I Know Caulking Panels Has Been Hit Here But..


From original questioner:

I dont do a lot of pigmented work but when I do my customers (like many) firmly resist MDF panels. They of course get the typical schpiel about wood/panel movement.

Reading the archives here there is a bit of talk about adding caulking into the finish schedule but finish reps (at least mine) are not going to agree to anything being under their product.

Leaves me thinking those of you that do caulk just make that decision for yourselves.

I have a good bit of pigmented work coming up and I am really leaning towards adding caulk.

Been spraying Kem Aqua Plus or MLC Agualente.


From contributor Le

The biggest problem I have with caulking panels is the little bit that gets where it's not suppose to be. Always comes from wiping the joint.

Now I buy the expensive caulk in a squeeze tube. I sand the tip of the tube into a 90 and only let the hole get to be about a 22 gauge hole. The bead that comes out of the tube is very fine and it's rare that you get any excess on the joint. Usually you'll have to add a bit more. I'm fine with that. Much better control, it dries very fast and it is a minimum amount.

I prime, caulk and prime then shoot the top coat.

From contributor Ma

Thanks Leo,
That was my planned schedule, prime/seal, then caulk, then prime/seal again, and shoot it.

I ran this by my rep and he of course nix'ed the idea but I just cant seem to get my head around eliminating the caulk.

Does your sticking profile leave you a sharp corner at the panel joint on the front face? A tiny radius there (undercut) would seem to create a nice gland for the caulk but likely an over-thought.

From contributor Le

Mine is sharp and pretty tight.

From contributor Pa


An alternative is to tint the caulk to match your paint color and make caulking the last step.

From contributor Ji

I like Pauls idea. I know you have been talking waterbase, but on solvent lacquer I tried using seal coat shellack. Then lac topcoat, still cracked.

From contributor Ke

+2 for Paul.. thats the way i do it. Avoid any cracking issues.

From contributor Pd

We stopped allowing the offer of caulk on a solid panel door. We did that on a job and spent a lot of time doing it right, only to have it crack every winter and get a call from the client.
If they really don't want "the gap" they have to choose MDF and then pay for the caulking.

From contributor Ma

Thanks everyone. Its definitely a nasty issue for sure if your not going to move to the commercial option of pre-finishing everything (rails and stiles included) and doing assembly last which is simply not an option.

On a recent job I had a a customer that went to several shops that were ordering in finished doors and they even went to the home center and looked at all their options. Honestly I hadnt gone and looked at any of these doors in a long time. It was comforting that they remarked that the doors just looked "cheap" and "plasticy". After talking with them I swung by the home center and was really amazed at how bad even the high end stuff looks. Looks almost like some sort of extruded plastic on the rails and stiles. Coped, and assembled with urethane or something. The finish doesnt even bridge the rail/stile joint. Clearly post-finish assembly.

It was comforting that they (not cabinet people) saw it clearly when they had our doors as a comparison.

Im in an area where most shops now (other than a few) are not even doing their own finishing on outsourced doors. Everything is brought in pre-fin and its just assembly.

I almost feel the prefinished/glazed doors looked worse than a finish crack at the panel.

I will have to look into tinted caulk. Its something I have never done and something I have to get my head around.