Madison, WI. Here is their link to painting and finishing factsheets:
If you can get down to bare wood, they recommended Penta (a wood preservative that has since been banned), an alkyd primer (I used BM Moorwhite Primer), and two coats of latex that is compatible with the primer (I used BM MoorGlo).
The stuff has held up amazingly well. I repainted after about 15 years, not because the paint system had deteriorated, but because I wanted to change colors and freshen it up.
If I were in your boat, I would first apply some sort of oil. I like the idea of Penetrol, but you could also find out what kind of wood preservative a place like Sherwin Williams (or any other good paint store) is recommending these days. I have even heard of putting on a kind of pre-primer coat made up of an alkyd primer diluted about 50% with paint thinner.
Given my own success with Benjamin Moore alkyd primer and latex top coats, I am obviously partial to that approach. But I think the main thing is to stay within the system that has been developed by any of the top-of-the-line paint manufacturers.
"It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts."
John Wooden 1910-
The advice you have been given by others is very, very sound indeed. If the wood is in good condition, chances are that you can save it.
Our house suffered a period of neglect about 30 years ago, we reckon, judging by where in the paint layers the rot began. Afterwards, it was maintained well but the wood being painted on was punky and never repaired properly. In the end, we ripped it all off because too many sections were gone, half-gone, etc.
Here is my little $0.02 of advice: Have a look at the wood underneath the Aluminum near the downspouts and other likely areas where water could have come down. Invariably, these were the exterior areas of our house that had been destroyed by water ingress/coating/etc. If your house is like my house, I'd like to think that if the wood is OK around the downspouts, flashings, etc. that the rest of it will be OK as well.
If you're bringing it down to bare wood, Smith and Co. penetrating epoxy sealer will restore the wood and provide a binder for the primer. Very pricey and serious chemicals though, it is used a lot on wood boats. currently using it on my 1878 victorian.
Trust in God, but row away from the rocks.
It's been my experience on several restorations I'v done that if the clapboards are that old, then moisure from the inside of the house will cause the paint to peel. The original clapboards aren't back primed causing the problem. What I've done is remove the old clapboards, put up either Tyvek or a similar material, install pre-primed cedar clapboards that have an addtional coat on primer on all sides, followed by a top coat of 2 coats of a high quality paint. Some Victorian homes I've done that way are looking great after being painted 8 years ago, while some others that have just been power washed/scraped/painted, are peeling again afer 1-2 years, and end up getting repainted again by the same outfits.
Antique & Victorian Home Restoration Services
Good point. Is the source of the moisture inside the home or from water leaking behind the clapboards. The former could be addressed by a vapor barrier, foam, or dense-pack insulation retrofitted on the inside. The latter needs a lot more work, as you've seemed to have described.
You're right about my clapboards - no backpriming. Also no sheathing behind them ! If you faced this situation, would you consider removing the claboard, applying tyvek and NO sheathing, and then backprimed hardiplanck? I'm a little daunted at the prospect of the sheathing step because that would keep move the siding even with or past the trim boards...What do you think?
Is this siding the type with two courses and a pretty thick back? If so, it is designed for no sheathing. Without sheathing in place, you don't want to remove a lot of the siding, as it might be holding the walls from racking.I would think that if you seal all wall penetrations on the inside well, you will do ok in terms of moisture penetrating from inside.
Our house (Buffalo NY) was built in 1905 with cedar clapboards, not back primed, over tar paper and pine board sheathing. With vigorous scraping and some machine sanding (left swirls visible in some lights), the paint holds fine. I used an alkyd primer and two coats of latex top coat. Benjamin Moore.
You are doing a great thing to rescue those clapboards! I see this all the time - vinyl siding poping off to reveal perfectly sound clapboards underneath.
How about one of those grinder tools that removes a uniform layer of wood without leaving swirls? I think Porter Cable make one.
I've done my share of historic preservation work.
Your existing clapboards are old-growth wood with very tight growth rings and may be quartersawn. If you replace them, you will be getting flatsawn, plantation-grown, large growth ring wood probably. Your stuff is irreplaceable and I would do everything to keep it. Anything that dried up out of the wood left about 125 years ago. I seriously doubt there is any scientific evidence that new wood has better paint-holding characteristics than properly prepped old.