Protecting exterior plywood from hot sun.
Plywood cracks because:
1. It is multiple layers of wood that expand and contract at different rates.
2. The primer might not have been as good a quality as the paint - not flexible enough. Lots of people make this mistake - cut a corner on the primer and an expensive topcoat.
I would prime and paint again with a top quality 100% Acrylic primer and paint.
Paint it a lighter color (or white) if it isn't already - that will help.
If you really want something that lasts in a hot climate - look into having the house stuccoed. Stucco is very common in hot climates because it can stand the temperatures better than any type of wood.
In my opinion - that would be your best bet.
I've thought about stucco (probably should have done that in the first place) but now that I have the plywood and batten look I'd like to keep it that way. What about using stucco to fill the cracks but not using the chicken wire backing? Would that work?
You could scrape it all off - reprime and repaint - lots of work though.
Elastomerics were not designed for wood - just masonry. They won't adhere to wood very well - and with wood holding moisture like it does - even in the desert - that can give you problems.
I personally would go for stucco - long term it is going to be the best solution - long lasting - easy to paint - easy to maintain.
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