We have an extensive background
in architectural woodworking and a fully equipped woodshop,
so we are able to re-produce any and all details.
Most New England steeples are finished in pine, and we use pine often. However,
we like to use rot proof woods such as cedar and cypress in the most exposed
locations, or everywhere if budgets permit. In general, we follow industry standard
practice, with the following exceptions and/or additions. These steps add many
decades to the life of the work.
1) All exposed surfaces are rough sanded to approx 60 grit.
This improves primer adhesion, which is often the main point
of paint failure on new work because while man has made paint
to stick to wood, but God did not make tress to hold paint.
All sharp corners are sanded off. This eliminates the common
problem of inadequate paint thickness at outside corners.
2) All wood is back primed and end primed before installation.
This helps to prevent warping during sudden changes in humidity.
It will also make a difference decades in the future if maintenance
is deferred. In such cases, as paint and caulk finally fail,
wind driven rain will penetrate miters and butt joints, soaking
into the end grain, thereby starting the rotting process. If
the end grain has been generously primed, these occasional
penetrations will cause no harm.
3) All points at which any vertical wall surface terminates
on a flat roof, will be crafted as shown in the accompanying
diagram. Holding the wood up off the roof as far as possible
is critical. If you look around, you will notice that the worst
paint failure on steeples is often found just above a flat
roof. This is because as rain and snow pile up on the flat
roof, the wood absorbs water through the end grain, and this
forces off the paint.
4) Many details such as capital tops or band moldings present
a horizontal surface to the weather. We go to great lengths
to flash such places whenever practical. At a minimum, we
will put a 15 degree slope on the top of all horizontal surfaces.
With exposed band moldings, we put a slope on the top, back
prime, hold the molding just off the surface, and caulk the
top, but not the bottom edge. Put simply, to merely nail
the molding and paint it in is easy and looks great, but
we take pains that will yield results decades down the road.
5) Our most unusual technique is as follows; We believe in
expansion joints. People often judge the quality of woodwork
craftsmanship by tightness of joints. However, in many cases,
tight joints will lead to early paint failure.
pine board that is 10” wide and 12’ long will
grow and shrink up to 3/16” of an inch across its width
and 1/8” along its length as humidity and temperature
change. If one crafts a snug joint and the wood later expands,
nails will pop and the wood will buckle. If one crafts a snug
joint and the wood shrinks, the paint film will snap at the
joints, and this will allow water to penetrate. If, however,
one crafts the joints so that there is an expansion joint of
approximately 1/8”-3/16” between adjoining members,
normal dimensional fluctuations will be absorbed by the caulk
and the paint film will remain unbroken. This concept is often
perceived by others as a “cop-out” by workers
insufficiently skilled to achieve tight joints.
6) Finally, when the use of a match board flush horizontal
siding is called for, we do NOT use off the shelf products
because these have a small flat spot where they meet, and also
do not have the expansion joint we like to use. So, we have
made our own knives for the pattern we developed, as shown
in the accompanying sketch.
We arrived at the above techniques after having carefully
observed the locations in which rot and paint failure have
been found on the historic steeples we have inspected. We put
our efforts and time into the details that make for long life.
Tight joints look great up close, but they can lead to paint
failure and rot.
For Primer we use Sherwin-Williams Alkyd Primer, and for top coat we use
2 coats Duration. We may or may or may not use a sprayer, but we ALWAYS brush
the paint in.