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bbair 10-16-2013 09:18 AM

Caulking cabinet door panels
What do ya think? I have a customer that wants it done, but I've heard a carpenter say it is a bad idea.

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more_prep 10-16-2013 09:33 AM

If not caulking, you can address the issue by painting them in the winter, when the air is dry and they have contracted, exposing the sliver that is normally under the moulding. On the other hand, I haven't had any issues caulking pine panel doors 30x80 size...there isn't much movement, even in the Northeast. I wouldn't caulk cabinet doors, though.

Gymschu 10-16-2013 10:10 AM

You do luck out once in a great while, but, in my neck of the woods (eastern Ohio) caulking cabinet door panels is a recipe for disaster. The caulk cracks from the seasonal weather changes leaving an ugly mess. My vote is to NOT caulk the panels.....they need to move.

Damon T 10-16-2013 11:12 AM

152 Attachment(s)
We typically don't caulk them either. I would get a clause in the proposal that if the customer wants them caulked you're not responsible for cracked caulk down the road.

Delta Painting 10-16-2013 11:47 AM

Like Damon said it can be done but do not expect it not to crack...

kdpaint 10-16-2013 12:47 PM

I never thought I lived in a stable climate, (Northern New England) but after painting roughly one million cabinets I have caulked most of them and have not had a call back for issues with cracked caulking. Other stuff here and there but not specifically that.

Romanski 10-16-2013 10:13 PM

Caulk them... looks way better.

Use something good like Shermax from SW (urethanized elastomeric)

Have also done tons of cab doors and never had a call back. Damn they look terrible without caulking. That's like not caulking a door jamb.

DeanV 10-16-2013 10:15 PM

I have seen a lot of 6-panel doors fail that were caulked.

cdaniels 10-16-2013 10:24 PM

Not only will it crack it will push the caulking out and leave a mess.I wouldn't do it without telling the ho what will likely happen and let them decide if they want to take the chance.

jacob33 10-16-2013 10:33 PM

I have always caulked them and never had any problems. It sure would save time not to. I may use the excuse that it will fail to avoid it in the future :)

kdpaint 10-17-2013 07:34 AM

Interesting to see such yes or no answers to a post... I have not seen the failure thing... Don't want to, either.

bbair 10-17-2013 12:29 PM

This is interesting: We're about half and half on this. After recommending last week that we don't caulk them because of what I've seen and heard from carpenters, and the fact that painted cabinets never come with caulked panels from the factory, I now am caulking all the panels because the customer didn't like that look. There was occasional bridging of paint in the seam, so I'm not surprised.

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Gibberish45 10-17-2013 12:52 PM

Why would caulked interior cabinets be any more likely to crack than a door jamb or other trim in the same environment? If they need to be caulked they're probably older anyway and caulking will only improve the final product.

DeanV 10-17-2013 12:55 PM

Panels are floating and move. Trim is fixed by nails. Not just wood expansion in panels but actual movement.

CliffK 10-17-2013 02:49 PM


Originally Posted by DeanV (Post 442490)
Panels are floating and move. Trim is fixed by nails. Not just wood expansion in panels but actual movement.

Exactly, they are designed to float and move(expand & contract)-that's why they are not secured with fasteners or glue to begin with-to avoid splitting of the wood panel. It is basic joinery 101. I have seen doors and cabinet doors that were caulked split right down the middle because they couldn't easily move with changes in environment. Caulking them essentially is the same thing as glueing the panel in place. I have also seen a ton of caulking failure and cracking when panel doors are caulked.
If the customer wants them filled for aesthetics I certainly understand, but they also must understand that it is the wrong thing to do with the possibility of failure at some level down the road.

bbair 10-17-2013 03:22 PM

I think this calls for an experiment. I need to find some old stained oak cabinet doors and try a few things, including some grain filling techniques because I see that the 80 & 90's oak look is going a bit out of style for some people and they like to have it painted.

I'm not having good luck with spraying acrylic enamel because the grain isn't filled. We were hoping for a smooth, sprayed finish. I know it's off the subject a bit, but what works good for you? Thanks in advance!

A fella at the paint store told me a slow drying oil settles into the grain. I'd like to try that.

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bodean614 10-17-2013 06:31 PM

High end cabinetry. They usually paint panels then install them in the frames. I've seen mdf panels caulked in. But the don't expand and contract. I wouldn't do it without a clause stating the possibilities.

Danahy 10-17-2013 07:16 PM

I never caulk a new set of doors. If I'm refinishing a set and the gaps are clear I'll also leave them alone. If, however they have been previously bridged with paint or clears ya I will caulk them in. Generally just a micro bead that's not noticeable. Haven't had any issues, and the HO is made aware in advance.

Lazerline 10-18-2013 08:22 AM

If the cracks are tight and orderly I don't caulk them but if they are irregular and not uniform they look like crap after painting so I use a good elastomeric caulking. I always use my 5in1 to push the caulking in the corners so you get a crisp corner. Glopped up caulking in the corners looks like crap too. I have not ever heard of them cracking after. Assuming the house is air conditioned I don't think the temp or humidity varies enough for it be an issue.

aroplate 10-18-2013 09:38 AM

All wood swells and contracts, so if were to live by that rule we wouldn't caulk anything.

I have always caulked cabinet doors when painting, unless the center panel is really loose, it looks nice and if you use a good quality caulk you shouldn't have any problems, also do your caulking after primer so the finish coat is over the dry caulking.

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