Caulk This can be daunting and definitely takes a little time, but use these molding tips and you’ll want the finished, professional look you create!
By Colleen in Lemon Thistle
Pro-Level Caulking Tips for Beginners
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You may not always notice a good job of caulking, but you will notice when it is lost, I promise!
After you spend days / hours replacing baseboards, windows, or cutting caulk may be the furthest thing from your mind, BUT it makes a huge difference to your space. Adding caulk creates seamless changes that make the entire room finished.
To confirm my point, see the base trim in the photo above. A small section at the end of a wall was lost when we dug up the rest of the house. Do you see how it’s still waiting for something, that it’s not over yet?
Caulk: Get the name right
Before I dig in, a little background for you. “Silicone” strictly as the name implies, is an insoluble water, most smelly product used by plumbers around sinks and tubs. It is usually clear and intended to create a tight seal in water. You can’t paint it or the paint will heal and look terrible. It dries but stays cushiony and rubbery which is great for preventing water in areas that overflow and contract heat and cold constantly (like a shower).
Caulk is a different product, even if words are used interchangeably all the time (like I did in the video- I can’t help myself!). Caulk dries much harder and many types can be painted. It is intended for filling in the seams of your handiwork.
I use this caulk from Home Depot around my house (and in the video). This is caulk plus silicon so it has little flexibility when dry, helping to prevent cracks or separation. It can also be painted and is great for indoor and outdoor use.
There are 100 different types of caulk and silicon products out there. Choose the one that best suits your project. I used a silicone grout (found in the tiling section) to finish my tiling jobs and a clear silicone to seal the countertops and the drywall. They are all used in the same way- there is little reaction to it.
How to Caulk: Video
Here is a short video where I share basic tips. I’m a total beginner and these are the things I need to know for myself! For example, the first time I tried to caulk, I was so disappointed that the caulk kept coming out if I didn’t squeeze the lever. I made such a mess! After caulking a room, I had the system left on, so just don’t give up, okay?
I have to tell you that I painted the baseboard after the video (do you see how wrong it is!).
After filling the long gap, I used the same caulking process to fill the nail holes and vertical corner seams. Don’t worry if you’re not perfect at it. Stick with it and see how fast you heal.
Caulking Tips for a Perfect Finish
Start in an area that is less visible
I always like to start with a section of the room that is less visible, like behind a door or a closet just in case I take longer to get to.
Caulk before painting
I prefer to caulk before painting if I have different levels of cutting that are all painted the same color. Caulk can be difficult to clean (maintaining its flexibility means a bit of adhesion) and painting over the caulk reduces some of that fragility.
Tapping is a good idea until you are comfortable with a caulking gun. Tape both the wall and baseboard, leaving a small gap so that your caulk goes to the seam. It’s smooth, like the video, after turning the tape over to find a nice, smooth line. I stopped taping after the second bedroom of our house because it would take time. BUT whether you’re just making a room or maybe just a window, taping can help you get a good line straight. This will help the areas really be visible.
Your caulking gun can really affect your work, especially if you make a lot of space. When we first bought one, we bought the cheapest gun we could find but killed it with my hand. It broke down after a couple rooms and we upgraded second cheapest caulking gun and it makes a world of difference!
I used my finger and a smooth wet rag to apply the silicone and caulk. If you’re not on that – I got it, killing your fingers. My family swore a caulking applicator That can be used to get a good corner instead of your finger. Just drag it like you would with your book or finger. I’m all about effectiveness (also known as impatience) so pulling it out every time I need to smooth a line would be good for me.
The caulk I use takes two hours to dry, and that’s when you have a nice thin line. Filling gaps that are relatively deep or wide will take longer to dry. Make sure your silicone is completely dry before painting to avoid pulling it off.
Pushing or Pulling
Professional painters push the caulking gun along the baseboard, but most of us find it much easier to pull or drag the caulking gun, using the tip to smooth it out as we go. Find out what will work for you and join that.
And there you have it! Learning to caulk well is one of the best skills I know. I hope these helpful tips help you enjoy it too!
Lots of projects for using your new caulking skills
Please pin it for future reference.
See more from Colleen at and LemonThistle
Originally published 05.07.2015 // Updated 06.11.2021
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