How Can I Stop the Splitting Between My Wall Trim & Ceiling When It's Cold in My House?

Written by sal marco
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How Can I Stop the Splitting Between My Wall Trim & Ceiling When It's Cold in My House?
Crown moulding adds a finishing touch to any room. (Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Many homeowners install wood mouldings and trim in their homes to hide flaws, imperfections and gaps between the top of a wall and ceiling. Wood trim expands during periods of heat and humidity, causing crown mouldings and wall trims to fit tightly to walls and up against ceilings. Cold, dry conditions cause the wood to contract and pull away from the ceiling, leaving behind a noticeable gap. Typically, coating trim on all exposed sides stops or limits the expansion and contraction of wood. Unfortunately, many installers only coat and protect the face of the trim, allowing humidity to affect the untreated wood

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Ladder
  • Pry bar
  • Shims
  • Sawhorses
  • Paint or polyurethane
  • Paintbrush
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Wood putty
  • Paintable silicone caulk
  • Caulking gun

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Instructions

    Removing the Trim

  1. 1

    Wedge a flat pry bar between the wall and trim. Slowly and carefully, push the pry bar toward the wall to pop the nails out of the walls. Place a thin, flat piece of wood between the trim and the wall to hold the trim away from the wall. Continue to pop the nails and loosen the trim until the trim is removable.

  2. 2

    Place the trim across two sawhorses and coat all wood surfaces with paint or polyurethane to protect the wood from changes in temperature and humidity. Coat the face, edges and ends and let the paint or polyurethane dry for four to six hours. Turn the wood trim over and coat the backside of the trim with paint or polyurethane. Let the paint or polyurethane dry for four to six hours.

  3. 3

    Position the wood trim back up against the wall. Drill new pilot holes, slightly smaller than the nails through the trim into the studs. Drive finishing nails through the trim into studs to secure the trim to the wall. Place a nail set on top of the finishing nail and strike the nail set with a hammer to sink the nail below the face of the trim.

  4. 4

    Fill the old nail holes and heads of the new nails with wood putty in a matching colour.

    Silicone Caulk

  1. 1

    Insert a tube of paintable silicone caulk into a caulking gun.

  2. 2

    Set up ladder and climb it to access the top of the wall trim.

  3. 3

    Place the tip of the caulking tube into the gap between the trim and the ceiling. Squeeze the caulking gun trigger and run a bead of caulk into the gap and slightly higher than the trim.

  4. 4

    Wet your finger with water and press the caulk into the gap while smoothing the surface of the caulk. Let the caulk dry for 72 hours.

  5. 5

    Paint the caulk the same colour as the ceiling.

Tips and warnings

  • Number the trim pieces as you take them down to take the guesswork out when reinstalling.
  • Silicone caulk will expand and contract with the wood to hide gaps.
  • Both methods are effective, but removing and coating the trim with paint or polyurethane is a more permanent solution than caulking the gap.
  • Work slowly when removing trim to avoid cracking, splitting or otherwise damaging the trim.

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