Caulking the Trim

Posted by John on July 16th, 2012

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Lisa, the baby and I went up to Northeast PA on Friday evening to visit my mom and to spend some time at the local church bazaar. We’ll be posting about that stuff later this week… CAUTION: There will be pictures of delicious ethnic food. Consider yourself warned.

Saturday was my 33rd birthday!! Yikes. Getting knee deep in the 4th decade of my life here. Crazy. To celebrate, I took it easy, playing some video games and getting Thai with the family for dinner. If you’ve never had Thai food, you need to try it. I just had it for the first time in May on a work trip and I’m officially addicted. The Thai sweet iced tea is unbelievable. I’m also a big fan of Thai curries and the sticky rice. Two thumbs up.

Yesterday I managed to sneak in a little bit of house work. I caulked half of the dining room wainscoting. I’ll finish the rest of it later this week. My window sill router bit arrived in the mail early, so I may get to those caps as well.

Caulking is almost always a necessity when dealing with trim that will be painted. It’s usually applied right before you paint to close up any gaps that might otherwise be visible. You normally wouldn’t use it on stained projects since it doesn’t absorb stain. Painter’s caulk comes in a variety of colors and there are companies online that can ship you a color matched caulk if you really need it..

Whenever I use painter’s caulk, I try to use a product that has silicone in addition to the normal latex. The silicone gives the caulk some added flexibility, which means it will shrink and expand along with the wood. You won’t have to reapply it in the future or hopefully, ever again. It’s only a little more money than the plain latex painter’s caulk. Bathroom and kitchen caulks are mostly silicone. The more silicone though, the harder it is to paint.IMG_4168-e1342384234926-682x1024


For filling wider gaps, like in my wainscoting corners, I cut the top of the caulk tube further down the tube to give me a wider nozzle.IMG_4167-e1342384542596-682x1024



I try to squeeze the caulk gun with an even amount of pressure over the entire seam and I judge my application speed by how much is coming out, that way the corner gets an even amount without it getting all over the place. I’ll follow the caulk gun with my finger to even out the bead.IMG_4170-1024x682



For smaller seams, I’ll cut the caulk tube to a fairly small diameter. It’s easier to junk smaller seams up with caulk, so a small nozzle makes it easier to deliver the perfect amount and it helps to avoid a mess.

Here’s a helpful tip: Carry some paper towels with you to catch the excess caulk from the gun and to wipe off your fingers. I usually go through a lot of paper towel when I do a large room. Now matter how careful you are, it tends to get all over the place.IMG_4203-1024x682



The molding on the left in the photo below has just been caulked. The molding on the right has not.IMG_4202-1024x682


You can see a small seam on the right molding. That will need to be filled before it can be painted. You can’t assume the paint will fill those small gaps.

Here’s a close up of that un-caulked trim.IMG_42041-1024x682


If you’re not a fan of using a caulk gun, you can just put a dab of caulk on your finger and rub it into the seam. Once it’s filled, I’ll go back with a little sandpaper and sand it very lightly to knock down any high spots from the caulk. Then it’s ready for paint.IMG_4205-1024x682


You know you’ve done a quality job with the painter’s caulk if you can’t see it when it’s painted. You want the caulk to be invisible. Ideally, you won’t need very much of it. If you have large seams between molding cuts, it may be a better idea to try re-cutting them than loading them up with caulk. If you’re having trouble identifying a tough angle during a trim install, you can try this t-bevel method we posted about some time ago.

How was your weekend? Did you get any work done this weekend or did you lounge around?

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

  • I hate caulking! The end result looks much better when you caulk though. Also, I love ethnic food, so I can't wait to see pictures. Happy belated birthday!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Ainhoa! I love the results, but I hate actually doing it. Gets everywhere!

  • Kristen

    Happy belated birthday! Joe and I spent our weekend running around and doing a lot of errands, going to a feast, and then a bbq at his parents' house.

    It's really shaping up in your dining room! The caulking looks great (I love caulk) – I can't to see it after it's all painted!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Kristen!! Sounds like a fun weekend.

  • Happy birthday!! Thai food is amazing! I just discovered it last year, and I can't believe I had never tried it before! Your dining room is looking great…you're so close to being done! Caulking is definitely not one of my favorites things to do, but it always looks better with a nice seal.

  • John! guess what! Dallas and I were eyeballing our office over the weekend and guess what he said he wanted to do to it? Out of the blue? Exactly what you've done here. 🙂 Thanks for all the tips!!!

    And happy birthday!!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Awesome!! Let me know if you have any questions as you go.

  • Happy B-Day!!! It sounds like you had a relaxing day. Thanks for the great info on caulking. I'm getting ready to install molding in our hallway so this post is perfect timing.

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Lisa! Good luck with the molding!

  • Happy belated b-day! I'll take your word on the Thai. I'm the world's pickiest eater.

    I hate caulking. I usually just make immature caulk jokes while my husband does the work.

    • John_OHFScratch

      It\’s really hard to not make any caulk cracks. Really, really tough.

  • Happy belated birthday! You've made such awesome progress on the wainscoating! I love it!