Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tricks of the Trade: Caulk is Cheap

Ever wonder how pros get such clean lines when they paint?  The answer is caulk!
This simple (and cheap) step will make the edge of your trim look like new and it will give you an even base to paint on.  If you try to paint a straight line on a wobbly surface, you're not going to have much luck.  Caulk smooths out all the rough spots and fills any gaps there might be between the trim and wall.  Learn to use it properly and you will be amazed by the results!

What you need:
Tube of interior latex caulk (35 year or more)
DRIPLESS caulk gun
utility knife
wet rag

Why does the caulk have "35 year" on it?  It's essentially a measure of quality.  I don't really believe the caulk will stay perfect for the next 35 years so I don't know why they label it this way.  I do know the higher the amount of years, the better quality the caulk.

Why do you need a dripless caulk gun?  Try using one that isn't labeled dripless... after you've stopped squeezing the trigger, caulk continues to ooze out onto you and everything else in sight.  Super frustrating.  Trust me.

Let's get started.  Wipe down your baseboards with the wet rag.  There will be dust and dirt there you'll want to remove before you apply the caulk.

Take your utility knife and cut the tip of your caulk on a 45 degree angle.  START SMALL!  You can always make the hole bigger if you need to.  There is a cutter thingy on the side of most caulk guns but chances are you'll accidentally make your hole too big if you use it.  At least I always do so I just use the utility knife.

Put the caulk in the gun and squeeze the handle a few times until you feel a little resistance and see a tiny amount of caulk come out.  Now you're ready!

Start in a corner.  Place the angled edge of the caulk tip along the baseboard so it just about lays flat against it.  Your caulk gun should be at about a 45 degree angle from the wall.  Squeeze the trigger until some caulk comes out and start moving along the baseboard.  You are trying to lay a small bead of caulk right in the crack.

Before the caulk starts to dry out (I'd say within 5 minutes) go back with your index finger and smooth out the bead of caulk.  Try your best to not leave a "lip" of caulk; you're going to want it to be as smooth and seamless as possible.
Now you see why I keep my nails short and unmanicured (besides the fact that I'm lazy).

Keep your rag nearby... there is going to be quite a bit of excess caulk on your finger that you're going to want to wipe off regularly.  I usually just wipe it on my painting pants.
This is how it looks when it's done.  Better, right?  Now you have a smooth, clean base to work with when you're painting.  Let it dry for at least a couple hours before you paint it.  I like to wait till the next day if I'm going to be putting tape over it.

Here is another before and after
before caulk

after caulk

What is this dangerous-looking thing for?

If your caulk dries out you stick this in the tip to open it back up when you're ready to use it again.  I've let caulk sit opened for months and it still stays "fresh"... a little bit at the end will dry up and seal off the good caulk inside.
Here's a before and after from pre-caulking to post-painting.
*I didn't paint the baseboards.  They aren't perfect, but they look a LOT cleaner all because of the caulk!

Now go caulk something!

Coming up in the Tricks of the Trade series:
  • Tips and Tricks for Using Blue Tape
  • Dustless Sanding
  • Fixing Nail Pops and Other Wall Imperfections
  • How to Roll a Wall Like a Pro
  • Painting a Straight Line When You Cut In
 Follow along through your RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter or Email so you don't miss any of the series!  This post is linked up at a bunch of these parties.

Pin It

This post is featured here


  1. LOVE this series!! And I never would have thought to use caulk. I have a caulk gun but who knows if it's dripless. I plan on painting all the trim in my house plus the doors, not fun but it needs to be done! Maybe I should hire you ;)

  2. Wow! I am going to show this post to my husband. We live in a house over 100 years old, and I bet this tip would make our painting look great! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm getting ready to paint several rooms, this is a great tip, thanks!

  4. Great tip, thank you! I need all the help I can get when it comes to painting.

  5. What a great solution! Thank you so much for linking up and sharing.

    Sharing this on Facebook.

  6. Great tips...I have just the area to use this tip!

  7. Hi Jamie,
    Thank you for sharing the great tips...Will definintely try it next time I paint. Have a wonderful day.

    Hugs and Kisses,

  8. What a great idea!!
    Thanks for sharing this super tip!

  9. What is that pin thing you use? I use those metal turkey lacers ;-)

  10. Great tip, I always forget about it! It does make it look so much better!

  11. Gosh, around here, we couldn't get along with out caulk. :)
    Good tips..
    xo bj

  12. This is so true. I need to do this in my son's room. There are so many gaps between the baseboard and the wall. You have to love old houses.


  13. This is a great idea! I have had this problem and often use decorative cording to cover up the gaps...using caulk would really help. Super!!!

  14. Isn't caulk the greatest? Following your blog now.I would love for you to show this off at my Wickedly Crafty Saturdays! Linky is still up & running. http://wiccanmakesometoo.blogspot.com/2011/08/wickedly-crafty-saturdays-82011.html

  15. That "ouch" thing should be used before you squeeze out any caulk. It punctures the protective membrane and allows the caulk to flow through the hole you've made in the nozzle. If you don't use it you will have caulk flowing out throughout the back and onto yours hands. A big mess.

  16. Thanks so much. Great tips. I am now following you. Found you from Donna
    Snl .
    Smiles, alice

  17. This is the best tip any home owner can ever know! We painted all our houses using caulk and the end results are dramatic! Realtor's always ask "what company" we used to paint! Where two walls meet of different colors...tape one side then caulk it. Paint will have a razor sharp edge and tape peels off like a dream.

  18. Found you at a link party. Looking forward to the rest of this series. New follower!

  19. What a great tip! I will hsave to share this one with the hubby who is a messy messy painter when it come to the house!
    Thanks for sharing with the Pink Hippo Party!

  20. Oh. My. Goodness! Where have you BEEN all my life??? This is pure genius. I cannot wait to go back and read some more painting tips - we paint all the time and I sure wish I'd known about this caulking thing years ago!

  21. This is a Great DIY tip! Please come and share it on my Mommy Monday Link party :) http://momommamoney.blogspot.com/2011/08/mommy-monday.html

  22. Really appreciate you linking up this awesome masterpiece at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop :)

  23. I am a caulk-a-holic! This is a great tutorial! I just found your site through a blog party and am happy to be a new follower. I would love for you to link your post up at my Savvy HomeMade blog party at


  24. clever! featuring you tomorrow. thanks for linking up! XO

  25. Wow great tip and great tutorial! I did not know you could do that. I really need to go back and touch up the trim around my place. Thanks for sharing at Lines Across My Face. I hope to see you again this week.
    :) Rachel

  26. Thank you so much for linking your awesome calk post up at Savvy HomeMade Monday. We are partying again and I hope you will stop by! :)

  27. Jamie, this is an excellent all-encompassing primer for working with caulk! Definitely my go-to guide when I finally get my act together and paint my drab living room.

    Thank you so much for bringing your expertise and tips to "A Little Birdie Told Me..."!


  28. That is a great tip! I so need to paint my baseboards. I'm following you now...I need to delve deeper into your tricks of the trade!

  29. Thank you so much for this post... it seriously helped me!

  30. Thanks for this information such a great one, keep it up! Any way I'm interested also to caulking contractors in Oakville.

  31. Caulk can deliver smoothness in uneven painted surfaces and repair wood rots that appear on door and window edges.

    1. GREAT I am working to repair wood rots in the month of October- door edges from snow build up. I have the caulk ready for all my windows in preparation for Winter. Ahhh my October project! Now I know I can use caulk for that too! Fabulous.

  32. I am very late in replying to this, but I seriously think that acrylic latex caulk is the last thing you should use. It is mainly used to cover up bad finish carpentry. If you really must use it, make sure that you carefully paint over it with a suitable paint. Otherwise it will just collect dust and look awful after six months. It will eventually look awful in any case, but you will have your good looking corner or joint at least for some time.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Regarding all aspects the blog was perfectly nice. best electric shaver blog

  35. This is such a great trick. I would love to try this out. I have been trying to fix up my house for a while now. I just didn't know to go about it.

    Aaron | http://www.westsidesealants.com.au/caulking

  36. That really makes sense now that I think about it. I have always tried to get really straight lines when I paint, and it has never really worked out right. I will try using caulking next time I do it for sure. http://www.georgewsmithandson.com/company.html

  37. This line you said was a genius statement,"Have you ever wondered why painters get such clean lines when they paint?" It's true, caulking is the best invention since slices bread. You said that caulk is a tube of interior latex, which doesn't drip. There is also a caulk gun, which is used to apply it. Thanks for sharing caulk with everyone. I have known about caulk since I was eight years old and my father was a contracted painter.

  38. Another way to help smooth out the caulk (after you have removed the bulk of the excess caulk) is to have a container of water and keep dipping your finger into the water as you smooth the caulk. You will need to have some paper towel to keep your finger clean, but this method will produce some very smooth and clean looking caulk lines!

  39. I was really searching for such a nice post and got here...Thanks for sharing such a nice information, its beneficial for me...Keep sharing more Bestreviewsridge


I love getting your feedback! Leave a comment and I will write you back (as long as your settings include your email address). Thanks for the love!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...