Paint is one of the most important lines of defence for wooden clapboard, trim, mouldings, windows, and doors. Yet the climate of Newfoundland and Labrador is very challenging when it comes to keeping paint on a wooden building. High winds and wet conditions allow water to seep into the tiniest crevice and, once wood gets wet, paint gradually loses its adherence. Selecting the right approach to applying paint is critical to ensuring that it performs well. The old methods of applying clapboard and paint were based on generations of observation of what worked. The fact that we inhabit our homes differently today than in the past has an impact on how well paint will adhere to the outer wood cladding and how well the old methods might perform.
In the past wooden buildings were rarely insulated, which meant that the air could circulate through the cavity wall and dry things out. The result was often a generally drafty building. Today most people insulate their older buildings to make them tighter, to cut down on heating costs, and to enhance comfort. Today’s homes tend to generate more internal moisture, through cooking and showering, that can seep through walls. And whether a property is used largely for seasonal or year-round use will have an impact on the amount of internal moisture generated. These all have implications for the way paint performs.
One of the biggest questions remains, “Do I use latex paint or oil paint?” Older generations of builders often suggest that oil is superior. But, for environmental reasons, oil paint is increasingly difficult to get. Latex is seen as more convenient because it dries faster (shortening the time for application), is more ecologically friendly, and allows for the easy cleaning of brushes and rollers. So what is a building owner to do? In this section we attempt to lay out some of the different approaches and provide information on the pros and cons of each. Heritage NL does not assume responsibility for any of the recommendations contained in this document as performance of clapboard and paint will depend on a wide range of factors such as how a building is performing and the conditions under which paint is applied.