I’m Totally Getting Caulked

I probably sound like a terrible novice, but here’s another painting tip I’ve stumbled upon — get a caulking gun. A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me one and it has proved to be the MVP of my recent painting endeavours.
I’ve gone through approximately 474 tubes of caulk. I’ve been caulking everything — and if you hit every spot and crack with the stuff before you paint, you’ll have nothing but a solid, smooth finish in the end. You’ll sit back and stare at your walls and trim with a deep pride that goes on for at least 48 hours. After that, it does wear off.
But honestly, if you skip this step, every crack or separation in your moulding or trim will show up as noticable as a Hershey bar in the snow.
I’m new to this caulk gun stuff — but it’s addictive and I’ll never go back to slapping paint over untreated surfaces again.

22 Comments

  1. web says:

    A regular Bob Vila, … of web development to boot. I got a nasty clogged drain problem, got any advice for me?

  2. Dan Benjamin says:

    So you’re caulking cracks and such in drywall (aka sheet-rock) or plaster rather than using spackling or wall-patch compound?

  3. Dan – Just the spaces between trim and wall, trim and ceiling, corners where walls meet, etc.
    Although similar praise could be bestowed upon caulking’s brother – spackle. The stuff hides just about anything as well. The gun is more fun though :)
    web – water is evil. unfortunately a plumber may be necessary ;-)

  4. Dan Rubin says:

    Caulk is indeed the cat’s meow in many situations — I couldn’t have remodeled the bathroom without it, nor would the trim in my office look as nice as it does.
    Spackle is also on the must-have list, but it’s nowhere near as much fun :-)

  5. Mark says:

    My roommates and I have to take turns spackling the area around our dart board every few months. Caulking up a bathroom is fun though – it’s gotta be the gun.
    I have a tip of my own to add – when putting up drywall, rest the bottom of it on the top of your foot so that when its up, the bottom is about an inch off the ground. That way if you ever have a minor flood or some other miscellaneous water disaster you don’t have to rip down your walls to replace disentegrating drywall. :)

  6. Rene says:

    Hey, I did this very same thing about a month back in our upstairs hallway. Ours is a “century” home, which is just a nice way of saying that it needs lots and lots of work, and the walls had recessed slightly from the window moldings in spots leaving a noticeable gap. I just filled the space with a latex caulk and painted over it. Not a big fix, but like you said, the small things make a huge difference. Even my wife noticed :)
    Also a suggestion for covering really bad walls: paintable wallpaper. We had a plaster wall that has so many cracks and bumps that no amount of spackle or caulking could fix it. We bought a couple of rolls of paintable wallpaper – the thick plastic-type stuff with the embossed designs on it – and put that up. It looked very nice once it was up and painted and it complimented the age of the house. Because of the raised design of the paper we only used it on one wall and painted the rest a solid complimentary colour.

  7. o2b says:

    FYI: I don’t know what kind it is, but when they built my apartment they used a type of caulk around the doors and windows that doesn’t take paint (it beads off).

  8. Kitta says:

    I’ve used one of them before. It’s a lot of fun.
    My tip for painting: Put a garbage bag in the paint tray before you start. Then you’re left with hardly any cleaning up afterwards (except for brushes and rollers).

  9. Jamison says:

    yes caulk is good but i have something even better, before painting mix a few handfuls of dry wall mix, not the premaid stuff but the powder stuff into your paint, it will save you time filling in small cracks and it will give old walls a more even look….Oh and one more thing dont skimp on paint get the good stuff its way worth the trouble…oh and I almost forgot the best and I mean the best roller to use is a sheep skin roller, you wont believe the coverage you get out of those babies… Plus they feel so good to the touch and clean very easily so you can save it to use over and over….

  10. Hartmurmur says:

    I have to chime in here because I’m a consultant for USG, the market leader of drywall (maker of SHEETROCK). I just finished converting the best resource in the industry to XHTML/CSS-the Gypsum Construction Handbook. The XHTML version will be available in June 2004, but PDF’s are available now. (Assuming the company that is doing the bulk of the new site maintains it the way I gave it to them, the handbook will be in tableless XHTML/CSS).
    Anyway, not that it’s wrong, but I’ve never read in any literature about using caulk to patch drywall. It’s certainly more expensive than a bucket of USG Lightweight All Purpose Joint Compound-PLUS 3. Joint compound will certainly be better off in the long run because you are patching with the same material that drywall is made from…Gypsum. I’ve never seen a gypsum caulk. You’d probably make some drywall finishers cringe as they are required to meet standards in finishing (GA-214-96). You can read these specs and more on drywall finishing in Chapter 5, page 165 of the Gypsum Construction Handbook.
    Anyway, FWIW.

  11. krf says:

    As stated previously, it’s not used to patch with, but to fill the gaps that come over time between trim/drywall, sinks/counters toilets/floors and the like.
    It comes in many varieties and colors.
    Keep on caulking… :)

  12. waylman says:

    My father, and by extension myself, have been using caulk for a number of years. He, (like o2b above) learned the hard way that not all chaulk is created equal. Some caulk will dry out and crack after a few years. Others simple crack as the house stiffs with the weather. Some caulk is not paintable. We now only use paintable sylicone caulk. It remains soft and flexable over the years and as long as the lable says ‘paintable’ is works fine.
    On cavet though. In my parents old house things shift quite a bit and as the caulk flexes the paint will peel off. Therefore, joint compound is preffered for the walls. Caulk is only used on painted trim/windows ect. My father has even used it to cover nail heads on exterier trim.
    Note: always prime first, then caulk. Once the caulk is dry put on the finish coat.

  13. jonathan says:

    It’s amazing what a difference it makes, isn’t it? The first couple of rooms I re-did in my house, I was still in that ‘apartment’ mindset where you just try to fill in with extra paint (doesn’t work and looks horrible).
    Now – about 500 projects later – it’s almost an obsession to go through with the caulking gun and fill every possible gap.
    One tip I’ve discovered recently is when you are filling cracks where the trim meets a hardwood floor, always use clear caulk. That way it’s not as messy if you get some on the floor, which is inevitable.
    (also, off topic but – Go Pats!)

  14. Matthew says:

    Caulk is a wonderful thing, but I’ve always found it difficult to walk into a hardware strore and say, “I’m looking for caulk. Can you show me where I can get some caulk?”

  15. Brian says:

    That is a call they do on crank yankers. Guy calls the hardware store and asks about “caulk”, what color “caulk” he sells .. etc – it is funny.

  16. Todd says:

    and trim with a deep pride that goes on for at least 48 hours. After that, it does wear off.
    My father is clearly an exception to the rule here. It seems to create a glow that lasts for year(s).

  17. Lacy says:

    Ah the joys of caulk-gun ownership. Did you ever think they would be so grand? I had a friend who told me once that he had some friends in the construction business – their names were Caulk and Shim. ;)

  18. Gwynn says:

    can someone please tell me how to use this gun?

  19. Chandler says:

    Just moved into an 80 year old rowhome in Baltmore and don’t think the place was EVER caulked.
    A couple of questions:
    1) Can you caulk sizable gaps – like pushing 3/4 inches – simply with a caulking gun or is there something else to use (painter’s putty, spackle, etc.)?
    2) Prime first then caulk? Is that what others do?
    3) Clear caulk on hardwood floor/trim edges? Really?
    Thanks, and this caulking is going to take FOREVER!

  20. Shirl Hatch says:

    COULD YOU HELP, PLEASE
    We had a porch built about 3 years ago. The ceiling of the porch is bead board. We are having to sand, prime and paint the beadboard (knots are coming through) and we notice that some of the beadboards are not tight. We are caulking the ones that have “separated”. Is there a way to caulk beadboard, and not fill it in to the degree that it loses its neat beadboard appearance? Any helplful ways in caulking beadboard? MANY THANKS!
    Shirl at shbertrand@aol.com

  21. Natalie says:

    Hi everyone. We have an old house as well, and are trying to caulk the trim on the hardwood floor. Unfortunately we can’t use clear caulk because our objective is to cover the cracks. We desperately need advice on how to stop the mess. My boyfriend is using his finger to smooth it out, but I’m hoping someone has some suggestions for a better way. PLEASE HELP!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    One way to keep the caulk off the hardwood floor and make a nice line is to put some masking tape down on the floor up to the edge of the baseboard where you are going to caulk. Then you can use your finger to smooth the caulk into the crack and without getting it on the floor. Just pull up the masking tape and you have a clean line of caulk w/ nothing on the floor.