Hello Remodelaholic readers! Colleen here from Lemon Thistle, home to DIY, home decor, printables, and parties. I’m so excited to be back with you today to share one of the less pretty sides of remodeling and decorating… but boy, it makes such a huge difference — Caulking!
Caulking is one of those steps that seems like a pain after you’ve spent days/hours replacing baseboards, windows, or trim BUT it can make such a huge difference in your space. It’s so often overlooked or skipped to save time/money (have you ever seen a rental with caulked trim?) but it makes the whole room look finished.
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Caulk to achieve a professional finish
To prove my point, check out the wall in the upper photo. A little section of baseboard somehow got missed when we did the rest of the house when we moved in. We refinished the floors, replaced doors, windows, painted walls, and put in new trim. We were eager to get moved in, to say the least. This one little stub wall has lasted ALL YEAR without being touched. Embarrassing, right? Just #keepingitreal with you! If your window and door casings/trim haven’t been caulked, I encourage you to try it out! I’m almost positive you’ll be thrilled with the results. Caulking inside different levels of trim when it’s all being painted the same colour is the best place to start.
Caulking Tips: Background
Before I dig in, a little bit of background for you. “Silicone” strictly speaking of the name, is a non water soluble, super stinky product that plumbers use around sinks and tubs. It’s usually clear and is meant to create a water tight seal. You can’t paint over it or the paint would bead up and looks terrible. It dries but stays cushiony and rubbery which is great for keeping water out of areas that expand and contract with heat and cold often (like a shower).
Caulk is a different product, although the words get used interchangeably all the time (like I do in the video- I just couldn’t help myself!). Caulk dries harder and many types are paintable. It’s meant more for finishing. The caulk that I use is actually caulk plus silicone so it still has a bit of flexibility. The added silicone keeps the caulk from getting too hard and cracking. This is the stuff I get (I buy a bulk box at Home Depot- if you’re doing a whole house, it will save you some cash!) It is also paintable and good for indoor/outdoor use.
Caulking Tips: Types of Caulk
There’s 100 different types of caulk and silicone products out there. I also use a grout silicone to finish off my tiling jobs (which can be found in the tiling section) and a clear silicone to seal along countertops and the drywall. They all are used with the same technique- they just react a little bit differently.
So I’ve created this little video for you sharing the basic tips that I found to be helpful when I started using a caulking gun, because it can be an intimidating task! The first time I tried it I was so frustrated I couldn’t figure out how to get it to stop coming out, I made such a mess. After caulking one room, I had a system down. It just takes some time and maybe a bit of wine to relax. I’m not a pro by any means, but in this house I’m the one that gets called when we need silicone or caulking done- and I’m darn proud of that! So with the disclaimer that I’m not a pro, let’s get to the video!
Caulking Tips: Getting Started
I should tell you that I did paint the baseboard after that video (did you see how dingy it was!), but the caulking process that you saw there filled the nail holes, corners, and top gap. It’s not a perfect process, but it works. When you get going, you really get into a groove and it goes quickly. I always like to start in a section of the room that’s less visible, like behind a door or in a closet just in case it takes me a minute to get going.
Caulking Tips for a Perfect Finish
So let’s talk about some more options/ tips.
Taping is a great idea until you are comfortable with a caulking gun. Just tape both the wall and the baseboard, leaving a small gap for your silicone. Smooth it before you peel back the tape to see a nice crisp line. I stopped taping after the second bedroom in our house because I would have been spending all. day. taping. BUT if you’re only doing one room or maybe just one window- taping will help you get a nice straight line.
Your caulking gun will really affect the way you work, especially if you are doing a large space. When we first bought one, we bought the cheapest gun we could find but it killed my hand. It broke after a couple bedrooms and we upgraded to the second cheapest gun and it has made a world of difference! Just keep that in mind when you’re buying.
I use my finger and a smooth damp rag to apply silicone and caulk. If you’re not into that- I get it, it does kill your fingers. My family swears by a caulking applicator like this one that can be used to get a nice corner instead of your finger. Just drag it along as you would your rag or finger. I’m all about efficiency (also known as impatient) so pulling this out every time I needed to smooth a line was too finicky for me.
The caulk I use takes two hours to dry- that’s if you have a nice thin line. I’ve filled gaps that are a bit deeper, so they take longer to dry. Make sure your silicone is completely dry before painting to avoid pulling it up.
Professional painters will push the caulking gun along the baseboard, but most of us will find it easier to pull or drag the caulking gun along, using the tip to smooth it as we go. Find out what works for you and go with that.
I hope this has helped you feel a little less intimidated by caulking! When we started the finishing at our house last year I was completely lost, I don’t know why I found it so scary- but I’m thinking I’m not the only one. Let me know if you have any questions and hopefully Cassity and I can get you some answers! Again, this is just what I’ve learned in the past year, I’m sure there’s tons more tips and tricks and specifications that you could find if you searched really hard.
See more from Colleen over at LemonThistle:
And find a project for using your new caulking skills, too: