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I bought an older home which has some wood paneling that I've been caulking, Spackling, and painting. I've recently had some issues however with an area of the paneling where it was cut to install an air duct. Before installing a new grill, I filled the existing cracks with Spackle and painted over them.

I have noticed that since we have switched from using the AC to using the heat, cracks are starting to open up like crazy. I'm assuming this is due to the lower moisture levels in the air when using the heater as opposed to the air conditioning.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how this could be fixed?

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Vent2

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  • Did you paint/seal the cut ends and the back side of these boards? If not, that would likely help stabilize it significantly. – jwh20 Oct 29 '20 at 16:51
  • Unfortunately no. The paneling was already installed long before I bought the place. The ends are not painted and I don't know how I would be able to access them since the lips of the air duct are in the way. I might be able to bend them down and mush a little bit of paint in there, but it wouldn't be thorough. I'm almost 100% sure the backs of the panels aren't painted. – rrw023 Oct 29 '20 at 16:58
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You would have to remove the cracked boards (what you show appears to be what is normally called "bead-board," a subset of tongue-and-groove boards, rather than what is typically meant by solid wood paneling, where "panels" are in "frames"), glue them together properly, and replace them - or just replace them with intact boards.

When doing that you need to install them in such a manner that the tongue-and-groove edges are free to move as the boards expand/contract. This wall appears to have been painted over in a manner that has "locked" the tongues and grooves with many layers of paint, and when the boards shrunk the weaker spot was out in the middle of the board, so it cracked, as opposed to the movement happening at the joint.

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  • The panels have caulking in between them and were then painted over. As far as removing the crack boards, I'm not too confident in my ability to do that. Do you think it would be possible to just apply wood glue to the existing cracks and repaint? I'm hoping if I did that, further expansion/contraction would occur at the edges. – rrw023 Oct 29 '20 at 17:08
  • I'll rate that as "highly unlikely to work." You can't properly glue an open gap on the wall (evidently already partly filled with spackle.) Perhaps a larger decorative trim plate around the register to hide more. – Ecnerwal Oct 29 '20 at 17:14

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