How to Caulk Baseboards

Caulking baseboards is a must – that’s why DIYers should learn how to this task. Professional contractors as well as painters make sure that this is included for certain jobs, otherwise, the end results won’t look as good.

When Do You Need to Caulk?

After finishing up work on baseboard woodworks and walls, you might find that there are black lines in between them. These are actually gaps between the baseboard and the wall, and they look like black lines to the naked eyes. I am sure we all agree that these are not pleasing to the eyes!

There’s a simple solution to this, however, and it involves caulking. It’s not that hard to do – and the more you do it the better you get at it.

Materials Needed

Here are the things you need for caulking:

  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun (optional)
  • Putty knife
  • Bucket of water
  • Sponge
  • Paper towel

Look for a Good Caulk

As with any type of work, you will want to get the best materials that you can afford when caulking baseboards. By saying that, however, I don’t mean to imply that caulk is expensive, because it’s not. In fact, you can get a good quality caulk for only about $10 per tube – that’s what we used in most of our caulking works (you’ll see it in the photos below).

You don’t need to get the same caulk we use, but I would suggest checking on the labels and ingredients of the caulk. Getting one that uses a blend of silicone and acrylic would be the best since this is easy to apply. Also, such type of caulk doesn’t shrink much.

Ok, let’s talk about that shrinking part for a second because that’s very important. If your caulk shrinks, there will still be gaps between your baseboard woodworks and walls.

More often than not, you can read on the label the amount of shrinkage that a particular product has. So simply compare products and go for the one with the least amount of shrinkage indicated.

Also, consider the price. As with most things, more expensive products (especially those from reputable manufacturers) have better quality than cheap ones. Yes, they’ll last longer and not shrink much, so you’re really getting your money’s worth.

Do You Need a Caulk Gun?

Like I said, a caulk gun is optional when applying caulk between baseboards and walls. If you get those kinds that require a caulk gun, then you should get one because it will act as a plunger to push caulk out of the tube. We sometimes use those too.

As you can see in the images below, however, we also use caulk that comes in easy-to-squeeze tubes. This way, you won’t need a caulk gun to apply the paste-like substance between gaps. You yourself will control the amount of mixture released from the tube by simply squeezing on it.

By the way, this particular caulk that we’re using changes color as it dries up. So it’s colored pink when you apply it, but it turns into white to indicate that it has already dried up. Now, this is important too. If you’re going to clean up already applied caulk, you better do so before it dries up. If it has already dried up and hardened, you will need a knife to scrape the materials off.

And if you’re going to paint over caulk, it should also be completely dry. Painting over soft caulk will only remove the substance and make your work useless.

It is also for this reason why you need a bucket of water and sponge – to clean up excess application of caulk before it dries up or hardens up.

The paper towels I listed in the materials needed will be used for wiping your fingers when you finish up on its application. I’ll get more into that in a bit.

Cutting the Hole

Whether you’re going to use a caulk in an easy to squeeze tube or the one that needs a caulk gun, it’s important to know the importance of cutting the right size of hole. You see, if the hole is too big, it will be very difficult to control. Too much caulk will come out of the tube and lead to too much waste.

Don’t make the hole too small either. If the hole is too small, you will find it hard to squeeze the tube. It could also take several passes before you can fill up a small gap between the baseboard and the wall.

For really easy application, I recommend cutting the tube nozzle at an angle too. With the right size of hole and a nozzle that’s neatly cut an angle, application of caulk is really easy peasy. Here are some of the materials you need for caulking.  We used caulk in an easy-to-squeeze tube in one of our home renovation projects.

Here are some of the materials you need for caulking. We used caulk in an easy-to-squeeze tube in one of our home renovation projects.

Keep your hand steady when applying caulk on baseboards. Aim to cover about 2 feet in one go.

Keep your hand steady when applying caulk on baseboards. Aim to cover about 2 feet in one go.

Finally, no more black lines between the baseboards and the walls. All the gaps have been effectively covered by caulk.

Finally, no more black lines between the baseboards and the walls. All the gaps have been effectively covered by caulk.

The Exact Procedures

Still don’t know how to go about caulking baseboards? Sure, I’ll tell you the step by step procedures.

First, prepare the materials you need for the job. Keep the sponge and bucket of water close to you all the time.

When applying the caulk, aim to tackle about 2 feet in 1 go. Keep your hands steady while doing this.

Hold the caulk gun or easy-to-squeeze tube at an angle while applying on gaps and cracks. Also, aim to squeeze out an even amount of caulk with every squeeze.

During application, caulk a little higher than the top of the gaps. The reason for this is that the mixture will settle and go down after application.

How to Apply Caulk on Baseboards

You will go for a sliding motion when applying caulk on cracks and gaps on baseboards. So as the caulk is squeezed out of the tube, you are sliding it on the affected area. Again, your movement should be well regulated when sliding the tube.

Note that if you move the tube too quickly along gaps, there could be areas left unfilled. And these can appear as holes once the caulk dries up and shrinks.

Likewise, if you move the tube too slowly, this can result in caulk build up and make it look messy. Sure, you can remove any excess caulk eventually, but it’s still wasteful.

Should You Use Your Fingers?

Yes, it’s good to use your fingers when finishing up caulking. So, with the tip of your finger, run a wiping stroke on the caulked area. This is when paper towels come in handy – use it to wipe caulk off your fingertip as it can dry up quickly and harden up on your skin.

Cleaning Up with Wet Sponge

I did tell you to keep that bucket of water and sponge always close to you, didn’t I? You need to wet the sponge with water but squeeze out the water before using it. You just want it to be a little moist as you wipe across caulk joints so as to remove excess or unwanted caulk. Do this gently, as putting hard pressure on it can remove some of the caulk from the gaps.

Painting After Caulking

If you’re planning to paint the baseboard and wall after applying caulk, make sure that the caulk has completely dried up first. The paintbrush bristles can scratch over the surface of “uncured” caulk and remove some of the mixture from the gaps. You don’t want to waste your work, so allow it to cure and dry up first.

Oh, and another thing. Make sure that you remove any excess hardened caulk before painting over it to give it a smooth finish. Otherwise, there could be lumps and uneven areas when you paint over the caulk.

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